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Richie Hebner of the Mets was on first and Frank Taveras was on third, with one out in the first, when it happened. Lee Mazzilli of New York (3-1) hit a line drive to right center. Giant Rightfielder Jack Clark made a backhanded catch and First Base Umpire Phil Lospitalier, pumping his arm several times, signaled an out. But when Clark tried to switch the ball to his throwing hand, the ball popped loose. As Taveras tagged up and scored, Lospitalier, one of the college umps who is substituting for the idle big league umpires, again signaled out. Hebner, assuming the ball was in play despite the ruling, moved to second as Mazzilli pulled into first. At this point, Giant Second Baseman Bill Madlock took a throw from Clark and stepped on first for an apparent double play. There followed a 28-minute delay in which: 1) New York Manager Joe Torre got the umpires to reverse Lospitalier's decision, leaving Hebner at second and Mazzilli at first; 2) San Francisco Manager Joe Altobelli induced the crew to re-reverse itself and proclaim a double play; and 3) the discombobulated umps retreated under the stands for consultation with their supervisor, Tom Gorman. Finally they compromised by ruling Mazzilli was out but that Hebner would stay on first. The reason, according to Gorman, who spoke for the closeted umpires, was that the Giants had not appealed for a double play. But Gorman admitted he had never seen such a compromise in his 40 years in baseball.
The dispute—witnessed by 10,170 fans at Shea Stadium, including embarrassed National League President Chub Feeney—was undoubtedly the low point of the season for the substitute umpires. From a public-relations standpoint, the timing was atrocious. The club owners had just concluded a meeting in New York at which they reaffirmed their support for the league presidents, who continued to refuse to negotiate despite the job action by the regular umpires. "I wish the 26 club owners had remained in New York," wrote Dick Young in the New York Daily News, "to observe how things are going, to hear the fans boo the ineptitude, to see what you get when you hire cheap help."
The owners scarcely improved their position when they announced long-term contracts with ABC and NBC to televise late-season games. The ABC deal was a renegotiation of an existing contract, which is just what the umpires want. And the two deals should more than double baseball's annual TV revenue of $92 million, making the umpires' demand of $20,000 per club seem trivial. "Teams spend that much for office parties," said Pitcher Steve Rogers of the Expos. Wick Temple of the Associated Press suggested that baseball could save that much by cutting out free food and beer in the press box.
By contrast, Philadelphia (4-2) and Los Angeles played a model series, their first since the 1978 playoffs. The Phillies won all three games in heart-stopping style—4-3 in the 10th when Mike Schmidt singled home Larry Bowa; 7-6 in the 10th when Bowa scored Pitcher Ron Reed from second with a single, Reed just beating the throw with a rare slide; and 5-4 in the ninth on Pete Rose's single.
The Phillies' week cast a pall over Pittsburgh (2-2). In the 1976-77-78 seasons the Pirates played an aggregate of just three games better than .500 in April, and each year the Phillies won the division. This season the last-place Pirates are five games under .500 and the first-place Phillies, with a club-record 12 wins in April, are seven over.
Montreal (4-1) matched Philadelphia with a club-record dozen wins for April. Even Ellis Valentine's four-game suspension—three games for bumping an umpire, one for refusing to take batting practice—paid off. His substitute in rightfield, Jerry White, drove in six runs in 12 at bats.
St. Louis (4-1), 16-32 in one-run games last season, took three of them. The Cardinals beat Cincinnati 4-3 on run-scoring singles by Ken Reitz and Ted Simmons in the eighth inning and then got two 10th-inning victories over Atlanta, 3-2 on Jerry Mumphrey's single and 6-5 on Simmons' homer.
The Cubs (2-3) got three homers from Dave Kingman and a 4-0 shutout of Houston from Dennis Lamp. Ending a confusing week, the Mets climbed out of last but lost righthander Pat Zachry to the disabled list with an irritated nerve in his right forearm.
PHIL 12-5 MONT 12-5 ST. L 9-8 CHI 7-9 NY 6-9 PITT 6-11