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1964 – Year of the epic collapse: The History about Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies were booming with optimism at the start of their 1964 season. After a long era of dismal teams, it seemed that the Phillies were finally ready to field a club that was worthy of special accomplishments.

Between 1958 and 1962, the Phillies had finished four straight times in last place and once in seventh. They hadn’t been in the first division since 1955. In 1961, they had lost an all-time record 23 straight games. Now, after climbing to fourth place the previous year, it was time to move up and become a legitimate contender.

That is exactly what happened. For 150 games. And then the bottom dropped out, creating one of the worst collapses in baseball … and sports … history. It was a Philadelphia cultural disaster that even now, 50 years later, has not and can not be forgotten.

With 12 games left to play in the season, the Phillies were running away with the National League pennant. They had a 6 1/2 game lead, and World Series tickets were being printed.

How could a team not win the pennant with that kind of lead? The Phillies found a way. They lost 10 straight games, toppled out of first place, and blew what would’ve been the Phils’ first pennant since 1950.

Before that, it had been a spectacular season. The Year of the Blue Snow, it was being called, because everything was going just right. Big crowds would come to Connie Mack Stadium nearly every game, ultimately reaching a then-club record 1,425,891 for the season.

This was a team full of outstanding players. It had Dick Allen, Johnny Callison, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, Wes Covington, and Clay Dalrymple in the starting lineup. Cookie Rojas was an excellent utility player. And Jim Bunning, Chris Short and Art Mahaffey in the starting rotation and Jack Baldschun in the bullpen anchored a superior pitching staff.

During the season, there were plenty of highlights.

Bunning, obtained in a trade and en route to a 19-win season, pitched a perfect game on Father’s Day, the first perfect game thrown during the regular season since 1922.

Callison, who would finish with 31 home runs and 104 RBI, hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the National League a 7-4 victory in the All-Star Game. And Allen hit .318 with 29 home runs, and would later be named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

“We really had a good team,” Allen said many years later. “It was probably one of the best I ever played on. We played well all season until the end.”

The Phillies had a master strategist as a manager. Gene Mauch, who had taken the reigns in 1960, made moves that had never been seen before. Some said the skipper with the hot temper overmanaged. But the Little General, as he was called, always seemed to be one move ahead of the opposition.

There were, of course, some shortcomings. The club had no regular shortstop, alternating Ruben Amaro and Bobby Wine. During the season, the Phils used nine players at first base, finally acquiring Frank Thomas, who immediately went on a tear, but then broke his thumb and missed the rest of the campaign.

Throughout the season, 39 different players, 18 of them pitchers, appeared in at least one game.

The Phillies opened the season with a 5-3 win over the New York Mets. At the end of April, they had won 10 of 12 games and were in first place by one game. Through the next two months they were never lower than second except for one day in early May. At one point, the Phils broke Juan Marichal’s 12-game winning streak with a 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

From June 13 through July 9 the Phillies won 19 of 26 games, including Ray Culp’s one-hit, 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Then a 13-3 streak put them four games ahead on Aug. 15. Two weeks later, during a run that featured Covington’s six RBI with two homers and a double in a 12-9 decision over the Milwaukee Braves, the lead was up to seven and one-half games after Mahaffey blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-0.

On Sept. 1, Callison, Covington, and Thomas all homered in the seventh inning to lead the Phils to a 4-3 win over the Houston Colts.

On the morning of Sept. 20, the Phils’ record was 90-60 and they led by 6 1/2 games. The next seven games were at home. A flag was about to fly at 21st and Lehigh.

Or so everybody thought.

Then on Sept. 21, Cincinnati’s Chico Ruiz did the unthinkable … he stole home with two outs and Frank Robinson at the plate. It gave the Reds a 1-0 victory over the Phils and Mahaffey.

In the next game, the Reds pounded Short to take a 9-2 victory. Vada Pinson followed that with two home runs to give the Reds a 6-4 win. A day later, the Braves beat Bunning, 5-3, with the help of Joe Torre’s three RBI.

