NLCS Phlashback - Part III

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is part three of a four part series chronicling the history of the Phillies and their appearances in the National League Championship Series. Part three will focus on the 1983 NLCS between the Phillies and the Dodgers.

To catch up follow these links below.

The 1983 National League Championship Series

Game One

When we last saw the Phillies playing in October they had won the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. While the Phillies were absent from post season baseball the following two years the team was getting older. They had made an effort to win one last title with the group of players they had and brought in Joe Morgan. Where the Phillies of 1950 were given the moniker of "The Whiz Kids", these 1983 Phillies were given the nickname of "The Wheeze Kids" playing on the average age of the players.

To advance to the 1983 World Series they would have to play a familiar foe, a past post season nemesis to a younger group of Phillies years before. The Los Angeles Dodgers.

Opening in Los Angeles this more experienced Phillies team did not care about the history between them and the Dodgers in October. Mike Schmidt was probably the most ready to get past his ghosts against the Dodgers in the playoffs. In the first inning Schmidt belted a two out solo home run to give the Phillies the early 1-0 lead on the road. That was all the Phillies ace Steve Carlton would need in a 1-0 shut out of the home town Dodgers. Al Holland came in to relieve Carlton, who had gotten into a jam in the seventh inning with an old Phillies killer, Dusty Baker. Holland continued to shut down the Dodgers to keep the final score 1-0.

The Phillies had won a key road game in Los Angeles and were ready to take the commanding 2-0 lead heading back to Philadelphia.

Game Two
Phillies lead 1-0

Fernandomania was the rage in game two as Fernando Valenzuela took the mound for the Dodgers. With a 1-0 lead in the second inning though Valenzuela gave up a solo home run to Gary "Sarge" Mathews. The Phillies had Cy Young winner John Denny hurling for them but the Dodgers chased him from the game.

Gary Maddox misplayed a fly ball in the fifth inning, allowing Valenzuela to reach third base. Was Maddox having horrible flash backs to his last playoff game in Los Angeles? It could not have been a great feeling for the man who could cover everything on this planet not covered by water. Valenzuela though was thrown out at home on a Greg Brock ground ball. With Brock on first base Denny then walked Dusty Baker with two outs.

Pedro Guerrero stepped up to the plate and did some damage to Denny's fine pitching outing. Guerrero hit a two run triple to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. The Dodgers would score one more run in the eighth inning for good measure and held on to win game two by a final score of 4-1.

The series was tied and heading back to Veterans Stadium.

Game Three
Series tied 1-1

When the Phillies returned home, so did their offense. Having only scored two runs in two games in LA they may have been feeling lucky to be tied heading into game three at home.

Aside from the offense though was the terrific performance from the rookie Phillies pitcher Charles Hudson. Hudson pitched a complete game and allowed only four hits. The Dodgers were able to score two runs off of Hudson when Mike Marshall connected for a two run blast in the fourth inning.

That home run had cut a Phillies lead to 3-2, but the Phillies responded with a run in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to two runs. Gary Mathews lead the charge for the Phillies, driving in four runs on three hits. The Phillies scored six runs between the second and fifth innings en route to a game three 7-2 victory.

It took a while but the Phillies were finally on track to eliminate the Dodgers and advance to the World Series.

Game Four
Phillies lead 2-1

The tone was set early by none other than Gary Mathews. On the brink of getting past the Dodgers for the first time in the NLCS the Phillies jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning off a Mathews three run home run. With Steve Carlton on the mound, that was all the Phillies needed.

Dusty Baker hit a home run off of Carlton but it did not matter. Sixto Lezcano hit a two run home run for the Phillies in the sixth inning and the rout was on. The Phillies were victorious by a score of 7-2, identical to the game three result.

Carlton earned his second victory of the series and Mathews was named the MVP of the NLCS. Finally the Phillies had gotten past the Dodgers in the NLCS.


But there was no joy in Philadelphia. After winning game one of the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, the Orioles proceeded to win the next four games. A young Cal Ripken Jr. caught the final out in the clinching game five at Veterans Stadium.

It would be a painful ten years before the Phillies returned to the World Series. Over that time the Phillies saw future hall of famers move on to other cities to close out their careers (Steve Carlton), retire when they realized they couldn't play any more (Mike Schmidt) and go on to manage teams and get caught betting on the sport of baseball (Pete Rose). The Phillies went through some bad seasons and the one bright memory remaining was the 1980 world championship.

To this day the 1980 World Series remains the lone signature moment in Phillies history. Funny thing is the World Series was not even the best playoff series from that year. It was the 1980 NLCS that remains the best playoff series in not just franchise history, but baseball history.

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