Wild One at the Vet

Sometimes mistakes can work in your favor. That was certainly the case for Tommy Lasorda and the L.A. Dodgers when they took on the Phillies at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on May 4th, 1980.

Prior to the game, Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton took the lineup care to home plate and handed it to umpire Paul Pryor. There was just one problem.  Bench coach Monty Basgall had two different versions of the lineup. He handed one to Sutton, but posted the other on the wall of the Dodgers dugout. Then the fun began.

Eventful 1st Inning

Davey Lopes led off with a single off Phillies starter Randy Lerch and Rudy Law reached on an error by 2nd baseman Luis Aguayo. Two batters later, Steve Garvey was up when Pete Rose noticed something was amiss. The lineup posted in the Dodgers dugout had Dusty Baker up after Garvey, while the one given to the umpires (and the Phillies) had Ron Cey as the next batter.

Rose noticed the Dodgers were out of order

“I’m out there on first and I see Baker on deck,” said Rose. “I said to (first base umpire John) McSherry, ‘They’re batting out of order. What do I do?’ He said, ‘Wait ’til he makes an out or something.”

So that’s what Pete did. Garvey singled to score Lopes and give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead and when Baker strode to the plate, he hit a ground ball to Aguayo for what looked to be an inning-ending double play. But the Phillies couldn’t turn it and Baker was safe on a fielder’s choice while Rudy Law scored the Dodgers’ second run.

“When I got to first, Pete Rose said, ‘You hit out of order,'” Baker told the media after the game. “I said, ‘Man, you’re crazy'”

But it turned out Pete was right. at least according to one of the lineup cards. Rose immediately told the Phillies dugout what had happened and the umpires were summoned. But then there was another problem. The rule book stated what happened when the batter got a hit or made an out but there was no specific mention of what happened if the batter hit into a fielder’s choice. A lengthy umpire conference ensued and the final decision was that Cey, who should have been hitting, was declared out, Law was returned to 3rd, Garvey returned to 1st and Baker was the batter. Phillies manager Dallas Green was furious.

“I didn’t make the mistake, yet I’m the one suffering the consequences,” he said. “The batter should be out because he did what he did. And the runner at second was out so he should be out. If the batter makes an out, I don’t say anything. If we turn a double play, I just let it go.”

But that’s not what happened and it was about to get even worse for Green and the Phillies. Baker stepped up to the plate to face Lerch for the second time in a row. But instead of grounding out, he hit a three-run homer.

“It was a weird game,” said Baker. “Weirdest I’ve ever been in.”

More Twists

It only got worse for the Phillies from there. The Dodgers tacked on one run in the 3rd and four more in the 6th. When the Phillies came to bat in the bottom of the 6th, they trailed 9-0. But that’s when their bats came to life.

Bull got the Phillies on the board

Dodgers starter Dave Goltz was riding a scoreless streak of more than 20 innings when Del Unser singled and Mike Schmidt doubled to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Greg Luzinski followed with a three-run homer, Bob Boone homered after that and suddenly it was 9-4. Philadelphia added three more in the 7th and two in the 8th. What was a 9-0 game was suddenly a 9-9 tie.

“I’m sitting there relaxed,” said Lasorda. “I’m feeling good. I’m winning 9-0. I’ve got a guy out there going for his 3rd straight shutout. All of a sudden I look up and I’ve used everybody on my (pitching) staff.”

Eventful 9th Inning

Green went with Dickie Noles, his 5th pitcher of the afternoon, for the 9th inning and things immediately went downhill. A Derrel Thomas single was followed by back-to-back broken-bat singles by Gary Thomasson and Garvey and a passed ball by substitute catcher Keith Moreland.  Mickey Hatcher then doubled to score Thomasson and Garvey and the Dodgers were up 12-9.

Lasorda called on Jerry Reuss, who would later throw the season’s only no-hitter, to close the game for the Dodgers. Two singles and another passed ball made it 12-10, but Reuss struck out Moreland to finally end the game.

It was a game that featured 36 players, 28 hits, 22 runs, 11 pitchers, four errors, three passed balls and two wild pitches. Just another day at the yard.


The 1980 All-Star Game

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There have been 87 All-Star games in major league history. Exactly one of them took place at Dodger Stadium.

