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For Phillies fans like me, there will always be only one Black Friday

The 101-win, star-crossed 1977 NL East Division champion Philadelphia Phillies

 

Across the United States today is known as “Black Friday”, perhaps the single busiest shop-in-person day of the entire year. You may not be aware that the term as popularly used actually originated here in Philadelphia.

In the early 1950’s, the Philadelphia Police Department began referring to the two days after Thanksgiving as ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Black Saturday’ in reference to crowds and congestion which had begun the Christmas shopping season.

On November 28, 1981, the Philadelphia Inquirer was the first to assign a financial aspect to the phrase. Typical accounting practices showed negative amounts in red ink and positive in black ink.

Many businesses would run at a loss for most of the year, and the holiday shopping season would put them “into the black”, thus the significance of the opening of that season was significant for retailers and others.

However, for myself and many other fans of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club there is only one, true “Black Friday”, especially for those of us who experienced it first-hand.

The date was Friday, October 7, 1977. The place was Veteran’s Stadium in South Philadelphia. The occasion was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the host Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In those days, the League Championship Series in Major League Baseball was only a best-of-five affair. And there was no Division Series. If you came in first place in either the East or West Division, you went to the LCS and played for a shot at the World Series.

The Phillies had reached the postseason for the first time in 26 years the prior season. But that 1976 club was swept out of the NLCS by Cincinnati’s ‘Big Red Machine’, who would go on to capture their second straight World Series title.

In 1977, the Phillies used that sweep as motivation. A more mature and determined team set a then-franchise record by winning 101 games, the most by any team in the National League.

Capturing their second consecutive NL East Division crown, the Phillies faced a 98-win Dodgers squad. The two teams appeared evenly matched, having split their regular season meetings, each winning six times.

The NLCS began in the same manner. The Phillies rallied for a pair of runs in the 9th inning to take the opener at Dodger Stadium by a 7-5 score. The host Dodgers battled back, getting a grand slam from Dusty Baker in the bottom of the 4th inning to break a 1-1 tie, leading to a 7-1 series-tying victory in the second game.

So, Game 3 at Veteran’s Stadium was going to be pivotal. For the Phillies this appeared especially so, as they had lefty ace Steve Carlton scheduled to take the mound in Game 4 the following day.

Carlton would win his second of four career Cy Young Awards that year, and a Phillies win on Friday would mean that the Dodgers would have their season on the line against the best pitcher in the league.

Los Angeles struck first, scoring twice in the top of the 2nd inning off Phillies’ starting pitcher Larry Christenson. It could have been worse, but Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

In their half of the inning, it would be the 63,719 fans in the stands at The Vet who would literally scream the Phillies into the lead.

Two singles and a walk against Dodgers starter Burt Hooton had the bases loaded with two outs, but it was Christenson at the plate. As the count worked full, the crowd began a deafening roar, and Hooton delivered ball four to cut the Phillies deficit to 2-1.

Sensing they had affected that outcome, the crowd continued to roar, getting louder with each pitch. Hooton appeared unnerved. He would walk each of the next two batters as well, forcing home two more runs to put the Phillies on top by 3-2.

It is fairly amazing then how that inning ended, with the Phillies all-star third baseman Mike Schmidt fouling out to the catcher on the very first pitch. Why under the circumstances the future Hall of Famer didn’t at least take one is hard to imagine.

The Dodgers got even in the top of the 4th inning when Baker singled home Ron Cey, who had led off the inning with a double against Christenson.

The game remained knotted at 3-3 into the bottom of the 8th inning. There, it appeared that the home team would put the game away thanks to uncharacteristically sloppy defense from the visitors.

Richie Hebner doubled to lead it off. He came around to score the go-ahead run when Garry Maddox followed with an RBI single, and Maddox chugged to third base on a throwing error by right fielder Reggie Smith. Then Bob Boone reached on an error by Cey, which allowed Maddox to score what appeared to be an insurance run.

