Date of Game: Sunday, June 14, 1987
Location: Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium)
Opponent: Montreal Expos
Final Score: Phillies 11, Expos 6
Winning Pitcher: Don Carman
Losing Pitcher: Lary Sorensen
Home Runs: Mike Schmidt (3), Darren Daulton, Von Hayes, Reid Nichols
Phillies Starting Lineup
Milt Thompson, cf
Jeff Stone, lf
Juan Samuel, 2b
Mike Schmidt, 3b
Von Hayes, 1b
Glenn Wilson, rf
Darren Daulton, c
Steve Jeltz, ss
Don Carman, p
Expos Starting Lineup
Casey Candaele, cf
Mitch Webster, rf
Tim Raines, lf
Tim Wallach, 3b
Hubie Brooks, ss
Andres Galarraga, 1b
Vance Law, 2b
Mike Fitzgerald, c
Lary Sorensen, p
About This Game: If you are a fan of Seinfeld, the date of this Random Past Game may ring a bell. You may be confused by the details, however. Or it's quite possible that from watching the show, you may have convinced yourself the events related to the Phillies on that particular date as described in the episode really happened. If you are unfamiliar with what I've just written, here's a little rundown:
In the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Boyfriend" (originally aired on February 12, 1992), Jerry befriends Keith Hernandez, the former star first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets. This new friendship dismays both Kramer and Newman, with the latter saying he despises Hernandez. The reason for this stems from an incident that occurred on June 14, 1987 following a Mets-Phillies game. Newman recounts that Hernandez made an error that led to a five-run ninth inning for the Phils, who ultimately won the game as a result. Following the game, Kramer and Newman crossed paths with Hernandez in the parking lot, with Newman derisively saying "Nice game, pretty boy!" to Hernandez. In a parody of the John F. Kennedy assassination (specifically the Abraham Zapruder film and the Oliver Stone movie JFK, which had been released around the same time), Kramer was spit on seconds later, with Newman also being struck. Kramer and Newman believed that Hernandez was the spitter until it was revealed later in the episode that Roger McDowell (a member of the Mets in '87 and a Phillie from 1989-91) was the guilty party, acting in retaliation for Kramer and Newman heckling McDowell in the bullpen and later dumping a beer on him.
The story in the episode was compelling enough to lead one to believe Kramer and Newman were describing events that occurred during an actual game, though that isn't the case. In reality, the Phillies were in Montreal taking on the Expos on that Sunday afternoon. Though it probably wasn't worthy of being a plot element on a sitcom episode, this game did turn out to be pretty memorable for the Phils, as the greatest player in franchise history put on a vintage power display while achieving a notable milestone to boot.
After a surprising second-place finish in 1986, the Phillies were expected to be the main National League East threat to overtake the defending World Champion Mets in 1987. The preseason hype would quickly evaporate, however, when the Phils got off to a 1-8 start and ultimately fell ten games below .500 in early May. They'd turn things around by the end of the season's second month before climbing back to the break-even mark in early June, but a three-game losing streak had them in fifth place with a record 27-30 entering this getaway day game in Montreal. The Expos had taken the first two games of the three-game weekend series by scores of 13-6 and 7-5, giving them a record of 32-27. Montreal sat in third place, 5.5 games behind the East-leading Cardinals, while the Phillies were 9.5 games off the pace. Don Carman got the starting nod for the Phils on this day, with Lary Sorensen on the hill for Montreal.
Neither team scored in the first two innings, with the only offense for the Phillies coming on a Von Hayes double in the second. The Expos got two hits in the bottom of the second, but the inning ended when Glenn Wilson gunned down Vance Law trying to stretch a single into a double. The Phils would strike for four runs in the third as Jeff Stone singled home Steve Jeltz with the game's first run before Mike Schmidt belted a three-run homer to make it 4-0. It was also the 1999th hit of Schmidt's career, so nearly two months after hitting the 500th home run of his Hall of Fame career, Michael Jack was on the verge of another milestone.
Montreal would threaten in the third after putting their first two runners on base, but Carman was able to work out of trouble without any runs crossing the plate. That wouldn't be the case in the fourth, as an RBI single by Mike Fitzgerald made it a 4-1 game. The score remained the same until the sixth when Schmidt stepped up to the plate with one out and wasted no time picking up career hit number 2000. Fittingly, it left the ballpark. Schmidt's second homer of the day was a solo shot off Curt Brown (who'd relieved Sorensen in the fifth) to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead. It seemed like a safe advantage, as Carman retired the Expos in order in both the fifth and sixth innings, but the Phils had another onslaught coming, which they would end up needing when all was said and done.
Darren Daulton led off the seventh with a home run to increase the lead to 6-1, though it seemed like that would be all the scoring for the Phillies in the frame when Jeltz struck out and Carman grounded back to the mound. Milt Thompson walked to keep the inning alive, he'd steal second and come around to score on a Stone single to make it 7-1. Stone took second on Mitch Webster's throw home, which allowed him to score the third run of the inning and eighth for the Phils on the day when Juan Samuel followed with a single. Randy St. Claire was called in to relieve Brown and Schmidt greeted him with his third home run of the afternoon, a two-run shot for a 10-1 Phillies advantage. As if the start to St. Claire's outing hadn't gone inauspiciously enough, Hayes went deep immediately afterwards and the Phils had an 11-1 lead. Wilson grounded out to second for the final out, but not before six runs had crossed in the inning.
