Camden Courier-Post - March 27, 1980
Schmidt on a tear is an awesome sight
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – It had been one of those long games in the Florida sun where bats sizzled, pitchers wilted, and everyone left Al Lang Stadium knowing they got their money's worth.
But, instead of dashing for the team bus after the last of 29 hits had become history and the final out made, the Phillies stayed afield and squeezed out one final pint of sweat by sprinting from second base to the plate.
It was the kind of gesture that most stars declare meaningless and worthy of total avoidance. With rank, as they say, comes certain privileges.
This was not the case, however, with Phils third baseman Mike Schmidt, who did his duty and proceeded to smile as he mopped the torrents of perspiration from his brow.
"I like playing for Dallas Green," he declared. "I like the way he takes little things so seriously."
There had been nothing little about Schmidt's performance, which included the launching of a two-run homer into the traffic well beyond the left field fence, followed by another home run of less distinction, but with two runners aboard.
A sacrifice fly had brought his total RBIs on the shift to six, not a bad day's effort for a man who entered the proceedings with a .476 batting average and exited with a flurry of dazzling defensive plays.
Schmidt was indeed the picture of contentment with sound to match. "It's fun to hit the ball good," he said with a grin. "I don't care if it's in the spring or even in a beer game."
The trick was to enjoy the training camp splurge of offense, but not to throw the reins on his emotions into the air. For no one knew better than he that his powerful batting stroke ran in streaks. The explosions were great, but consistency was the key.
"I've run the gamut insofar as spring trainings are concerned," he explained. "Good, bad, indifferent... followed by good, bad and mediocre seasons. All the combinations.
"What I've got to do is to continue keeping my hands back until the last possible instant, then pop the bat. If I can keep doing that down here... if I can do it all year, I'll have a good season."
Schmidt stopped for a moment, as if reviewing his own words. "Of course, I won't be able to do it all year," he started to say.
But, the words were just coming off his lips when batting instructor Billy DeMars walked past. And, without even looking up, he barked, "Yes you can!"
What a Utopian thought. Despite his predictable quiet periods at the plate, a majority of them brought about by nagging injuries, Schmidt had made 1979 an outstanding year with 45 home runs struck, 114 runs driven home, 120 walks accepted, another Golden Glove accepted and was the National League's top vote getter in the All-Star balloting.
That last fact is interesting because despite how much the rest of the nation respects Mike's abilities, there has always been a measure of reservation about him in the Philadelphia area.
When he first broke in as a rookie, fans grumbled about bis defense. Now, a poll conducted by Baseball Magazine hails him as runner-up to Brooks Robinson for the honor of "Third Baseman of the Decade."
They said he didn't hit in the clutch. Yet, while maintaining a slugging average over the past six years that no one in baseball can match, Schmidt also took time out to lead the league last season with 20 game-winning RBIs.
The truth is that until Schmidt came on the scene, Dick Allen was considered the finest "natural" athlete to ever wear a Phillies uniform.
Schmidt has proven to be his physical equal. And, in light of his efforts to improve himself through conditioning and practice, Mike could well become legendary.
"The man is something," said Green. "When he goes on one of his tears at the plate, he turns around (hits) everything from fastballs to changeups.
"He's on a tear now. Wouldn't it be something if he just kept right on going?"
Frightening is the word.
Schmidt’s bat ignites Phils
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Mike Schmidt clubbed a pair of home runs and drove in six runs yesterday as the Phillies out-hammered the New York Mets, 9-8, at Al Lang Field.
Rarely has the phrase "it's only spring training" gotten so much use or been used so many different ways."
Schmidt used it to keep folks from getting too excited. And, Manager Dallas Green used it to try to convince a struggling Dick Ruthven that he shouldn't take his discomforting afternoon on the mound to heart.
"RUTHVEN STRUGGLED with his control," said Green. "With him coming off elbow surgery, that's no big problem. We expected it.
"But, you know Rufus. He's beginning to feel good and he's out there trying to pitch like it was August instead of March. He got frustrated that he couldn't."
