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This Week in 1983: Week of March 13-19 - The Hayes Hype Machine builds

Von Hayes, pickin’ machine

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Von Hayes in the lineup means the Phillies win games

You know the nickname by now.

“Five For One.”

Since the deal that landed Von Hayes in Philadelphia in December of 1982, there were some unfair expectations set on the youngster thanks to the amount of quality players that went back to Cleveland’s way. People were expecting a superstar in return since anyone that required five players must be able to perform at least at that level. With Hayes making his spring training debut this week in 1983, the team was finally able to see what they had in their newest acquisition.

Hayes showed his smooth hitting stroke with two hits and a deep outfield out. He displayed his run-producing potential and speed with a two-run triple on which he easily reached third standing up. And he demonstrated his defensive ability with a tough running catch toward the right-field line. 1

It’s truly doubtful that Hayes would have ever lived up to the hype that surrounded his trade. At the time, the team really did believe they were getting a future superstar, someone they could build their offense around once the days of Schmidt and Rose and Bowa were passed, but the fans at the time were skeptical. On this day, though, the roses were all in bloom and everyone was happy.

Everyone is in the best shape of their life!

We hear it every year. Whenever spring training rolls around, we hear from all the various players that were bad the year before come in and say they’re “in the best shape of their life.” <drinks> It’s a tale as old as time, but we take it for granted now. Players are expected to show up in great shape these days. Imagine what sports talk radio would sound like today, what columns would be written, what Twitter threads would unroll if someone who is expected to lead a team showed up to camp, say, 5-10 pounds overweight.

So when you hear about someone like Joe Morgan coming into camp in excellent shape, your eyes might roll a bit.

“Scout after scout watching the Phillies this spring has marveled at Morgan’s physical appearance, saying things like ‘he looks closer to 29 years old than 39.’ Morgan nods knowingly when such comments are relayed to him.” 2

We have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, so we know how this all turned out, but imagine for a second how much this could have affected the team then. Morgan was coming off of a 1982 season in which he hit .289/.400/.438 in 554 plate appearances in San Francisco, good for a 142 wRC+ and enough to show he had plenty left in the tank. The team had made a series of maneuvers that saw them without a second baseman (hey, remember that Hayes trade!) for the 1983 season. Signing Morgan should have been seen as a coup for them as the previous year showed Morgan was still a very high quality player at the plate. Was there room for improvement on defense? If you go by the modern metrics, he wasn’t that good of a fielder in the previous seasons, so maybe that’s why the team was so optimistic about his physical appearance once the games began. Regardless, Morgan would go on to have a solid season for the Phillies in 1983, even if the batting average wasn’t all that much to get excited about.

1 Pascarelli, Peter. (March 14, 1983) “Hayes plays; Phils win for first time.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5-C.

2 Pascarelli, Peter. (March 17, 1983) “Fired up: A fit and confident Morgan predicts great things for ‘83.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1-C