1980 Phillies Articles
The Phillies: 100 Years (Philadelphia Daily News insert)

This excerpt is taken from the larger article by Ray Didinger that appeared in the special insert section from the Daily News that marked the Phils' 100th anniversary in 1983. Using mainly interviews with Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw, Didinger summarizes the end of the 1980 regular season, the playoffs and World Series victories.

From The Phillies: 100 Years (Philadelphia Daily News insert, April, 1983):

McGraw, Schmidt Orchestrate 1980 Celebration

(excerpted from A Tale of Three Series)

By Ray Didinger

The routine was the same as it had been for the previous four weeks. At 3 p.m., the McGraw station wagon pulled into the driveway at the Schmidt's home in Media. Mike kissed his wife, Donna, goodbye and headed for the office.

Hank McGraw drove. Brother Frank, better known as Tug, rode shotgun. Mike Schmidt was in the back. Bruce Springsteen was on the radio.

The date was Oct. 21, 1980.

"I don't remember feeling any different that day," Schmidt said. "I didn't feel any more nervous or any more pumped up. I remember feeling very confident, totally confident, that we were gonna win that night.

"We took the same route to the ballpark. We stopped at the same Baskin-Robbins and had the same thing: three black-and-white shakes. Hank, Tug and me started doing this the last week of the season and the team got hot, so we kept doing it. Why take chances, right?

"I remember Tug was his usual self, loose and gabbing away. We got to talking about World Series celebrations... You know, what happens after the final out. I said it seems like the Sports Illustrated cover shot is always the relief pitcher jumping in the air.

"The year before it was (Kent) Tekulve. The year before that it was (Goose) Gossage. I told Tug, 'Look, when you get the last out tonight, wait for me. I want to jump on top of you and get in that picture.' He said, 'It's a deal.' We both laughed."

At 11:29 p.m., Tug McGraw reached down inside his weary left arm and found one last fastball. He fired it past Kansas City's Willie Wilson for strike three and, for the first time in their 97-year history, the Philadelphia Phillies were world champions.

Suddenly, Veterans Stadium was a champagne bottle popping its cork, spraying joy into the night. South Philly dock workers and Main Line preppies pirouetted through the aisles like so many Bolshoi dancers. There was laughter and tears; the sense of a city tossing back its head and shouting, "Dammit, we finally did it."

Few people noticed in all the excitement, but the first thing Tug McGraw did after he struck out Willie Wilson was turn toward third base.

"He looked right at me," Mike Schmidt said. "It was as if he was saying, 'Well, this is it. What are you waiting for?'"

Schmidt ran to the mound, but by the time he got there Billy DeMars and Lee Elia had McGraw around the waist and Lonnie Smith and Larry Christenson were pounding him on the back. So Schmidt simply threw himself onto the pile, like a body surfer diving into a wave.

A thousand shutters clicked and that became the freeze frame of the 1980 World Series: Mike Schmidt, the National League's Most Valuable Player, now the Series MVP, riding the shoulders of his jubilant teammates. The game's ultimate player enjoying the game's ultimate moment.

"It was like everything came together," Schmidt recalled. "It was my first world championship, the first for most of the guys on the team. It was like all of us, every person in the stadium, had the same feeling: 'Wow, we made it.' It was so great, so honest..."

The Phillies came close in other years, but that only added to the frustration felt by Schmidt, McGraw and the rest. There was the National League playoff sweep by Cincinnati in 1976, then the heartbreaking losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers the next two years.

The city, of course, still bore the scars of the World Series wipeouts against Boston (1915) and the New York Yankees (1950), not to mention the infamous collapse of 1964 when Gene Mauch's Fizz Kids blew a 6½-game lead with 12 to play.

There were those who called it destiny, who said the Phillies were a franchise doomed to wander in the desert forever. There were others who said it was a matter of character, that this team, though beautifully sculpted, lacked a champion's heart.

"That was a strong motivating force," Tug McGraw said. "There was this undercurrent of suspicion surrounding our team. We were labeled spoiled, overpaid underachievers. People, the media in particular, said we couldn't win the big one. We didn't have the guts and so forth.

