If you missed parts 1-4, you can catch up on the 1883-1969 Phillies seasons here. Or just start here in 1970 without missing much success.
Rose Palletz was born in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 12, 1883. Philadelphia’s new professional baseball club lost to the Chicago White Stockings that day, 6-1. The loss was the team’s eighth straight defeat to start the season—and to start franchise history, for that matter.
On Monday, May 14, as baby Rose rested her head in some sort of old-timey cradle, the Philadelphia Phillies franchise recorded its first W. When she was two years old, the franchise registered its first winning season. Rose was 12 when the team traded away Slidin’ Billy Hamilton, 20 when Ed Delahanty plummeted to his death at Niagara Falls, and 32 when the Phils won their first pennant.
Rose witnessed exactly one winning Phillies season between her 34th and 66th birthdays. But on her 50th birthday she watched Chuck Klein go 3 for 5 in a win over the Cubs. And at the age of 67, our girl Rose danced in the streets after the Whiz Kids won the 1950 pennant.
Hopefully, Ms. Palletz didn’t get too excited about a possible Phillies championship. Eleven years later, at the age of 78, Rose watched the 1961 club lose 23 straight games. She was 81 when the 1964 Phillies collapsed, and it damn near killed her. She was 89 when Mike Schmidt debuted on a last-place 1972 team. And in her mid-90s, she watched a few talented Philadelphia squads come up short in the postseason.
But don’t feel too bad for Rose. She was still here in October 1980 when (spoiler alert) the Phillies finally won it all. I like to think that when she died that November, it was because she finally found peace.
Truth is, we don’t even know if Rose Palletz was a Phillies fan. I found her by googling “born 1883 died 1980 Philadelphia,” and there doesn’t seem to be much else about her online. No Instagram account, go figure. The person in the photo above is actually Ethel Warwick, a British stage actress from the same era (and probably the baddest “Ethel” in history).
Regardless of Rose’s true fan status, it is incredible to imagine everything she lived through across those 97 Phillies seasons.
And while we’re discussing tough luck, pour one out for Edgar Phillip Dout. Edgar was born in Philadelphia in 1883, and he died in 1979. So close.
Back to it:
1970: 73-88, 5th place. Closer Dick Selma posts the highest bWAR on this team (5.2), followed by 3rd baseman Don Money (3.5). Rick Wise, Jim Bunning, and Chris Short are all in this squad’s rotation. But in hindsight, the real story in 1970 is the debut of shortstop Larry Bowa.
Bowa struggles at the plate early in his rookie season, batting just .191 through the end of May. From June on, he hits a much more respectable .273. He strikes out only 48 times in 547 at-bats, plays outstanding defense, and finishes third in NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Greg Luzinski also debuts in 1970, appearing in eight September games.
1971: 67-95, 6th place. The Phillies move into brand-new Veterans Stadium. Rick Wise goes 17-14 with a 2.88 ERA, 17 complete games and 4 shutouts, making his first All-Star Game. On June 23, Wise throws a no-hitter and hits two home runs.
1972: 50-97, last place. The Phillies make a franchise-altering trade prior to the season, sending Rick Wise to St. Louis for Steve Carlton.
Carlton’s 1972 stats: 27-10 (on a 50-win team!), 1.97 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 30 CG, 8 SHO, 310 K.
Rookie Mike Schmidt shows up in September. He plays in 13 games, bats .206, and hits the first of 548 career home runs. Bowa wins a Gold Glove.
1973: 71-97, last place. 23-year-old Mike Schmidt hits .196 in 367 at-bats. He flashes a little power though with 18 home runs. 27-year-old Larry Bowa slashes just .211/.252/.249. But 22-year-old Greg Luzinski enjoys a breakout season, hitting .285/.346/.484 with 29 home runs.
1974: 80-82, 3rd place. The Mike Schmidt we know and love truly arrives. He hits a walkoff home run against Tug McGraw on Opening Day and never slows down, slashing .282/.395/.546 with 36 home runs, 116 RBI, and 23 stolen bases.
The Phils trade for McGraw after the season.
1975: 86-76, 2nd place. Here’s the Opening Day lineup:
Dave Cash 2B
Larry Bowa SS
Willie Montanez 1B
Greg Luzinski LF
Mike Schmidt 3B
Mike Anderson RF
Bob Boone C
Alan Bannister CF
Steve Carlton P
That’s starting to look like a great team, but a few pieces are missing. Luckily, within the span of three days in May, the Phillies trade Willie Montanez for Garry Maddox and re-acquire Dick Allen for spare parts and cash.