Two more losses to the Braves followed. Then on Sept. 27 in their final game of the homestand the Phillies fell out of first place and were replaced by the Reds after getting trounced by Milwaukee, 14-8, despite three home runs by Callison.

“Deep inside, I didn’t really think we’d lose,” Bunning recalled. “I kept thinking, ‘Are you kidding? We can’t blow this. It’s got to stop. All we need is to win a couple of games.’”

The Phillies hoped their luck would improve as they began a road trip. But a change of scenery didn’t matter, and they crashed to third place after a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals and Bob Gibson. A 4-2 defeat at St. Louis followed, and then to add insult to injury, the Phillies lost to former Phil Curt Simmonds and the Cards, 8-5, for their 10th straight loss.

The streak was finally over. While it existed, Mauch had started Bunning and Short each three times and Mahaffey and Dennis Bennett each twice. Despite being highly criticized over the years for using each starter with three days rest, Mauch had little choice since the other starter, Culp, was injured and couldn’t pitch.

The Phillies, though, weren’t out of the race yet. After a day off, they beat the Reds, 4-3, as reliever Ed Roebuck got the win. Another off day followed. The Phils trailed both the Reds and Cardinals by one game. If they could beat Cincinnati in the final game of the season, and the Mets beat the Cardinals, the first three-way tie in history would result.

The Phillies did their part by trouncing the Reds, 10-0, as Allen homered twice and drove in four runs and Bunning fired a six-hitter. But the Cardinals beat the Mets, 11-5, to clinch the pennant. The Phils and Reds tied for second with 92-70 records.

That ended the most calamitous season in Phillies history and sent an entire city into a state of shock.

“It was,” Callison remembered years later, “the worst disappointment I ever had. It was such a great year otherwise. I never saw any other team that was as together as much as that one. Everybody pulled for everybody else. Everything we did was right until the last 12 games.”

Then the Blue Snow turned into mud. And it would be another dozen years before the Phillies would return to the land of pennant contenders.

Phillies’ 10 ­game losing streak in 1964

Sept. 21 (90­-60, +6.5)

Reds 1, Phillies 0: Yes, Chico Ruiz steals home, with two outs and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson at bat, and the Phillies are shut out by John Tsitouris (in the final game of the season, the Phillies score 10 runs against Tsitouris and six relievers, about two weeks too late). It’s the seventh straight one­-run game the Phillies have played, of which they’ve won only two. The Phillies leave eight men on base, including pinch-­runner Adolfo Phillips after Wes Covington’s leadoff double in the ninth. Dick Allen, whose double is the Phillies’ only other extra­ base hit, is out trying to stretch it into a triple in the third. Art Mahaffey is the hard­-luck loser.

Sept. 22 (90­-61, 5.5)

Reds 9, Phillies 2: The Phillies start accepting World Series ticket request. By the next morning, there are more than 50,000 at the post office. Pete Rose steals home on a double steal, again with Frank Robinson batting. Then Robinson homers to finish a four­run third off Chris Short, and it’s 6­0 before the Phillies finally score after 19.1 innings without a run. Phillies reliever Ed Roebuck hits Ruiz in the eighth and Ruiz, leading 9­1, steals second. Jim O’Toole throws the Reds’ second straight complete game.

Sept. 23 (90­-62, +4.5)

Reds 6, Phillies 4: No steals for Chico Ruiz, but he homers for the Reds’ first run in the fourth (it’s the second of his rookie season, and the last he’ll ever hit in the major leagues). Phillies take a 3­2 lead into the seventh, but the Reds knock out starter Dennis Bennett with two singles. Pete Rose’s RBI single off Ed Roebuck ties the game, and Vada Pinson’s three­run homer unties it. Reds manager Dick Sisler, a hero of the Phillies’ 1950 Whiz Kids pennant, goes to his bullpen for the first time in the series and Sammy Ellis, 23, fans five Phillies in the final three innings. Sisler became Reds manager because Fred Hutchinson was stricken with cancer. Hutchinson, 45, returns for the final game of the season against the Phillies. He dies five weeks later.

