1979 Philadelphia Phillies season

1979 Philadelphia Phillies season

The 1979 Philadelphia Phillies season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the National League East, 14 games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.


Prior to the 1979 season, Pete Rose signed a four-year, $3.2-million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, temporarily making him the highest-paid athlete in team sports. The Phillies were in the middle of the greatest era in the history of the franchise when Rose came on board. They had won the National League East three years running (1976–78) two of which were won with 101 win seasons.

The Phillies entered the 1979 season with one of the strongest lineups in the league with the addition of Rose but with numerous injuries on the pitching staff. AP sports writer Hal Bock picked the Phils to finish second behind the Pirates as the Phillies would enter the season with pitchers Larry Christenson, prospect Jim Wright, and Dick Ruthven all injured.[1]

Notable transactions

Regular season

On May 17, 1979, the Phillies beat the Cubs 23-22 at Wrigley Field in ten innings with a 30-mph wind blowing out to left field.[13] After the game, the Phils were 14 games over .500 and in first place by 3½ games over the Montreal Expos.[14]

On July 10 Del Unser hit his third consecutive pinch hit home run. Unser tied a Major League Baseball record with homers in three straight pinch at bats. The at bats were on June 30, July 5, and July 10.[15]

By August 29, the team had fallen to fifth place and two games under .500, 12½ games behind the Pirates.[16] Mid-season injuries to Manny Trillo, Larry Bowa, and Greg Luzinski contributed to hurt the club. The team's decline led to the firing of manager Danny Ozark on August 31 who was replaced by Dallas Green.[17] Green was named interim manager, a position made permanent shortly after the end of the season.[18]

Alternate uniforms

The Phillies front office introduced an alternate all-burgundy version of the team uniform for the 1979 season to be worn for Saturday games.[19] They were called "Saturday Night Specials", in a derisive nod to cheap handguns then called by that name and were worn for the first and last time on May 19, 1979,[20] a 10-5 loss to the Expos.[21] The immediate reaction of the media, fans, and players alike was negative, with many describing the despised uniforms as pajama-like. As such, the idea was hastily abandoned. Mike Schmidt would wear the uniform during the MLB All-Star Tour of Japan following the 1979 season.

Season standings

NL East W L GB Pct.
Pittsburgh Pirates 98 64 -- .605
Montreal Expos 95 65 2 .594
St. Louis Cardinals 86 76 12 .531
Philadelphia Phillies 84 78 14 .519
Chicago Cubs 80 82 18 .494
New York Mets 63 99 35 .389

Notable transactions


1979 Philadelphia Phillies
Pitchers Catchers


Outfielders Manager


Player stats


Starters by position

Note: Pos = Position; G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Pos Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
1B Rose, PetePete Rose 163 628 208 .331 4 59
2B Trillo, MannyManny Trillo 118 431 112 .260 6 42

Other batters

Note: G = Games played; AB = At bats; H = Hits; Avg. = Batting average; HR = Home runs; RBI = Runs batted in

Player G AB H Avg. HR RBI
Gross, GregGreg Gross 118 174 58 .333 0 15
Meoli, RudyRudy Meoli 30 73 13 .178 0 6
Rader, DaveDave Rader 31 54 11 .204 1 5
Poff, JohnJohn Poff 12 19 2 .105 0 1


Starting pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO
Carlton, SteveSteve Carlton 35 251 18 11 3.62 213
Espinosa, NinoNino Espinosa 33 212 14 12 3.65 88
Christenson, LarryLarry Christenson 19 106 5 10 4.50 53
Larson, DanDan Larson 3 19 1 1 4.26 9

Other pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; IP = Innings pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G IP W L ERA SO

Relief pitchers

Note: G = Games pitched; W = Wins; L = Losses; SV = Saves; ERA = Earned run average; SO = Strikeouts

Player G W L SV ERA SO
Bird, DougDoug Bird 32 2 0 0 5.16 33
Brusstar, WarrenWarren Brusstar 13 1 0 1 6.91 3

Farm system

Level Team League Manager
AAA Oklahoma City 89ers American Association Lee Elia
AA Reading Phillies Eastern League Jim Snyder
A Peninsula Pilots Carolina League Ron Clark
A Spartanburg Phillies Western Carolinas League Bill Dancy
Short-Season A Central Oregon Phillies Northwest League Tom Harmon
Rookie Helena Phillies Pioneer League Roly de Armas
LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: Central Oregon[26]


Further reading