The three roundtrippers by Schmidt marked the third time in his career he'd hit at least that many in a game. He also hit three against the San Francisco Giants at Veterans Stadium on July 7, 1979 to go along with the four he hit in a 10-inning game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on April 17, 1976. The six RBI tied Michael Jack's career high for a nine-inning game. Schmidt knocked in eight runs in his four-homer game. He would not get a chance to do more damage against the Expos on this day, as manager John Felske elected to remove Schmidt from the game in favor of Rick Schu in the bottom of the seventh.
Carman continued to deal as he retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh, but he would be let down by some shaky defense as errors by Schu and Jeltz led to two unearned runs in the inning to get the Expos on the board at 11-3. Schu would make another error in the seventh, but this one did not result in any further scoring. Montreal continued to chip away with three more runs in the eighth thanks to an RBI double by Andres Galarraga and a two-run homer by Reid Nichols (who entered the game as part of a double switch in the top half of the inning) which ended Carman's day. Kent Tekulve took over on the mound and the bespectacled sidearmer put out the fire, retiring all four batters he faced to finish off an 11-6 victory for the Phillies. Carman got the win to improve to 4-5 on the season, Sorenson dropped to 3-3 with the loss. Had Schmidt stayed in the game, he would've had a shot at a fourth home run as his spot in the order came up with two outs in the ninth. Instead, Schu batted and singled off Bob McClure.
The win would be the next-to-last for the Phillies under John Felske, who was relieved of his duties four days later with the club's record at 29-32. Lee Elia took over and went 51-50 the rest of the way as the Phils finished a disappointing fourth in the NL East with an 80-82 record, 15 games behind the eventual National League Champion Cardinals, who edged out the Mets by three games and the Expos by four.
Schmidt's 1987 season was a last hurrah of sorts, as he hit .293 (his highest batting average aside from the 1981 strike year, when he hit .316) with 35 home runs and 113 RBI. Michael Jack hit .249 with 12 homers and 62 RBI in a 1988 campaign that was limited to 108 games due to a shoulder injury before tearfully walking away from the game on May 29, 1989 after determining his skills had eroded to the point where he could no be an effective player. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995, his first year of eligibility.
In case you were wondering, the Mets defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium by a score of 7-3 that day. Hernandez was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. He did not make any errors.
Personal Recollection: I've mentioned before that the 1988 season was the first one where I really followed the Phillies from start to finish, but 1987 was when I really started to develop an awareness and understanding of the game. I think the fact that it was my first year playing the game had a lot to do with it. In fact, I was just coming home from a t-ball game when I tuned in. In addition to my parents and sister, I believe my uncle along with my grandparents on my mom's side were there as well, as they'd occasionally attend my games. My grandpop on my mom's side (he passed away in 1992) was the person most responsible for my love and appreciation for the history of baseball, as he'd often stay up and talk about the game with me whenever I stayed over my grandparents' house. Most of the stories had to do with the players he grew up watching. I wanted to be able to keep up with him, so I took it upon myself to learn about these players and the game's overall history.
Back to the game. To be honest, I don't recall much about Mike Schmidt's first or third homers, but I do remember his second. It wasn't so much because of the milestone, it was more because of Andy Musser's call. It was a no-doubt about it blast to left and I remember Musser saying, "Raines doesn't even move! How's THAT for career hit number 2000?" I was too young to realize it at the time, but looking back, that Schmidt homer was very similar to his 1980 division-winner in Montreal that resulted in Musser's famous "HE BURIED IT! HE BURIED IT!" call. Musser was certainly no Harry Kalas (Harry did the middle innings on radio for non-cable TV games, I don't believe I've ever heard his call on this) but I never had the disdain for him that a lot of other fans seemed to have.
I also remember the Darren Daulton home run, probably because it wasn't such a common occurrence in those days. My mom was always a fan of Dutch's, even back then when it seemed like nobody else was, so you can imagine she had a pretty positive reaction there. When the defense came a little unglued in the seventh, Harry remarked that the Phillies were "making errors of CO-mission and O-mission" as he would occasionally do when the Phils weren't playing crisp fundamental baseball. Of course, I had no idea what that meant at the time, but it sure did sound good.
Also notable is the fact the Phillies scored 11 runs that day, or "ee-o-leven" as Harry pronounced it. I don't believe Harry ever gave any reason for why he said it that way, but I would guess it comes from the song "Eee-o-eleven" which was sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. in the original 1960 version of Oceans 11 that also starred Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin among other Rat Pack members. Taking into consideration Harry's affinity for Sinatra, this would seem to be a logical explanation.
I knew before doing research for this article that the Phillies played the Expos on June 14, 1987, as I'd looked up the information years earlier to see what really took place on that day. I'm a big Seinfeld fan, and that episode is one of my all-time favorites. The Hernandez storyline, JFK parody, and the subplot with George trying to get an extension on his unemployment compensation were classic. Add to that a story that involves the Phillies beating the Mets, and it's pretty much flawless!
That's my story on June 14, 1987. Do you remember this game? If so, feel free to share your own recollections!