remembering the collapse of the 1964 Phillies

In 1964, the Philadelphia Phillies was 6 1/2 games AHEAD with only a dozen games to play. It had been Phillies all the way before that. Jim Bunning had pitched a perfect game on Father’s day. Manager Gene Mauch team was anticipating a World Series victory. Jim Bunning is now a Republican Senator for Kentucky. In 1964 he was a pitcher for the Phillies going 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA.

Starting on September 21 – the Phillies were about to go on a ten game losing streak, and the Cincinatti Reds was going to win nine in a row.

The turning point in that September 21 game was when Chico Ruiz otherwise known as “bench me or trade me”(?) stole home, with Robinson at bat, in the bottom of the 6th inning. The game ended with a Reds victory – 1-0. This began the Phillies 10 game slide.

Here are some recent quotes from Bunning when talking to a sports columnist from the New York Post about the Mets:

The Mets, seven games up a week ago, already had squandered 5½ games worth. They didn’t just need a win. They needed a tourniquet.
“The one thing we never got in ’64,” Bunning said, “was the one performance, the one big hit, the one huge pitching performance that could have stopped the bleeding.”

Bunning had watched the Mets’ descent with bemused interest from behind his desk in the Hart Senate Office Building across town, still a baseball lifer even as he spends most of his time in the Senate chambers. He’d felt for the Mets. He’d seen what the past week had done to them. And knew what they were feeling, perhaps as well as any man alive.

“The typical problems when you’re in a slump,” Bunning said. “When you pitch great, you don’t score any runs. And when you’ve got the bats working, you can’t get anybody out.”
At one point yesterday, I asked him, “Wouldn’t you like to see someone take you off the historical hook one of these years?”
“No,” he said. “I don’t want the Mets to blow the pennant because I don’t ever want another baseball player to ever experience what we went through. No one should ever have to go through that.”

Season Summary 92-70 , Final Rank: 2, GB: 1.0
Days in First: 112 (last on September 26, counts the days a team played and was in first at the end of the day)

Most Games over .500: 31 (last on September 17)
Most Games under .500: never

Biggest Lead: 7.5 (last on August 23)
Farthest Behind Leader: 2.5 (last on September 30)

Longest Winning Streak: 5 (May 29 to June 3, July 2 to July 9, and August 7 to August 12)
Longest Losing Streak: 10 (September 21 to September 30)

Most Runs Allowed: 14 (July 18 and September 27)
Most Runs Scored: 13 (July 23 and August 11)

Longest Game: 16 innings (August 18 and September 19)

Times Shutout by Opponent: 11
Times Opponent Shutout: 17

Back to 2007 – the Phillies are one game behind the Mets as of Saturday Morning, Sept 23, and they are two games behind the Padres in the Wild Card race.



Filed under baseball, Phillies

5 responses to “remembering the collapse of the 1964 Phillies

  1. Alan Sunderman

    The origin of the “Bench me or trade me” quote/nickname from Chico Ruiz: During the 1967 season, the Cincinnati Reds regular shortstop, Leo Cardenas, had an extended injury and missed a few weeks of action. Normal bench-rider, Chico Ruiz, had to start and play in his place every day. At some point, Ruiz was quoted uttering the above line in jest.

  2. dave

    Thanks Mark, I think about this often but, being a bandwagon baseball fan, never had the details until now. Now every time the morons in Philly (that’s where I’m from too) bemoan the fact that the Philles are 6.5 games behind … IN JULY!!!!! I can say STFU ALREADY, IT’S JULY AND THERE ARE 60 GAMES TO PLAY and show them this stat. Thankfully, it doesn’t occur that often.

  3. Pingback: The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : Some All-Star Break Thoughts

  4. Alphonse Dattolo


  5. John Fembup

    As a Cards fan I never tire of telling my friends who are Yankee fans that the 3rd-best team in the NL beat them in the 64 series.

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