It’s 11:29 p.m. Eastern Time on Oct. 21, 1980. The count is one and two to Willie Wilson. Tug McGraw reaches back and here’s the one-two pitch…
WILSON SWINGS AND MISSES! THE DROUGHT IS FINALLY OVER! AFTER 97 YEARS LOOKING AT OTHER TEAMS REIGN BASEBALL SUPREME, THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES ARE THE 1980 CHAMPIONS OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL!
1980 Regular Season
The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t look like serious National League pennant contenders, let alone even compete for the NL East title. During the second week of Aug., the Phillies were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game set. At that point, the Phillies sat in third place in the NL East, six games out of the division lead.
But, you know what, Dallas Green had been Philadelphia’s manager to fix such dire situations. Between games of a Sunday doubleheader in Aug., Green’s shouting most likely obliterated the Richter scale, exhausting the entire book of obscenities. Even reliever Ron Reed screamed, shouted, and let it all out (possible inspiration for “Scream and Shout” by Britney Spears and Will I Am in 2012?).
Well, General Manager Paul Owens lashed out at the Phillies on Sept. 1, snarling, “The last month is [team president] Ruly Carpenter’s and mine.”
You know what, riling up the players, coaches, and fans provided enough inspiration for a late-season turnaround. The Phillies claimed and held first place in the NL East for the final 19 days of the season, clinching the division the day before the regular season ended. Philadelphia won the NL East by one game with 91 wins and 71 losses.
An all-in effort had been required from the position players, and those players proved their worth. The Phillies batted .270 (1,517-for-5,625) with 728, 272 doubles, 54 triples, 117 home runs, 140 steals, and 674 runs batted in.
Third baseman Michael Jack Schmidt actually received the NL Most Valuable Player accolade after compiling 157 hits in 548 at-bats (.286 average in 150 games) with 104 runs, 25 doubles, eight triples, a league-leading 48 homers (a franchise-most until Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006), 12 steals, and a league-most 121 RBIs.
First baseman Pete Rose tallied 95 runs, 141 singles, an NL-high 42 doubles, one triple, one four-bagger, 64 RBIs, and 12 steals in 162 games. These efforts from Rose should’ve added onto a Hall of Fame résumé but “Charlie Hustle” has been banned from professional baseball since 1989 for gambling on baseball games.
Right-fielder Bake McBride deposited 52 of his 171 hits for extra bases (.309 batting average) with 68 runs, 87 RBIs, and 13 steals. Center-fielder Garry Maddox posted 59 runs, 142 hits, 45 extra-base hits, 25 steals, and 73 RBIs. Left-fielder Greg “Bull” Luzinski notched 19 doubles and 19 homers among his 84 hits in 368 at-bats (.228 in 106 games),
Rookie Lonnie Smith batted .339 (101-for-298) in 100 games with 69 runs, 14 doubles, four triples, three round- trippers, 33 steals, and 20 RBIs. Shortstop Larry Bowa swiped 21 bags, collected 144 hits in 540 at-bats (22 for extra bases), crossed home 57 times, and knocked-in 39 runs.
First-string catcher Bob Boone batted .229 with 34 runs, 23 doubles, nine long-balls, and 55 RBIs in 141 games. Rookie Keith Moreland served as Boone’s backup, hitting .314 (50-for-159) in 62 games with 13 runs, eight doubles, four sayonaras, and 29 RBIs.
The bench occupied outfielder Greg Gross (127 games; .240, 19 runs, 12 RBIs), Del Unser (96 games; .264, 15 runs, 10 RBIs), George Vukovich (78 games; .224, six runs, eight RBIs), Ramon Aviles (51 games; .227, 12 runs, nine RBIs), and John Vukovich (49 games; .161, four runs, five RBIs).
McBride (May 24 against Houston) and Schmidt (July 11 against Chicago) both produced two-triple performances. Trillo (July 6 at St. Louis) and Rose (July 11 against Chicago) tallied three doubles in one game. Rose stole three bases at Cincinnati on May 11, including a steal of home. Smith stole three bases against Houston on July 29 and Bowa stole home the day before.
