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Philography: Mike Schmidt

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Statue of Michael Jack Schmidt, the greatest player in Phillies history, stands outside of Citizens Bank Park

 

This Philography series has now weaved its way through 20 individuals who have played a big part in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. So it is perhaps fitting that we now take a look back at the career of #20 himself, the greatest player in franchise history, Mike Schmidt.

Philography began with 18 pieces that I wrote during each off-season between 2014-17. Over the last few months I re-introduced the series here at Phillies Nation with two of the players whose actual uniform numbers the Phillies have retired: Richie Ashburn and Jim Bunning.
Entire books can be written – have been written – in order to fully tell the story of one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball. I’m not going to try to do that here. If you are interested in getting in deeper, check out a fine biography at this link written back in 2010 by Rob Maaddi titled Mike Schmidt: The Phillies’ Legendary Slugger.
In order to keep this to a reasonable article-length piece, I will simply rehash the early playing career, and then key on the 1980 highlights of the greatest third baseman in the history of the game, with a little background tossed in here and there. It should make for a great introduction for younger fans, and a fun bit of nostalgia for those who, like me, actually got to see him play.

BEGINNINGS

Schmidt was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and stayed home to play college baseball at Ohio University. He was a shortstop in those days and was selected at that position to the 1970 College Baseball All-America Team after leading the Bobcats to the College World Series.
With the sixth pick in the second round of the 1971 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies selected Schmidt at 30th overall. That was just one pick after the Kansas City Royals had chosen a California shortstop by the name of George Brett.
Schmidt described his contract signing process in a 2015 piece by Matt Monagan for MLB.com’s Cut 4:
The next day, Mr. Lucadello (Phillies scout Tony Lucadello) came to the house, pulled in the driveway, opened his trunk and he pulled out a typewriter. He pulled a typewriter out, walked in the house, set the typewriter down, had a piece of paper and said, “We’re prepared to offer Mike $25,000 if he’ll sign with the Phillies right now.” And my father said, “No way. Come back when you can give us $40,000.” We ended up settling on $37,500 and I went out and bought a Corvette for $7,000.
As an advanced college prospect, Schmidt went straight to Double-A Reading that same summer. He appeared in his first 74 professional games there, hitting .211 with eight homers and 31 RBI over 268 plate appearances.
With a full off-season of rest, Schmidt moved up to Triple-A Eugene for the 1972 season and really showed his ability. He slashed .291/.409/.550 while slamming 26 home runs and driving in 91 runs over 131 games.

MONEY FOR A CUP OF COFFEE

That performance earned him a September promotion to a 59-win, last-place Phillies club. The starting third baseman at that time was 25-year-old Don Money, who the Phillies had high hopes for at one point. However, Money hit just .222 with 15 homers that year following up on a 1971 season in which he had hit just .221 with seven homers.
Schmidt didn’t light the world on fire in that first brief big-league cup of coffee. But he got to appear in 13 games, and made eight starts at the hot corner alongside a fiery 26-year-old shortstop by the name of Larry Bowa.
On September 16, 1972 in the first game of a doubleheader at Veteran’s Stadium against the Montreal Expos, Schmidt blasted a three-run homer off Balor Moore for his first career round-tripper. It would turn out to be a game-winner, taking the Phillies from a 1-0 deficit to a 3-1 lead that would also end up as the final score that night.
Realizing that the Phillies had their starting third baseman for years to come, general manager Paul Owens swung a deal the very next month, shipping Money, infielder John Vukovich, and pitcher Bill Champion to the Milwaukee Brewers for four hurlers, including veteran Jim Lonborg and George Brett‘s brother, Ken Brett.
Schmidt’s contributions to the 1972 Phillies season, such as they were, were lost on most of Phillies Nation at that time. The big story had been the performance of a new arrival, starting pitcher Steve Carlton. The left-hander won 27 games and the NL Cy Young Award that year for a last place team. Little did anyone know that he and Schmidt would become the cornerstones of great Phillies teams for years to come.

RISE TO CONTENDERS

In his first season as a starter, Schmidt struggled mightily, slashing just .196/.324/.373 with 18 home runs. The Phillies again finished in the basement of the National League East Division, but under new manager Danny Ozark they showed some progress overall, entering September just six games off the division lead.
The 1974 season would prove to be a big step forward for both the team and its young third sacker. Schmidt slashed .282/.395/.546 and led the NL with 36 homers. He also produced 116 RBI, 108 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases, was selected as a reserve for the National League All-Star team and would finish sixth in the NL MVP voting.
On June 10 of that 1974 season in Houston, Schmidt drove an offering from Astros pitcher Claude Osteen that was a no-doubt home run right off the bat. But as the ball soared up and up at the Astrodome it struck a public address speaker that was suspended 117 feet up and 329 feet out from home plate. The ball fell into center field for what ended up as one of the longest singles ever hit.
Sparked by Schmidt’s emergence and the veteran influence of new second baseman Dave Cash the Phillies spent much of June and July of that summer of 1974 in first place. Though the club wilted in the August heat, they still won 80 games for the first time in eight years and ended the season in third place, the highest finish by a Phillies team since 1966.
The 1975 season would see the Phillies take another step forward. The team won 86 games and was tied for first place as late as August 18. The Phillies went 11-7 against the division power at that time, the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Pirates. But the Bucs again pulled away at the end, finishing 6.5 games ahead.
Schmidt had a bit of a fall-off that season, hitting just .249 and seeing his strikeouts total soar to a league-leading 180. But he also led the league for a second straight season with 38 home runs. He and left fielder Greg Luzinski gave the Phillies the most feared combination of sluggers in the game. “The Bull” slashed .300/.394/.540 that year with 34 homers and 120 RBI, making the NL All-Star team and finishing as the NL MVP runner-up.

