Dusty Baker (Trading Card DB)

May 4, 1980: Dusty Baker bats out of turn, then homers as Dodgers beat Phillies

This article was written by Laura H. Peebles

Dusty Baker (Trading Card DB)The visiting Los Angeles Dodgers (13-9) and the host Philadelphia Phillies (9-9) were in second and third place respectively in their divisions, less than a month into the 1980 season. The Sunday crowd of 34,027 was ready to cheer the Phillies to a sweep. Their odds were good—the Dodgers had lost eight regular-season games in a row at Veterans Stadium,1 including the two previous games of this series.

The fans didn’t see a Phillies win, but they did see a rare event—a player batting out of turn.2 How rare? From 1950 through 1999, there were 119 no-hitters3  in the American and National Leagues but only 38 incidents of batting out of turn.4

The trouble started before the game. Dodgers coach Monty Basgall, who routinely made out the lineup card and signed manager Tommy Lasorda’s name, had a mental lapse. Third baseman Ron Cey had batted fifth from late in the 1978 season through the middle of the 1979 season. Since then, left fielder Dusty Baker had usually hit fifth, with Cey sixth.

Basgall completed a lineup card with Baker fifth and Cey sixth. It was posted in the Dodgers’ dugout, and he and Lasorda later confirmed that it was the intended order.5 But on the card that was given to the umpires, Basgall wrote in Cey fifth and Baker sixth.

Pete Rose, playing first base for Philadelphia, was the first to notice Cey apparently moved up in the lineup: “What’s the deal? Cey gets two infield hits and they move him up?”6

The stage was set. Facing Randy Lerch, the Dodgers took a 1-0 first-inning lead on cleanup hitter Steve Garvey’s one-out single, leaving runners on first and third for the fifth spot in their lineup.7

Baker, in accordance with the lineup card in the dugout, stepped to the plate. He hit a run-scoring fielder’s choice with the out at second. Rose, who had mentioned the “out-of-turn” to first-base umpire John McSherry as soon as Baker stepped in, informed Baker that he’d batted out of turn when he arrived at first.

Phillies manager Dallas Green challenged. The umpires8 retreated for 20 minutes and returned with their ruling.9 Green could accept the results of the play, or Cey would be called out, the runners returned to their bases and Baker to the plate. Green chose to take the out,10 but he argued that Cey and the runner at second should both be out, saying it wasn’t his error and he shouldn’t be penalized for it.11 He was ejected for arguing, then said he would protest the game.

Baker then had his “second” chance to bat in the inning. As the Los Angeles Times suggested, perhaps Green should have listened to the little old lady in the stands who told Baker, “Dusty, I believe you’re gonna hit a homer.”12 He did, the ball landing high in the left-field seats, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Dodgers right-hander Dave Goltz, who had signed a six-year, $3 million free-agent contract in December 1979 after eight seasons with the Minnesota Twins, stifled the Phillies for five innings, allowing only three hits and no scoring. This wasn’t unusual – his two previous outings had been complete-game shutouts.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers were taking advantage of the Phillies’ pitching. They scored one more against Lerch in the third – Derrel Thomas13 scored from second on a wild pitch. Cey doubled in the sixth. Baker, now in the correct batting order, brought Cey home with his second home run of the game, making it 7-0.

Scott Munninghoff, making his last of four big-league appearances, relieved Lerch in the sixth but didn’t record an out. He allowed a single, a wild pitch, and two walks, including the opposing pitcher, allowing the Dodgers’ eighth run and departing with the bases loaded. Ron Reed got the last two outs but allowed another run on a sacrifice fly. With the score 9-0 in his favor in the sixth, Lasorda was relaxed and feeling good.14

That feeling didn’t last. Goltz’s slider disappeared after 23 scoreless innings … and so did the baseballs.15 He got Bake McBride to ground out to open the bottom of the sixth, but before he could get the second out he’d allowed a three-run homer to Greg Luzinski and a homer to Bob Boone on the next pitch.16

Reed pitched a clean top of the seventh, holding the score at 9-4, Dodgers.

