Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 28 – with a special Mike Schmidt giveaway for readers…see below…
THE DATE: April 17, 1976
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
THE STAKES: Few. It’s April at Wrigley.
THE GREAT: Everyone always talks about that 1979 slugfest in Chicago, yet few mention a game three years earlier that was just as insane.
It’s a windy afternoon at Wrigley Field, extremely early in a season where the Cubs will finish 75-87 and the Phils will win 102 games. none of that matters now. Right now, it’s prime hittin’ weather.
So Garry Maddox knocks a home run in the second. 1-0 Phillies. Steve Carlton on the mound – just get some outs.
Nope. Steve (father of Nick) Swisher homers in the second. Okay – 1-1. No big deal. Now two runners on, one out … Rick Monday homers. Okay. 4-1. Jose Cardenal doubles. Bill Madlock doubles. Andre Thornton walks. Then Manny Trillo (on the Cubs at this point) singles, scoring another. 6-1.
And Carlton is lifted.
Ron Schueler comes in and, oh look, Steve Swisher again. Single. 7-1.
The Phils do nothing in the third. So the Cubs go back to work. Two on, one out, a single by Madlock. 8-1.
Schueler out, Gene Garber in. Bases loaded … he hits Thornton. 9-1. Then a single by Trillo. 11-1. Two outs … single by Dave Rosello. 12-1.
This thing is over.
The Phils do get a run in the fourth, but it’s on a Dave Cash single. Otherwise, nada. And that’s erased anyway with a Monday homer to lead off the fifth (off Ron Reed). Now 13-2.
Mike Schmidt adds a home run in the fifth, scoring two, to make it 13-4, but that score holds through the sixth. Cubs’ starter Rick Reuschel is doing his job, bobbing and weaving despite the risky conditions. It honestly doesn’t seem like anything else is going to happen. Maybe the Cubs add a couple runs for the hell of it. But they don’t need to. It’s a nine-run game. It’s April. Time to pack it in and head for the bar, right?
Top of the seventh. Larry Bowa singles. Jay Johnstone triples. 13-5. Greg Luzinski flies one to left, scoring Johnstone. 13-6. Now two outs. Schmidt back to the plate. He swings, and powers a liner over the wall in left. 13-7. Reuschel would escape the inning without further damage – 13-7. So it’s more interesting, but still, a six-run game heading into the eighth?
In the eighth, Bobby Tolan leads off with a single. Cash singles. Bowa walks. Johnstone gives the Cubs a gift, flying one to shallow left for the first out. Then Luzinski strikes out.
So this is it. 13-7, bases loaded, two down in the eighth. If the Phils go quietly here, the game is over.
But they don’t. Dick Allen singles, scoring two. 13-9. And Schmidt is back up.
Andy Musser calls it:
“Here’s the pitch to Schmidt. Long drive, up in the wind in right field … forget about this one, it’s outta here!”
It’s a one-run game. And it’s a ballgame. After all that, the Phils find their way into this thing, and Schmidt suddenly has three home runs – in the fifth, the seventh and the eighth.
To the ninth. Still 13-12. Bob Boone leads it off … homer. Tie game.
Tolan singles. Cash flies out. Then, Bowa knocks one into right, a triple that scores Tolan to give the Phils a 14-13 lead. Johnstone gets Bowa home on a sacrifice groundout, giving the Phils a cushion at 15-13.
Tug McGraw, who pitched a scoreless eighth, now has to close it out in the ninth, but he gives up a couple hits leading to a two-run Swisher single. Tied up again.
To the 10th. Allen walks. In steps Schmidt.
“Here’s the pitch to Schmidt,” starts Musser. “Drilled toward left field. It’s in the alley … and it is gone! That’s a home run for Schmidt, he has hit four straight!”
Schmidt becomes just the 10th player in major league history to hit four home runs in a game and the first in 15 years (Willie Mays); amazingly, he’s the third Phillie to do it (Ed Delahanty, Chuck Klein). More incredibly, he’s just the fourth player to accomplish the feat in four-consecutive plate appearances. And he was 1-for-2 with a single before doing it in the fifth.
The homer gives the Phils a 17-15 lead. And they’d tack on another with a Cash sac fly.
Luckily, that would hold up – though it didn’t look that way to start the bottom of the 10th, with Tom Underwood allowing a leadoff double.
The Phillies would win the slugfest 18-16, with Schmidt having one of the finest single-game performances in major league history (5-for-6, 4 HR, 8 RBI). Elsewhere, Boone went 3-for-6, Bowa went 3-for-6, and Cash, Maddox and Tolan added two hits.
For the Cubs, Monday went 4-for-6 with two homers and four RBI, while Swisher ended the day 3-for-6 with four knocked in. Madlock added a 3-for-7 day with three RBI.
Nearly every pitcher surrendered at least one run, with Wayne Twitchell (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K) probably having the best outing of anyone.
Three years later these two teams would hook up in another impossible game. This one? Nearly as great.
Mike Schimidt Jersey Giveaway
As a special feature for this memorable post, our friends at Shibe Vintage Sports are giving away a vintage Mike Schmidt replica jersey from Majestic!
To enter to win the jersey, simply complete the form below. A random winner will be selected on Friday and all participants will receive a 30% off discount code to Shibe Vintage Sports upon submitting the form.