BECOMING THE BEST

The Bicentennial season of 1976 would finally see the Phillies overtake the Pirates as kings of the east. Led by a rejuvenated Schmidt, the club would romp to a franchise-record 101 regular season victories. They moved into first place on May 14 and would never relinquish the lead, building a 15.5 game cushion at one point and finishing on top by nine games.
Schmidt led the charge for that club, again leading the league with 38 homers and also finishing with an NL-best 306 total bases. On April 17 he blasted four home runs during an 18-16 Phillies victory over the host Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Schmidt was selected for his second NL All-Star team, finished third in the National League MVP vote, and was honored with his first Gold Glove Award for fielding excellence at third base.
In the Phillies first-ever NLCS appearance, Schmidt was shut down over the first two games by Cincinnati. The Reds won both games by 6-3 and 6-2 at The Vet as he went just 1-8 in the two games combined. In Game 3 back at Riverfront Stadium, Schmidt finally broke out with three hits. But the big bats of the Big Red Machine scored three times in the bottom of the 9th, rallying to a 7-6 victory and the National League pennant.
The next three seasons would be a mixture of success and frustration. The Phillies equaled their record 101 wins in 1977, then won 90 games in 1978. They captured the NL East each season, giving them three consecutive division crowns. But the team came up short each year in the National League Championship Series, dropping back-to-back heart-breakers to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Frustrated by the Phillies inability to get over the hump in the postseason, Owens decided to finally go after a big piece in a free agency process that was only a few years old at that point. On December 5, 1978 he signed perennial All-Star Pete Rose, who had helped lead the Reds to World Series titles in both 1975 and 1976.
With Rose on board the Phillies opened 1979 as favorites once again. Things were going as planned early on, as the club built a 3.5 game division lead by early May and were still sitting atop the division on May 27. But then it all came suddenly and unexpectedly crashing down.
Starting on May 28 the Phillies lost six straight games. That began a 38-51 collapse over the next three months. Despite a 19-11 final month the 1979 Phillies would finish in fourth place, a distant 14 games behind the famed “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates team that would go on to become World Series champions.
That victory in the Fall Classic was the second of the decade for the Phillies main division rivals. It was the fifth overall World Series title for Pittsburgh. The Phillies had still never won a single World Series crown in what was then 97 seasons of existence.
From 1977-79, Schmidt cemented his place as one of the true stars of the game. He won the NL Gold Glove Award each season and twice was a National League All-Star. In 1979 his 45 home runs set a new Phillies franchise record, breaking the old mark of 43 set by Chuck Klein all the way back in 1929.
But that 1979 collapse had cost the laid-back Ozark his job. He was replaced by Dallas Green and his no-nonsense, in-your-face. It would be under Green that the team would turn it back around for that 19-11 final month performance.

1980 MANDATE

Green took over as Phillies manager at the end
of the 1979 season. He would drive the
team hard, but it all paid off in the end.
There was only one mandate as the 1980 season began, win a championship. If it failed to happen then an aging Phillies core was likely to see major changes after that season. That core of Schmidt, Bowa, Luzinski, and catcher Bob Boone had been together for most of the decade. They had led the rise to contending status but were also continually falling short in the playoffs.
Coming off their fourth-place finish, the Phillies were not considered division favorites entering the season. Sure enough the Phillies sat in fourth place and were already 5.5 games out on May 10. But by the All-Star break they had scratched and clawed their way back into the race.
For the first time since the opening days of the season, the Phillies took sole possession of first place in the NL East on July 11. And yet that was not a jumping off point.
On July 19 they were swept in a doubleheader by the Atlanta Braves. On August 10 they were again swept in a doubleheader, this time by the Pirates. Counting and between those two sweeps, the club lost 14 of 22 games to fall six off the division lead.
Unlike the prior season, the Phillies refused to die. Victories in eight of nine games at the end of August put them back into the race. It would remain a nail-biter from that point onwards. On the weekend of September 26-28, the Expos won two of three at The Vet to take a half-game lead. Those would be the last games that the Phillies would lose until the season finale.
Over the final week, the Phillies won four straight to even things up. This would set the stage for what may be the most dramatic back-to-back regular season games in franchise history, and Schmidt would play a pivotal role in both contests.

SHOWDOWN NORTH OF THE BORDER

On Friday night, October 3 the Phillies and Expos began a season-closing three game series at Stade Olympique in Montreal with the two teams tied atop the division. Behind Schmidt’s first inning sacrifice fly and sixth inning solo home run, and a tremendous two-inning relief stint from Tug McGraw, the Phillies won the opener by a 2-1 score.
That left the Phillies needing just one win to clinch the division crown. However, a win by Montreal would even things again, setting up a winner-take-all season finale. Rain and extra-innings on that Saturday, October 4 combined to add to the drama as the Phillies trailed by a run heading to the 9th inning of Game 161.
A pair of bang-bang plays at first base, the second on which Schmidt was called out when replay showed he was actually safe, left Bake McBride on second base with two outs. Down to their final out, Boone sliced the second pitch from 40-year-old former Phillies pitcher Woodie Fryman to center. McBride stumbled around third, but still raced home with the tying run.
The two teams remained knotted at 4-4 into the top of the 11th inning. With one out and Rose at first base, Schmidt stepped in against 35-year-old, 14-year veteran Stan Bahnsen. Working the count to 2-0, Schmidt got a fastball on Bahnsen’s third offering “right down the pipe” as Harry Kalas described it on TV and drove it deep out to left field – “He buried it!” as called by Andy Musser on radio – for a 6-4  Phillies lead.
In the bottom of the 11th, McGraw would set the Expos down in order, blowing a fastball by Larry Parrish for the final out. Schmidt led the charge to the mound as the Phillies celebrated their fourth NL East crown in five years. They could be forgiven if they thought that in the NLCS against the Houston Astros, things couldn’t possibly get any tougher, more exciting, or more dramatic. They would also have been wrong.
In what many consider to still be the greatest NLCS of all-time, the Phillies defeated the Astros by 3-2. After Luzinski’s home run gave them a 3-1 victory in the opener at Veteran’s Stadium the next four games would all be decided in extra-innings.
Trailing by two games to one, their backs to the wall with the host Astros needing just one win, the Phillies found themselves trailing by 2-0 entering the top of the 8th inning of Game 4 of that 1980 NLCS. But four straight singles, the last a game-tier by Schmidt to score Lonnie Smith, gave the Phillies the lead. They would ultimately win it in 10 innings to tie the series.
Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS is perhaps the single greatest postseason comeback in Phillies history. Trailing legendary future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan by 5-2 entering the top of the 8th inning, the Phillies rallied for four runs.
Schmidt would play no part in this famous game, going 0-5 and striking out three times, including right in the middle of that rally and again to lead off the top of the 10th inning. The Phillies would win it when Garry Maddox doubled to center with two outs in that 10th frame, scoring Del Unser with the eventual game-winner. Dick Ruthven shut down Houston in the bottom of the frame, and the Phillies were going to the World Series for the first time in 30 years.