Schmidt leads the majors in home runs with 38. Luzinski hits 34 of his own.
1976: 101-60, 1st place. Welcome to the first golden era of Phillies baseball.
Schmidt leads the majors in home runs for the third straight season with 38 and puts up a .900 OPS. He also wins the first of his ten Gold Gloves. Dick Allen has a solid year at first base, slashing .268/.346/.480. In the outfield, Luzinski hits .304 with 21 HR, Maddox hits .330 with 29 SB, and Jay Johnstone slashes .318/.373/.457. Larry Bowa steals 29 bases and makes the All-Star Game, primarily because of his defense at shortstop. Catcher Bob Boone and second baseman Dave Cash round out the lineup on most days.
All five members of the starting rotation (Carlton, Jim Kaat, Jim Lonborg, Larry Christenson, and Tom Underwood) post an ERA in the 3.00s, and the bullpen boasts five pitchers with an ERA under 3.00 (Ron Reed, McGraw, Gene Garber, Wayne Twitchell, and Ron Schueler).
Veterans Stadium hosts the All-Star Game as part of Philadelphia’s bicentennial celebration.
The season isn’t exactly one big party. A 15.5 game lead in the division dwindles to just 3 games on September 17, and fans scarred by the 1964 collapse fear the worst. But the team closes strong (13-3 in its last 16 games), and the Phillies make it back to the postseason for the first time since 1950.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s legendary Big Red Machine is waiting for them in the NLCS. The Reds sweep the ‘76 Phils in three games.
1977: 101-61, 1st place. A franchise that failed to produce a 100-win team in its first 93 years of existence tops that mark for the second straight year.
Schmidt hits 38 home runs again, and Luzinski hits 39 while slashing .309/.394/.594. The Phillies trade for Bake McBride in June and he puts up a .956 OPS over the remainder of the season. Carlton wins 23 games with a 2.64 ERA.
But the team once again hits a wall in the NLCS. This time it’s the Dodgers that take them out.
On Friday, October 7—soon to be known as Black Friday—the best-of-five series is tied 1-1 after two games in Los Angeles. The Phillies host game three at the Vet in front of 63,719 fans, and lead 5-3 with two outs in the ninth inning. The Phils are on the verge of going up 2-1 in the series with Carlton scheduled to pitch game four. The crowd is going nuts. Righthander Gene Garber is pitching for the Fightins.
On an 0-1 count, Dodgers pinch-hitter Vic Davalillo lays down a drag bunt to the right side of the field and is safe at first. The crowd quiets, weighed down by nearly a century’s worth of frustration.
When the team leads in late innings, Phillies manager Danny Ozark usually replaces Luzinski in left with talented fielder Jerry Martin. Today, he does not.
The next Dodgers hitter is Manny Mota, and I bet you can guess where he hits the ball. Luzinski botches both the catch and the subsequent throw to second base. Davalillo scores and Mota advances to third. It’s 5-4. The Phils are still one out away from victory.
Future Phillies coach Davey Lopes bats next for LA. He hits a sharp grounder to third and it bounces off Schmidt’s glove to Bowa, who barehands it and throws to first in time to get Lopes.
But umpire Bruce Froemming calls Lopes safe. Mota scores. It’s 5-5.
At this point, the crowd knows the game will end painfully. Garber tries to pick Lopes off at first, and the ball gets by first baseman Richie Hebner. Lopes advances to second on the error, then scores on a Bill Russell single. Dodgers lead, 6-5.
The Phils get a two-out baserunner in the bottom of the ninth when Luzinski is hit by a pitch. (Ozark then brings in Martin to pinch-run, ahahahaha!!) But Hebner grounds out to end the game.
“A game like Game 3, I would never wish that on anyone," Garber later said. "I had a sleepless night that night and a few more after that. You ask yourself why those things happened. You just think, that's the way baseball is.”
Tommy John shut down the Phillies offense in game four, and the Dodgers went to the World Series.
1978: 90-72, 1st place. What better way to follow up the 1977 disaster than to win the division and lose in the NLCS again. The Dodgers end the Phillies’ championship hopes in four games for the second consecutive year.
The team makes two important additions in 1978, however. Following a murderous rampage, the Phillie Phanatic escapes from the Galapagos Islands to debut at the Vet on April 25. And the Phils sign Pete Rose on December 5.
1979: 84-78, 4th place. Hopes are high after the Rose signing. He hits .331, but the ’79 team fails to live up to expectations. New second baseman Manny Trillo, acquired in February, wins a Gold Glove. Mike Schmidt wins one too, while also slugging 45 home runs. Dallas Green takes over as manager late in the season.
