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Yesterday: Phillies deals at Winter Meetings

It was December 1978, and Phillies’ fans had visions of a sugarplum World Championship dancing in their heads.

On Dec. 5, 1978, the Phillies inked Pete Rose to a four-year, $3.22 million contract (a big contract back then). He was viewed as the missing piece - and he was despite a team collapse in 1979. A year later, Rose was an integral part of the franchise’s first title and remains one of the more pivotal Winter Meetings acquisitions.

In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about sports and pop culture in the 1960s, 70s, 80 and sometimes before and beyond - I will look back at some of the more recognized Winter Meetings deals as voted on by Times News readers.

As far as results, Rose’s signing was the top vote-getter with 45%, followed by the Zack Wheeler deal at 25%. The Roy Halladay deal of 2009 tallied 20%, followed by the Tug McGraw trade of 1974 at 5%. Shane Victorino’s Rule 5 draft failed to register any votes.

Also, I’ll take a brief look at the Eagles-Cowboys history, and some interesting pop-culture items along the way.

When did Time magazine begin, and do you remember Wally Henry and the TV show, “Combat?”

Pre-Holiday Deals ... At the time, the Rose signing was huge because the Phillies needed something to get over the Dodgers hump. We were all ecstatic at the time. Rose responded with 40 doubles and 20 stolen bases and a .331 batting average in 1979, and had a league-high 42 doubles in 1980.

Wheeler signed a five-year, $118 million deal with the Phils in 2020, and has an overall 43-29 mark. It has been one of their marquee signings in the past 20 years.

Halladay’s deal was consummated on Dec. 16, and he posted a 55-26 mark in four seasons. One factor that will stay with me was his no-hitter in the playoffs.

The McGraw deal often is overlooked, but can hold the same weight as the Rose deal due to its timing. At the time, many thought the Phils made the wrong move giving up Del Unser and Mac Scarce, as well as a young catcher named John Stearns.

But McGraw was key in the Phils’ revival and their divisional run.

Victorino was clearly overlooked, but he soon made his presence felt. He wasn’t a major part, but Victorino did establish himself as one of the franchise’s all-time center fielders.

Birds and Boys ... This Sunday, the Eagles and Cowboys will have another first-place showdown in “Big D.” There have been countless big games between the two teams on all levels, and Dallas leads the all-time series, 73-56.

Here are some memorable games:

1960 - The first meeting between the teams featured the eventual champion and loaded Eagles against the expansion Cowboys. Dallas stayed with Philly throughout the game, and did have a few leads. The Eagles eventually prevailed with a 27-25 victory. Billy Ray Barnes scored two second-half touchdowns, and Clarence Peaks rushed for a team-high 68 yards (anyone remember those two guys?).

1962 - Dallas got its first win in the series, led by Don Meredith and Bob Lilly in a 34-12 rout. (Most of us remember “Dandy Don” for “Turn Out the Lights, The Party’s Over.”

1979 - The Birds snapped an eight-game losing streak that began in 1974 and extended through 1978. Philly previously lost 11 straight to Dallas from 1967-1972. The Eagles prevailed in an entertaining 31-21 victory when Wibert Montgomery scored the winning touchdown on a 37-yard run.

1981- It truly was one of the franchise’s most memorable ones, and I still remember it fondly. I’m sure you do, too. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl when they corralled the Cowboys in a 20-7 victory. It was 12 degrees at game time with a wind chill of minus three. It’s a game that will linger for a lifetime.

The magazine and the songs ... Taylor Swift recently was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” In case you missed it, the magazine celebrated its 100th birthday in March.

The first “Man of the Year” was Charles Lindbergh in 1927. The first “Woman of the Year” was Wallis Simpson, the former Duchess of Windsor in 1933.

The first sports figure to receive the award was former MLB commissioner Peter Ueberroth in 1984 for his work as Los Angeles Olympic Games organizer. Sports mogul Ted Turner was honored in 1991, and officials - titled “The Whistle Blowers” - were honored in 2002.

In 1999, the magazine changed the title to “Person of the Year.”

And, ... Taylor Swift? Puzzling to me.

Speaking of time in vintage songs, the Chambers Brothers released their top hit, “Time Has Come Today,” in 1967, and ironically, there also was the hit, “Time Won’t Let Me,” by The Outsiders, also in 1966.

You can also add “Love Me Two Times,” by the Doors in 1967, “Time Is On My Side,” by the Rolling Stones in 1964, and the all-time classic, “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is,” by Chicago in 1969.

TV Wars ... From 1962-67, ABC aired the TV show, “Combat,” which chronicled U.S. Army soldiers activities throughout World War II. It was a realistic show that truly depicted the scenes in the 50-minute show, which would be a rarity among today’s shows with their blanketed advertising.

Vic Morrow was the lead character, and Rick Jason was a strong supporting actor. ABC capitalized on the war genre when it added “The Rat Patrol,” a desert-based World War II fighting unit (I watched this with my father) from 1966-68.

In the next decade, NBC aired “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” a World War II series about an air squadron from 1976-78. Notable “tough guy” Robert Conrad had the lead, and Larry Manetti (Rick from “Magnum P.I.”) and Simon Oakland (Tony Vicenzo, “Kolchak, The Night Stalker”) were regulars.

Hex Stands Tall ... On Dec. 8, 1987, the Flyers’ Ron Hextall became the first NHL goalie to score a goal when he fired a shot into an empty net against Boston in a 5-1 victory.

Hextall also scored a short-handed goal on April 11, 1989, in a playoff game against the Washington Capitals.

It still is a rarity, probably more today than yesterday.

Readers Write

More Birds and Boys

Hi Jeff – interesting article in the last (Bethlehem) Press. We often hear about the Eagles, and especially their fans being pretty rowdy, but after reading your article I guess we can be thankful that they aren’t as bad as they apparently were previously. To think that in 1989, Eagles linebacker Jesse Small knocked out Dallas kicker Luis Zendejas for a $200 bounty that Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan placed on the kicker’s head … wow! Hmmm, maybe that’s why he never made it to the NFL Hall of Fame? I think I’ll have to find a way to weave that into my monthly class email in Jan. or Feb. – too amazing to pass up!

Susan Derr Kirk

Bethlehem, PA

Memory Lane ... Each week, I will look back at a former player, coach, manager, or media personality from our yesterday.

Do you remember Eagles’ wide receiver/kick returner Wally Henry? He wasn’t drafted, but played for former head coach Dick Vermeil at UCLA. Henry made the team in 1977, and played six seasons until 1982.

He averaged 22.9 yards on kickoff returns and 8.3 on punt returns. Surprisingly, he recorded only one touchdown on a punt return, but always was a fan favorite. He made the Pro Bowl in 1979, averaging 23.9 yards on kickoffs and 9.1 on punts.