WORLD SERIES MVP

The 1980 World Series would provide a showcase for the two players who were drafted at #29 and 30 overall back in 1971. Brett and Schmidt had each developed into perennial All-Stars and both had put up Most Valuable Player seasons that year. Schmidt broke Eddie Mathews‘ NL record by hitting 48 home runs. Brett took a run at becoming the first player to hit .400 in a season since Ted Williams in 1941, finishing at the .390 mark.
In that Fall Classic, the Phillies would finally capture the first championship in franchise history. They defeated Brett and the Royals by four games to two. Schmidt led the way with two homers, seven RBI and six runs scored, capturing the World Series Most Valuable Player honors.
With Game 2 at The Vet tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Schmidt doubled off Royals closer Dan Quisenberry to score McBride. He then rumbled home on a base hit by Keith Moreland, giving the Phillies a 6-4 victory and a 2-0 series lead.
The Royals battled back to win the first two in Kansas City to tie the series, and took a 3-2 lead into the top of the 9th inning of Game 5, looking to take the series lead. Schmidt came through again. He led off the inning with a base hit against Quisenberry and when Unser followed with a double into the right field corner, Schmidt raced all the way around from first to tie the game. Unser would later score on a Manny Trillo double, and the Phillies were one win away.
In the climactic Game 6 it was Schmidt’s two-run single in the bottom of the 3rd inning that opened the scoring. Steve Carlton delivered a strong seven-inning effort and then turned the ball over to McGraw, who by that point was running on fumes. But Tug battled through the final two innings, finally striking out Willie Wilson to end it. Schmidt led that charge, leaping up into McGraw’s arms as their teammates swarmed them.

THE 1980’S

Of course, that is far from the end of the Mike Schmidt career or story, but I’m going to begin to wind to a close with mostly summations. As I said at the beginning, his is a story worth of a book.
Over the rest of the 1980’s, Schmidt would mostly continue as one of baseball’s superstar players. He captured NL MVP honors in 1980, 1981, and 1986. He was a Gold Glover and Silver Slugger winner from 1980-84 and again in 1986. He was an NL All-Star in eight of the decades ten seasons.
The Phillies returned to the playoffs in 1981, and to the World Series in 1983. But that 1980 world championship would be the only title won by the team during his 18-year career.
A milestone was reached on April 18, 1987 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. With the Phillies trailing the host Pirates by 6-5 in the top of the 9th inning, Schmidt came to the plate. Juan Samuel was at third base as the potential tying run, and Von Hayes stood on first as the go-ahead run.
Bucs pitcher Don Robinson fell behind Schmidt by 3-0, and then tried to sneak a fastball past him. It was a huge mistake. Schmidt crushed the pitch deep out to left field for a three-run homer that put the Phillies on top. Not only that, but it was career home run #500 for Schmidt, making him just the seventh player in Major League Baseball history to reach that plateau.
As the decade was drawing to a close, Schmidt entered the 1989 season as a 39-year-old who recognized that his once-dominating skills were clearly deteriorating. That had become somewhat noticeable as early as 1985, when the team had asked him to move over to first base temporarily at age 35 to accommodate young third baseman Rick Schu.
Schmidt bounced back from that slight indignity to have two of his best all-around seasons in 1986 and 1987. The Phillies won 86 games in that 1986 campaign. It would have been good enough for a Wildcard berth, if one existed at that time. Since it did not, that only left the team as distant runners-up in the NL East race to a 108-win New York Mets team that would go on to capture the World Series.

ENDING OUT WEST

On May 29, 1989 the Phillies were in San Diego to start the final series of a long west coast road trip. The team had lost five games in a row and 10 of their last 12 contests overall. The team was 8.5  games off the division lead already, 10 games under the .500 mark, and struggling through what would clearly be a third consecutive losing season, their fourth in five years.
The previous day at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Schmidt had taken an 0-3 collar. It would be the final game of his storied career. In his final plate appearance in the top of the 9th inning, Schmidt drew a walk from Mike LaCoss. He would advance to second base, and was running to third as Curt Ford grounded into a game-ending double play. Schmidt would turn and walk off a big-league field for the final time as an active player.
Of course, no one knew that at the time. It was not until an emotional press conference upon the team’s arrival in San Diego the next day that a tearful Schmidt would stand at his locker with Ashburn beside him and announce his retirement.
Despite his announcement, baseball fans voted him as the starting third baseman for the National League All-Star team. Schmidt declined to play but would don the Phillies uniform one more time in order to take part in pre-game introduction ceremonies.

