Yesterday: Phillies memories
BY JEFF MOELLER
Special to the Press
World Series fever was a pandemic in Philly last week with three World Series games that began Monday night.
The Phillies and the Astros aren’t strangers to each other, as they met in a classic National League Championship Series (NLCS) that led to the Phillies’ first World Series title. There were plenty of moments in that series that have stayed with us, and some that have left us.
In this week’s version of Yesterday - a column dedicated to reminiscing about local pro and college teams as well as some pop culture items from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and sometimes beyond – I will look at some Phillies’ playoff memories from the past as well as some late October and early November thoughts.
Some Remembered and Some Forgotten Moments - The Phillies-Astros’ series is regarded as one of the best in MLB history.
What people have forgotten is that Greg Luzinski had the only home run in the series when he blasted a two-run shot in Game One to help Steve Carlton to a 3-1 victory at the Vet.
Houston came back in Game Two with a 7-4 victory in 10 innings. Houston’s Nolan Ryan and the Phils’ Dick Ruthven were locked in a pitching duel in a 2-2 tie through seven innings. But Houston rallied for four runs in the top of the 10th, and the Phils could only counter with one, being shut down by wild-armed Joaquin Andujar.
It appeared Houston might gain control when they won Game Three by a 1-0 score in 11 innings behind knuckleballer Joe Niekro (remember him?), who pitched 10 of them. Knuckleball pitchers had no inning limits back then. Larry Christensen allowed just three hits through six innings, and Tug McGraw pitched an usual three innings and took the loss.
However, the series took a severe turn toward Philadelphia in Games Four and Five, as the Phils would win a pair in Houston to clinch the pennant with some unforgettable moments.
There was a flashback to the 1970 All-Star Game when Pete Rose barreled over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run, and Rose did it again 10 years later in Game Four. He went full force into Astros’ catcher and future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy to score the go-ahead run in the 10th inning.
The Phils then took that momentum into Game Five, but they fell behind 5-2 heading into the eighth inning and had to face Ryan. Yet, these gritty Phillies didn’t roll over.
They used an infield hit by Bob Boone, a bunt single from Greg Gross, a walk to Rose, and a ground out from Keith Moreland to close to within 5-4. The ever-reliable Del Unser tied the game at five with a hit, and series MVP Manny Trillo followed with a two-run triple.
Houston would rally to tie in the bottom of the eighth, and the series would have its fourth extra-inning game. Unser and Garry Maddox rapped doubles to take an 8-7 lead in the top of the 10th, and Ruthven would retire the side in the 10th.
We all can remember Maddox running toward the infield and catching a soft line drive and raising his hands in the air to clinch the pennant.
What may have been lost in the shuffle was that ABC broadcast the series with Keith Jackson calling the play-by-play, and Howard Cossell and Don Drysdale providing the commentary.
Jackson was in his own league, but he brought a refreshing, unique tone to baseball that one should have appreciated. Drysdale and Cossell were the perfect complements to make an interesting trio.
The Great Pumpkin: It has been a staple in our lives since it first aired in 1966. Until recent years, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was broadcast over network TV. I watched it Sunday on Apple TV.
No matter how old you are, the Charlie Brown episodes always bring back memories, and they remind us how simple life was back then. Once in a while, it’s good to see the wholesome stories.
As far as the Great Pumpkin episode, remember Charlie Brown always got a “rock.” Keep an eye out for the classic Christmas episode soon in early December. There was a later Charlie Brown Thanksgiving episode made with different voices than the originals, and it lacked the same effect.
Thanks to technology, we’re able to watch these at any point, but there wasn’t anything like watching them live as a kid.
The King, Elton, and Barbara: Over the years on Nov. 1, there have been an array of number one songs in the land.
In 1969, Elvis Presley was still rocking on the charts with one his later top songs, “Suspicious Minds,” one of his all-time classic.
A few years later in 1975, Elton John again climbed to the top of the charts with the hit “Island Girl,” which is one you should remember as a good sing-along-in-the-car tune.
And in 1980, Barbara Streisand had the help of the Bee Gees bringing “A Woman in Love” to the top, one that easily could have been forgotten.
Another Classic Game: In 1979, Illco released the “Pete Rose Score Baseball Game.” Ironically, There was an image of Rose on the right side of the box in Phillies pinstripes, even though you only saw a small part of the “P.” In the center of the page, you see Rose in his vintage hunched-over batting stance dressed in apparent Cincinnati red and white without seeing any logo or number.
The game had a small, swinging bat to hit a ball rolled down from a slide in center field. You swung the bat to try and hit the ball in slots for singles, doubles, triples, and home runs as well as outs.
There was a paper background of fans that provided a stadium background. The game can be found on eBay.
Manute Mania - On Nov. 2, 1990, Manute Bol made his Sixers debut in a 124-116 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Bol was acquired from Golden State for a 1991 first-round draft pick. He was the tallest NBA player at the time at 7-foot-7.
Bol spent three seasons with the Sixers before his offensive skills began to diminish, and he was released. He had a brief second-stint with the Sixers a year later.
Do You Remember? Every week, I’ll look back at a former player, manager, coach, or broadcaster who has crossed our lives over time. In keeping with the Phillies, do you remember Dickie Noles?
The spot-starter and reliever spent three seasons with the Phillies from 1979 through 1981. He was best remembered by Phillies’ fans for knocking down George Brett with the Royals leading 4-0 at the time. Many believed it helped turn the World Series.
Noles spent 11 seasons in the majors and had stops with the Cubs, Rangers, Indians, Orioles, and Tigers before he returned and ended his career with the Phils in 1990. Noles currently is employed by the Phillies. In recent years, Noles revealed he had an alcohol problem that he had in his playing days. He currently speaks to groups about the matter.