Watching the game today on YouTube brings you right back to the era, complete with Keith Jackson, Don Drysdale and Howard Cosell in the booth. Love him or hate him, there’s nothing quite like listening to Cosell and his skills were on display immediately as he seamlessly transitioned from discussing A.L. leadoff hitter Willie Randolph’s OB% to Gregory Peck’s childhood vocation when Peck appeared on screen.

J.R. Richard on Display

J.R. Richard
Richard was dominant

The game also presents the opportunity to see J.R. Richard in his prime one last time. Richard left two of his June starts early after complaining of discomfort but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him. That fueled whispers about how he was faking an injury. That talk intensified after he handled the best the American League had to offer. Richard would make one more regular season start before heading to the disabled list and then suffering a stroke at the end of July that ended his career. But on this night he was brilliant.

Richard was incredibly difficult to face. Even more so when you’d never seen him before, as was the case for many A.L. hitters in the days before interleague play. Add the factor of squaring off against him in the twilight at Dodger Stadium and it appeared to be a mismatch.

Richard threw two scoreless innings and struck out three, but he did surrender a base hit as Bucky Dent singled to right in the top of the 2nd. As good as Richard was though, he was outdone by A.L. starter Steve Stone.

Steve Stone in the Spotlight

In July of 1979, Stone’s record was 6-7 with a robust 4.40 ERA, thanks in part to surrendering 21 home runs. This year he was in the midst of the defining season of his career as well as a run of 10 wins in 10 straight starts during the regular season. He ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant the day before the game and received a fortune cookie telling him he would reach a high level of intelligence.

Steve Stone
Stone was even better

“What I wanted it to say was that I was going to pitch three innings, allow no hits and strike out six,” he joked. Had the fortune cookie said that it wouldn’t have been too far off as Stone turned in one of the best starting performances in All-Star history.  He faced nine N.L. hitters and retired them all, including strikeouts of sluggers Dave Parker and Dave Kingman along with Dodger pitcher Bob Welch. Even more impressive was the fact that he accomplished this on just 24 pitches.

”I couldn’t look at this lineup as a group,” said Stone. ”I had to face each one as a single entity. As a group, it would have seemed too big a task but, one by one, I was able to handle nine guys.”

The A.L. grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the 5th when Rod Carew hit a 2-out single off Welch and Fred Lynn ran the count full before homering into the right field bleachers. Lynn was nursing a sore hamstring and considered skipping the game to rest, but he didn’t want to disappoint the fans so he made the trip.

Griffey Plays Hero

In the bottom of the 5th,  lefty Tommy John was on the mound for the A.L. when N.L. manager Chuck Tanner went off script and sent the left-handed hitting Ken Griffey to pinch hit for Kingman. The move was prompted by Tommy Lasorda, who recalled a time when Griffey had burned Lasorda when John was with the Dodgers. Just as Lasorda predicted, Griffey took John deep and the N.L. was on the board.

Ken Griffey
Griffey’s homer earned him MVP honors and a Stargell Star

“I wasn’t thinking home run,” Griffey told reporters after the game. “I was just looking for a good pitch to hit. I’ve always hit him pretty good. Everybody was pretty pumped up after the home run. Then we just took advantage of their mistakes.”

The mistakes mounted as the N.L. scored two more in the bottom of the 6th on a base hit by George Hendrick and an error on Randloph. They added one more in the 7th when Dave Concepcion scored on a Dave Stieb wild pitch.

The Streak Continues

1980 NL All-Stars
Champions once again

The Nationals came away with a 4-2 win, which marked the 17th time in the previous 18 seasons that the N.L. won the Mid-Summer Classic, a fact that was not lost on the American Leaguers.

“One more year we have to hear we’re inferior all over again,” said Paul Molitor. “That’s the hard part.”

Down Goes Lasorda!


On February 17th, 1980 two separate interviews at a local television station turned into an impromptu Los Angeles Dodgers fight night.

Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda, was at KNBC recording an interview when he bumped into Jim Lefebvre.

Lefebvre fights Lasorda


Bad blood existed between the two after Lasorda had fired Lefebvre as hitting and first base coach after the 1979 season. Lefebvre won Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1965 and parlayed his time in L.A. into some acting gigs, including playing one of The Riddler’s henchmen on the Batman TV series.


The henchman experience proved handy when the two squared off in Burbank. Both men claimed the other started the fight but there was little doubt who finished it. L.A. sportscaster Steve Sommers reported “Lasorda left with blood on his face and Lefebvre left with a smile on his.”