This is an interesting synopsis of the 1980 season through the eyes of one of the reporters assigned to cover the team all season. Dolson quickly covers the personal tribulations that many of the Phillies players went through during the season, and how many of the players contributed to the Phillies' pennant.
|From the October, 2000 edition
of Baseball Digest:
A trip through hell, but Phillies arrive laughing in heaven
By Frank Dolson
It was the perfect ending for a baseball team that did everything the hard way… a perfect finish to a 30-year struggle by the Phillies to bring a World Series to Philadelphia.
If the 10-inning, 5-3 victory that kept the Phillies alive in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series was an emotionally draining experience, if the 10-inning, 8-7 victory in Game 5 that earned this team the pennant- and the recognition- that had eluded it so long was even tougher, then it was in keeping with an entire season of ups and downs, giddy highs and sickening lows.
Somewhere, at some time, there may have been a professional sports team that went through more than the 1980 Phillies.
Somewhere, at some time, there may have been a team that had more to prove to even its most ardent supporters than the 1980 Phillies.
But I don’t know where.
This was supposed to be a club of “fat cats”, a group of high-paid, under-motivated baseball players who had all the talent in the world, but not enough desire, not enough heart to win when the going got tough.
It wasn’t until just before midnight on Sunday, when Garry Maddox clutched Enos Cabell’s fly ball for the final out, that the sports fans of Philadelphia, the sportswriters of Philadelphia, that everybody in Philadelphia really believed that this club could do it.
The doubts were apparent, even as the club drove through the stretch in pursuit of the Montreal Expos. The fans had to be convinced that the 1980 Phillies were for real, that they cared, that they were willing to do whatever was necessary to bring a World Series to the Vet.
The reason was clear. Past Phillies team had disappointed their fans too many times, failing to win a single home game while losing three consecutive National League championship series.
But in the end, the team that did everything the hard way from day one, won the big series- the big game- in the hardest way imaginable.
Manny Trillo played second base brilliantly all season and was spectacular in the five-game showdown with the Astros, making superb plays, delivering clutch hits and earning the award as the most valuable player.
Bob Boone, so loudly booed through most of the season, delivered a vital, two-out, ninth-inning hit that kept the Phillies alive in the division clincher in Montreal, then came through with a two-out, two-run hit off one of Nolan Ryan’s fastest fastballs in the pennant-clincher.
Garry Maddox, the center of controversy late in the stretch drive, came through with two gigantic clutch hits- a two-out single in the 15th inning that saved the Phillies from what would have been a costly, perhaps fatal, defeat to the Cubs on the final Monday of the regular season, and the pennant-winning hit, a two-out line drive to center that fell just in front of a desperately-charging Terry Puhl in the 10th inning Sunday night.
Larry Bowa, a frequent target of the boo-birds and for a time mired in the first fielding slump of his career, turned what had been his unhappiest season as a Phillie into his happiest by playing shortstop the way he had played it for a decade and chipping in with several important hits, including the one that triggered Sunday night’s five-run eighth.
Greg Luzinski, who struggled and suffered through much of 1980, came through when it mattered most, getting the game-winning hits in Games 1 and 4.
It didn’t matter that Mike Schmidt, who had led this team throughout the season with his home run and RBI production, hit only .208, with no homers and one RBI in the playoffs. His teammates picked him up- and that is the mark of a truly fine ball club.
It didn’t matter that Pete Rose turned 39 early in the season. He played with the verve, the daring, the aggressiveness that has always been a Pete Rose trademark.
In the playoffs Rose hit .400. He made a mad, stop-me-if-you-can dash from first to home on Luzinski’s two-out, 10th-inning double to win Game 4. He worked Nolan Ryan for the bases-loaded walk that pushed across the first run in the big eighth inning in Game 5. And he made so many outstanding plays at first base you’d have sword he had been playing there all his life.
Game after game in the playoffs, there was Rose, standing in front of the dugout, urging his teammates to get the big hit, to start the big rally. If anybody ever had the slightest doubts that signing Rose as a free agent was a good move for the Phillies, his performance under pressure in the last couple of weeks surely dispelled them once and for all.
But above all, this was a team victory by a ball club that spent what seemed like an inordinate amount of time trying to become a team.
Ironies abounded. In the spring, this was supposed to be a club without pitching. As September turned into October, it was pitching that kept the 1980 Phillies alive. Not just Steve Carlton, who zeroed in on his third Cy Young Award, but Dick Ruthven and Larry Christenson and a kid named Marty Bystrom… and an irrepressible older fella named Tug McGraw.
This was a team that seemed, at times, to be at war with its manager. And yet, when Sunday night’s drama had run its course, there were some of Dallas Green’s severest critics embracing the man.
“I think,” said Greg Luzinski in the glow of this team’s greatest victory in three decades, if not of all time, “we proved to the world that we don’t have a quitter on this team.”
“The bench never let us get down, even when they (the Astros) went up by three,” Larry Bowa said. “The guys never stopped talking and clapping…. I never have been associated with a team that had more character.”
So there it is- the incredible saga of a baseball team that went through hell for the better part of six months- and wound up in heaven.
And took a lot of nonbelievers along for the ride.