STATISTICS AND HONORS

Over the course of his career, Schmidt slashed .267/.380/.527 with 548 home runs. That home run total left him seventh on baseball’s all-time list at the time of his retirement behind only Hank AaronBabe RuthWillie MaysFrank RobinsonHarmon Killebrew, and Reggie Jackson.
Schmidt also compiled 2,234 hits with 1,595 RBI while scoring 1,506 runs. He won three National League Most Valuable Player awards, the 1980 World Series MVP, and was a 12x NL All-Star. He was honored with 10 Gold Gloves and a half-dozen Silver Slugger awards. He received NL MVP votes for nine seasons in which he didn’t win the honor, including finishing third twice.
In January 1990, Schmidt was named as the 1980’s Player of the Decade by The Sporting News. The Phillies officially retired his number 20 during a ceremony at Veteran’s Stadium on May 26, and he was inducted that year as the 12th person on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
Five years after his retirement, Schmidt was elected on the first ballot for enshrinement to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 96.5% of the vote. He would be joined in the induction ceremonies that summer by Ashburn, who had been voted in by the veteran’s committee.
In 1997, Schmidt was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the third baseman on their Major League Baseball All-Time Team. Two years later, The Sporting News published their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, ranking Schmidt at #28. He was the highest-ranked third baseman and highest player whose career began after the 1967 season. He was also elected in 1999 to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
When the Phillies opened the new Citizens Bank Park for the 2004 season, Schmidt was one of four players honored with a statue at the new ballpark, joining his teammate Carlton, along with Ashburn and Robin Roberts. A decade later his collegiate #10 was retired by his alma mater at Ohio University.

A PHILLIES ICON

Schmidt has remained active with the Phillies community since his playing days. In 1990 he was a commentator during Phillies broadcasts on the old PRISM cable TV network. Since 2002 he has frequently appeared at Phillies spring training to help work with the players, a role he will fill once again this year in Clearwater.
Just last spring, Schmidt expounded on his way of thinking during an interview with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:
Assuming you have a pretty good base for hitting mechanically, I believe you’ve got to be a thinking man’s hitter. I don’t believe in freelancing, which is what I call it, when you go to home plate and you see the ball and hit it. I don’t believe in the see the ball and hit it approach. Just going to home plate, ‘If he strikes me out he strikes me out, if I get a hit, I get a hit.’ I believe in a plan for each day. If you don’t want to do that, I don’t think you’re on the right track toward reaching your potential. Everybody told me I thought too much when I played, but I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for my crazy brain taking me to different levels.
He managed the High-A Clearwater Threshers during the 2004 season, and then Schmidt served as the third base coach for Team USA which included Phillies players Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino at the World Baseball Classic in 2009.
In June of 2014, Schmidt was on hand as Rollins passed him to become the Phillies all-time hits leader. Schmidt remains second on that list today. He is the franchise all-time leader in games played, home runs, RBI, runs scored, walks, and strikeouts. Schmidt is also second in at-bats, third in slugging percentage and fifth in OPS on the club’s all-time list.
Schmidt had yet another honor bestowed on him in a vote by fans back in 2006. In what was known as the DHL Hometown Heroes event that year, Schmidt beat out Ashburn, Carlton, Klein, and Roberts in fan voting for the greatest player in Phillies history. The only players to receive more overall votes with their team were Aaron, Ruth, Brett, Tom Seaver of the Mets, and Ty Cobb of the Tigers.
Starting in 2014 and continuing into the upcoming 2019 season, Schmidt has joined the Phillies television broadcasts for weekend home games, providing color commentary. Fans of a new generation are enjoying listening to the insights, opinions, and anecdotes during those “Weekend with Schmidt” telecasts from the greatest player in Phillies history.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Philography: Mike Schmidt

