Reading Eagle - May 25, 1980

Phillies Win Another

 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Right-hander Dan Larson said he really didn’t have enough free time to think about his starting assignment against the Houston Astros Saturday night.

 

Recalled from Oklahoma City Friday night, Larson arrived at Veteran’s Stadium two hours before the game in which he pitched effectively for 5-1/3 innings as the Phillies defeated the Astros 5-4.  It was the Phillies’ eighth victory in 11 games.

 

“I left Oklahoma City at 8 this morning,” said Larson, “had all sorts of problems and didn’t get to Philadelphia until 5 this afternoon.  With all the rushing, I didn’t have much time to think about starting.”

 

Larson, who had a 4-2 record in the American Association, allowed three hits while striking out one and walking two against the Astros, for whom he pitched in 1976 and 1977.

 

“I definitely had some extra incentive,” said Larson.  “It’s always nice to do well against your former team.”

 

Winner Kevin Saucier, 2-0, relieved Larson in the sixth inning with the Phillies ahead 2-1 and a runner at third.  Terry Puhl’s sacrifice fly scored the tying run but Philadelphia tallied twice  against loser Joaquin Andujar, 0-2, on RBI singles by Larry Bowa and Manny Trillo to take a 4-2 lead.

 

Philadelphia added an important run in the seventh on a triple by Bake McBride, two walks, and a Bob Boone groundout.  The run was charged to reliever Dave Smith, and was the first earned run given up by the Houston bullpen since May 5, covering 23 and a third innings.

 

Tug McGraw, who picked up his third save, pitched the final three innings and was touched for two runs in the eighth.

 

Rafael Landestoy opened with a single, went to third on a Craig Reynolds double.  Puhl and Jose Cruz then each drove in runs on infield grounders.

 

Phillies manager Dallas Green was pleased both with Larson’s pitching and the continued hot hitting of leftfielder Greg Luzinski, as the Phillies won their eighth game in 11 starts.

 

“I was looking for whatever I could get out of Larson,” said Green, “and he did a fine job.  I’ve got to paste this pitching staff together as best I can and Dan just might fit in somewhere.”

 

Luzinski, who had a double and single in three trips, now has hit in five straight games in which he has had 10 hits in 18 at bats.  Included are four homers, two doubles and seven RBI.

 

“Greg is just seeing the ball real good,” said Green, “and his concentration is excellent.  He’s hitting as good as you’d want to hit.”

Phils Have Nifty Triple-Play Combo

 

By Doyle Dietz, Eagle Sportswriter

 

PHILADELPHIA – There you are, relaxing in the back yard.

 

Your steak’s sizzling, your brew’s cold, and you’re listening to the Phillies on the radio.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

And although Veterans Stadium is about 70 miles away, you don’t miss a thing, because Harry Kalas, Rich Ashburn and Andy Musser take you from pre-game show through the post-game interview.  But while you’re relaxing, the three broadcasters – and engineer Dave Toy – are hard at work.

 

It’s hard to remember sometimes that what you’re listening to is someone at work.  That because the three pros in the booth are so good at what they do, it sounds easy.  But if you had the chance to observe what goes on during a game, you would appreciate them even more.

 

Just Does His Job

 

“When you do 162 games a year, you don’t think that much about it,” Kalas said after a recent game at the Vet.  “It’s just a case of going out and doing the job.

 

“All you can do is try to make sure every play is called.  And you can’t give the score too much because you always have people tuning in while the game is on.  Sometimes you think you’re giving it too much, but the listener wants to know the score.

 

“And baseball is still a radio sport because you don’t have to listen to the full nine innings to know what happened.  We’re always recapping during the course of the game.”

 

All three of the announcers stay on top of the game by keeping their own scorecard.  And the teamwork in the booth rivals the teamwork that’s needed on the field.

 

Busy Place

 

While Kalas is doing play-by-play, Ashburn is providing the color that adds to what’s taking place on the field.  And while his two teammates are doing their jobs, Musser is helping them in various ways.

 

For instance, if an unusual play takes place on the field or if a player is having a big day, Musser reaches for the record book and gets the information to Ashburn or Kalas.  And the announcer who isn’t on the air keeps the other two updated on out-of-town scores.

 

All the broadcasters have to be alert – and that’s especially true this time of the year.  A bird has built her nest in the ceiling of the booth, and her entrances into the booth are usually made at head level.

 

This happened several times during the game, and each time the announcers never missed a word as they ducked and continued to do play-by-play.  Not all the visitors to the booth during the game are as dangerous.