The fireworks continued for the Phillies in the seventh. Rose hit a one-out grounder to third, and rookie third baseman Mickey Hatcher threw the ball into the stands17 so Rose took second. McBride singled, scoring Rose. Del Unser tripled, scoring McBride and chasing Goltz.

Knuckleballer Charlie Hough came in and faced four batters with the following results: sacrifice fly, strikeout with a passed ball, wild pitch, walk, and Larry Bowa hit by pitch.18 The third pitcher of the inning was 22-year-old lefty Steve Howe, in his ninth big-league appearance. Howe got the third out with the score 9-7, Dodgers.

Kevin Saucier pitched a clean top of the eighth for Philadelphia.

The Dodgers’ bullpen woes continued, and the Phillies tied the game in the eighth. Howe allowed a one-out walk to Rose and a single to McBride, who took second on an errant throw to third. Their options limited by substitutions and injuries,19 the Phillies called on pinch-hitter John Vukovich, taking his second at-bat of the season, To the surprise of many,20 he singled to tie the game. Lasorda called on his fourth pitcher of the day, Joe Beckwith, who preserved the tie by inducing a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play.21

Now it was the Phillies’ turn for a bullpen meltdown. Dickie Noles, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in 10⅔ innings, allowed three straight singles to the Dodgers to open the ninth. When backup catcher Keith Moreland allowed a ball to get 20 feet away from him and Noles neglected to cover, Thomas scrambled for the plate and skipped over Moreland’s tag to score on the passed ball.22 Two more runs scored on Hatcher’s double. Given Baker’s two-homer day, the Phillies intentionally walked him. Tug McGraw took over on the mound and walked a tightrope, but got the three outs. He intentionally walked Steve Yeager to load the bases, but struck out Pedro Guerrero and Davey Lopes to escape the inning with the score 12-9, Dodgers.

Jerry Reuss took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, looking for his first save of the year.23 He earned it, but not before giving the Philly fans hope. He allowed singles to Luzinski and Lonnie Smith. Luzinski took third on Bowa’s groundout and scored on Ramón Avilés’s sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 12-10, Dodgers. That was as close as the Phillies would get—Moreland struck out to end the game.

Green’s protest was disallowed as the umpires had correctly interpreted the rule. But what if the protest had been allowed and the Phillies won a replayed game? Instead of heading to Montreal on October 3 tied for the NL East lead, they would have had a one-game lead going into the head-to-head final series of the year. As it transpired, the Phillies clinched the NL East by winning the first two games of the series in Montreal. They won the World Series in six games over the Kansas City Royals.

The Dodgers would have finished one game behind the Houston Astros in the NL West at the end of the season. Instead, they were tied for first in the NL West after 162 games but lost a one-game tiebreaker to the Astros.

After the game, Baker said, “It was a weird game. Weirdest I ever been in.”24 Lasorda had some thoughts, too: “Do I look any older than I did three hours ago? I am, I feel it.25 I think there ought to be a law for managers against games like this.”26

Neither Baker nor Green was done with batting out of turn. During his 26-season career as a major-league manager, Baker was involved in out-of-order incidents while piloting the San Francisco Giants (August 8, 1998), Chicago Cubs (April 16, 2004), and Washington Nationals (July 4, 2016). His lineup changes were the cause of the first two, but with the Nationals he caught the other team batting out of order. Green was managing the New York Mets against the Montreal Expos on May 2, 1995, when a substitute umpire misconstrued the Expos’ batting order after in-game substitutions, resulting in a ruling that Montreal was batting out of turn.27

Pete Rose, too, had an unfortunate encounter with the rule on June 27, 1988. He made the same mistake as a manager that he’d spotted as a player—a different lineup card in the dugout than the one given to the umpires.28 Rose’s Cincinnati Reds lost that game to the San Diego Padres, 9-2, but the BOOT—batting out of turn—was not to blame.



This article was fact-checked by Kurt Blumenau and copy-edited by Len Levin.

The author wants to acknowledge baseball historian Mark Pankin (1945-2021), who brought this game to her attention through his 2019 SABR Convention (SABR 49) presentation on teams batting out of order, which he also presented at the Bob Davids Chapter 2020 SABR Day. Pankin’s presentation, “Baseball’s Most Confounding Rule,” received the 2019 Doug Pappas Award for best oral presentation at SABR 49.



