Reading Eagle - April 11, 1980
Kiteman and Phillies Hope for High-Flying Start
Philadelphia (AP) – Kiteman will be trying once again to land at the pitcher’s mound as the Philadelphia Phillies begin their struggle to regain the National League East title.
It’s uncertain, however, which would be favored by the Las Vegas oddsmakers to achieve those goals.
Kiteman is the pre-game feature before the Phillies meet the Montreal Expos tonight in a 1980 major league baseball opener.
The Phillies will send Steve Carlton, their pitching ace, against the Expos’ best, Steve Rogers. Carlton was 18-11 last season, and Rogers 13-12.
The Phillies held the East title for three consecutive years before finishing fourth last year.
It will be the third time Kiteman has tried his specialty, rolling down a ramp in rightcenter field, flapping his artificial wings and heading to the pitching mound to deliver the first ball.
The first year, Kiteman landed on his tail in the stands. The second year he made it to center field.
The Expos and Phillies hope to show an estimated 40,000 fans why they consider themselves bonafide contenders for the division title held by the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Phillies were overwhelming favorites last season to win a fourth consecutive East title, but injuries and a few subpar performances by key players helped them to a fourth-place finish. Baseball’s second highest paid team was embarrassed.
Dallas Green, who succeeded the fired Danny Ozark for the last 30 games of the 1979 season, was rehired for another season. He put the team through a rigorous spring training and believes the Phillies can win if the pitching jells.
Behind Carlton, the Phillies have potential in the pitching area, but people such as Dick Ruthven, and Larry Christenson, have to recover from injuries which required operations. Nino Espinosa already is on the 21 day disabled list with a sore shoulder.
Green’s first eight is impressive. He’ll field an infield of catcher Bob Boone, first baseman Pete Rose, second baseman Manny Trillo, shortstop Larry Bowa and third baseman Mike Schmidt. Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox and Bake McBride are the outfielders.
The Expos have made a few changes. They lost pitchers Dan Schatzeder and Rudy may, who won 20 games between them. Schatzeder was traded to Detroit for outfielder Ron LeFlore, and May played out his option and signed with the New York Yankees. First baseman Tony Perez also left via the free agent route to the Boston Red Sox.
Montreal manager Dick Williams is starting outfielder Warren Cromartie at first, with LeFlore in Cromartie’s outfield spot. The manager is confident the pitching staff can make up the 20 games won by Schatzeder and May. The Expos’ pitching, like the Phillies, is suspect at best, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen.