AUGUST 29, 1977
AT 6'1" and anywhere from 225 to 250 pounds, the Bull—a.k.a. Greg Luzinski—was major league baseball's Brahman in the days before the bench press and creatine. During his 15-year career, the soft-spoken slugger won renown for his eye-popping home runs and, later, his buckle-popping girth. "I never lifted a weight," says Luzinski, now 51 and living in Bonita Springs, Fla. "Still haven't."
Call it indolence or confidence, Luzinski's steadfast disregard for physical fitness has served him well. These days he weighs 270, and though he had his right knee replaced five years ago, he has a nine handicap and has adapted his signature compact swing for use on the golf course. "I just can't hit it as hard, but mat's only because I have to stand still," says Luzinski, who, since retiring in 1985, has spent most of his time golfing and coaching baseball, from high school to the pros.
Luzinski, who grew up in Prospect Heights, Ill., signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1968, at 17, and as the cleanup man of South Broad Street he helped lead the Phils in their most successful decade. The four-time All-Star's meteoric homers, concrete fielding glove and warm generosity are all part of Philly lore. There was the 500-footer in 1972 that dinged off the replica of the Liberty Bell that used to hang above centerfield at Veterans Stadium. There was the fly ball he dropped in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1977 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that cost the Phils the game. (They went on to lose the NLCS in four games.) And there was the Bull Ring—126 seats in the leftfield stands that Luzinski bought for $20,000 each season, then gave out to underprivileged children. In 1980, after finally winning his World Series ring, Luzinski was sold to the White Sox, with whom he finished his career with a career total of 307 homers and 1,128 RBIs.
After leaving the majors, Luzinski traded his bat for a whistle and began coaching baseball and football at Holy Cross High in Delran, NJ. His son, Ryan, starred on both teams and was a first-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 1992. (He went on to play eight seasons as a catcher in the minors and now works for a sign manufacturer in Concord, N.C.) In '93 Greg joined his former manager Tony La Russa in Oakland as hitting coach for the A's before moving on to the same job with Kansas City in 1995. After the '97 season Luzinski and his wife of 28 years, Jean, moved to Bonita Springs. Investments made in his playing days provide Luzinski with a comfortable income, but the lure of coaching remains strong. Earlier this year Luzinski nearly landed a deal to manage the independent Allentown Ambassadors (the job went to another home run hitter, Darrell Evans), and he's pursuing leads in the majors. "They call this paradise," he said last week from Florida, "but I'd sure rather be hitting baseballs."