The Phillies thus took a 5-3 lead into the top of the 9th inning. Manager Danny Ozark sent out Gene Garber to seal the deal. Protect the two-run lead, and the Phillies would go up two games to one with Carlton ready to send them on to the Fall Classic the next day.

Garber was one of a trio of relievers who Ozark called upon in such situations that season. He led the club with 19 saves, had a 2.35 ERA, and pitched in a team-high 64 games. Ron Reed delivered 15 saves over 60 games with a 2.75 ERA. Tug McGraw registered nine saves over 45 games with a 2.62 ERA.

A 29-year-old right-hander, Garber appeared well on his way to cruising through the frame by retiring the first two batters with no trouble. The Phillies were now just one out away from victory with nobody on base.

Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, in his first full season at the helm, decided to send up Vic Davalillo to pinch-hit for Yeager. Garber got ahead of the 37-year-old with a quick strike.

Davalillo then surprised nearly everyone in the ballpark. The crafty veteran laid down a perfect drag  bunt on which Phillies second baseman Ted Sizemore had no play, and the Dodgers would bring the tying run to the plate.

In almost all such situations during the season – protecting a late, close lead – Ozark would have made a defensive substitution in left field, removing the big bat of Greg Luzinski in favor of the far more athletic Jerry Martin. For some reason, Ozark opted to leave Luzinski in this time. It was about to cost him dearly.

Lasorda must have figured that it worked once, let’s try it again. This time he sent up 39-year-old veteran Manny Mota to pinch-hit for the pitcher’s spot.

Mota lofted a fly ball to deep left. Luzinski drifted back to the wall and for a second it appeared that he would snare the final out in his glove. However, the ball popped out of his glove and off the wall. It is a play that Martin almost certainly would have made.

Then to add insult to injury, Luzinski’s throw back to the infield kicked away from Sizemore. This allowed Davalillo to score and sent Mota to third base as the tying run.

Crazy stuff already. But the insanity was about to ratchet up another notch. The next batter, Davey Lopes, laced a rocket that smashed off the glove of Schmidt at third base. The ball popped perfectly to shortstop Larry Bowa, who gunned a throw that appeared to get Lopes for the final out.

If replay existed at the time, the Phillies would likely have won the game, gone up 2-1 in the series, and history may have played out in completely different fashion. But there was no replay review in those days. The call by first base umpire Bruce Froemming stood.

The game was now tied at 5-5, the Dodgers had the go-ahead run on base, and the insanity was not finished. Garber tried to pick-off Lopes, threw the ball away, and Lopes moved into scoring position at second base. Bill Russell followed with a clean RBI single and somehow the Dodgers had miraculously turned sure defeat into a 6-5 lead.

With two out in the bottom of the 9th, Luzinski stepped to the plate as the potential tying run. Perhaps the failure of Ozark to make the defensive substitution in the top of the frame would now pay off with a game-tying “Bull Blast” home run?

No such luck. Luzinski was hit by a pitch instead. Now, finally, Ozark sent in Martin – as a pinch-runner. Dodgers reliever Mike Garman then retired Hebner on an easy grounder to first baseman Steve Garvey to end the ball game.

The Phillies had inconceivably blown what appeared to be a certain victory and in stunning fashion watched a series lead evaporate. On the misty Saturday that followed, it would not be Carlton, but instead another veteran lefty named Tommy John who would close out the series in the Dodgers favor.

That 6-5 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the 1977 National League Championship Series became known almost immediately as “Black Friday”, and has remained so in Phillies lore down through the years.

If you are among the many who will venture out to some mall or shopping center on this Black Friday and come home frustrated after battling traffic and the crowds, just know one thing. You will never be more bitter or frustrated than we Phillies fans who experienced our Black Friday in October of 1977.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

Some potential nominees for the 2019 Phillies Wall of Fame honors

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Manny Trillo of the 1980 World Series champs is a legit Wall of Fame candidate

Approximately one month from now the Philadelphia Phillies will announce the 2019 honoree who will be enshrined on the franchise Wall of Fame this coming summer.

