One of the many stories on the championship celebration the day after the Game Six win for the Phillies. In this article, Bob Kenney focuses on some of the troubles faced by the team. The team history, the amphetamine scandal, and the rocky relationship between the fans and some players in 1980 are all mentioned.
|From the Camden
Courier Post, October 23, 1980:
Area fans honor Phils
By Bob Kenney
PHILADELPHIA- It has been a stormy love affair at best, but yesterday afternoon baseball's "Comeback Kids" enjoyed some blissful moments with their Philadelphia fans.
More than a million cheering fanatics lined the streets to pay tribute to the Phillies, who ended 97 years of frustration Tuesday night by winning a World Series championship.
It was fitting that reliever Tug McGraw, a guy who talks to leprechauns, would fire the game-winning strikeout under a full moon.
This world championship team took on all comers, from the fans to the manager to the press. Yet it survived to make that long awaited, traditional victory parade down Broad Street.
The team that ignored the distractions to come from behind to win six playoff games rode through the city in a caravan of 13 flatbed trucks.
The team that spent the summer hiding from the media and blaming the fans for its slumps let its emotions run free as it made the 90-minute trip from center city to Kennedy Stadium.
"This is unbelievable," said Bob Boone, the catcher who ignored a painful ankle injury to bat .412 in the six games with Kansas City.
"This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. I guess they had a lot of time practicing."
Almost 100 years. Since May 1, 1883, to be exact.
No team in the history of professional sports ever waited longer for a championship. The Phillies were the last of the original major league baseball teams to win it all.
As losers, the Phillies were in a class by themselves.
Phillie teams managed pennants in 1915 and 1950. They lost to Boston in five games after winning the opener. They lost to the Yankees in four straight in '50.
In between, the Phillies rested in the National League basement a record 24 seasons, lost 10 straight games at the end of 1964 to blow a 6½ game lead and lost playoffs in 1976, '77 and '78.
"All through baseball history," said McGraw, "Philadelphia has had to take a back seat. But today is their day."
People climbed light standards, peered from office windows and stood atop automobiles to catch a glimpse of the world champions.
"I never saw so many people," said Del Unser, who delivered two clutch pinch-hit doubles in the series. "It was solid people, all the way. I'd say the fewest was about five deep in some places."
The players acknowledged the fans in their own way.
Pete Rose, in a Phillies tee shirt, waved and yelled as if he was a high school cheerleader.
Steve Carlton, the silent pitcher who won 27 games, stood tall, dressed in a three-piece suit. Never smiling, Carlton occasionally raised his finger in a No. 1 sign.
The parade moved into Kennedy Stadium and 85,000 fans, on hand since early in the morning, stood and cheered for 12 minutes as the team circled the track.
Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburg proclaimed it Phillies' Day in the state. Philadelphia mayor Bill Green toasted the team. Both were booed in true Philadelphia tradition.
Owner Ruly Carpenter spoke and needled the fans. "Few people here didn't think we could win," said the DuPont heir. "But here we are."
Paul Owens, the general manager who molded the team from scratch, acknowledged the cheers emotionally.
"The one thing I promised," said Owens, "was a pennant and a world series. Today you've made it all worthwhile."
The Phillies had drawn over two million fans the past five years. They come to the park sometimes to boo, but they come. They treat their team like family. It's okay to boo them, but don't let anybody else boo them.
When the team struggled this year, the players felt the frustration of the fans. A mid-season story linked the players with an amphetamine scandal and, even though they were cleared, some carried a scar.
Shortstop Larry Bowa suffered the most. He turned on the fans, calling them the worst in baseball after one bitter performance. The fans reacted by booing their favorite shortstop. Bowa reacted by playing well above his norm, leading the team down the stretch.
"We had so many low points," said Mike Schmidt, voted the series MVP. "And they all came in front of the world.
"Losing three times in the playoffs was hanging over our heads. And that amphetamine thing was like a cancer on the whole team."
But they were all forgiven yesterday. The Phillies were the champions of the world. And the fans loved them.
"This is the greatest moment in my entire life," said the hyper Bowa. "I'm glad I can share it with the greatest fans in baseball.
"I said some things I really didn't mean. They're the greatest and they can brag all they want."