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1980 Philadelphia Phillies
From BR Bullpen
|1980 Philadelphia Phillies|
|1979 Phillies||1980 Phillies||1981 Phillies|
World Series Champs
Managed by Dallas Green
 The 1980 Season
Despite finishing a distant fourth in the divisional race, the 1979 Phillies had ended that season on an uptick, winning 18 of 29 September games under farm director-turned-manager Dallas Green. Green made no signficant changes in the club during spring training in 1980, though he brought two youngsters - outfielder Lonnie Smith and catcher Keith Moreland - north in April and added promising rookie starting pitcher Bob Walk in May.
Walk's debut on May 26 was the Phillies' fifth win in a row, their first consistent move away from .500 in the young season. The streak brought them to six games over, but they were still at six games over (and in third place) almost three months later, when Walk beat the Mets on August 16 to run his record to 9-2. The other bright spots were the consistently brilliant Steve Carlton, eventual MVP Mike Schmidt, Moreland (who caught fire in July and August), and Smith, who took over left field more and more from an aging and hurting Greg Luzinski. Overall, however, the rest of the Phillie bats were anemic well into August.
Four wins in a row on the West Coast early in September propelled the Phillies into first place by a thin margin over Montreal and Pittsburgh. The Phillies played nine extra-inning games in September, winning seven of them; "ya gotta believe," opined reliever Tug McGraw in a reprise of his rallying cry for the 1973 Mets. Unheralded rookie pitcher Marty Bystrom was called up after 1 September and won five consecutive starts down the stretch.
Fittingly, the Phillies arrived in Montreal on October 3 tied for first with the Expos; the Pirates had long since fallen out of the race. Late-season acquisition Sparky Lyle and McGraw saved the first game of the series, a 2-1 victory (both RBIs by Schmidt). The Phillies went into the 9th inning of the second game trailing by a run, but manage to tie it against Woodie Fryman, and then to win it on an 11th inning home run by Schmidt against Stan Bahnsen.
 National League Champions
Main article:1980 NLCS
The Phillies had lost NLCS in 1976, 1977, and 1978, and while their experience seemed to make them favorites over the new Western champion Houston Astros, old Philadelphia hands expected the worst. Carlton and McGraw combined to win Game One handily at home. McGraw couldn't hold the Astros in Game Two, however, and the dam burst in the top of the 10th, giving Houston a 7-4 victory. Joe Niekro threw ten fabulous shutout innings in Game Three in Houston, and the Astros, after a leadoff triple by Joe Morgan, beat McGraw in the 11th.
With two games remaining in the Astrodome, Phillies fans packed their bags emotionally for a long winter. The Astros chased Carlton early in Game Four, taking a 2-0 lead into the eighth. The Phillies scraped together three runs in the eighth; Houston tied the game in the ninth. Then, hits by Pete Rose, Luzinski, and Manny Trillo gave the Phillies two tenth-inning runs, and McGraw came on for the save.
The Phillies dug an even deeper hole in the fifth and deciding game, trailing 5-2 with Nolan Ryan on the mound to start the eighth inning. But Ryan quickly loaded the bases and then walked Rose, triggering a five-run rally capped by Trillo's two-run triple. The Astros roughed up McGraw in the bottom of the eighth, however, and the teams went to extra innings for the fourth straight game. Green pressed starter Dick Ruthven into service and waited. In the top of the tenth, Garry Maddox doubled home Del Unser with the pennant-winning run. The Phillies would return to the World Series after a drought of 30 years.
 World Series Champions
Main article:1980 WS
After one of the greatest NLCS of all time, that World Series (against the Kansas City Royals) was fairly anticlimactic. Solid performances by Carlton (two wins) and Schmidt (.381, two homers, and the MVP trophy) were somewhat overshadowed by George Brett's hemorrhoids and a bizarre ninth-inning play in the deciding Game Six. With the bases loaded and McGraw pitching, Frank White hit a foul pop-up that Philadelphia catcher Bob Boone dropped - into the glove of casual bystander Rose. McGraw proceeded to strike out Willie Wilson to win the first World Championship for the Phillies.
Schmidt was a unanimous MVP and Carlton won his third Cy Young Award with only one dissenting vote. Schmidt and Maddox won Gold Gloves. Schmidt led the league in slugging percentage, home runs, and RBIs. Rose was the doubles leader. Carlton led the league in starts, innings, wins, and strikeouts; McGraw had 20 saves.
Bill James famously scoffed at the team's lack of depth beyond Schmidt, Carlton, and McGraw, saying that if you took the Toronto Blue Jays (dreadful in 1980) and added Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, and Hoyt Wilhelm, you'd approximate the makeup of the Phillies. But James is a Royals fan, after all.
The famous Boone-to-Rose 2-3 foulout seems to epitomize the 1980 Phillies. They were a veteran group who, if they lacked athleticism, made few mental errors and played sharp fundamental baseball. Maddox, Trillo, Boone, and Larry Bowa were weak bats but played good defense up the middle. Whether they were likeable depended on your affection for the aloof Schmidt, the distant Carlton, the pugnacious Rose and the talkative McGraw, but they scraped by every challenge offered them.
The Phillies' championship was the highlight in an unprecedented year in Philadelphia sports. In addition to their World Series crown, the Flyers of the NHL played in the Stanley Cup finals, the 76ers reached the NBA Finals, and the Eagles of the NFL capped off their 1980 season by reaching the Super Bowl in 1981. Many consider this the greatest sports year for any city.
 Awards and Honors