Last year for the very first time the team honored two individuals, and in a rare occurrence, Phillies fans had no say in either selection. One of those was Pat Gillick, who has served for 14 years as general manager, president, and senior advisor. Gillick was the first “executive inductee” to the Wall of Fame.
The other honored a year ago was former pitcher Roy Halladay, who had died suddenly and tragically in Florida back in November 2017 while piloting his private plane. Publicly released ballots seem to reveal that ‘Doc’ is also about to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame this coming summer.
Those two joined the manager of the 2008 World Series champions, Charlie Manuel (2014), the organization’s all-time greatest pitcher Steve Carlton (1989), and the greatest player in Phillies history, Mike Schmidt (1990) in becoming the only individuals honored without fan voting as part of the process.
The Phillies had honored no one in the prior summer of 2017. That year, Pete Rose had been scheduled to be enshrined on the Wall of Fame. In early-August, less than two weeks before that was to take place, the club cancelled the ceremony after Rose became embroiled in controversy surrounding allegations that he had sex with a minor while a player with the Cincinnati Reds back in the 1970’s.
Otherwise, the Phillies have honored one individual each year other than 1983. That year an entire “Centennial Team” was named and celebrated in honor of the 100th anniversary of the franchise.
Odds are that one individual will be honored when next month’s announcement is made, so who might that be? One thing that should be obvious is that with an increasing number of worthy individuals now retiring from the 2008 world championship team, we are going to see many of those players enshrined in the coming years.

PARADE TO THE WALL COULD CONTINUE FOR ’08 CHAMPS

Already on the Wall of Fame from that team, joining general manager Gillick and manager Manuel, is outfielder Pat Burrell. The Phillies already have individual ceremonies scheduled for this summer to honor Jimmy RollinsRyan Howard, and Chase Utley due to the announcement of their formal retirements as players.
If the honor goes to another member of those 2008 World Series champions this time around, the leading candidates would be Shane VictorinoCarlos RuizJayson WerthBrad Lidge, and Jamie Moyer. The favorite might be Victorino after the popular Flyin’ Hawaiian was fetted just last season at Citizens Bank Park upon his formal retirement from baseball.
But the Phillies could also take another tack, choosing to honor some other worthy individuals before beginning what should prove to become a veritable parade to the Wall of Fame for a half-dozen or more of those 2008 players during the decade of the 2020’s.
If the club chooses through their own selection, or through a fan vote, or some combination to honor someone other than a 2008 player, who might be a few worthy candidates to consider?

NINE POTENTIAL NON-2008 WALL CONTENDERS

Baker has been Phillies PA announcer
for nearly a half-century
(Phillygd1/WikiCommons)

Before getting into the players, there is one non-player who absolutely deserves consideration. That would be 72-year-old public address announcer Dan Baker.

A native of Philadelphia, Baker became the PA announcer for Phillies games at Veteran’s Stadium beginning with its second season in 1972. His voice has now greeted, entertained, and informed generations of fans over nearly a half-century at both ‘The Vet’ and Citizens Bank Park.
There are eight former Phillies players who, in my opinion, deserve at least some measure of consideration for the Wall of Fame, and who are not associated with the 2008 world championship team. They are: Fred LuderusBobby WineRon ReedManny TrilloScott RolenBobby AbreuCliff Lee, and Rose.
Luderus was the Phillies starting first baseman, one of the best in all of baseball during the ‘Dead Ball Era’ of the 1910’s. I have previously championed his cause in a pair of pieces when he was nominated for the Wall of Fame back in 2016 and the previous year.
Now 80 years of age, Wine was the Phillies starting shortstop for much of the 1960’s, winning the 1963 National League Gold Glove Award at the position. After retiring from baseball, Wine joined the Phillies coaching staff. He remained a valuable coach under four managers during the club’s rise to power, serving from July 1972 through the 1983 NL pennant-winning campaign.
Reed already had a dozen big-league seasons under his belt when he joined the Phillies in a January 1975 trade from the Saint Louis Cardinals. Over the next 10 seasons, the tall right-hander became one of the most effective relief pitchers in club history, going 57-38 with 90 Saves and allowing 702 hits over 809 innings. He registered a 3.06 ERA over 458 games with the club, including nine starts. Reed further appeared in 21 postseason games, and recorded a Save in Game One of the 1980 World Series.
Trillo, now 68-years-old, originally signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in January 1968 but was left unprotected and was lost to the Oakland A’s in the Rule 5 Draft in December 1969.
He returned to the club as part of an eight-player swap with the Chicago Cubs in February 1979 and became a vital key over the next four years. Trillo won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, appeared in three MLB All-Star games, and was the MVP of the dramatic 1980 National League Championship Series.