In addition to the sources mentioned in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and SABR.org.





1 Those eight consecutive losses included all the games the Dodgers had played there in 1979, including three walk-off losses in a row in April of 1979.

2 Rule 6.03(b) of the Major League Baseball rule book addresses batting out of turn. The relevant portion reads:

  • b) Batting Out of Turn
    • (1) A batter shall be called out, on appeal, when he fails to bat in his proper turn, and another batter completes a time at bat in his place.
    • (2) The proper batter may take his place in the batter’s box at any time before the improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and any balls and strikes shall be counted in the proper batter’s time at bat.
    • (3) When an improper batter becomes a runner or is put out, and the defensive team appeals to the umpire before the first pitch to the next batter of either team, or before any play or attempted play, the umpire shall (1) declare the proper batter out; and (2) nullify any advance or score made because of a ball batted by the improper batter or because of the improper batter’s advance to first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.

3 “No-Hitters and Perfect Games,” Baseball-Reference.com, accessed February 29, 2024, https://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/no-hitters-and-perfect-games.shtml.

4 “Batting Out of Turn,” Retrosheet.org, accessed February 29, 2024, https://www.retrosheet.org/outturn.htm.

5 Richard Hoffer, “Dodgers Victors in a Wild One at Philly, 12-10,” Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1980: 3:4.

6 Hoffer.

7 Both Baseball Reference and Retrosheet say that Law stayed at second on Garvey’s hit to short. However, newspaper accounts say that Law scored from third on Baker’s initial hit. Tom Cushman, “Lasorda Savors Vet Victory,” Philadelphia Daily News, May 5, 1980: 75.

8 The other umpires were Paul Pryor, Bill Williams, and Joe West.

9 Cushman.

10 An out for a batting-out-of-turn is scored as a fly out to the catcher.

11 Joe Juliano (United Press International), “Dodgers Beat Phillies 12-10,” Barstow (California) Desert Dispatch, May 5, 1980: 9.

12 Hoffer.

13 In case this game needed any more wackiness, Thomas was playing center field since the second inning because Rudy Law was hit in the head with a thrown ball while stealing second in the first inning. Cushman. Thomas was back in the lineup for the Dodgers’ next game on May 6.

14 Juliano.

15 Hoffer.

16 Hoffer.

17 Don Sernoffsky, “Dodgers Win 12-10 in Amateur Exhibition,” Lebanon (Pennsylvania) Daily News, May 5, 1980: 21.

18 Hough’s ERA continued to climb, and the Dodgers sold him to the Texas Rangers on July 11. He stabilized and pitched for 14 more years.

19 Rod Beaton, “Phils Unable to Sweep Away L.A.’s Dusty,” Wilmington (Delaware) News-Journal, May 5, 1980: A10.

20 Vukovich had a .163 batting average entering the game. This was his only hit as a pinch-hitter in his 10-year career.

21 Beckwith was also credited with the win thanks to the Dodgers’ rally in the next inning.

22 Jayson Stark, “Oh, Well …” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 1980; C1.

23 Reuss had been used exclusively as a reliever in 1980 although he had been a starting pitcher through 1979. Within two weeks he returned to the starter role for the rest of the season.

24 Hoffer. This was Baker’s 1,215th regular-season game, plus 20 postseason games, so that was saying a lot. He didn’t supersede that when he managed a 16-inning game on April 24, 2016—he called that one the “craziest” game.

25 Associated Press, “Phillies Rue the Appeal That Worked,” San Francisco Examiner, May 5, 1980: 57.

26 Juliano.

27 The regular umpires had been locked out by the owners. “Batting Out of Turn,” Retrosheet.org.

28 “Batting Out of Turn,” Retrosheet.org, accessed February 29, 2024, https://www.retrosheet.org/outturn.htm.

Additional Stats

Los Angeles Dodgers 12
Philadelphia Phillies 10

Veterans Stadium
Philadelphia, PA


Box Score + PBP:

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1980s ·