Friday, September 2, 2011

The Secretary of Defense

Yesterday Garry Maddox turned 62 years old. Not many people connect Dick Allen and Garry Maddox, but Maddox essentially became a Phillie because of DA. On May 4th, 1975 the Phils traded their regular first baseman Willie MontaƱez to the Giants in exchange for Maddox. MontaƱez, who originally was sent to Philadelphia because Curt Flood refused after the infamous 1969 DA trade with the Cardinals, was suddenly expendable. Why? Because that very same week Dick Allen agreed to "unretire" after seeing his rights finally traded by the Braves to Philadelphia. DA was immediately penciled in at first base and Maddox was the new center-fielder.

Maddox went on to win eight straight Gold Glove awards from 1975 to 1982 and was a vital part of the core group that led the memorable championship teams in the late '70s and early '80s. The late great Harry Kalas appropriately dubbed him "The Secretary of Defense". For those Phillies Phans of my generation vivid Maddox memories sit at both ends of the pain / jubilation spectrum.

First off, the nightmare: In the dramatic tenth inning of Game 4 of the 1978 NLCS, after Tug McGraw recorded two outs and walked Ron Cey, Maddox made two uncharacteristic mistakes in back to back chances leading to a walk-off Dodgers victory and series win. This was the third straight NLCS loss for these Phils, crushing my already battered 12 year old soul.

On the other end of the spectrum, a dream come true: In the tenth inning of fifth and final game of the 1980 NLCS at the Houston Astrodome. He hit Frank LaCorte's first pitch for a clutch two out double driving in Del Unser from second with what proved to be the difference making and pennant-winning run in the top half of the inning.

His impact on this game, which MLB Network recently named as the 18th greatest in baseball history, was not complete. In the bottom half of the tenth, with Dick Ruthven on the mound Maddox recorded the second out of the inning on a deep fly ball off Terry Puhl's smoking hot bat. Then Maddox ended the game when he smoothly roamed to his left to snag Enos Cabell's low trajectory fly ball, which I still swear was headed for the right-center-field-gap, to record the final out. Thanks in a very large part to Garry Maddox, the Phillies were in the World Series for the first time since 1950.

Happy Birthday Garry! Thanks for the memories!


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