Phillies a big part of our October memories
It’s early October, and football should be in the forefront. However, the Phillies had their October moments through the years.
In this week’s version of Yesterday- a look back in time at the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and sometimes beyond – I will look at some Philadelphia-related events as well as other sports and pop culture items from October and in general. Does Winky Dink ring a bell?
Phillies Fall Finishes – It was Oct. 4, 1980, and the Phillies had to squeak out a 6-4 victory over the Montreal Expos at fabled Olympic Stadium on the second-to-last day of the regular season. The Phillies began the weekend series with the Expos with identical 89-70 records. They won the previous night, 2-1, and had the opportunity to clinch the division.
The game moved into the 11th inning with the game tied 4-4. Mike Schmidt added another highlight from his MVP season when he sent a ball into the left-field stands with Pete Rose aboard. It would be Schmidt’s 48th and league-leading homer for the season.
Tug McGraw pitched his third consecutive inning in the bottom of the 11th, and picked up his fifth victory (5-4) of the season, Warren Brusstar and Sparky Lyle- remember him? – both relieved starter Larry Christenson. Ex-Phillie Woody Fryman pitched the eighth and ninth for the Expos innings before Stan Bahnsen took the loss. Steve Rogers, a standout for the Expos in the late 70s and early 80s, started the game for the Expos.
Some of the Expos back in the day were catcher Gary Carter, outfielders Andre “The Hawk” Dawson and Warren Cromartie, and third baseman Larry Parrish. Those names should ring a bell, especially if you were playing in fantasy leagues,
And who can remember those televised games from the cavernous Olympic Stadium?
Black Friday ... I would be remiss if I didn’t mention “Black Friday,” which occurred Friday, Oct. 7, 1977. It was the infamous loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS. The Phillies took a 5-3 lead to the top of ninth. With two outs and no one on base, it looked to be a good night in Philly.
We all know what happened, but just to recount some blunders.
There was a bunt single, fielding blunders by Ted Sizemore and Greg Luzinski – he normally would have been replaced by Jerry Martin - in left field but wasn’t on this day - and Davey Lopes’ single that uncanningly hit a turf seam in front of Schmidt and bounced to Bowa. His throw to Richie Hebner apparently beat Lopes, but he was called safe. Bill Russell eventually had the game-winning single.
I remember where I was, and was totally stunned like most of the Philly faithful.
Super Steve ... It was Oct. 3, 1972, and Steve Carlton notched his 27th win in a 11-1 complete-game victory over the Cubs.
Carlton led the league in ERA (1.97) and strikeouts (310). From June 7 to August 17, Carlton was 15-0. People may have forgotten that he accounted for 27 of the team’s 59 wins that season.
Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell said facing Carlton was “trying to drink coffee with a fork.”
Living through it, we never truly appreciated how phenomenal a season he had.
Grounded Eagle ... In early October in 1988, the Eagles traded a first-round pick to the then Indianapolis Colts for Pro Bowl guard Ron Solt.
Solt played two quarters for the Birds before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury, and had four unproductive seasons after that. Who was the Colts’ pick with that traded draft choice? It was five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Rison.
Another Classic Game ,,, Back in the late 1960’s, the “All Pro Football” game debuted.
The game was unique because there were round circles that you would line in a regular offensive and defensive formation on a field. There was a 10-yard marker.
The offensive player would get three moves with which he could move one man three spaces, one man two spaces, and another one space, or three man one space each.
The defensive player then made three moves. Once he did, the offensive player moved again. Play continued until the offensive player was tackled by the defensive player landing on him.
Dice rolls involved passing for the game. It was a classic, and you can still find it on EBay.
Indian Summer ... Early October can bring the first sign of a chill in the air as well as some early frosts. When it was a warm early October as a kid, I always remember being referred to as an “Indian Summer.”
No one ever explained it, but there always was that reference. It became something to look forward to, and there usually was a span of warm weather around that time. Its origins date back to the early 19th century when Indians hunted for food during warm periods of the Fall.
Winky Dink ... Do you remember Winky Dink? It was billed as the first interactive TV show that ran from 1969-73.
The gimmick of the show was the “magic drawing screen, which you had to purchase for 50 cents. It was a kit that contained the screen and specific crayons. The screen was a piece of vinyl plastic that stuck to the screen through static electricity.
At one point in the show, the Winky Dink character would arrive on a scene that contained a connect-the-dots picture that could be navigated only with the help of viewers. Winky Dink then would then prompt you to complete the picture, and the finished result would help him continue the story. Examples included drawing a bridge to cross a river, using an axe to chop down a tree, or creating a cage to trap a dangerous lion.
Another use of the interactive screen was to decode messages. An image would be displayed, showing only the vertical lines of the letters of the secret message. You would then quickly trace onto their magic screen, and a second image would display the horizontal lines, completing the text.
Jog your memory for that one.
Do You Remember? ... Each week, I’ll mention a likely forgotten player, manager, coach, or announcer from yesterday.
Do you remember Lonnie Smith? In the 70’s, he was billed as the franchise’s next great base stealer and .300-plus singles and doubles hitter. Smith was the Phillies’ top pick in the 1974 draft, and made his Phillies debut in September 1978.
He played with the Phillies through the 1981 season and was used mainly in a part-time role. Smith was traded to the Cardinals in a three-way trade in which the Phillies acquired catcher Bo Diaz. He flourished in St. Louis for four seasons and in Kansas City for three. Smith played 17 seasons overall, until he retired with Baltimore in 1994. Smith hit .288 for his career and stole 370 bases.