Manny Trillo and Bake McBride are forever linked in the memory of the Phillies' magical postseason run of 1980.
In the decisive fifth game of the National League Championship Series against Houston that year, McBride and Trillo hooked up with Bob Boone on one of the most important defensive plays in franchise history, a brilliant 9-4-2 moment that helped the Phillies of that era finally get over the hump and make it to the World Series.
Forty years after Trillo and McBride helped the '80 Phillies not only reach the World Series but win it, they were at it again in our virtual matchup between the Phillies' World Series championship teams of 2008 and 1980.
Trillo and McBride combined for five of their team's 15 hits as the '80 club bounced back from a loss in Game 1 to lay a 11-0 beating on the '08 club in Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park.
The best-of-seven series is being played via Strat-O-Matic computer simulation, based on actual statistics from the 1980 and 2008 seasons.
The '08 team, with Cole Hamels starring on the mound and at the plate, rallied with some timely hitting to beat 1980 Cy Young winner Steve Carlton, 4-2, in Game 1 of the series.
But the '08 bats were arctic in Game 2. The '08ers had just two hits, a double by catcher Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the third inning and a single from reliever Clay Condrey in the bottom of the sixth.
Of course, the '80 team's pitching had something to do with the '08 team's hitting woes. Bob Walk, a rookie who came up and won 11 games for the '80 team, overcame five walks and struck out nine while going the distance for the shutout.
On the other side, '08 starter Brett Myers was rocked for seven hits, including homers by McBride and Trillo, and seven runs in 2⅓ innings. Trillo's three-run homer in the third inning was the game's big blow. McBride had three hits and two RBIs.
Both of these teams — the only two World Series champions in the franchise's 137-year history — were filled with homegrown stars.
The 2008 team had Hamels, Myers, Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Ryan Madson.
The 1980 team had Boone, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski and Lonnie Smith with pitchers Walk and Marty Bystrom coming up from the minors to help that season.
Both teams benefited from the contributions of players who were acquired from other clubs. The '08ers had Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, Matt Stairs and others. The '80 club had Dick Ruthven, originally a Phillie who was traded away then returned, Pete Rose, Del Unser and, of course, Trillo and McBride, the stars of Game 2 of our Spring Classic.
McBride had come over in a trade with St. Louis in 1977 and played through 1981 with the Phils. He was 31 in 1980 and had probably his best season in the majors, hitting .309 with nine homers and a career-high 87 RBIs. He struck out just 58 times in 554 at-bats in 1980. Making contact was still prioritized in those days.
Trillo was originally signed by the Phillies out of Venezuela in 1968. He was a catcher in those days but converted to infield at the suggestion of his first minor-league manager, a guy named Dallas Green.
The Phillies lost Trillo to Oakland in the minor-league draft in 1969. He played with the A's and then the Cubs before the Phillies picked him up in a trade before the 1979 season. By this time, Trillo was 28 and one of the best defensive second basemen in baseball. Reunited with Green, now the Phillies manager, Trillo hit .292 with seven homers and 43 RBIs in 1980. He hit .381 with two doubles, a huge triple and four RBIs on his way to being named MVP of the 1980 NLCS.
Trillo, a three-time Gold Glover, did more than hit in that classic NLCS against Houston. In the second inning of the deciding fifth game, he teamed with McBride and Boone on a defensive play that is still revered in Phillies lore. With Luis Pujols on first base, McBride sprinted into the right-field corner at the Astrodome to retrieve a ball off the bat of Craig Reynolds. McBride fired a strike to Trillo, who showed off his laser arm with a strike to home plate. Boone made the tag. Later in the game, Trillo clubbed a two-run triple and the Phillies went on to win the game and the series with the help of a big hit by Garry Maddox in the 10th.
This is a big year for Trillo. Forty years after winning it all in 1980, he is slated to be added to the Phillies' Wall of Fame in August. It's not certain if baseball will be back by then or what it will look like if it is. The game is on hold because of the coronavirus health crisis. That's why we are playing this virtual World Series between the Phillies' only two title teams. It's not the real thing, but it's sure fun to hear and write about all these great names again.
After two games, the series all tied up at a game apiece. The 2008 team has just seven hits in the first two games and the Game 3 assignment is not an easy one with Ruthven, a 17-game winner in 1980, ready to take the ball for his club. Moyer will start for the '08ers. Who ya got?