I feel like I've beaten the dead horse that was the Phillies' 1964 season through numerous mentions in other player and team posts, but it was a collapse of historical proportions. Most teams would be encouraged and motivated by a 92-70 season that left them a game shy of the National League pennant, but it never should have come to that for manager Gene Mauch and his troops. 1,425,891 fans made old Connie Mack Stadium the fourth-best-attended facility in the N.L., and they bore witness to a club that had a 6.5 game lead on September 20 and squandered it all in the span of a week on an epic losing streak that ultimately totaled ten games. Ouch.
The Phils were third in the league with 693 runs scored. Right fielder Johnny Callison (the lone All-Star among Philly's bats with a .274 AVG, 31 HR, 104 RBI) and first baseman Dick Allen (.318, 29 HR, 91 RBI, 125 R) did the heavy lifting. The only other starters who batted higher than .251 were left fielder Wes Covington (.280, 13 HR, 58 RBI) and center fielder Tony Gonzalez (.278). Still, the club's .258 average and 130 homers were both good for fourth in the circuit. Their .315 OBP and .391 SLG were third-best.
Like the lineup, Philadelphia's pitching staff was top-heavy, with a 3.38 ERA (fourth in the N.L.) and 632 runs allowed (fifth). The one-two punch of Jim Bunning (19-8, 2.63 ERA) and Chris Short (17-9, 2.20) each received an All-Star nod. 24-year-old Dennis Bennett (12-14, 3.68) was a solid third starter, and Art Mahaffey (12-9, 4.52) and Ray Culp (8-7, 4.13) rounded out the rotation. Bunning and Short wore down while pitching on three and even two days' rest in September, and it seems likely that Mauch's lack of faith in his other pitchers exacerbated the team's collapse. In the bullpen, most of the work was done by Jack Baldschun (6-9, 3.12, 21 saves, 71 G) and Ed Roebuck (5-3, 2.21, 12 SV, 60 G).
The star-crossed 1964 Phillies represented the city's first real chance at a winner since the 1950 "Whiz Kids", who had come out of nowhere to capture the N.L. pennant. In the mid-70s, led by stars like Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, the Phils captured three straight Eastern Division crowns but were turned away in the NLCS each year from 1976-1978. They finally won the franchise's elusive first World Championship in 1980.