 

Taken In Stride

 

During the course of the game several people visit the announcers between innings.  And because the ticker-tape machine is broken, the out-of-town scores have to be delivered while the action on the field is taking place.

 

“I’ve seen it worse,” Ashburn said of the traffic in the booth.  “But these guys (Kalas and Musser) are pros.

 

“Nothing phases them.  That’s one of their strong suits.”

 

Ashburn considers Kalas and Musser the “real professionals” of the team.  Even though he’s been broadcasting Phillies games since 1963, he said he still thinks as a ball player and reacts to things as a ball player.

 

Likes His Job

 

“I try to project myself as a fielder or a hitter when I’m doing the game,” Ashburn said.  “I think that’s my value.

 

“These two guys I’m working with are great.  They sense when I want to say something.  Timing is important because you have a shabby broadcast if you’re walking over each other.

 

“I’m not saying this job is like stealing, but it is a heck of a way to make a living.  I like the game, and I like being able to come out and see good baseball.

 

“You like to see the Phillies win, but I like to see good plays no matter who makes them.  You try not to be a rooter, but you do have friends on the club, and there’s no question your job is easier when the team is winning.”

 

Quick Decisions

 

Much of the work by the broadcasters is done in advance, such as interviews that are taped during batting practice and presented on the pre-game show.  And the team usually is in the booth 45 minutes before the game to look over the current stats supplied by public relations man Larry Shenk and his staff.

 

But there are times when decisions have to be made on the spur of the moment, and the announcers talk things over between innings.  On this night Steve Carlton is pitching a strong game, but it’s decided not to mention he’s working on a no-hitter until after the sixth inning.

 

In the seventh, Ashburn says Carlton is working on a no-hitter, and Kalas continues to relay the drama.  But even with the drama of a possible no-hitter, Kalas never forgets to give the score and keep the fans informed on the out-of-town scores.

 

Carlton’s big for a no-hitter is lost in the eighth inning.  With that out of the way, Kalas goes about the business of reporting the game.

 

On Their Toes

 

Even though there may be a letdown on the field, there is no letdown in the booth.  When Carlton loses his bid for a shutout by giving up a home run, Ashburn is quick to point out the batter had struck out three time on breaking balls and hit his home run off a fast ball.

 

While Kalas and Ashburn are talking about the pitch that was hit for a homer, Musser looks up a statistic on how many home runs Carlton has allowed and shows it to his partners.

 

“I saw that Carlton hadn’t given up a home run in 39 innings,” Musser said.  “It doesn’t do you any good to save something like that, and those are the kind of things that fans like to know.

 

“You’re always looking for things to keep the fans informed.  You must always remember that there are people out there who are just turning you on.

 

Style Important

 

“You should try to be descriptive because you’re the eyes of the listener.  The secret is to deliver the game in your own style.

 

“Sure, you might steal a line here and a line there, but you have to blend what you do into your own.

 

“I think baseball presents the greatest challenge to a broadcaster.  In basketball, for instance, the action is always happening, but baseball is a different challenge every game.

 

“I’ve been doing the games here since 1976, and Harry and Whitey are great to work with.  But it’s only now that I’m feeling confident.”

 

An Old Pro

 

Ashburn and Musser consider Kalas the old pro of the team.  He’s been doing baseball since 1961 and did play-by-play for the Houston Astros before coming to the Phillies.

 

“I love the game,” Kalas said.  “And I enjoy working here and the rapport I have with Ashburn.

 

“We have a good time on the air, but don’t let it interfere with the play-by-play.  He has some funny things to say (like mentioning that Manager Dallas Green figured out a way to make Carlton run when he had the pitcher moving on a hit-and-run play).

 

“But the things he says can’t be forced.”

 

He Has Style

 

Kalas also has his own style, which Musser said was so important.  When Kalas calls a home run by saying, “Long drive; left field; home run,” the excitement comes through the radio.

 

“I just sort of fell into that,” Kalas said.  “I used to call them Astro Orbits in Houston, but I never really liked that.

 

“This just sort of fell into place naturally.”

 

And the natural way the three announcers work together makes listening to a game that much more enjoyable.  So enjoyable, in fact, you forget that what they’re doing is work.

 

 

Strike Settled – Everything Rosy

 

By Tony Zonca

 

Pete Rose was born to be a baseball player.  Just watch him.  He playfully elbows Cincinnati first base coach Ron Plaza, then he picks up some debris around the bag and tosses it at Junior Kennedy.