Seventeen men pitched for the Phillies, posting a 3.43 Earned Run Average in 1,480 innings with five shutouts, 40 saves, 25 complete games, 1,419 hits, 530 bases on balls, and 889 strikeouts.
Perhaps many people thought the starting rotation had been Steve Carlton and company. Carlton (24-9, three shutouts, 13 CGs, 2.34 ERA) led the NL in wins, starts (38), innings, and strikeouts (286).
Besides Carlton, starters included Dick Ruthven (17-10, 33 starts, one shutout, 223 innings, 86 strikeouts, 3.55 ERA), Bob Walk (11-7, 27 starts, two CGs, 152 innings, 94 strikeouts, 4.56 ERA), Randy Lerch (4-14, 30 games, 22 starts, two CGs, 150 innings, 57 strikeouts, 5.16 ERA), Larry Christenson (5-1, 14 starts, 74 innings, 27 walks, 49 strikeouts, 4.01 ERA), Nino Espinosa (3-5, 12 starts, one CG, 76 innings, 19 walks, 13 strikeouts, 3.79 ERA), and Dan Larson (0-5, 12 games, seven starts, 46 innings, 3.13 ERA).
Oh, you can’t forget what Marty Bystrom did as a Sept. call-up. In six games (five starts), Bystrom was 5-0 with one shutout, one complete game, 26 hits allowed, nine walks issued, 21 strikeouts, and a 1.50 ERA in 36 innings.
When the bullpen needed to be summoned, Green could count on closer Tug McGraw (5-4, 20 saves, 57 games, 92 innings, 75 strikeouts, 1.47 ERA), Ron Reed (7-5, nine saves, 55 games, 91 innings, 54 strikeouts, 4.05 ERA), Dickie Noles (1-4, six saves, 48 games, three starts, 81 innings, 57 strikeouts, 3.89 ERA), Kevin Saucier (7-3, 40 games, 50 innings, 3.42 ERA), Warren Brusstar (2-2, 26 games, 39 innings, 3.69 ERA), Lerrin LaGrow (0-2, three saves, 25 games, 39 innings, 4.15 ERA), and Sparky Lyle (0-0, two saves, 10 games, 14 innings, 1.93 ERA).
Carlton, of corse, defeated all 11 opposing clubs in the NL. He even one-hit his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-0, at Veterans Stadium on April 26. Oh yeah, Carlton even strung eight consecutive wins at one point.
After posting the league’s best defense in 1978 and 1979, the Phillies sported the fifth-ranked defense (.979 fielding percentage) with 136 errors and 136 double plays. Rose had been the league’s best first baseman in fielding percentage (.997) and assists (123). Trillo recorded 360 putouts at second base.
Schmidt posted 372 assists and 31 double plays at third base. Maddox recorded 405 putouts in the outfield. Boone made 741 putouts from behind the plate.
Once the final outs were recorded on Oct. 5, the Phillies and Houston claimed their respective divisions. The Phillies entered this NL Championship Series as league runner-up in three of the previous four seasons. This five game series would provide exciting atmospheres at Veterans Stadium and the Astrodome.
1980 NLCS: Phillies vs. Houston Astros
Tim McCarver appeared in only six games with the Phillies in the regular season as he immediately entered the team’s broadcast booth, collecting one single, one double, two runs, and two RBIs. McCarver ended up laughing constantly for one minute while play-by-play man Harry Kalas proclaimed the Phillies won the pennant. The Star Wars theme song played in the background of the Astrodome as the Phillies celebrated their three-games-to-two series victory on Oct. 12.
Games one and two entertained spectators at Veterans Stadium. While Philadelphia earned a 3-1 victory in the first game, the Astros gutted a 7-4, 10-inning second-game win. Luzinski’s two-run homer in game one provided the difference (the series’ lone long-ball).
