Doylestown Daily Intelligencer - August 4, 1980
Smith Runs Wild, Phils Upend Reds
By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA-Without question, Lonnie Smith is the most exciting thing to happen to Philadelphia Phillies' baseball since the rookie season of Dick Allen, 1964
With his speed alone, the 24-year-old right-handed hitting and throwing outfielder has added a new and winning dimension.
In Sunday's convincing 8-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds, Smith set the tone of victory with a walk, two singles and three straight stolen bases, adding up to three runs scored.
Smith currently leads the team in stolen bases with 20, including 10 straight and 17 of his last 18 attempts. He's only been caught three times, twice by catchers Tim Blackwell of Chicago and Steve Nicosia of Pittsburgh, and once in a pick off by pitcher Eric Rasmussen. And only Mike Schmidt (65) and Pete Rose (70) have scored more runs than Smith (45).
For the record, the last Phillies to have shown comparable speed were Chuck Klein, Danny Murtaugh and Richie Ashburn, who led the league in stolen bases. Klein stole 20 in 1932, Murtaugh, 18, in 1941, and Ashburn, with 32, in 1950
Also for the record. The Phils are 7-3 on the current home stand. In the three losses, Smith did not get a base hit in two of the games, and did not play in the other. He has scored a total of 13 runs in the 10 games played.
The Phils, too, having (sic) been winning without the home run ball.
They have now gone 34 innings without oine. The last being Mike Schmidt's 27th, against Houston, July 29. Smith has added a new dimension.
"I don't care if we don't hit another home run as long as we win,"said manager Dallas Green after Sunday's victory. "That's the name of the game, win. We don't have any home run hitters, only one, and he's not hitting them right now. But he will again.
"Lonnie's speed makes that type (running) baseball that much easier to play. He's of the (Omar) Moreno, (Ron) LeFlore calibre, which we've been having to defend against. He gets a walk or a hit, steals a base and we have a run."
Which is exactly what Smith did in the first, third and fifth innings. In the first, Smith leadoff with a walk. He quickly stole second, advanced to third on Pete Rose's infield ground out to the right side and scored on Greg Gross' double to give the Phils a quick 1-0 lead
The Reds tied the score at one all in the second off starter Nino Espinosa on a leadoff single by George Foster. Dan Dreissen being hit by a pitch and Joe Nolan's one-out RBI single.
Smith, however, gave the lead right back to the Phils in the third. He opened with a single, stole second and scored on Rose's RBI single.
Then in the fifth, Smith ignited a six run rally. He again opened with a single, stole second and scored the Phils' third run on Rose's RBI single. Rose followed suit and also stole second. Gross and Schmidt drew walks off hurler Bruce Berenyi to load the bases
Garry Maddox scored Rose with run number four on a run scoring sacrifice fly off relief pitcher Mario Soto. Manny Trlllo was given an intentional pass and Ramon Aviles drew another walk to load the bases. Bob Boone followed with a three run triple and the Phils had a commanding 8-1 lead.
"Lonnie has great instincts on stealing a base," Green said, "and that's a God given talent You can teach it. All we have been doing is
encouraging it. He's got the speed and we'll use it.
"You look at Lonnie as the ideal leadoff batter but he's not "Green said. "I'd have to say no because he doesn't walk enough (seven walks in 158 times at bat). But on this team he has to lead off because he gives us that added dimension. And we're going to talk to him about stealing third base, too. He hasn't up here for us, but he will."
Smith, however doesn't like the idea.
"It's something I feel I don't have to do," Smith said in reference to stealing third " If I get caught it takes the team out of an inning. I know they say third base is the easiest base to steal, but I'm not planning on working on it. If they want me to work on it next year in spring training, I will. But I'm not to (sic) happy with it."
"It's always nice to get that first run," Rose said "And with Lonnie running the way he is, I have to be super patient at the plate. He runs on his own so I can't depend on the sign. I've told him, against certain pitchers, I'll even take two strikes so he can run.
"I told him not to worry about it, I don't mind. I'd rather hit with a runner or second than a runner on first, anyway. He adds a dimension to the top of the order that it hasn't had since I've been here. And with Luzinski out of the lineup we have to create situations like a lot of teams without home run hitters do.
"We have to play aggressive. We can't play for the home run. We scored six runs in that one inning today and we only had three hits. I think Smith runs as good as Moreno and LeFlore.
"No question, he can run. You know it, they (opposition) know it, that he's going to run, but you can't do anything about it."
Smith, too, knows when to take advantage of the situation. Sunday, he said he had his success because he knew about Reds' catcher Joe Nolan.
'I always knew I could steal,'' Smith said. "After I stole the first time I knew I could do it again. Although he (Nolan) throws hard, he has a slow delivery. But I haven't stole against (Johnny) Bench yet. I haven't had enough nerve to steal on him yet.
"And Pete's always ready to let me steal, too. He even told me to it if it means he has to take two strikes. He said he's a better hitter with two strikes, anyway." Smith, also in Sunday's game, beat out a bunt for his single in the fifth inning.
"I've been wanting to bunt for quite a while," Smith said. "But I've been afriad to do it because of the turf (AstroTurf). But it worked out all right and I may do it again."
Smith, too, because of his base stealing ability has gained the respect of the opposing pitchers via the brush-back pitch. He was dusted off in Sunday's game when he came to bat after his second steal.
"That doesn't bother me as long as I don't get hit in the head," Smith said. "I feel he (opposing pitcher) is hurting himself if he hits me as much as me. If he hits me I'm going to get on, steal a base and set up another run." And that, my friends, is excitement.
EXTRA BASES - Dick Ruthven, Bob Walk and Steve Carlton go against John Fulgham, Bob Sykes and Bob Forsch starting Monday night in the final three-game set of current home stand.