Monday, October 25, 2010

What If the Phillies Had Won the 1964 Pennant? Part II

Since the Cardinals actually did beat the Yankees in the 1964 World Series, the Phillies could also have done it. So, if you've already read Part I, change Game 5 to an NL victory, which it was in RL, and have the Phils win Game 7 as Chris Short outduels Mel Stottlemyre...

Saturday, October 17, 1964, was the greatest day in Philadelphia since the liberation from British rule during the Revolution. The Phillies had a parade down Broad Street, from City Hall to Municipal Stadium, soon to be renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium. The place was jammed, 105,000 strong, as the Phils celebrated their first World Championship in their 82 seasons of existence.

Mayor Jim Tate and Governor Bill Scranton spoke, and announced that, at this same complex, where construction would soon begin on the new arena for the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers -- what became The Spectrum -- a new stadium would be built, for the Phillies and the Eagles. Opening Day was expected to be in April 1967.

For 1965, the Phillies obtained first baseman Dick Stuart from the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Dennis Bennett, and Alex Johnson became the new left fielder.

This upset Frank "Big Donkey" Thomas, and he mopes through much of the season. On July 9, before a game, Thomas swung a bat at Richie Allen. Emboldened by his performance in the 1964 season and World Series, Allen defied an order not to talk to the press about it, but managed to defuse the situation: "Frank's not a bad guy," he said, "He's just going through a rough patch. I forgive him." For this reason, Thomas was not released, as many thought he would be.

With Jim Bunning, Chris Short and Ray Culp providing good pitching, and the memory of the '64 title still close, the Phillies made a good run in 1965, but finished 3rd behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, 5 games out of 1st. They got off to a good start in 1966, but got a wakeup call on May 8, as the Giants traded first baseman Orlando Cepeda to the Cardinals for pitcher Ray Sadecki.

Not knowing whether this trade would benefit the Giants or the Cards, or both, Phils executive Robert Ruliph Morgan Carpenter III -- "Ruly" -- told his father Bob that the Phils needed to make a move, too. So Bob found a team that needed Carpenter money, and had someone to part with. On June 15, 1966, the Phillies traded Frank Thomas and $50,000 to the perennially cash-poor Cleveland Indians for sensational lefthanded pitcher Sam McDowell.

That did the trick. The Dodgers had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, and the Giants had Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. But with Bunning, Short and McDowell, the Phils had 3 aces, and Larry Jackson developed into a strong 4th starter. The Phillies won the Pennant, their 2nd in 3 years -- only the 4th in team history. However, they lost the World Series in 5 games to the Baltimore Orioles -- formerly the St. Louis Browns, and with the Phils winning it all in '64, the last of the "Original Sixteen" franchises to have not won a World Series. Now they had.

Game 2 of the World Series, on October 6, 1966, a 6-0 Phils loss to the Orioles, was the last baseball game played at Connie Mack Stadium, formerly Shibe Park, home to the Athletics from 1909 to 1954 and the Phillies from 1938 to 1966. The last regular-season game, on October 2, 1966, was a Pennant-clincher, a 7-6 win over the Dodgers, attended by all sorts of Phillies greats from Dave Bancroft (from the 1915 Pennant winners) to Richie Ashburn (from the 1950 Whiz Kids, now a Phils broadcaster, he threw out the first ball).

On April 14, 1967, Veterans Stadium opened. The Phils beat the New York Mets, 5-1, in front of 56,371 fans. No longer having to park in the North Philadelphia ghetto, fans took to the South Philadelphia concrete palace immediately. But the Phils were already in a bit of a decline. After the 1971 season, almost no one from the '64 and '66 Pennants was left. Even Dick Allen -- for a while, he was asking people not to call him "Richie" anymore -- was gone, traded to the Chicago White Sox. Many believe his home runs in his 1972 Most Valuable Player season saved that franchise.

Dick fell out with White Sox management, though, and in 1975 returned to the Phillies. It was a new team, led by Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Dave Cash and Steve Carlton. Now a first baseman, Dick pounded Cincinnati Reds pitching in the Playoffs, and the Phillies won the 1976 Pennant. On October 23, 1976, Tug McGraw struck out Oscar Gamble for the final out of Game 6, and the Phillies won their 2nd World Series. They had now played the Yankees in 3 World Series, winning the last 2.

The Phils lost the 1977 and '78 NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and faltered in '79, but in a final burst of power from the 38-year-old Allen, swept the Houston Astros in 3 straight in the 1980 NLCS, and took the Kansas City Royals in 6 games for their 3rd title. Allen retired, and the Phils managed to take one of the split-season spots in the 1981 Playoffs, made a run in 1982, and won the Pennant in 1983 before losing another World Series to the Orioles.

In 1989, Schmidt retired, and also gave the induction speech for Allen at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Between his own 548 and Allen's 464, that was over a thousand home runs. In the next 5 years, the Phils would also see Bunning, McDowell, Schmidt, Carlton and Ashburn elected.

The Phillies renewed their legacy in the 1993 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, particularly in a wild, rainy Game 4 at the Vet. They trailed 3-0, led 6-3, trailed 7-6, led 12-7, led 14-9, and finally held off a furious Jays rally to win 14-13. Just as the Phillies had beaten Mel Stottlemyre twice in the 1964 Series, now they had beaten his son, Todd Stottlemyre. Curt Schilling pitched a shutout in Game 5, and in Game 6 in Toronto, Mitch Williams came in for the bottom of the 9th, struck out Rickey Henderson, got Devon White to fly out, and, with the dangerous Joe Carter waiting on deck, got Paul Molitor to ground out to 2nd baseman Mickey Morandini, and the Phils won, 6-5, to take their 4th World Championship.

Of course, the Phils had to wait until 2008 to make it 5. And in 2009, the Yankees finally evened things up against them. And in 2010, the Phils lost the NLCS to the Giants.

Still, 5 World Championships (1964, 1976, 1980, 1993 and 2008), and 10 Pennants (1915, '50, '64, '66, '76, '80, '83, '93, 2008 and '09) is more than most teams have.

Something to think about as you pose for a photograph between the statues of Dick Allen and Mike Schmidt outside Citizens Bank Park, that glorious temple of baseball that opened in 1999.

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