The righthander received a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Lonnie Smith beat out an infield hit, stole second, moved to third on an infield out and scored on a passed ball.
BAKE McBRIDE, who had walked, crossed moments later when Schmidt slammed a round tripper well beyond the left field wall.
Green liked the way Smith, who came into the game hitting .381, seemed to take charge. "I think Lonnie is going to get real comfortable on this team," said the manager. "He'll relate to that and he'll play even better, more confidently as he goes along."
When the Mets took two of the runs back in their half of the first inning, Ruthven fumed. He had a good breaking ball, but he couldn't throw it for strikes.
"I'M NOT MAKING excuses for him, but the mound here is awful. He just couldn't get comfortable," said Green. "He got in his 75 pitches. That's all we want from him these days."
Schmidt, whose batting average is over .500 this spring, followed singles by Smith and McBride with another homer to make it 6-2.
The Mets kept pecking away, however. Singles by Fred Andrews and John Stearns followed by Frank Taveras' sacrifice fly got them a run in the second.
In the third, Jerry Morales reached base on a walk and ultimately scored on a ball that gave leftfielder Greg Luzinski problems. And, it became 6-5 in the fourth as Steve Henderson's run-scoring single hopped over the head of Phils shortstop Bud Harrelson.
KEITH MORELAND continued to sizzle, doubling home a run in the fifth. And, Schmidt's sacrifice fly made it 8-5 in the sixth.
Relievers Ron Reed and Tug McGraw had to hold on tight to preserve the winning margin, which was provided by McBride's RBI single in the eighth inning.
Baseball players, owners miles apart
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The meeting that will determine if and when major league baseball players will go on strike is less than a week away, yet club owners and players remain miles apart on a new four-year basic agreement.
"I'm not optimistic until I see a reason to be," said Marvin Miller, the director of the Players Association, after negotiations between owners and players reopened yesterday. Miller said no movement was made on any of several key issues during the session, which lasted just under two hours.
"The owners are not seeking a strike," said Ray Grebey, chief owners' negotiator. "But at the same time, they feel very strongly about their proposals.
"WE'VE HAD very constructive negotiations so far," he added. .
The two sides planned to meet again today and tomorrow.
Miller is also meeting this week with members of several teams to outline what is going on in the talks and to discuss the possibility of a strike. He met yesterday with 40 members of the San Francisco Giants and 22 players from the Cleveland Indians, who voted unanimously to authorize a strike if no agreement is reached by April 1. Of the nearly 800 players to vote thus far only one, on the Kansas City Royals, has voted against strike authorization.
Barring a ma jor breakthrough soon, "it's been pretty much decided we'll have to take some sort of strike action. The question is when," said Gary Lavelle, the Giants' player representative.
"THE MEETINGS have been pretty much at a standstill," said San Diego pitcher Randy Jones, who attended yesterday's negotiations.
Player representatives from all the major league teams plan to meet with Miller in Dallas April 1 to decide whether to strike, if an agreement is not reached by then.
The talks apparently are deadlocked over several issues, the most important involving the free agent system.
THE OWNERS want a modification in the system that would increase the compensation a team could get after losing a highly-sought free agent.
For example, Grebey noted, when Pete Rose was signed as a free agent by Philadelphia, the Cincinnati Reds in return "got a young gentleman (whose) chance of moving from the rookie league to the major leagues is one in 10."
Phils unveil banner
PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies' home opener on April 11 will feature the unveiling of a new banner installed in Veterans Stadium – providing one of the Phils hits a home run.
Created and designed by Davis Quigley of Elverson, Pa., the banner will depict many of the landmarks of the city of Philadelphia. Included on the graphic are scenes of the fountain at Logan Circle, the Cathedral at the same circle, the Art Museum, Independence Hall, and others.
The banner will be mounted above the outfield fence. The spectacular will feature 150 strobe lights in fountain and fireworks patterns that will light up whenever a Phillies player hits a home run.
The new scene replaces the old Phillies home run spectacular, Philadelphia Phil, the Liberty Bell, and Philadelphia Phyllis, which were mounted on the fourth level façade.