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Was this baseball or musical comedy? Before the game at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium last Friday night, Phillie reliever Larry Andersen approached Cub outfielder Gary (Sarge) Matthews wearing Matthews' old No. 34 Phillie jersey with an I'M THE SARGE button pinned to it. Andersen's face was blackened with burnt cork and he was sporting a woman's wig. "Phillies West, Phillies East," Andersen said, embracing his ex-teammate like a drunken sailor in South Pacific . "We got a Sarge, too."
Phillies East is the Philadelphia Phillies. Phillies West is the Chicago Cubs, who have utilized no fewer than 11 ex-Phillies this season. When the twain met Thursday night in Game 1 of a four-game series, the Cubs and Phillies were 1-2 in batting average and runs scored, and Chicago had a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the National League East.
"We respect what the former Phillies have done since they left town," said Gary Rice, a 28-year-old electronics technician. "Especially centerfielder Bob Dernier, who's having a great year with the Cubs after sitting on the bench here. We always root for the individual."
The family reunion began when Matthews, who was traded to the Cubs on March 27, entered the Philadelphia clubhouse wearing his new number, 36, and new uniform. "What's that, your age?" said Andersen. Phillie reliever Bill Campbell, who came over from Chicago in the Matthews deal, got the raspberry when he peeked into the Cub clubhouse. "Hey, Soup," said Dernier, pointing Campbell in the direction of his replacement, big, bearded Tim Stoddard. "This bleeper came right in and took your place." Baseball's archaic no-fraternization rule was under all-out attack. "I suffered with a lot of these guys, and Gary Matthews is one of my alltime favorites," said Philadelphia first baseman Len Matuszek. "I just hope," said Matthews, "that I don't get too emotional."
Once the old friends got around to playing baseball, though, the camaraderie gave way to rock-'em, sock-'em action. The Phillies and Cubs traded first place and knockout blows like two staggering fighters. On Thursday the Phillies took the lead by pounding the Cubs 10-2. On Friday the Cubs won it back by humiliating the Phillies 12-3. On Saturday Philadelphia third baseman Mike Schmidt ended a snappy pitching duel with a dramatic two-run homer, giving the game—and first place—to the Phillies 3-2. On Sunday the division lead changed hands for the fourth time as Leon (Bull) Durham got three hits and two RBIs and the Cubs romped 11-2. "People will think we're for real now," said Warren Brusstar, another ex-Phil, who threw four shutout innings.
But the real winners weren't the guys on the field. "Look at how many Phillies we have on our team," said Dernier. "This whole thing is a tribute to the Phillie organization." And the Phillie philosophy. It's impossible, baseball men keep saying, to make trades anymore: too many free agents, too many no-cut contracts, too much red tape with agents.
Bosh, say Phillies manager and former G.M. Paul Owens and his player-personnel adviser, Hugh Alexander. Together they have wheeled and dealed Philadelphia to one half-season, five divisional and two National League titles and one World Series championship since 1976. The Phillies have one of the majors' most productive farm systems—43 of its graduates are playing for 18 major league clubs—but Owens and Alexander have acquired 17 players on the current roster.
Bosh, also says Chicago's executive vice-president/general manager Dallas Green, the Phillie manager in 1979-81. Green has imported 21 of his 25 players from other organizations. "The guys that sit back in this league aren't going to make it," he says.
"The reentry draft is only so good, and you can't get every player out of your farm system," says Alexander. "For one thing, your own players are often overrated. Everyone's always telling you how good Joe Doakes is. And you either lack players at one position or you're overloaded. If you're overloaded, you can trade good prospects and get what you need from another club. Some people are afraid to make trades because of the repercussions they get from the fans and media. You can't be that way."
On Dec. 8, 1981, two months after he joined the Cubs, Green sent pitcher Mike Krukow, with a player to be named later, to Philadelphia for outfielder Keith Moreland, pitcher Dickie Noles and minor league pitcher Dan Larson. After Krukow won 13 games in 1982 the Phils traded him and two minor-leaguers to San Francisco for ace reliever Al Holland and second baseman Joe Morgan. "We consider Holland a Cub trade," says Alexander. On Jan. 27, 1982, the Phillies sent shortstop Larry Bowa and infielder Ryne Sandberg to Chicago for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. All three have started for their new teams ever since, and Sandberg, now ensconced at second base, has become the Cubs' best all-around player.