Gone are Greg Luzinski, Gary Matthews, Garry Maddox, Larry Bowa, Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Bob Boone, Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw.
At 36, and preparing to retire after the 1987 season, third baseman Mike Schmidt is the last link to the Philadelphia Phillies' teams that won five Eastern Division titles and two National League pennants during the late '70s and early '80s.
In his 15th season, Schmidt also remains baseball's preeminent power hitter of the last 10 years, the conclusive statistics enhanced by the fact that he is currently tied for the league lead in home runs and is tied for second in runs batted in.
Now, too, Schmidt has become something more than a survivor and a slugger. He has become a threat to bat .300 and is a better hitter than he has ever been--in his own view, at least.
"No question about it," Schmidt said by phone recently.
In addition to his 80 RBIs and league-leading 24 home runs, Schmidt has appeared in all of his team's 108 games and is hitting .291, which is 23 points more than his career average.
Since June 1 of last year, when he was batting .215 and losing a battle with his confidence, Schmidt has hit .296, based on 229 hits in 774 at-bats.
That's an eight-month stretch--a normal season lasts six months--in which he has also hit 51 home runs, raising his total to 482, 15th on the all-time list.
Although he has consistently combined power with respectable averages such as .280, .286 and .277, the two-time winner of the league's Most Valuable Player award has hit over .300 only once, in the strike-shortened season of 1981 when he batted .316.
Said Schmidt in a 1977 interview: "If I'm healthy and playing every day, there's no category that I couldn't lead the league in."
A decade later, the new and improved Schmidt does not consider himself a candidate for the batting crown, since he lacks the legs to bunt-and-run his way on base, but he says he has become a more selective hitter, tougher to retire, particularly with two outs or runners in scoring position.
It all begins with the .215 average and six home runs that Schmidt took into June of last year. Burdened by minor injuries, Schmidt said he simply did not get out of the chute in '85, failing to get his first hit until his 26th at-bat.
"You keep telling yourself that it's early, but at the same time your confidence is going," Schmidt said. "This year I hit a home run in my first at-bat. That can change your outlook real fast."
The most significant change occurred amid that .215 struggle, when Schmidt altered his swing, leveling it out. Those towering drives that fell short of the fence turned into ground balls or line drives. He hit .300 and 27 homers over the final four months, salvaging the season.
"Great hitters should know when to change and how to change," Schmidt said. "Last June, I felt the need to change. I felt that I needed to get a lot of hits and that I only had four months to get them.
"I didn't know how many home runs or RBIs I'd end up with (after making the change), but I knew I wouldn't stay at .200. I learned a lot about hitting the ball on the ground. Now when I hit it out of the park, I don't mind telling you that I was trying to hit it on the ground.
"There was a time I could rationalize a fly ball to the left fielder with two out and a runner on third by saying, 'Geez, I just missed a two-run homer.' Now my goal is a ground ball up the middle."
Schmidt said he has always believed in a level swing, in hitting through the ball, and that he frequently achieved it with a variety of techniques. "But at the point where I made the change last year, those techniques weren't working for me," he said. "I couldn't keep my shoulder in or my swing level. I didn't change physically, only mentally. I'm trying to drive the ball down.
"I mean, think about it. Most hits are either ground balls or line drives. The more times you attempt to hit it on a line, the more hits you're apt to get. I've had more of a level swing the last seven months than at any time in my career, and I'd say it's the difference in why I now have 80 RBIs instead of just 60."
There is one other factor behind the new philosophy.
"We used to have two or three guys who could hit 25 or 30 home runs," Schmidt said. "I could afford to go for (the home run) a little more. Now we have no one (else) who'll even hit 20. I have to blend in, adapt my style to the ballclub. I have to try to spray the ball, hit it in the gaps, keep it out of the air.
"I assume it's working, since we're second or third in the league in offense and I'm now a better hitter than I've ever been."
Capable of hitting .300?
"Absolutely," Schmidt said. "I think that the last two months teams (involved in a pennant race) will be very selective in how they pitch to me. There'll be a concerted effort to keep me from beating them. It's no different for a Jack Clark or Pedro Guerrero. I've had six or seven walks in the last four or five games alone.