In keeping with Tuesday’s wild Yankees, Rangers game, the record books show that one of the wildest ballgames in all of baseball history ocurred 27 years today — May 17, 1979. It was the rubber game of a 3 game series where the Phils and Cubs had each registered a win.
In a game started by Randy Lerch and Dennis Lamp, where neither of them lasted beyond a 1/3 of an inning, 11 home runs; 5 for the Phils, 6 for the Cubs went sailing out of wind-blown Wrigley Field. The box score lists Dave Kingman’s 3 home runs, Mike Schmidt’s 2, including the 10th inning game winner shows that even starter Randy Lerch got into the act amidst the 7 run outburst by the Phils in the 1st inning off over Lamp and Donnie Moore.
But, in the Cubs half of the 1st, they struck back for 6 including ‘King Kong’ Kingman’s first of his 3 homers, a 3 shot, as Lerch and Doug Bird were touched up.
Things quieted down temporarily as both teams registered goose-eggs in the 2nd inning. But in the 3rd, there was a second huge Phillies uprising as they scored 8 runs while the Cubs were retired in their 3rd without scoring; 15-6 Phils.
The 4th inning had the Phils scoring twice, the Cubs 3 times; 17-9 Phillies. The Phils scored 4 in the 5th and the Cubs followed with 7 in their half of the 5th, including Bill Buckner’s Grand Slam off of Tug Mcgraw as ‘the Tugger’ was tagged for all 7 Cubs runs and lasted but 2/3 of the 5th inning; 21-16 Phils.
The Cubs followed with 3 spots in the 6th and the 8th while the Phils managed another run in the 7th; game tied at 22.
Both sides rgistered goose-eggs in the 9th and the game went to the 10th with Cubs closer Bruce Sutter having shut Phils down in the 9th and Rawly Eastwick doing likewise to the Cubs in their half of the 9th.
With 2 out in the 10th, Mike Schmidt ended the scoring with his 2nd home run of the game, a solo shot off of Sutter. Eastwick retired the Cubs in order in his 2nd shut out inning and was credited with the win. Bruce Sutter pitched almost as well, 1 run, 1 hit in 2 relief innings, but that 1 run was the game winner to Schmidt. Sutter was tagged with the loss.
The two teams combined for 45 runs on 50 hits in a game where 21 different players scored runs and the 2-team total of 47 extra bases on long hits (24-Phi) set a ML mark for an extra inning game.
The game was the largest scoring game in the majors since August 25, 1922, when these same two teams met and duked out a 26-23 run-fest.
On more interesting side-light;
The Phillies had won the National League East division championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 but could not reach the next level; to the League Pennant and to the World Series. In 1979, On May 17, upon winning the game, the Phils seemed on their way toward contending or winning yet another divisional title. They had acquied Pete Rose through Free Agency for a 5 year contract in the off-season. Their record upon the conclusion of the slugfest with Chicago was 24-10. The Phils’ fortunes fell however, after this game. A month later, after having won 10 and lost 19, their record was 34-29. The trend of win a few, lose a few set in and top management was not happy.
On August 30, 1979, the Phils went as far as to fire their Manager, Danny Ozark, who had managed the team for 6 1/2 years and who led them to the three previous divisional titles. General Manager Paul Owens appointed Dallas Green as temporary manager through the end of the 1979 season. The team ended 1979 with an 84-78 record.
In 1980, Green took over fully as team manager and led the Phils to the Division Championship, the NL Pennant and the World Championship.