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Major League Baseball’s Wildest Games: Phillies 23, Chicago Cubs 22 at Wrigley Field …

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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.

                         Randy Lerch                Dave Kingman            Mike Schmidt

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.

                   Doug Bird                      Billy Buckner                   Tug McGraw

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.

                                  Bruce Sutter                          Rawly Eastwick

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.

           Danny Ozark                       Pete Rose                      Paul Owens

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. 

                                                     Dallas Green

In 1980,  Green took over fully as team manager and led the Phils to the Division Championship, the NL Pennant and the World Championship.


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8 Responses to “Major League Baseball’s Wildest Games: Phillies 23, Chicago Cubs 22 at Wrigley Field …”

  1. sam Says:

    Seeing the title of this article I assumed you were refering to another slugfest during this era between the Phils and the Cubs. I remember watching the game until the Phillies were down 12-0 in the early innings. I gave up and moved onto another activity. I came back a few innings later to find the Phils had caught up or were ahead!

    The game I remember also resulted in a Phillies win with both teams around or above 20 runs. As I recall this was one of the games that Mike Schmidt hit 4 homers in.

    Hey Mark, care to fill in some of the details in another post?

  2. Blogging Baseball » Mike Schmidt’s 4 Home Run Day Against the Chicago Cubs … Says:

    […] After writing about that famous, wild 23-22 Phils, Cubs game won by the Phils, I received a comment from a reader asking me about another Phils, Cubs wild game, the one where Mike Schmidt hit 4 homers in a game for the one time in his career. […]

  3. Blogging Baseball » Rainout Theatre: Phils, Cincinnati — It Ain’t Over TiL It’s Over … Says:

    […] In 1958 and 1959, the Phils and the Cincinnati Reds tangled in a couple of the wilder games in baseball history.  They were not slugfests like some of the  memorable Phils, Chicago Cubs high-scoring games and didn’t have the stakes involved as in the unforgettable Mitch Williams game with the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series, but these two games with the Reds have stuck in mind for nearly 50 years.  In the 2 games, there were only 3 homeruns.  […]

  4. Blogging Baseball » Myers’ Gem, Clutch Hitting, 2-1 Over Cubs = Phils 1 1/2 Off Wild Card Pace Says:

    […] Need I recall, there have been many wild and wooly slugfests at Wrigley, such as this one and this one. […]

  5. Blogging Baseball » Aramis Ramirez: 2 Homers, 7 RBIs, Cubs Batter Phillies… Says:

    […] In the Phillies 4th inning, with one out, the Phillies loaded the bases as 1st baseman Ryan Howard (57 HRs, 140 RBIs, .312 BA) was hit by a pitch followed by singles by rightfielder Jeff Conine (10 HRs, 60 RBIs, .268) and leftfielder Pat Burrell (25 HRs, 88 RBIs).  Cubs lefthander Sean Marshall (5-9) then uncorked a pitch which got past catcher Henry Blanco (5 HRs, 28 RBIs, .265 BA) as Howard scored and Burrell and Conine moved up to 2nd and 3rd base respectively.  Catcher Chris Coste (6 HRs, 27 RBIs, .315 BA) singled driving in Conine as Burrell advanced to 3rd base.  3rd baseman  Abraham Nunez (2 HRs, 25 RBIs) was then walked loading the bases.  Recent acquisition from Pittsburgh, pinch hitter Jose Hernandez (3 HRs, 19 RBIs, .268 BA) then belted a grand slam homer. The game was suddenly tight at 8-6 and starting to resemble some of the classic Wrigley Field  Phillies-Cubs games of the 1970s.  But alas, Marshall was yanked after allowing 6 runs on 5 hits in 3 1/3 innings and 5 Cubs relievers shut down the Phillies allowing them only 2 hits over the final 5 2/3 innings. […]

  6. Blogging Baseball » When the Wind Blows Out in Wrigley, Homers Fly … Says:

    […] This may be July 2, but the Phils are not the only team that has had wild games featuring barrages of homeruns with the Chicago Cubs as the game on July 1st, 1999 between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers will attest.  […]

  7. Baseballs best game ever to be broadcasted. - CHI CITY SPORTS l #1 Chicago Sports Fan Message Board Says:

    […] This is the best game ever broadcasted. May17, 1979 – Phillies 23, Cubs 22 If anyone knows where to find the video, let me know. I would love to see it again. __________________ Quote: […]

  8. san francisco giants Says:

    former Texas Longhorn …

    » Major League Baseball’s Wildest Games: Phillies 23, Chicago Cubs 22 at Wrigley Field … |…

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