Phillies MLB All-Star Games: 1976

The city of Philadelphia has played host to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game four times in the 83-year history of baseball’s midsummer classic.
In both 1943 and 1952 the game was held at Shibe Park, with the NL taking the first by a 5-3 score and the AL coming back with a 3-2 victory in the second game at the old ballpark at 22nd and Lehigh that would later be renamed as Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies were listed as the official hosts of the 1952 game.
The last two times that the game was played in here in 1976 and 1996, Veteran’s Stadium was the scene of the festivities. Citizens Bank Park has yet to do the honors.
Let’s take a quick look back at that Phillies-hosted affair in front of 63,974 fans including the President of the United States at The Vet during the celebration of America’s Bicentennial in the summer of 1976.
It was a great time for both the city and for the team to be hosting the game
. Of course, Philadelphia is one of the most important historic cities in the United States, and thus having one of the American pastime’s showcase events here as the nation was celebrating its 200th birthday was almost a no-brainer.
For the team’s part, the Phillies had begun emerging over the last 2-3 seasons as legitimate contenders in the National League after nearly a decade of futility.
With the opening of Veteran’s Stadium in 1971, the trade for Steve Carlton in 1972, and an influx of homegrown talent the team was primed to make a run at the NL East Division crown that summer. In fact, they would capture that crown, and the next two in succession as well.
Rose helped Luzinski & Schmidt finally get over the playoff hump
Luzinski started and Schmidt was a reserve for the National League in the 1976 MLB All-Star Game at The Vet.
As a nod to their emerging talents, the Phillies placed five players on that 1976 NL All-Star squad, with left fielder Greg Luzinski elected by the fans as the starter in left field.
Joining ‘The Bull’ on the NL roster were 3/4 of the team’s starting infield: 2nd baseman Dave Cash, shortstop Larry Bowa, and 3rd baseman Mike Schmidt
Catcher Bob Boone was on the team, and their manager Danny Ozark served as a coach.
Only manager Sparky Anderson‘s ‘Big Red Machine’, who were the defending World Series champions and would go on to win another that season, placed more players on the squad. 
The Reds had seven NL All-Stars, including future Phillies Pete RoseJoe Morgan, and Tony Perez.
Appearing as reserves with the NL squad was former Phillies pitcher Woody Fryman, then of the Montreal Expos, former and future Phillies pitcher Dick Ruthven of the Atlanta Braves, future Phillies 1st baseman Al Oliver, and outfielder Bake McBride, who would be dealt to the Phillies the following June.
Rose, Ruthven, and McBride would all go on to become key contributors to the Phils’ 1980 World Series championship squad.
Luzinski was slotted into the 5th spot in Anderson’s starting lineup. Rose led off followed by 1st baseman Steve Garvey of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Morgan hit 3rd and center fielder George Foster hit cleanup.
Larry Bowa
Shortstop Bowa was one of four Phillies players to serve as reserves in the 1976 MLB All-Star Game for the National League.
Behind Luzinski came Reds’ catcher Johnny Bench, Cubs’ right field masher Dave Kingman, shortstop Dave Concepcion of Cincinnati, and the starting pitcher was Randy Jones of the San Diego Padres.
The American League, managed by Darrell Johnson of the Boston Red Sox, featured starters from six different teams, three from the Detroit Tigers. One of the AL reserves was former Phillies infielder Don Money.
Leading off for the AL was one of those Tigers, left fielder Ron LeFloreRod Carew of the Minnesota Twins was at 1st base and hit in the 2-spot, while Kansas City Royals 3rd baseman George Brett hit 3rd.
Batting cleanup was New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, with Fred Lynn, the reigning AL MVP and Rookie of the Year of the Red Sox, hitting 5th position. He was followed by shortstop Toby Harrah of the Texas Rangers, right fielder Rusty Staub of the Tigers, and 2nd baseman Bobby Grich of the Baltimore Orioles.
On the mound and batting 9th for the junior circuit was the most colorful player of the season, pitcher Mark Fydrich. 
‘The Bird’ was known for talking to the baseball, walking around the mound, and other histrionics, and was in the midst of a season that would see him win the AL Rookie of the Year Award and finish 2nd for the league’s Cy Young Award honors.
Robin Roberts served as the NL ‘Honorary Captain’ for the game, with Bob Lemon receiving the honor for the AL. 
This was the first MLB All-Star Game at which both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Canadian national anthem of “Oh, Canada” were both played, and both have been played at every game since. The first pitch was thrown out by U.S. President Gerald Ford.
In the actual game, the NL bolted out to an early lead, scoring twice off Fydrich in the bottom of the 1st inning. Rose led off with a single and came around to score on a triple by Garvey, who then scored on a one-out grounder by Foster to make it a 2-0 game.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Morgan singled with one out, and Foster then crushed a two-run bomb deep to left-center field off Catfish Hunter of the Yankees to double the lead to 4-0.
The AL got one back in the top of the 4th when Lynn pounded a pitch from the Mets’ Tom Seaver out deep down the right field line to make it a 4-1 game.
BobBoone00000_20080626272
Boone went 0-2 at the plate, but was behind the dish at the end as the NL wrapped up a 7-1 win in the 1976 All-Star Game at The Vet.
In the top of the 5th, the home crowd was pleased to find both Bowa and Boone inserted into the lineup. 
Cash and Schmidt would enter the game the following inning, the same frame that Money, the man Schmidt had replaced at the Phils’ 3rd base position a few years earlier, would enter for the American League.
In the top of the 7th, Luzinski would finally be lifted for pinch-hitter Ken Griffey after an 0-3 performance. The Phils’ contingent would go a collective 1-8, with only Cash producing a base hit.
That hit from the Phillies veteran leader came to lead off the bottom of the 8th against California Angels lefty Frank Tanana. Perez drew a walk to follow Cash, and the Phils’ 2nd sacker then moved over to 3rd base when Bill Russell hit into a doubleplay.
With two outs and the score still at 4-1, Griffey delivered an RBI single to score Cash. Cesar Cedeno of the Houston Astros then stepped in and blasted a two-run homer deep into the left field stands off Tanana, blowing the game open to a 7-1 lead for the NL that would hold up as the final score.
As pitcher Ken Forsch wrapped the game up in the bottom of the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning, retiring Money, Chris Chambliss, and Amos Otis in order, only Boone and Cash remained on the field for the host Phillies and the National League.
That would mark the last time that the Phillies would host the MLB All-Star Game for two decades, when the popular exhibition contest among baseball’s top stars would finally return to Veteran’s Stadium in South Philly for one final time.