The final three games took place at the Astrodome. Houston needed one more win after a 1-0 11-inning victory in game three. However, the Phillies evened the series with a 5-3 victory in the fourth game.
It’s not hard to believe Game Five even finished in 10 innings as the Phillies defeated the Astros, 8-7, and clinched their first pennant since 1950. Philadelphia scored twice in the second, five times in the eighth, and Unser scored on a Maddox double in the 10th. The Astro scored once in the second, once in the fifth, three times in the seventh, and twice in the eighth.
Carlton had been the only starter to earn a win, pitching seven innings in game one with seven hits, one earned run, three walks, and three strikeouts. The Phillies compiled 55 hits in 190 at-bats with 20 runs, seven doubles, one triple, one homer, seven steals, 13 walks, and 37 strikeouts.
Defeating the Astros meant the Phillies finally won a postseason series in their 98-season history. All that was left was to be the first team to win four games in the World Series.
1980 World Series: Phillies vs. KC Royals
Perhaps this would be the season the Phillies would emerge as World Series champions. However, Kansas City won its Anerican League division by 14 games before sweeping the 103-win New York Yankees in the three-game ALCS.
How about karma or superstitions? The Phillies lost their previous two appearances in the fall classic (1915 and 1950), and both of their opponents won previous World Series titles. Kansas City hadn’t played in the fall classic before this season.
Sure, the Royals had Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. Brett had nine hits in 24 at-bats in this World Series with three runs, two doubles, one triple, one homer, and three RBIs.
People forgot the remind the Phillies about first baseman Willie Aikens. Aikens was eight-for-20 with one triple, four long-balls, and eight RBIs.
Even center-fielder Amos Otis couldn’t be out away at all times. Otis notched 11 hits in 23 at-bats with two doubles, three sayonaras, and seven RBIs.
You would’ve thought the Royals would be the ones lifting the hardware. Kansas City had more at-bats (207 to 201), hits (60 to 59), triples (two to zero), and home runs (eight to three). Notice you don’t see anything about the Royals scoring more runs than the Phillies.
Game One had been an offensive display in Philadelphia. The Royals produced six runs, five singles, one double, and three homers (two by Aikens). Philadelphia, however, overcame a 4-0 deficit and scored seven unanswered runs (five in the third) as the Phillies won, 7-6. Nine of Philadelphia’s 11 hits were singles as Boone doubles twice (Walk tossed seven innings and allowed all six earned runs before McGraw recorded a six-out save).
In Game Two, McBride scored the winning run all the way from first base on a Schmidt double in the bottom of the eighth as the Phillies took a two-games-to-zero lead with a 6-4 home victory. Reed celebrated a ninth-inning Dave after Carlton gave eight innings with 10 hits, four runs (three earned), six walks, and 10 strikeouts. Maddox, Schmidt, and Unser provided one double apiece as the Phillies tallied five singles (the Royals had one double and 10 singles).
Kauffman Stadium hosted games three and four, and the Phillies certainly wished they had their fans on the road. Kansas City won those games by scores of 4-3 and 5-3. The Royals posted 21 hits, including five doubles, two triples, and four homers. Schmidt blasted a solo shot in game three, but Aikens had another two-homer showing (this time in Game Four).
Heading into Game Five at the K, the pivotal play in the series was mostly likely when Noles floored Brett with a 0-2 knockdown pitch during the bottom of the fourth inning in game four. Noles insisted he wasn’t throwing at Brett after the game.
As for the fifth game, the Phillies entered the top of the ninth trailing by one run (3-2). Schmidt ledoff with a single off Brett’s glove at third. Unser then lined a pinch-hit double to left as Schmidt scored the tying run (3-3), Maddox grounded out before Trillo ripped a line drive off closer Dan Quisenberry’s glove as he beat the throw and Unser scored the go-ahead run (4-3).
