1980 Phillies Articles

Philadelphia Daily News- October 23, 1980

Rich Hoffman wrote a series of articles that summarized each game.  They appeared in a special pull-out section of the October 23, 1980 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News.  The pull-out section was appropriately named "Hallelujah!" to reflect the emotions of legions of Phillies fans who finally got to bask in baseball glory after nearly a hundred lean years.

From the October 23, 1980 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News (Special Section "Hallelujah!"):

Game 5:  Schmidt’s Hit Melts Frey’s Strategy in 9th

By Rich Hoffmann

Everyone involved in this tourney knew that after the Royals tied it at 2-2, Game 5 would be the axis on which the series would pivot.  A loss eliminated neither team, but still, the prospect of the loser having to win two straight with the loot on the line was hardly appealing.

It was a game, even more than the previous four, in which the smallest mistake would be held up to ridicule by the gods of the typewriter assembled above.  The tiniest error in judgment, the most minute miscue, would be exposed by the scions of American sports journalism and picked apart like a vulture would ravage a carcass rotting in the sun.

The heat, as they say, was on.  And K.C. manager Jim Frey melted, and his Royals dropped the pivotal fifth game at home, 4-3.

Frey’s mistake was in paying attention to the short run and ignoring the obvious.  In the ninth inning, with the Royals leading 3-2, with no one out and no one on, Frey had his third baseman, George Brett, playing in for the bunt with Mike Schmidt at the plate.

Now, Mike Schmidt is not a good-field, no-hit shortstop.  He’s not the eighth-place hitter.  Mike Schmidt is the 1980 major league home run champion.  During the regular season, the guy hit 48 home runs.  And in the fourth inning that very afternoon, he slugged a mammoth homer to straightaway center that gave the Phils a short-lived 2-0 lead.

In short, Mike Schmidt has never been mistaken for either Punch or Judy, but in the dusk of the ninth inning of Game 5, Jim Frey had his third baseman playing him that way.  Frey was fixated on two earlier Series incidents in which Schmidt tried bunts in crucial situations.  He was playing a hunch, and it backfired.

With Brett in, Schmidt lined a shot to his left.  With the third baseman at normal depth, it’s a routine out, but playing tight, Brett had to dive and barely got a glove on it, deflecting it toward shortstop.  Schmidt was on first and the winning rally was started.

“No way I was gonna bunt in that situation,” Schmidt said.  “Not one run down in the ninth.  My job there is to get a good pitch, try and drive it, try to hit a double, maybe even hit the ball out of the park.  No way would I think of trying to get on base with a bunt.  But now that you mention it, my bunting twice here might have put that thought in their minds.  I didn’t really notice how close George was playing me.  I was just aware of him guarding the line.  If he’s back on that ball, I guess he makes a fairly routine play.”

George Brett wasn’t guessing.  “If I’m playing normally,” he said, “I make that play.”

But he wasn’t, and he didn’t, and Schmidt was on first.  Del Unser, pinch-hitting for Lonnie Smith, ripped a double past first baseman Willie Aikens, he of the brass glove and clay feet, scoring Schmidt and tying the game, 3-3.  Frey had slick-fielding Pete LaCock on the bench, but he decided against making the late-inning defensive switch he’d made all season.  Aikens, on fire at the plate, was due up in the ninth, so Frey gambled on his defense and lost.

DH Keith Moreland’s bunt moved Unser to third, and Garry Maddox’ bouncer to third left Unser there with two outs.

Manny Trillo was the batter.  He ripped a slider back to the box, the ball deflecting off reliever Dan Quisenberry’s forearm and ricocheting toward third base.  Trillo beat it out, Unser scored, and the Phils were ahead, 4-3.

The sight of Unser, a class guy, crossing the plate with the go-ahead run warmed many Philadelphia hearts.  Unser’s success as a pinch-hitter in the playoffs and World Series, though not unprecedented, was one of the highlights of the post-season.

“As a pinch-hitter, you’ve gotta come of that bench swinging,” he said.  “There are gonna be times when you go up there and it looks like that pitcher is throwing BBs.  There will be other times when it looks like he’s throwing beachballs.  Either way, you’ve gotta swing the bat.  You’ve gotta make something happen.”

Tug McGraw, who’d been in the game in relief of rookie starter Marty Bystrom since the seventh inning, had to survive a heart-thumping ninth to nail it down, striking out Jose Cardenal with the bases loaded.

“Jose’s no piece of cake right now,” Tug said.  But Jose’s swing said otherwise.

“I look at the bright side,” said Cardenal, a man gifted with the ability to see things others can’t.  “A hit tied the game.  It was a strike,  I had to swing.”

“I’m still a lucky guy.  The Mets drop me, I come to a team like this and I’m in the World Series.  How lucky can you get?”

The man obviously hadn’t had much experience with luck.  Dan Quisenberry, the witty reliever who’d had more than his share of rocky outings this Series, knew the real result of his team’s mistake-filled, fifth-game loss.  If the Royals were to win the whole shebang, they’d have to take the final two games in Philadelphia.

“Now,” Quisenberry said, “we’re up against the Berlin Wall.  The East side of it.”

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