After 3 straight division titles in the late 70’s and an off season in 1979 Phillie fans began to believe that their so called “Window of opportunity” was beginning to close. With the average age on this team being 31, you could see why everyone felt that way. What the fans on Broad St. got was a monster season from Michael Jack Schmidt (.286-48-121) with the bat and a Cy Young season from Steve Carlton (24-9, 2.34) on the hill. Everyone else filled their role as the team hung around all summer waiting for their opportunity. When the Pirates faltered and the Expos ran out of experience the Phigtin’s stepped up and grabbed the brass ring to notch their fourth divisional title in 5 years. Most folks focus on the big years that their HOF combo had, but the real strength of this team was right up the middle. Larry Bowa and Manny Trillo might have been the best DP combo in the game. Bob Boone, by 1980, just might have eclipsed Johnny Bench as the best defensive catcher in the league. In centerfield was the “Secretary of Defense”, Garry Maddox, who seemed to cover both center and left field (Luzinski played left) at the same time. HOF player and Met broadcaster Ralph Kiner once said this about Maddox, “2/3 of the world is covered by water & Garry Maddox covers the other third”. Defensively this team just didn’t beat itself. Offensively everyone supported Schmidt. Surprising rookie Lonnie Smith hit .339 and stole 33 bases in just 100 games of action. Tug McGraw (5-4, 1.46, 20sv) led a very solid pen that included veteran long man Ron Reed. The rotation, after Carlton and Dick Ruthven (17-10, 3.55) was pedestrian at best, but it did get a huge shot in the arm when Marty Bystrom (5-0, 1.50) joined it down the stretch. It didn’t get any easier after outlasting the Expos to win the division. The Phightin’s would have to face the tough Astros in a classic 5 game NLDS, which we will highlight later on in the blog.
Only 16 new cards were needed thanks to the fact that Burger King issued a mid season card set that had a few of the newcomers in it.
Special thanks to another blogger who sent me a scanned Lerrin LaGrow from his Phillies yearbook. I wish I had a better colorization of the Dan Larson shot. The Scott Munninghoff shot that was sent to me by A.Y. is pretty good for a guy who will see limited face time. That Dickie Noles action shot looks like one that I might have taken in Shea Stadium with my old Canon AE1-Program, back in they day, but I’m pretty sure it’s not. Those Topps Vault shot for Virgil and Avilles look perfect in this card template. Typical Topps shots that make you scratch your head as to where they were going with it ! I’m still in search of a better Jay Loviglio shot. I enlarged his rookie panel card shot from ‘81 for this project, but hope to replace it with an update during the season.