For the Phillies, the 1970s marked the start of the team's Golden Era. It was easily the most successful period the club ever had.
During the decade, the Phillies won three division titles while establishing the team that would eventually win the franchise's first World Series. The team moved into a new stadium and great players were everywhere.
The 1970s Phillies were future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt (photo above) and Steve Carlton (photo at left). They were Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone and Tug McGraw. They were Bake McBride, Dave Cash, Jay Johnstone, Dick Ruthven and many others who became household names in Philadelphia.
Although the decade began slowly with three sixth place finishes and one fifth, the early years were not entirely dormant. In 1970, the Phils played their last game at Connie Mack Stadium. They moved into newly constructed Veterans Stadium the following year. That season, Rick Wise hit two home runs while pitching a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds and Deron Johnson (photo below) clubbed 34 home runs, while Willie Montanez socked 30.
Early in 1972, John Quinn in his last move as general manager, traded Wise to the St. Louis Cardinals for Carlton. Shortly afterward, Paul Owens became GM and Dallas Green was promoted to farm director.
Carlton, enroute to his first Cy Young Award, had one of the greatest seasons of any pitcher in big league history in 1972 when he won 27, posted a 1.98 ERA and became the first Phillies pitcher to strike out 300 batters when he fanned 310. The entire team won just 59 games.
Also in 1972, with vice president Bill Giles' (photo at left) spectacular promotional events occurring regularly at the Vet, world-famous Karl Wallenda walked across the middle of the stadium on a high-wire far above the highest bleacher seat. Later that season, Owens fired manager Frank Lucchesi and took over the team himself. Schmidt made his first appearance in a Phillies uniform, and after the season team president Bob Carpenter handed over the reigns to his son Ruly.
By 1974, with Danny Ozark (photo below) managing the team, the Phillies had become a contender. The club led the Eastern Division early in the season before finishing third. After hitting just .196 with 18 home runs as a rookie, Schmidt won the home run crown with 36 while Jim Lonborg won 17 games.
Wheeler-dealer Owens kept bringing in players to fill key gaps on the roster. First Cash and Johnstone in 1974, then Maddox and McGraw in '75 proved to be important additions. Johnstone hit .329 as the Phils placed second that year. Schmidt again topped the league in home runs with 38, and Luzinski led the circuit in RBI with 120 while slamming 34 homers and hitting .300. Gene Garber had an outstanding year in the bullpen with 10 wins and 14 saves in a league-leading 71 appearances.
The Phillies finally broke through in 1976, in the process passing two million in attendance for the first time with 2,480,150. It being the Bicentennial year, the club played host to the All-Star Game, won 7-1 by the National League. Then the Phils finished with a club record 101 wins, leading the division by nine games. Schmidt won his third straight home run title with 38, including four in a 10-inning, 18-16 Phillies win at Wrigley Field. Maddox hit .330 and Johnstone batted .318, while Carlton won 20 and Lonborg 18.
In the National League playoffs, the Phillies lost three straight to the Cincinnati Reds, managed by the 1959 Phillies' second baseman Sparky Anderson. The Phils lost the first two games 6-3 and 6-2 at the Vet and the third, 7-6, in Cincinnati.
The Phils, however, were back in the NLCS the following year after another 101-win season. Capturing the division title by five games, the team was led by Carlton's 23 wins and Larry Christenson's 19 wins. McBride, acquired in a trade, hit .339, Luzinski had a monster .309-39-130 season and Schmidt added 38 home runs again. Seven players homered in double figures and the Phils led the league with a .279 team batting average.
This time the Phillies lost three out of four in a controversial playoff series to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After capturing their first post-season win since 1915 in the first game, 7-5, and losing the second, 7-1, at Dodger Stadium, the Phils returned home only to lose the third game, 6-5, as Luzinski couldn't hold Manny Mota's drive to the left field wall. The fourth game, played in pouring rain, ended the series with the Phillies losing to Tommy John and the Dodgers, 4-1.
The Phillies made their third straight trip to the playoffs in 1978 after winning the division flag by just one and one-half games. The team clinched the title on the next to last day of the season as Randy Lerch hit two home runs and pitched the Phils to a 10-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. That year, the Phillie Phanatic (photo at left) made his debut and Luzinski had 35 homers and 101 RBI. But no Phillies player hit .300 and Carlton was the biggest winner with 16.
In another disappointing playoff, the Phillies again bowed to the Dodgers. The Phils lost the first two games, 9-5 and 4-0 at home. Carlton won in LA, 9-4, but the Phillies fell, 4-3, in the finale with a dropped fly ball by the usually sure-handed Maddox aiding the Dodger win.
In December 1978, the Phillies signed Pete Rose to a four-year contract. Pennant expectations soared. But despite Rose's hustle and .331 batting average, Schmidt's 45 homers and 114 RBI and the arrival in a trade of slick-fielding second baseman Manny Trillo, the Phils could do no better than fourth place. They beat the Chicago Cubs in a 23-22 slugfest at Wrigley Field during which the teams combined for 11 home runs. Late in the season, Ozark was fired as manager and Green moved down from the front office to take over the team.