Greg (The Bull) Luzinski and Mike Schmidt - say the names slowly - were created for power.
Each half of the Philadelphia Phillies' Bull-Schmidt attack epitomizes an opposite type.
Put them together, the bull and the panther, and you have a hybrid monster with 61 home runs and 167 RBI with nearly a third of the season left to play.
Get them hot simultaneously, as they are now, and the result is a 12-game Phillie winning streak. And still counting. The noises at the heart of the Philadelphia lineup these days sound like a cannon and its echoed report a few seconds later.
Luzinski looks like an NFL Levia-than washed ashore in baseball's world of normal men.
Once Jimmy Foxx was called Mr. Double X and The Beast. He posed holding a telephone pole for a bat. Beside today's fatless 230-pound Bull, the old 195-pound Beast would appear dainty.
Foxx home runs broke seat backs in the lower deck, the legends say. Luzinski's legion sits in the upper deck 500-feet away and displays a target: "The Bull Ring." His fans wear gloves. For protection.
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Schmidt has the sort of V-shaped torso and big-cat reflexes that a milenium of body building could not produce.It comes with the original equipment.
Schmidt's life is cyclical, a question of trajectories. He either hits low line drives that pulse like a surging golf ball or else he launches his individuial space probes. No other human being has hit a ball off the roof of the Houston Astrodome. Because the ground rules did not cover the impossible, Schmidt was held to a double on what some baseball men still insist was the longest ball ever hit.
For sheer bestiality in massaging baseballs no firm can match the Philadelphia partnership. Statistical briefs can be filed for Cincinnati's George Foster and Johnny Bench or Boston's Jim Rice and George Scott.
A convincing case could be made that for total team value Minnesota's Rod Carew and Larry Hisle or Steve Garvey and Ron Cey of the Dodgers might be producing as many One-,Two benefits.
But for those with simple tastes such subtleties are beside the point. Schmidt and Luzinski were made for power. They know it, and relish it.
Schmidt has struck out 149, 180, and 138 times the last three seasons and 91 times this year. Those are not the marks of a man being cheated of his cuts.
Schmidt's voice drips with loathing when he mentions the lessons of restraint that he must preach to himself every day.
"Wrigley Field," he says the name of baseball's coziest park with precision, like a mantra. "I've got to make myself hit little fly balls and ground balls here. Play what you'd call a small game. Before you know it you've got two home runs by trying for singles."
But it is the quality of home runs, not the quantity that haunts Schmidt. After hitting a 475-foot homer into Waveland Avenue and another 430-feet to the top of the bleachers in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday, Schmidt admitted, "I tried to let out the shaft even more in the second game. The wind was blowing in. It was a subconscious challenge to hit it farther . . . farther."
Schmidt, full of theories and intensity, constantly seeks analogies with golf, another sport he plays with frightening strength. His talk of "swing arc and bat speed" sounds like a Nicklaus. "The battle is constantly to shorten your stroke, swing within yourself," he says. "The temptation to go for the horizon is always there."
For Luzinski, built on dimensions that war most big leaguers, the question at the plate is always one of selectivity and concentration.
"You always look for a pitch to drive and they always try to nibble," he says.
Schmidt takes the long stride, the big swing, Luzinski has the shortest and quickest of strokes. If he didn't his strikeout totals (135 and 151 in previous years with 95/this season) would destroy him.
Weight on the balls of his feet, bat practically in finger tips held close and high, Luzinski is in reality the world's largest contact hitter.
"He's so unbelievably strong that he muscles the ball out," says Phil reliever Tug McGraw. "But in batting practice," says McGraw reverentially, "that's different. Then he goes far yardage."
Luzinki's BP shows are the most riveting in the game today. In Wrigley Field last weekend with a dozen of his relatives in the stands, the Chicago-born Pole alternated between delivering the ball to the urchins in Sheffield and Waveland Avenues.