"We didn't talk about it much, but we all felt it. When we won a big game you'd hear a few guys say, 'Take that overpaid crap and stick it up your ass.' Of course, there's only one way to put that rap to rest for good and that's win the World Series. So, yeah, we wanted it... bad."

The Phillies went into the final week of the season trailing Montreal by a half-game. They swept four from Chicago to tie the Expos, then they beat Montreal twice in Olympic Stadium, coming from behind each time, to win the Eastern Division.

In the National League Championship Series, the Phillies dropped two of the first three to Houston, then rallied to win the last two games in the Astrodome. They were at the brink, six outs away from elimination, in Game 4 and again in Game 5, yet each time they battled back.

McGraw was on the roll of his career, three earned runs in 52 innings since coming off the disabled list July 17. Schmidt, who had struggled in past Octobers, rose to the occasion. Nine homers, including three game-winners, in the final two weeks.

When it wasn't McGraw and Schmidt, it was someone else: Bob Boone delivering a two-out, ninth-inning single to tie the Expos; Manny Trillo batting .381 in the Houston series; Garry Maddox doubling in the winning run in Game 5; Greg Gross and Del Unser sparking the eighth-inning rally against Nolan Ryan with pinch hits; Marty Bystrom winning five consecutive starts following his recall from Oklahoma City.

"It was our year, simple as that," Schmidt said. "We got that feeling late in September and it carried through to the end. Positive vibrations, like no matter what happened, we'd find a way to win. We didn't have that in the past. We played hard, but we didn't have that intangible. In 1980, we did and that was the difference."

"I was in two World Series with the Mets (1969, 1973)," McGraw said, "and I never felt the pressure the way I felt it in 1980. It was incredible, and it kept building.

"I had trouble going to sleep at night. I had trouble waking up in the morning. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I had pitched a lot in September, then I pitched in all five games against Houston. I was taking Tylenol morning, noon and night to dull the ache in my arm.

"I don't know why I felt the pressure so intensely. Maybe because I was older. When I was with the Mets, I was just a kid. I was new to the relief pitching business. I thought, 'Hey, this is fun.' I was too naive to feel the heat. But I felt it here, that's for sure."

Kansas City was favored to win the 1980 World Series. The Royals had a solid team, evidenced by their three-game rout of the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs. They had a 20-game winner in Dennis Leonard. They had the Fireman of the Year in Dan Quisenberry (33 saves). And, of course, they had batting champion George Brett, fresh from his celebrated near-miss of the .400 mark.

What's more, the Royals were rested. Their sweep of the Yankees had given them time to set up their pitching rotation for the Series. The Phillies, on the other hand, used 12 pitchers in the last two games against Houston and they had to dig out a rookie, Bob Walk, as their Game 1 starter.

The 77th World Series opened Oct. 14 before 65,791 fans at the Vet. Walk gave up a pair of early two-run homers to Amos Otis and Willie Aikens. The Royals led, 4-0, in the third and, with Leonard pitching, things looked grim for the Phillies.

But Boone doubled home Larry Bowa, Lonnie Smith singled home Boone and Bake McBride followed with a three-run homer as the Phils went ahead to stay. Walk settled down and blanked the Royals for four innings before surrendering another two-run homer to Aikens in the eighth.

At that point, Manager Dallas Green summoned McGraw from the bullpen and he preserved the 7-6 win, the Phillies' first World Series victory since Grover Cleveland Alexander beat the Red Sox in Baker Bowl, 1915.

In Game 2, Carlton started against Larry Gura. The Phillies went ahead, 2-0, in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Trillo and a single by Bowa.

Normally, two runs would be enough for Carlton, but not this chilly night. The great left-hander was struggling with his control. The Royals had 10 base runners in the first five innings. They scored an unearned run in the sixth, then took a 4-2 lead in the seventh on three walks and a double by Otis.

Kansas City Manager Jim Frey called in Quisenberry to tidy up, but the Phillies mounted an eighth-inning rally. Boone walked, then Unser delivered a pinch double, McBride singled in the tying run and Schmidt doubled home the game-winner and insurance for a 6-4 victory.

The Royals came back to win the next two games in Kansas City and, when they carried a 3-2 lead into the ninth inning of Game 5, the American League champions appeared to have the Phillies in retreat. Quisenberry again was pitching for Kansas City. Schmidt led off.

