Recalling a Formerly Great Rivalry (and one scary lookin’ guy)

They used to be in the same division.

They used to be great rivals.

No more.

The days of the intense Phillies-Pirates rivalry is long gone. I had a fascinating email exchange with my friend and Scrum regular (as well as our resident Pirates fan) Angelo Vecchio. We recalled how truly exciting those days in the 70?s and very early 80?s were.  We both had our superstars…the Pirates had Dave Parker, John Candelaria, Omar Moreno, and of course the team leader known as Pops, the great Willie Stargell — the definition of a class act. The Phils had Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt as well as Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, and later Pete Rose.

The Pirates had the Phils number until 1976, when the Phils won three straight division titles (just barely in ’78).  The Buccos stormed back to win it all with the “We Are Family” bunch in ’79.  Then the Phillies finally broke through in 1980 to win their first World Championship.  Two weeks from now we might have a second.

As a kid, the Pirates had one guy who used to literally frighten me. Not so much because of his effective relief pitching, but because of his looks. He appeared to be the harbinger of death. He was Kent Tekulve. Actually a very nice guy — but with his skeletal frame and dark prescription glasses, he bore a startling resemblance to the evil chauffer in the offbeat 1976 horror film, Burnt Offerings. I literally thought any Phillie who faced him would be cursed. He looked evil. He was of course, not evil. But a young teen’s wild imagination conjured up whatever it damn well pleased. And I discovered I was not alone in my fear of “Teke.” Others who’d seen the movie agreed, he was the evil chauffer incarnate.

Kent Tekulve (circa 1978) when he was going for the evil chauffer look in "Burnt Offerings."

This freekin' guy scared the wits outta me as a kid. Actor Anthony James as the evil chauffer in "Burnt Offerings." Looks a helluva lot like a Pirates closer from back in the day.

But, alas, Teke is a rather, chunky, pretty average looking Pirates broadcaster these days — about as far removed from the evil chauffer as a rivalry that was a cornerstone of a long lost childhood.

Am I right or what? This freakshow can loosen the bowels of a bronze statue.

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