Going with the pitches, first to left field then right, Luzinski used a tall wind to hit ball after ball more than 450 feet, far over the grasping Bleacher Bums. The crowd gasped, then rose with each swing to sight the landing area, or at least check the line.
By Sunday night (28 Schmidt-and-Luzinski total bases later) the same crestfallen Bums had crossed the street to Ray's Bleachers and The Cubbie Bear Lounge to drown sorrows in Old Style beer and mourn along with that appropriate honky-tonk hit. "After 'Sweet Memories', play 'Born to Lose' again."
This season both sluggers seem destined to succeed even more than they have before. Schmidt with 80 runs, 71RBI, 30 homers, a .284 average and 63 walks is having his most productive season - a high standard because he has led the majors in home runs each of the last three years. After 29 errors at third last year, Schmidt has only 13 now.
Luzinski, hitting .321 with 31 homers and 96 RBI, should top all his previous highs of .304,34 homers and 120 RBI.
At first they seem as far apart in demeanor as they are in hitting styles. But disguised similarites have made them close friends.
Schmidt, the cocky extrovert, is hyperverbal, fast with a quip and moody. Luzinski, his lank blond hair making him look like an implacable double-knit Lohengrin, never seems to vary his introverted, forbidding mean.
Both are at home in Jeans-and-polo shirt style. One difference is that Luzinski's old bell-bottoms are suitable only for ditch-bank cutting; Schmidt's have orange, diagonal lighting stripes down the thigh.
Both are deep into the macho exterior that seems absolutely unvarying among top home run hitters. Strength, or the appearance of it, is a prerequisite for getting the attention of either.
Luzinski has given thousands of dollars from his new multiyear contract to buy bleacher seats in the Bull Ring for underprivileged children. To his credit, he hates to talk about his charity, prefering to give, if not in secret at least in silence.
"I'm not a quotable person or flamboyant," says Luzinski appologetically. "I keep my cool. I stay on my comfortable level. Interviews are always trying to dig at you. I'm afraid they don't get much out of me.
Luzinski's demands are simple. Anyone who has seen him called out on strikes three times in one game, as he was Saturday, will know something of his character. Luzinski walked away from the plate without a word or gesture. In the dugout, instead of perhaps ripping off the roof and throwing it over the grandstand, he carefully put his bat and helmet back in their place for future duty and sat down peacefully.
"I have never said a word to an umpire or done anything to show them up," says Luzinski. "I know their job is hard and I show them respect. I expect them to respect me by bearing down and working hard when I'm at bat."
Luzinski will get that respect one way or another. Teammate little Larry Bowa constantly pipes, "Turn one around, Bull (hit a homer)," when he is at bat. The cleanup hitter has respect from the Phillies.
But others must be taught. Last year San Diego's Bill Greif, a reputed head hunter, sent Luzinski to the hospital with a fast ball on the wrist. On San Diego's next trip to Philadelphia, Luzinski waited until Greif had been called in to pitch, waited until his back was turned warming up then charged the mound like . . . well, a bull. Greif was pinned to the mound and sufficiently pounded before the picadors arrived.
Respect for dirt-under-the-finger-nails hard work, and even a little rough stuff, is the strongest bond between the two sluggers. Schmidt, who doesn't have to stoop to small jobs, is proud that he averages more than 20 steals a year, often plays hurt and will bunt when strategy dictates.
Similarly, Luzinski has one of baseball's most precariously tender right knees, but it is never babied. Luzinski runs the bases, if not quickly, at least with ferocity.
On Saturday he barreled home from second on a short single, his knees pumping as in his days as an all-state linebacker. About third-and-five from home he became airborn, hurtling himself at catcher George Mitterwald. The ball arrived before Luzinski, but Mitterwald was not around to get it. He had evacuated the area, neatly bobbling the ball and missing the swipe tag. Luzinski arose to dust his flanks. There to greet him with an amused grin was Mike Schmidt who can appreciate the power of a Pull. They ran to the dugout together.