"The Series was at a pivotal point," Schmidt said. "We didn't want to come home down three games to two. I felt I had to do something to get us going. As I stepped in the box, I noticed Brett was playing up close at third.

"I had bunted for a hit in Game 4, but there was no way I was gonna bunt in this situation, not when I could tie the game with a home run. Brett should have known that. He said later Frey was yelling for him to move in, so he did."

Schmidt ripped a line drive off Brett's glove for an infield single. "If he's playing back," Schmidt said, "it's an easy out." The Phillies had life.

Unser pinch hit for Lonnie Smith and the 35-year-old journeyman came through again, pulling a double down the line. Schmidt scored, tying the game, then Trillo's two-out single put the Phillies ahead, 4-3.

The suspense was far from over, however. McGraw walked Frank White and Aikens to open the Kansas City ninth. Then he threw a 0-1 slider that Hal McRae hit deep into the left-field stands, just barely foul. McGraw watched, fluttering his hand over his heart.

"I was amazed it came that close," McGraw said. "I threw a good pitch, a slider off the inside corner. I didn't see any way McRae could hit it fair. But the way it hugged the line, my heart did flutter."

McGraw retired McRae on a force, then walked Otis to load the bases. With the 42,369 Kansas City fans on their feet, roaring on every pitch, McGraw got Jose Cardenal on a called third strike to end the game.

On Oct. 21, the Phillies returned home for Game 6. The atmosphere was that of a New Year's Eve party- everyone counting down the minutes until the big celebration.

There were 65,838 fans in the Vet, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in Pennsylvania. The streets were deserted. The city was absorbed in the drama.

Carlton started and, unlike Game 2, he was at his best. The Royals did not manage a clean hit until John Wathan's two-out single in the fifth. Carlton had seven strikeouts in the first six innings and, by then, the Phillies had a 4-0 lead.

Schmidt delivered the big hit, a bases-loaded single that drove in two runs and KOd Kansas City starter Rich Gale in the third inning. As Schmidt made his turn at first, he threw his fist in the air. "I felt we had it then," Schmidt said.

But the Royals clawed back. A walk to Wathan and a single by Cardenal leading off the eighth finished Carlton. In came McGraw, making his 12th appearance in 15 games. He squirmed out of the jam, allowing one run on a sacrifice fly.

"Dallas asked if I could work the ninth," McGraw recalled. "I told him I could, provided I didn't have to throw too many pitches. We had a 4-1 lead and I was hoping for a nice, 1-2-3 inning, but it didn't work out that way.

McGraw fanned Otis, but walked Aikens. Wathan and Cardenal singled and, suddenly, the bases were loaded.

"My arm was really hurting at that point," McGraw said. "You know how you bump your crazy bone and get that tingling in your fingers? Well, that's how my arm felt."

Frank White was the next hitter. He looped a foul in the direction of the Phillies' dugout. Boone and Pete Rose converged on it. Boone called for the ball, then watched it pop out of his mitt. Rose alertly grabbed it before it hit the ground. "I would've kissed him," McGraw said, "but I had to cover home."

The last Kansas City hope was the slumping Wilson, 4-for-25 in the Series with 11 strikeouts. The 1980 fall classic had come down to this: a pitcher with a dead arm facing a hitter with a dead bat.

"I thought about calling Dallas out and telling him I couldn't make it," McGraw said, "but then I psyched myself up. I said, 'C'mon, Tug. You can get one more out. Hell, you've pitched 15 years in the big leagues. You mean you can't get one more out?'

"I looked around the stands; I often do that when I'm tired. I pick out a fan who's going crazy and I'll siphon off some of his energy. It didn't matter where I looked that night- everybody was going bananas."

McGraw ran a 1-2 count on Wilson, then struck him out to end it. The Phillies 97-year quest was over.

The next day, more than a million Philadelphians turned out to watch the new champions parade down Broad Street to John F. Kennedy Stadium.

"When we pulled into the stadium (filled with 85,000 people), I couldn't believe my eyes," McGraw said. "We had a ticker tape parade in New York when we won the '69 Series and I thought that was the ultimate, but it was nothing compared to the feeling I had that day in JFK.

"Philadelphia," McGraw said, "really knows how to win."

 

Hosting by WebRing.