#293 Phillies Team
I have a number of team cards, but only a couple that could be considered even EX or better. I don’t know if people tended to abuse team cards back in the because they weren’t that exciting (oh hey, here’s how my favorite team looks from 500 feet away!) or what, but this is a pretty brutal specimen. It is intact, so it has that going for it.
Of course, it’s also possible that most Phillies team cards from 1964 ended up in similar shape after their fans threw them in the garbage. The Phils were rolling to what was going to be their first World Series appearance since 1950, leading the Cardinals by 6 1/2 games with 12 games left in the season.
Then, the infamous “phold” happened. Starting on September 21, the Phillies lost 10 games in a row — 3 to the Reds and 4 to the Braves, followed by a season-killing 3-game sweep by the Cards. After the game on September 30, the Phillies had dropped to third place. A 2-game sweep over the Reds to end the season wasn’t enough. Though they did catch Cincinnati in the standings, they finished a game behind St. Louis, which went on to win the World Series.
Despite the collapse, it looked like the Phillies had a pretty bright future. 22-year-old rookie Dick Allen (still Richie in those days) had a huge year, hitting 29 homers with a .939 OPS and leading the league in runs and triples. Johnny Callison, just 25 years old, hit 31 homers and led the team with 104 RBI. Jim Bunning, who came over from Detroit in an off-season trade, was 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.03 WHIP and still in his prime. 26-year-old Chris Short was even better than Bunning, posting a 2.20 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while allowing just 7.1 H/9.
But it never added up to another serious run at the pennant. The Phils never finished higher than fourth over the last four years of non-divisional play. Fans at the time often blamed Allen for the problems. After a fight with veteran Frank Thomas in 1965 that led to Thomas’ release, fans directed their ire at Allen (who is black) for causing Thomas (who is white) to be shipped out of town. Allen became the team’s scapegoat despite putting up huge numbers year after year.
It should also be noted that the Phils were managed at this time by Gene Mauch, who was at the helm of another classic meltdown in 1986, when his Angel team couldn’t get the final out of Game 5 of the ALCS against the Red Sox and ended up losing the series. That was the closest Mauch got to a World Series in his 26 years as a big-league manager.
The Phils eventually made it to the World Series, in 1980. That year, they won the championship for the first time. The team had been in existence since 1883.