Rose Palletz celebrates her 96th birthday on May 12. The Phillies lose to the Giants that day, 4-1.
1980: 91-71, 1st place. Most people who lived through the 1980 season will tell you this squad is not the most talented Phillies team of all time. But finally, after 97 seasons, the stars align.
And the stars of the 1980 Phillies certainly do their part. Mike Schmidt wins the first of his three NL MVP awards, slashing .286/.380/.624 with 48 HR and 121 RBI. Steve Carlton wins the third of his four NL Cy Young awards, going 24-9 with a 2.34 ERA, a 1.095 WHIP, and 286 strikeouts in 304 innings.
The rest of the Phils aren’t bad either of course. The team finishes second in the NL in runs scored and third in ERA.
The Phillies start slow, and find themselves six games back in the division after losing both ends of a doubleheader on August 10. They fall to 55-52 overall that day. But they rebound to win 8 of their next 9 games, and go 36-19 over the final 55 games of the regular season. A season-ending series in Montreal is a showdown for the division title, with both the Phils and Expos sporting an 89-70 record entering the best-of-three. The Phils win the first two games of the series to punch their playoff ticket, with Mike Schmidt hitting an 11th-inning home run in the clincher on October 4.
If that isn’t dramatic enough, the Phillies then face the Houston Astros in what is widely considered the greatest League Championship Series of all time. The best-of-five series takes all five games, and the last four games go to extra innings. Four of the five games feature lead changes, with an 11-inning 1-0 Astros win in game three representing the only exception. It’s hard to do the 1980 NLCS justice in this format, and I highly recommend checking out all the highlights of these games.
After exorcising their NLCS demons, the Phillies win the 1980 World Series against the Royals in six games. Mike Schmidt is named World Series MVP, hitting .381 with 2 home runs. Tug McGraw famously strikes out Willie Wilson to end it, and the city of Philadelphia explodes in celebration.
Rest easy, Rosie P.
If you have any memories of the 1980 season to share, drop a comment and tell the youngsters what it was like:
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Tweets of the week.
The Phils added centerfielder Cristian Pache hours before their first game of the season. Pache was one of the top prospects in baseball a couple years ago, and if nothing else he’s a great defensive option in the outfield. He was available because he is hitting .156 in his major league career through 332 plate appearances. The hope, though, is that the team’s coaching staff can help Pache find his swing:
Just spent a lot of time reading about Mike Schmidt, so it was fun to see someone get ratio’d into oblivion for calling him overrated:
If you go to ah pod’s account you can tell pretty quickly how the Phillies are doing. Let’s check in after the team allowed 27 runs in the first two games:
At least winter is over and baseball is back. So is baseballin’:
I know I’m down bad when I’m looking forward to the Umpire Scorecard from a game. CB Bucknor wasn’t the reason the Phillies lost their second game in Texas. But he sure as shit didn’t help:
This week in 2008.
It’s hard to imagine a worse start than the 2023 Phillies had this week. But the 2008 Phillies’ first two games were possibly more frustrating.
In game one on March 31, the Phils had a 2-0 lead after four innings and the game was tied 6-6 going into the ninth. Then, with Brad Lidge unavailable due to injury, backup closer Tom Gordon gave up 5 runs. Gordon only managed to get one out and his ERA after the game was 135.00. 11-6 final.
On April 2, Cole Hamels allowed just one run over eight innings while throwing 103 pitches. But a Pedro Feliz single was the Phillies’ only hit of the game, and they lost 1-0.
That 0-2 team turned out pretty ok.
Phillie you forgot about.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch appeared in four games for the 2004 Phillies, collecting two hits in eleven plate appearances. Philadelphia was the last stop in his seven-year major league playing career, over which he accumulated exactly 0.0 bWAR. I suppose that means he had exactly zero impact on the game of baseball? Like, the positives and negatives completely balanced each other out? Is A.J. Hinch the Replacement in WAR?
Hinch is best known, of course, for managing the cheating Houston Astros as they cheated their way to a cheater championship.
Nothing to announce here this week. Have 2 tix to the Sunday, April 9 game to give away though. (Look for details on twitter.) Also a couple unclaimed autograph prizes that will probably go up again soon.
This is the section of the newsletter where I make you look at my dogs.
Thank you for reading and go Phils!
The beauty of you setting the stage for the 80 triumph
I had that MVP & Cy poster hanging in my first apartment. I was living in Indiana in 1980 and when the sun went down I could listen to the last 4-5 innings of night games on 50,000 watt KYW. It felt like destiny. That LCS probably took years off my life.
Thoroughly enjoying these, John!