 

He smacks Ken Griffey on the rump with his glove and jaws at the umpire.

 

He plays as though each day is his last.  And Wednesday night at the Vet, in a glorious game won by the Phillies in the ninth, it might have been his last for a while.

 

Later, in the clubhouse, he sat naked on a folding chair, a towel over his lap, and stared into his locker stall, fielding questions.

 

“When was the last time I haven’t played baseball during the summer?” he said.  “I dunno… when I was 8, about 30 years ago.

 

“Does it (expected strike) bother me?  Sure, it bothers me; it bothers everybody (all the players) in here – it’s the national pastime.”

 

Pete Rose talks that way, in cliches, right out of The Sporting News, which was probably his primer.

 

You could see he was not happy about the prospect of a summer without baseball.

 

Everybody Crazy?

 

“I can’t conceive the fact there won’t be baseball in 1980,” he said, “unless everybody in this world is crazy.”

 

He also had an opinion about Ray Grebey and Marvin Miller, the guys who were staring each other down over the bargaining table.

 

“I’m glad I don’t take as many days off as those guys do,” he said, “or I wouldn’t have 3,000 hits; I’d probably have 800.”

 

Somebody asked if the strike threat was on his mind during the game.

 

“I wasn’t thinking about no damn strike when I’m out there playing the game,” he said, his voice suggesting heresy.  “You may have thought I was the way I was swinging the bat.

 

“But all it would take is for somebody to say, ‘yes,’ and we’ll be right here Friday night facing Nolan Ryan.

 

“I hope you’re right,” a writer said.

 

“You?” Rose responded, and headed for the showers.

 

«  «  «

 

 

Ramon Aviles, a utility player making somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000, might have been better off, in the event of a strike, than the guys making the megabucks.

 

He has homes in South Carolina and Puerto Rico, and he says both are paid for.

 

“I’m in better shape than most of the guys,” he said Wednesday after talk about his first major-league homer had waned.  “I don’t have any bills.  I make good money playing winter ball.

 

“I don’t spend too much money.  I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t gamble.  All I do is eat and go to the bank and put the money in my savings account.

 

«  «  «

 

Keith Moreland got a start at catcher against the Reds.  He, too, blasted his first homer in the bigs.

 

He preferred to talk more about the possibility of a strike and what it meant to him.

 

“It’s a chance for the young guys to get ahead,” he said.  “If you’re a young player and not behind the strike, you’re foolish.  The strike isn’t for the established player; it’s for the guy who has been in the big leagues three or four years and is not that happy, who isn’t getting a fair chance to play.  I believe in free agentry.

 

“Every person who feels we’re going for more money is full of baloney.  The only thing being mentioned is the compensation thing is the minimum salary of $23,000.

 

“That just isn’t enough to get by.  Six months you’re living in an apartment, six months you’re living at home.  The minimum salary has to be raised to $30,000 for the first year.”

 

«  «  «

 

I can’t remember which one, but one of the players was heard saying to a TV guy, “If you were offered a better job with another station, and your station wanted a reporter in return before it let you go, wouldn’t that be ridiculous?”  Good point.

 

«  «  «

 

Fans at a Reading Phillies game Thursday night, when it looked as though the strike was just hours away, supported the owners in the conflict.  More accurately, they blamed the players.

 

The fans, though, believed the issue was money, and it was not.  Compensation for a player taken in the free agent pool is the issue.

 

One guy in particular, a Mark Shaef of Lebanon, made a lot of sense.

 

“There is greed coming out of people today,” he said, “and sports is a good example.  Just how much money do we need to live?  I’m concerned what a strike would do to sports, period.  Sports is one of the things we can still hold onto in this country.

 

«  «  «

 

A majority of the Reading Phillies hadn’t been paying much attention to the strike.  Some of them were hoping it would bring more fans out to watch them play.

 

“The strike won’t affect us till we get there (big leagues),” said Ozzie Virgil, “but you can’t go against them (the players).”

 

Joe Buzas, the owner of the Reading Phils, had mixed feelings about the strike threat.  He is an owner, but he was a player, too.

 

“I can understand the way the players think,” Buzas said, “but the owners deserve to receive compensation because it takes a lot of money to develop a player.

 

“But in the long run all of this could hurt baseball.”

 

«  «  «

 

Winston Churchill was talking about Russia when he said, “It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

 

 

He could have been taking about the pro-longed strike threat.  Fortunately, somebody decided to solve the riddle.