Chase Utley’s Place in Phillies History

As rumors and speculation begin to grow louder and more credible as each day passes, many fans of Philadelphia Phillies iconic 2nd baseman Chase Utley have had to begin coming to grips with the possibility of his actually leaving the team, and appearing in another MLB uniform.
The hot speculation surrounds the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants, for a number of reasons. 
First, the Giants have a need. Their offensive depth chart took a pair of significant hits recently with the losses of 2nd baseman Joe Panik and outfielder Nori Aoki to injuries.
Also, those Giants are contending, and would like to shake their “win in even, lose in odd years” label. They currently sit just 3.5 games behind the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West race, and 4.5 behind the Chicago Cubs in the race for the final NL Wildcard playoff spot.
Finally, the Bay area is perfect for the player and his family. Utley’s wife Jennifer is a native of San Francisco, and Chase himself is a California native, born and raised in Pasadena. Both are UCLA graduates, and in the off-season the couple makes their home in Sausalito, at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Also rumored to be at least following Utley’s health and performances are both the Cubs and Dodgers, as well as the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels.
Although the MLB non-waiver trade deadline passed as of midnight August 1st, players who are put on waivers and pass through that process unclaimed can be traded during the calendar month of August. Utley passed through waivers unclaimed as of Tuesday afternoon.
Another factor in his situation is that Utley is a “10-and-5” player under Major League Baseball’s Basic Agreement. This means that as a player with 10 years of MLB service time, 5 of those as consecutive years with the same organization, he has the right to veto any trade.
Contractually, Utley is earning $15 million this season. He is likely owed about $3-4 million for the balance of the remaining 2015 season. In order for a $15 million option to vest automatically for the 2016 season, he would need to reach 500 plate appearances this year.
Currently at just 267 appearances, thanks largely to an injury that knocked him out for two months, he will not reach that mark. Therefore, Utley will basically be a rental for the balance of the regular season and through any possible postseason run.
Whether Chase is actually dealt or not, his days in red pinstripes appear to be winding to a close. The only question now appears to be whether he ends his career as a Phillie, retiring on his own terms, or after a period in at least one other uniform.
Phillies fans have had to deal with goodbyes to longtime franchise stalwarts Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels in recent weeks and months. 
Inevitably and likely soon, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, the other remaining members of what has to be considered the “Core Five” of that ‘Glory Era’ team of the last decade, will leave as well.
The time will come when we celebrate them all again in reunions, and honor them with places on the franchise’ Wall of Fame. 
But before we even reach the point that their actual playing careers end, as they leave the Phillies we can begin to evaluate where these recent greats fit in the larger scheme of the franchise’ history.
Over these last few days, I have seen a number of opinions expressed about which player was actually more important, or valuable, or productive during that great run of the prior decade. I have even seem some speculation on where some of these players rank among the all-time Phillies greats.
While he will always receive the benefit of “recency effect” with contemporary fans, where should Chase Utley rank among Phillies players? Among all the Phillies greats throughout club history? Among the best 2nd basemen that have worn the Phils’ uniform? Even among his own ‘Glory Era’ teammates?
Chase Utley has a career .282/.366/.480 slash line, with 232 Home Runs, 914 RBI, 947 Runs scored, 142 career Stolen Bases. 
He is a 6x NL All-Star, 4x NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base, and has finished in the top 15 of NL MVP voting 5x as well.
Currently, Chase sits in 9th place on the Phillies all-time Hits list with 1,615. Were he to finish out this season, he would have a shot at getting the 33 more he would need to pass Sherry Magee for 8th place. 
In the entire 133-season history of the team, only Magee, Chuck KleinLarry BowaDel EnnisEd Delahanty, Richie Ashburn, Mike Schmidt, and Rollins have more hits in a Phillies uniform.
Utley is also 6th all-time in Home Runs behind only Schmidt, Howard, Ennis, Pat Burrell, and Klein. He is 7th in RBI, 6th in Runs, 5th in Doubles, and 8th in Games played. 
In short, Chase Utley is among the Top 10 greatest Phillies of all-time, no matter how you slice it.
Back in early January of this year, I rated Utley at #8 on my listing of the “20 Greatest Phillies of All-Time” at TBOH, just ahead of Harry Kalas and Paul Owens, but behind Howard, Pete Rose, Hamels, Rollins, Ashburn, Steve Carlton, and Schmidt.
I have had the pleasure of watching two Phillies teams win a World Series in my lifetime, and both had tremendous 2nd basemen playing pivotal roles on teams with superstars all around them.
On the 1980 team, it was Manny Trillo, who was the Phils’ starter at the Keystone from 1979-82. Trillo was a magnificent defensive player, surely superior to Utley in that regard. 
Trillo won Gold Gloves in three of his four seasons with the Phillies, was the NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base while with the team in both 1980 and ’81, and was an NL All-Star with the Phillies in both 1981 and ’82.
Trillo was also the MVP of the 1980 National League Championship Series. Anyone who was actually around for that dramatic 5-game battle royale with the Houston Astros, that still ranks as the best NLCS of all-time for many baseball fans, knows just how vital Trillo’s contributions were to the Phils’ overcoming Houston and reaching their first World Series in 30 years.
Also during my lifetime, I got to watch another outstanding 2nd baseman develop and become a star with the Phillies, as Juan Samuel came up and thrived during the mid-late 1980’s.
“Sammy” was an electric offensive player for the Phils from 1983-89, spanning the ‘Wheeze Kids’ with Rose through the end of Schmidt’s career. 
Samuel broke in with that aging 1983 club, and got his only taste of postseason action that year, appearing in four games, including his only postseason at-bat in Game 5 of the World Series vs. Baltimore.
Samuel finished 2nd in the 1984 NL Rookie of the Year voting after leading the league with 19 triples and stealing 72 bases. 
For the rest of the decade he was an offensive dynamo, reaching double-digits in homers every year of his Phillies career. 
In 1987, Samuel hit 27 homers, drove in 100 runs, and scored 113, finishing 13th in NL MVP voting and winning the NL Silver Slugger at 2nd base.
As a kid during the mid-70’s, I got to enjoy the emergence of the Phillies as contenders in the early Veteran’s Stadium era, thanks largely to a homegrown nucleus of players. 
But that nucleus received an injection of veteran experience necessary for taking the step to contending status with the arrival of 2nd baseman Dave Cash.
Cash arrived for the 1974 season, and remained the Phillies starter for three years through 1976. He was an NL All-Star and finished among the top 15 in NL MVP voting each of those seasons. 
Cash would hit a cumulative .296 over the three seasons, and scored 296 runs, leading the team to the playoffs in 1976 for the first time in over a quarter-century.
The Phillies also received a couple of nice 2nd base seasons just before Utley’s arrival from the man he would replace, Placido Polanco
In the 2003-04 seasons, Polanco hit a combined 31 homers and scored 161 runs as the team bridged the Veteran’s Stadium and Citizens Bank Park eras. He would return to the team as a 3rd baseman a handful of years later.
Jul 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame member Samuel before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. (Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
On the famed 1993 “Macho Row” team that reached the World Series, the duties at 2nd base were split evenly between the right-handed Mariano Duncan and lefty Mickey Morandini
They were used with incredible effectiveness by manager Jim Fregosi on a team that, more than any in franchise history, mastered the concept of the platoon player.
In the early decades of the team, Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie got his start with the Phillies, playing his first five seasons here before going on to real, lasting fame as a member of the Cleveland Indians. Lajoie was the Phils’ starting 2nd baseman from 1898-1900.
In the 1898 season with the Phillies, he led the NL in doubles with 43 and in RBI with 127. 
Lajoie would play in Philadelphia in both 1901 and ’02, but as a member of Connie Mack‘s new American League “Athletics”, with whom he would also finish his career in 1915-16 after 13 seasons in Cleveland.
Chase Utley has to be ranked above all of these greats as the single greatest 2nd baseman in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. He joins both Rollins and Howard as the greatest at their positions in team history.
This means that from 2005-2014, a full decade, Phillies fans of recent vintage got to enjoy the greatest infield that this city has ever seen on a baseball diamond. It is likely something that none of them will ever see again at that level.
That ‘Glory Era’ is a gift they gave us together, one that will stay with us as long as we live. Howard hit more homers, won an NL MVP and NLCS MVP, and won a Rookie of the Year. Rollins won Gold Gloves, became the all-time franchise Hits leader, and won an NL MVP of his own. Hamels was the MVP of both the 2008 NLCS and World Series.
But the fact of the matter is that none of them win that 2008 World Series without Utley. And the fact of the matter is that Utley doesn’t win it without them. To pit them up against one another in “this one was more important than that one”, or “this one was better than that one” is simply ridiculous, and is frankly unimportant.
It was a glorious team, with numerous pieces, including a manager in Charlie Manuel who knew how to get the most out of them. They would never have reached the level they did without their collective efforts.
As we say goodbye to Chase Utley, whether that is in the next few hours or days, or in the coming weeks or months, we continue to say goodbye to an entire era, an entire team.
Chase will always be “The Man” from that team, and we will always love him for his “World-(bleepin’)-Champions!” emotion, for his hustle, for his smarts. His #26 shirsey and jersey will continue to be worn with pride all over Philly as we all grow old. 
Whatever happens, I think we all wish him, and all of them, the very best in whatever else their careers and lives may hold.