Abreu was an offensive machine as the Phillies grew from late-90’s also-ran to mid-00’s contender (Rdikeman/WikiCommons)
Rolen is 43-years-old and is now the director of player development for the University of Indiana Hoosiers collegiate baseball program. He was the Phillies second round pick in the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft out of high school in Indiana.
Rolen broke into the big-leagues in 1996 and became the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. He then won four Gold Glove Awards at third base over the next five years and was also an NL All-Star and Silver Slugger winner in 2002, his final year with the club.
Abreu was just 23-years-old when he joined the Phillies in a November 1997 trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He became an immediate starter with the Phillies, and over nine seasons was a key performer as the club rose from also-ran to contender.
Abreu, now 44, was a 2x NL All-Star, a 2004 Silver Slugger winner, and a 2005 Gold Glove Award winner. He also won the 2005 Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star festivities. For seven straight seasons he was a 20/20 player, including two 30/30 campaigns.
The 40-year-old Lee is easily the most well-known of these candidates to current Phillies fans. He was already an AL Cy Young Award winner when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians in July 2009 as part of a six-player deal.
After he led the Phillies back to the World Series that October, GM Ruben Amaro dealt him away on the same December 2009 day that Halladay was acquired. But Lee chose to return when the became a free agent a year later, and was part of the 2011 ‘Four Aces’ starting rotation that led the Phillies to a franchise-record 102 regular season victories.
Over parts of five seasons with the club, Lee put together a 48-34 record with a 2.94 ERA, 2.85 FIP, and 1.089 WHIP. He allowed 777 hits over 827.1 innings with an incredible 6.56 K:BB ratio. Lee was also a 2x NL All-Star with the club, and finished top six in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
And then there is Rose. As with the Baseball Hall of Fame, on playing credentials alone he is worthy of the Phillies Wall of Fame. He was the first-ever big Phillies free agent signing in December 1978 and was an NL All-Star each of the next four years with the club.
Rose won the 1981 NL Silver Slugger at first base, received NL MVP votes twice including a top ten finish in that 1981 campaign, and has been credited with pushing the Phillies over the hump to the 1980 world championship.
As for the allegations of statutory rape, Rose continues to deny them. Would the Phillies ever re-open his Wall of Fame case during this current “Me Too” movement era? Despite America supposedly being an innocent-until-proven-guilty country, that is likely a longshot.
Will the 2008 World Series championship team continue to be honored with another member getting a plaque on the Phillies Wall of Fame later this summer? Will one of the worthy non-2008 players finally find their way on to the Wall of Fame? Will fans even get a say in this year’s selection process? Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as As Phillies prepare to honor a parade of 2008 players, who else deserves the Wall of Fame?

Phillies to Immortalize Pete Rose on the Wall of Fame

The Philadelphia Phillies announced today that a baseball legend will become the 39th honoree on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
1980 World Series hero Pete Rose will be enshrined in a ceremony that will take place on Saturday, August 12, 2017. The ceremony will take place prior to a game against the division rival New York Mets.
On that night, numerous Phillies greats of the past who have been honored previously will return to take part in the ceremony. There they will welcome “Charlie Hustle” to the ranks of Phillies immortals.
Rose was one of 10 former Phillies greats who were originally nominated for the 2017 Wall of Fame slot. Fans of the team voted online at the start of the year from among 10 nominees to determine three finalists.

THE OTHER 2017 WALL OF FAME NOMINEES

Joining Rose among those original 10 nominees were three of his 1980 champion teammates. One of those was second baseman Manny Trillo, the 1980 NLCS MVP. The others were starting pitcher Larry Christenson and reliever Ron Reed.
Phillies
Two more relief pitchers, Gene Garber and 1987 Cy Young Award winner Steve Bedrosian, were also nominated.
Another nominee was the late Jim Fregosi. He was the manager of the popular 1993 NL Pennant-winning Phillies team that electrified the city that summer and fall.
Rick Wise was a pitcher during the 1960’s and early-70’s who was traded straight-up for Wall of Famer Steve Carlton. He played longest ago for the Phils among the nominees, having first appeared on the infamous 1964 team. That Phillies team collapsed down the stretch, blowing the NL Pennant.
Among the most recent to play for the club and receive nominations were infielders Placido Polanco and Scott Rolen. The latter was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year. Both players won Gold Glove Awards at third base while playing with the Phillies, Rolen on four occasions.

WALL OF FAMER, SHOULD BE A HALL OF FAMER

Rose was rumored to be one of the finalists. Most of all, he was rumored to be the top vote-getter with the fans by a wide margin. Today, the club made his selection official.

It’s official. Pete Rose is the 2017 Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame Inductee.

Rose is a no-doubt-about-it Baseball Hall of Famer based on the record. He is the game’s all-time Hit King, having amassed 4,256 total hits over a 24-year career in Major League Baseball.
Rose helped lead the ‘Big Red Machine’ Cincinnati Reds to back-to-back World Series crowns in 1975 and 1976. He was MVP of the 1975 classic seven-game victory over the Boston Red Sox.
He was the 1963 NL Rookie of the Year, the 1973 National League Most Valuable Player, and a three-time NL batting champion. In addition, Rose won a pair of Gold Glove Awards, and was a 17x National League All-Star.

ROSE LEADS THE PHILLIES TO A WORLD SERIES CROWN

Following the 1978 season, Rose became a free agent. The Phillies had won three consecutive NL East crowns at that point. But that team, led by future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, had fallen short in the playoffs each year. Believing that leadership and winning experience were lacking, the club made Rose it’s first-ever big-ticket free agent signing that winter.
After an injury-marred 1979 season in which the Phils dropped from first place in May to a fourth place finish, the club rallied in 1980.
The Phillies held off the Montreal Expos on the final weekend of the regular season to clinch a fourth NL East crown in five years. Then the club fought past the Houston Astros in a grueling five game series that many believe is the greatest NLCS in history.
Finally, the Phillies held off a veteran Kansas City Royals squad in six games to win the first-ever World Series crown in franchise history. Rose hit .326 with a .431 during that 1980 postseason, and provided a signature moment with a hustling defensive play in the 9th inning of the clinching game of the Fall Classic.
As all baseball fans know, there is only one reason that Rose is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame. That would be the controversy surrounding his gambling on the sport. Due to this issue, Rose agreed to a suspension from the game. Therefore he was mostly out of the game in any official capacity for over two decades.

ROSE PUBLIC RETURN TO MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

But last year, Major League Baseball allowed the Reds to honor Rose formally with a place in their team Hall of Fame. As a result, he was feted in a ceremony held in late June of 2016.
Rose was also a member of the Fox Sports crew analyzing the MLB postseason last Fall, joining Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas on what became a popular panel among fans of the game.
The Phillies received permission to consider him for their club Wall of Fame this off-season. As a result, they jumped at the chance to place Rose among this year’s nominees.
When the Reds announced that Rose would be honored, I wrote in a piece for FanSided’s “That Ball’s Outta Here” that the Phillies should do the same.

At that time I wrote: “for this fan who was around to see the obvious influence that Rose had in finally bringing a championship to Phillies fans, he is absolutely deserving of a plaque on that wall.”
I have no doubt that Citizens Bank Park will be see a full house for this summer’s upcoming Rose enshrinement. Finally, fans will be able to enjoy viewing and reading a Rose plaque on the Wall of Fame out on Ashburn Alley in center field.