McGraw came on to close the bottom of the ninth, but he loaded the bases. Hal McRae narrowly missed a fence-clearer with two on and one out as it was foul (McRae grounded into a force play). McGraw then struck out ex-Phillie Jose Cardenal as the Phillies won Game Five, 4-3, and grabbed a three-games-to-two advantage.
Perhaps when left-fielder Blondie Purcell, shortstop Bill McClellan, right-fielder John Manning, second baseman (and manager) Bob Ferguson, centerfielder Fred Lewis, third baseman Will Harbridge, pitcher John Coleman, catcher Frank Ringo, and first baseman Sid Farrar took the field at Recreation Park on May 1, 1883 (first game in Phillies history), they probably couldn’t imagine their team would be one game from being the best in Major League Baseball. Ninety-seven years after those nine men made up the Phillies’ first lineup, Philadelphia could be MLB champions.
Veterans Stadium accommodated 65,838 spectators on Oct. 21 for Game Six. Well, the Phillies wanted the parade to begin by building a 4-0 lead on RBI singles by Rose and Schmidt in the bottom of the third and one run apiece in the fifth and sixth.
Carlton gave the Phillies fans the sense something that has never happened in Phillies history will finally take place. He tossed seven-plus innings with seven hits, one earned run, three walks and seven strikeouts. Two batters reached base against Carlton with zero outs in the top of the eighth.
Getting the final six outs to win the World Series would be the tricky part. McGraw relieved Carlton and walked Willie Wilson to load the bases. U.L. Washington delivered a sacrifice fly with one out to trim the Royals’ deficit to three (4-1). Brett beat out an infield hit to reload the bases the top of the eighth before McRae grounded out to Trillo at second.
Alright, the Phillies needed three outs in the top of the ninth. Oh boy, McGraw loaded the bases with a walk and two singles after a strikeout. Then, Frank White lifted a pop fly in front of the Phillies’ dugout, Boone and Rose both converged on the ball, and Boone dropped the ball; however, Rose caught it underneath Boone’s glove for the second out.
History stood between McGraw against Wilson with two outs in the top of the ninth. The count went to one ball and two strikes. McGraw reached back for one last fastball and blew by Wilson for the strikeout and the final out. After the final out, McGraw made a jubilant leap, becoming one of the most memorable moments in franchise history.
It was over- the Phillies won game six, 4-1, meaning the World Series title belonged to Philadelphia (the Phillies won the series, four-games-to-two). A victory parade toured through Center City the morning after the World Series win.
Since the McGraw leap, the Phillies won the NL pennant in 1983, 1993, 2008, and 2009 (also won the NL East those seasons plus 2007, 2010, and 2011). Out of those four pennants, only the 2008 Phillies could join the 1980 team as World Series champions, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, four-games-to-one. Besides, 80 backwards is 08.
Schmidt, Carlton, and Rose represented the Phillies in the 1980 All-Star Game. Outfielder Chuck Klein, who played for the Phillies three different times (1928-1933, 1936-1939, 1940-1944), was selected for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Veterans Stadium admitted 2,651,650 spectators through the turnstiles.
Christenson and McGraw spent time on the Disabled List. Groin injuries and an elbow operation limited Christenson’s regular season action (he earned a no-decision in game three of the NLCS and lasted one-third of an inning in Philadelphia’s game four loss at Kansas City in the fall classic).
Carlton received the NL Cy Young, NL Pitcher of the Year, and MLB Pitcher of the Year. Smith was voted NL Rookie of the year. Trillo earned the NLCS MVP Award and Schmidt had been voted MVP of the World Series.
Bill Dancy managed Class A affiliate Peninsula to the Carolina League championship title. Phillies games were broadcasted on KYW-1060 AM and WPHL-TV 17. You would’ve heard the voices of Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, Chris Wheeler, and McCarver.
*Information about the 1980 World Series-winning Phillies, including statistics, photographs, and box scores, can be found in “The Phillies Encyclopedia (Third Edition)” by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.