The 1976 and '77 Phillies each won 101 games. The 1980 Phillies gave the long-suffering franchise its first-ever World Series championship.

To find the best Phillies club of that glory-days era, Larry Bowa said, look to 1978.

That team dropped to 90 wins and lost in the National League Championship Series for the third consecutive year. For Bowa, the lack of a signature accomplishment does not detract from what that team had.

"It was probably the best team we had, depth-wise," said Bowa, the shortstop on those teams. "We just came up short. That ['78] team had great depth, a great bench, speed, pitching and defense. I really do think it was a better team than the '80 team."

In 1978, the Phillies took the NL East lead June 24 with a win over the Chicago Cubs and were never headed.

Third baseman Mike Schmidt suffered through a terrible season by his standards, hitting .251 with only 21 homers and 78 RBIs. But Bowa had a superb season and finished third in the MVP voting behind Dave Parker and Steve Garvey.

The season was memorable for two unique moments.

On April 25, the Philly Phanatic debuted at Veterans Stadium.

On Oct. 7, centerfielder Garry Maddox dropped a fly ball.

Maddox's rare misplay came with two outs in the 10th inning of Game 4 in the NLCS against Los Angeles. Bill Russell followed with a single off Tug McGraw, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 victory that eliminated the Phillies.