A little baseball fix

I knew as I picked up the remote early Wednesday morning the last thing I needed to see was the news. What frightening turns the coronavirus had taken during the night would find me soon enough, but as I anticipated whiling away a little time with a cup of coffee, what I needed most was a distraction.
And I found it.
On the MLB network.
I hit 213 on the remote, the MLB channel on DirectTV, and landed right in the middle of a Phillies game. A Phillies game from May 17, 1979.
In Chicago.
At Wrigley Field.
Against the Cubs.
Long-time hard core Phillies’ fans know the game I’m talking about. I’m looking at you Al Kridlo. And you Jack Smiles. And you Judge Joe Augello. And, yes, you too, Virginia Augello. I’m sure you all remember the game well.
Unfortunately, it was the bottom of the 8th when I arrived, but I had going for me the very thing considered a knock on baseball these days: the slowness of the game. Could the next couple of innings provide me at least a half-hour of enjoyment? Sure they could. A half-hour and more.
And they did.
The Phils were ahead 22 to 19 – I’ll repeat, 22 to 19! – as the Cubbies came to bat in the 8th. By the time the Philiies got the third out in the inning, however, the score was tied, 22-22.
Philadelphia had opened the game by scoring 7 runs in the top of the first. Mike Schmidt and catcher Bob Boone each hit 3-run homers. A wind blowing straight toward the outfield at 18-miles-an-hour didn’t hurt.
But in the bottom of the inning, the Cubs put 6 runs on the board and fans knew they were in for a heck of an afternoon. The Phillies got 8 more runs in the top of the third and were ahead 21-9 as the Cubs came up in the bottom of the fifth – and pushed across 7 runs of their own.
The game was still tied at the end of 9 and I, second coffee in hand, was on the edge of my seat. I thought I remembered how it had ended but I wasn’t sure.
Chicago had brought in eventual Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter to pitch in the 9th and, after allowing a lead-off walk, he got the next three batters with ease. He picked up where he left off in the 10th, retiring Larry Bowa and Pete Rose. Next up was another future Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt. Mike looked pretty bad swinging and missing Sutter’s famed split-finger fastball, but on a 3 and 2 pitch, drove the ball deep into the bleachers in left center and the Phils went on to win, 23-22.
It was Schmidt’s second homer of the game. Cubs’ left-fielder Dave Kingman hit three homers that day and shockingly (if you remember Dave Kingman you understand my use of that word) made a running catch in left while I was watching.
Phils’ shortstop Larry Bowa had five hits, centerfielder Gary Maddox four, and Bob Boone knocked in 5 runs.
The Phillies were wearing their powder blue, polyester away uniforms. I hated them back then. But Wednesday morning they looked damned good.

Ed Ackerman