Memorable anniversary for 'The Bull'
Former Phillie Luzinski homered in NLCS 30 years ago today
PHILADELPHIA -- Thirty years to the day after belting a first-inning, two-run homer in the playoffs, Greg "The Bull" Luzinski was in a booth next to his barbeque place signing autographs.
Luzinski remains a popular fixture at Citizens Bank Park, where a long line formed Thursday afternoon at his Bull's BBQ place. The Bull also threw out the first pitch before Thursday's contest.
The former power-hitting left fielder was reminded before the Phillies faced the Rockies in Game 2 of the National League Division Series that on Oct. 4, 1977, he went deep against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.
Luzinski's first recollection of his two-run homer was that the conditions were tough to hit in because the game started at 5 p.m. local time in Los Angeles, and the glare was a factor.
"The sight lines weren't real good. I hit it to dead center field off Tommy John," Luzinski said. "When I came back, they said, 'What did you hit?' I told them, 'I don't know, I didn't see it that good.'"
Ron Cey belted a grand slam for the Dodgers that day, but the Phillies prevailed, 7-5. Still, Los Angeles ended up winning the NLCS and going to the World Series.
"We were up 1-0 [in games] and we ended up losing that series," Luzinski said. "There were some grand slams the Dodgers hit throughout that series that beat us. It's tough. You've got to play good, solid baseball. In a [best-of-seven-game] series, you might have one day to play with. When you had to win three out of five, it's pretty tough."
Luzinski admires the remarkable run the current Phillies went on to win the NL East. Now that they're in the postseason, he says just about anything goes in a best-of-five series.
"They played well. They've hit the ball well," Luzinski said. "I think their pitching was better than people probably thought they were. Their bullpen came through when they had to. They've got some exciting players. Jimmy Rollins had a tremendous year.
"Chase Utley, when he was hurt, they picked the slack up. They've done a lot. Their first baseman [Ryan Howard] is a threat any time. I know he's had some strikeouts, but when he puts it in play, he hits it hard. It's a very exciting team."
The Phillies' playoff run, after a 14-year absence, has energized the city.
"I think the fans were real excited [Wednesday], overly excited to see some runs put on the board," Luzinski said. "But playoff baseball comes down to, I think, pitching and defense. It's three out of 10 [hits] being success for a hitter, so it's geared more toward the pitchers.
"As a hitter, when you put it in play, you've got to find a spot. There is a lot of pressure on the hitter. The pitcher gets a little maneuverability."
Luzinski also was on the Phillies' 1980 World Series title team, which beat Kansas City in six games.
The Royals at that time had Clint Hurdle, now the Rockies' manager.
"I got to feel the pain of being on a team that loses the World Series," Hurdle said. "You'll hear comments, 'Oh, it's just so great to get there.'
"But once you get in, you need to win. And it was a great moment for Philadelphia. It was a very disturbing moment for us from Kansas City."
Luzinski noted that winning the 1980 championship brought some closure since the team had fallen short of the World Series in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
"To get there at that time was a relief for us," Luzinski said. "When we got there, it was kind of like the bubble burst, and the air was out of the balloon. When you are there, you want to win."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.