Philography: Greg Luzinski

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Now a Phillies Wall of Famer, Luzinski starred with the team from 1970-80

 

With next year’s 2015 season being the 45th that I hope to enjoy as a fan of the Fightin’ Phils, I’ve decided to take on a Phillies history project moving forward.

Once a week, I’ll be presenting a short biography of an interesting figure from the Philadelphia Phillies long and storied past. This might be a player, a coach or manager, a team executive, a broadcaster, maybe even the occasional fan.
To kick things off, we’ll start with someone who not only has nostalgic interest to me personally, but also someone who the majority of today’s Phillies fans are familiar with: Greg “the Bull” Luzinski.
If you were born in the early-1970’s or beyond, your memories of ‘the Bull’ as an active ballplayer are likely few or none at all. But many of today’s younger generation of fans know him from “Bull’s BBQ”, the popular food joint out in right field adjoining Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.
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Luzinski is a Windy City native, born in Chicago on November 22nd, 1950. He became a slugging high school star at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Illinois, and the Phillies made him their 1st round selection, 11th overall, in the 1968 MLB Draft.
At age 17, Luzinski headed for Huron in the Northern League, where he belted 13 homers in his first 212 professional at-bats. The following season he was moved up to the High-A Carolina League, where at Raleigh-Durham he crushed 31 homers and had 92 rbi.
With the big league club struggling in the final years of Connie Mack Stadium, speculation was quickly rising as to how fast the kid masher would reach Philly. The talk grew louder when he moved to AA Reading in 1970 and, at age 19, he hit .325 while powering 33 homers and driving in 120 runs.
It was then, at the tail end of the 1970 season, in the final month of the club’s stay at old Connie Mack, that Luzinski got the call.
It would prove to be an inauspicious debut. Wearing uniform #42, Luzinski recorded just a pair of hits in a dozen at-bats spread across 8 games, appearing mostly as a pinch-hitter or at 1st base.
1971 found the Phillies opening Veteran’s Stadium in South Philly. It also found Luzinski back in the minors. He would spend most of the year at AAA Eugene, again tuning up minor league pitching. At age 20, the young slugger crushed 36 homers, drove in 114 runs, and hit .312.
As the 1971 season wound down, Luzinski again got the call to the parent club. This time it would be for good. Donning what would become his familiar #19, he again played solely at 1st base. Thickly built and possessing no speed, the Phillies were not sure that he could handle the outfield. In just 100 at-bats, Luzinski hit .300, and he registered his first three career home runs.
With his powerful build, he was given the nickname “The Bull”, and his homeruns became more frequent and impressive in 1972. These powerful blasts were becoming known as “Bull Blasts” to writers, broadcasters, and fans. He hit .281 with 18 homers and 68 rbi in that first full MLB season as he made a permanent move to left field.
1973 would be the true coming-out party for The Bull. He hit .285 with 29 homers and 97 rbi. He was joined that year by a new regular at 3rd base for the Phillies, as 23-year old Mike Schmidt hit 18 homers in his own first full season. The two young sluggers would now become a powerful combination in the Phillies lineups for the rest of the decade.
In both the ’72 and ’73 seasons, Luzinski had put on impressive performances down in Clearwater, Florida for spring training. But both seasons, late spring injuries had actually hindered him and held his regular season numbers down. In 1974, that bad luck run got worse.
Off to a slow start already, Luzinski tore the ligaments in his right knee on June 1st of that 1974 season. He would miss three full months, and the injury sapped him of much of his power. He hit just seven homers and knocked in only 48 runs, both of which would prove to be career-low figures.
Perhaps worse yet, the Phillies were beginning to contend as a team. They finished just eight games out of first place in that ’74 season, with Schmidt breaking out as an NL All-Star, hitting 36 homers and driving in 116 runs. Dave Cash had come over from the Pirates, becoming an All-Star himself and inspiring the Phillies to believe in themselves with the motto “Yes We Can!” Could the Phils, with a healthy Luzinski, have made a run at the NL East crown in 1974?
Hopes were high as the 1975 season rolled around. The Phillies were clearly an emerging threat to the perennial NL East pace setters, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Saint Louis Cardinals. Luzinski came back with a vengeance. He not only stayed healthy, he dominated, hitting .300 with 34 homers and 120 rbi.
The performance earned him his first NL All-Star nod, and he finished 2nd in the National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting to the more charismatic LA Dodgers young 1st baseman Steve Garvey. Schmidt had 38 homers and 95 rbi himself. Cash hit .305 and scored 111 runs. Still, despite the obvious improvements, the Phils finished in 2nd place in the NL East, 6 1/2 games behind the Pirates.
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It would be the following season where the team would finally kick in the door, win the division, and establish itself as longterm favorites. The 1976 and 1977 Phillies teams each won 101 games in the regular season, establishing a franchise record that would last for 3 1/2 decades, and the 1978 club won a 3rd straight NL East crown. Bull did his part: 1976 – .304/21HR/95RBI, 1977 – .309/39HR/130RBI, 1978 – 35HR/101RBI. He was an NL All-Star each season, and again was NL MVP runner-up in 1977.
Luzinski had established himself as not only one of the game’s great sluggers, but one of it’s best hitters, period. He was a perennial All-Star. And his team was a perennial contender. But still, something was missing. Each year, the Phillies fell short, losing in the postseason. In ’76 it was acceptable. The Phils were first-time playoff participants, and they lost to the defending World Series champion Cincinnati Reds during the ‘Big Red Machine’ heyday.