Sept. 24 (90­-63, +3.5)

Braves 5, Phillies 3: Joe Torre triples twice and knocks in three runs, and winning pitcher Wade Blasingame throws seven shutout innings and has an RBI single as Milwaukee builds a 5­0 lead. The Philies use two walks, a wild pitch and three singles to score three times in the eighth, but reliever Chi­Chi Olivo fans Tony Gonzalez with two on to end the inning. Jim Bunning goes six innings in taking the loss.

Sept. 25 (90­-64, +3)

Braves 7, Phillies 5 (12): Phillies rally from two­run deficits in the eighth and 10th; Braves score twice in the 12th. Chris Short takes a 1­0 lead into the seventh when Denis Menke reaches on Clay Dalrymple’s catcher’s interference to start a two­run rally (a Dalrymple error in the 12th provides some symmetry and allows the Braves’ final run to score). Johnny Callison’s two-­run homer ties it in the eighth, and Dick Allen’s two-­out, two-­run, inside the park home run negates Torre’s two-­run homer in the 10th.

Sept. 26 (90­-65, +1.5)

Braves 6, Phillies 4: Alex Johnson homers in the first, the Phillies take a 4­0 lead in the second and Art Mahaffey pitches seven innings and turns a lead over to the bullpen. Bobby Shantz, 38, preserves it by working out of a bases­loaded, one out jam in the eighth but isn’t as fortunate in the ninth. Trailing 4­3, the Braves load the bases on two hits and an error; a triple by Rico Carty (Rookie of the Year runner-­up to Dick Allen) unloads them. The Phillies go down 1­2­3 in the bottom of the ninth vs. 43-­year-­old Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, knocked out of the rotation by his 5.29 ERA. It’s Spahn’s second save of the year and 27th career.

Sept. 27 (90­-66, +.5)

Braves 14, Phillies 8: Johnny Callison hits three home runs, but the Phillies need three or four more. They lead 3­2 after three, but Jim Bunning, starting on two days rest, gives up six runs in the fourth. Reliever Dallas Green doesn’t fare much better, giving up four more runs in the fifth. By the time Callison hits his first home run, the Braves lead 12­3; it’s 14­4 when Callison hits his second. In the ninth, the Phillies need a touchdown and two­point conversion. It’s 14­6 when Callison hits his last homer of the day and season. When the game ends, the Phillies fall out of first place for the first time since the morning of July 16, 73 days earlier. They do not return to it this late in the season for more than a decade, until the National League has gone from 10 teams to 12, one division to two, and it takes winning the NLCS to win the pennant.

Sept. 28 (90­-67, -­.5)

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: Chris Short starts on two days rest and doesn’t fare any better than Bunning, failing to finish the sixth inning. The Cards nick Short for runs in the second, fourth and sixth, which is plenty for Bob Gibson, who throws a five-­hitter through eight. The Phillies start 22-­year-­old rookie Costen Shockley at first base for the first time since injured Frank Thomas was acquired in July. Shockley, who hit 36 homers in AAA, singles once in four at­-bats and doesn’t play again until he pinch­-hits in the 10­0 season finale. He’s traded after the season for Bo Belinsky, hits .187 for the Angels in 1965 and never plays in the majors again.

Sept. 29 (90-­68, -­1.5)

Cardinals 4, Phillies 2: Dennis Bennett starts, his arm sore, and can’t finish the second inning. Manager Gene Mauch brings in Ed Roebuck, usually a late-­inning specialist, in the second, and the Phils close to 3­2 on a two­-run Gus Triandos pinch-­single in the fourth. But the Phils don’t score again, Bill White homers in the sixth and Cardinal starter Ray Sadecki wins his 20th of the season. Johnny Callison, too sick to start, singles as a pinch-­hitter in the seventh and stays in the game. The Cardinals don’t object when Callison dons a windbreaker, in violation of baseball rules. The ailing Callison is unable to zip up his jacket, so White does it for him. After the season, Bennett is traded to Boston for good-­hit, poor-­fielding first baseman Dick Stuart.