The losses in both the 1977 and 78 playoffs were a bit harder to swallow, however. Particularly in 1977, when the Phils had the best record in the National League, were tied with the Dodgers at 1-1 in the NLCS, and had a 5-3 lead with 2 outs and nobody on for LA in the 9th inning of Game 3.
The Phillies were just a step away from a 2-1 lead in the series, which would put them a win away from reaching the World Series, with ace Steve Carlton scheduled for Game 4. One more out. Luzinski was in left field. This was unusual, because in such situations, manager Danny Ozark frequently used Jerry Martin as a defensive replacement for The Bull. But for some reason, not this time.
Phils’ closer Gene Garber got those first two outs, and got ahead of Dodgers pinch-hitter Vic Davalillo 0-2. Just one strike away from victory, the unspeakable began to happen. Davalillo surprised the Phils defense with a 2-strike drag bunt single. Another pinch-hitter, Manny Mota, stepped to the plate. Again, Garber got ahead of the hitter 0-2. This time, Mota sent a fly ball to deep left field. It is a ball that Martin likely would have tracked down fairly easily for the 3rd and final out.
But Martin wasn’t out there, Luzinski was. He tracked back towards the left field wall at The Vet, reached up, and momentarily appeared to have it. But he didn’t have it. The ball clanked off his glove, hit the wall, and bounced back to him. Luzinski fired wildly towards the infield, trying to nail Mota at 2nd base, but his throw skipped past 2nd baseman Ted Sizemore allowing Davalillo to score and sending Mota to 3rd as the tying run.
Davey Lopes then followed with another crazy play. His hot-shot careened off Schmidt’s leg at 3rd base and redirected to shortstop Larry Bowa, who gunned a throw that appeared to reach 1st baseman Richie Hebner’s glove for the final out just before Lopes hit the 1st base bag. But umpire Bruce Froemming called Lopes safe, and Mota scored the tying run. And still, it didn’t end.
Garber tried to pick the speedy Lopes off, and threw the ball past Hebner. Lopes moved up to 2nd base on the error. When shortstop Bill Russell followed with a single, Lopes scored, and incredibly the Dodgers, one strike away from defeat twice with weak-hitting pinch-hitters at the plate, were ahead 6-5. The Phillies went down without as much as a whimper in the their half of the 9th. The defeat, snatched from the jaws of victory, has forever become known as “Black Friday” in Phillies lore.
The following day, Carlton was bested in the rain by Tommy John. Yes, that Tommy John, of surgery fame. The Dodgers 4-1 victory put them into the World Series, and left the Phillies shell-shocked in defeat. Los Angeles would do it again in 1978, dumping the Phils in the NLCS.
In 1979, the Phils signed star free agent 1st baseman Pete Rose away from the Big Red Machine to help get them over the playoff hump. The addition of “Charlie Hustle” to the team didn’t help, as the club let an early fast start deteriorate into a horrid 4th place finish, 14 games behind the Pirates.
In that disappointing 1979 season, Luzinski had slumped to a .252 average with 18 homers and 81 rbi. In 1980, things didn’t go much better. He slumped further to a .228 average, with 19 homers and just 56 RBIs.
That decreased offensive production combined with his defensive shortcomings and the emergence of speedy, exciting rookie Lonnie Smith to reduce The Bull’s overall playing time. But also in that 1980 season, the team under new manager Dallas Green was able to fight its way to the NL East crown and a return to the playoffs.
There, the Phillies engaged in perhaps the greatest NLCS in history, coming from behind to edge the Houston Astros 3-2 in games. A titanic “Bull Blast” homer from Luzinski helped put the Phillies in front in the opener. And his clutch 10th inning double knocked in the go-ahead run in the series-tying fourth game.
The group of players who Luzinski had grown with was finally advancing to the Fall Classic for the first time. He would appear in just three of the six games against the Kansas City Royals, going 0-9 with a walk and five strikeouts.
But most importantly, the Phillies and The Bull ultimately won that World Series, bringing home the first championship in the 128-season history of the franchise.
The World Series victory would prove to be the final official appearance for The Bull in a Phillies uniform under competitive circumstances. At the end of spring training prior to the 1981 season, Luzinski was sold to the Chicago White Sox.
Now in the American League, free from having to play defense regularly, Luzinski returned to being an offensive force. With Chicago he became one of the top Designated Hitter’s in the game, blasting 84 homers and driving in 317 runs over four final seasons.
Following the 1984 season, Luzinski officially retired. He would take a job as the combined baseball/football coach at a New Jersey high school for a few years, and showed up at Phillies old-timer’s and reunion events.
When the Phillies moved out of The Vet and into their new home at Citizens Bank Park for 2004, one of the food attractions was named for him, with Luzinski as part owner. “Bull’s BBQ” remains a fan favorite to this day, and most home games The Bull himself can be found there, meeting and greeting fans, signing autographs, and posing for pictures.
Greg Luzinski finished up his MLB career with 307 homeruns and 1,128 rbi across parts of 15 seasons. 223 of those long balls were hit in a Phillies uniform, leaving him currently 7th all-time on the club Home runs ranking. He is 12th in RBI, tied for 14th in Doubles, 21st in Games played,  and 21st in Hits.
In 1989, Luzinski received the honor of being inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. Then in 1998, Luzinski was honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame, where he is now forever remembered with an honored place among the franchise immortals.