Sept. 30 (90­-69, ­-1.5)

Cardinals 8, Phillies 5: Jim Bunning starts again on two days rest and gives up two in the second (a Tim McCarver homer), two in the third and two more in the fourth before Bobby Locke relieves him and gives up two more. It’s 8­0 Cards after four, and that’s more than enough for former Whiz Kid Curt Simmons, who pitches into the ninth. The Phillies get the tying run to the on­ deck circle before rookie Gordie Richardson gets his first big­ league save. Bunning, who was 18­5 before the streak, falls to 18­8; his 18th win at Los Angeles on Sept. 20 is still, 10 days later, the most recent Phillies win.

Postscript

The day after the Phillies’ 10th straight loss is their first off day in more than a month. Their last previous day off was the last day of August. They are 2.5 games behind the first­ place Cardinals (92­67) and 1.5 games behind second­-place Cincinnati (91­68), which beats the Cubs on Oct. 1 to make it a 2 game lead. The Phillies (90­70) have two games left at Cincinnati; the Cards have three games remaining with the last­ place Mets (51­108). If the Phillies sweep the Reds, and the Mets sweep the Cards, the top three teams will be tied for first. Sure enough, the Phillies score four runs in the eighth inning on Oct. 2, tying the game on a Dick Allen triple and taking the lead on Alex Johnson’s single to beat the Reds 4-3.

The losing streak is over. The Mets beat the Cards and Bob Gibson 1­0 on Al Jackson’s five-­hitter. On Saturday, the Mets beat the Cards again, 15­5, while the Phils and Reds are idle. The Cards and Reds are tied, and the Phillies trail both by a game with one to play. The Phillies catch the Reds and thrash them 10­0 on the season’s final day, as Allen homers twice and Bunning, back on three days rest, wins his 19th.

The Mets lead the Cards, 3­2 in the fifth. But the Cards rally to score three times in the fifth and sixth innings, Gibson pitches four innings of relief on a day’s rest, and the Cards win the game 11­5 and the NL pennant. The Phillies and Reds tie for a second, a game back.

What was the original name of the Philadelphia 76ers? History of Philadelphia 76ers

The Question: How did the Philadelphia 76ers get their name?

Ans: The simple answer is that the name comes from the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776.

The more fascinating answer is that the team was set up in 1939 as the Syracuse Nationals. In 1963, the Syracuse Nationals were purchased by Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman, both of whom belonged to Philadelphia. A contest was held to change the name of the team, and the winner was Philadelphia 76ers.

The team is often referred to as the Sixers. The ownership has since passed hands. In April 2016, there was news of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith obtaining a majority stake in the team. Josh Harris had been the majority owner since 2011, leading a group of investors including erstwhile CEO of Memphis Grizzlies, Jason Levien.

History of Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers, American expert ball group situated in Philadelphia. The establishment has won three National Basketball Association (NBA) titles (1955, 1967, 1983) and has progressed to the NBA finals on nine events. Regularly alluded to just as the Sixers, the group is the most established establishment in the NBA and is named for the 1776 marking of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

The group was established in 1939 in Syracuse, New York, as the Nationals yet maybe was otherwise called essentially the Nats. The Nationals initially were an autonomous group, unaffiliated with any expert ball class, yet in 1946 they joined the National Basketball League (NBL). In 1949 the NBL converged with the Basketball Association of America to frame the NBA, and the Nationals lost the inaugural NBA finals to the Minneapolis Lakers. After another finals misfortune in 1954, the establishment won its first title the accompanying season, behind the stellar play of forward-focus Dolph Schayes.

Regardless of never missing the postseason in their 14 years in the NBA, the Nationals were not a gainful group, and in 1963 they were sold, migrated to Philadelphia (which the Warriors had deserted for San Francisco in 1962), and renamed. Halfway through the 1964– 65 season, the 76ers exchanged for focus Wilt Chamberlain—potentially the most overwhelming b-ball player ever. Amid the 1966– 67 season, drove by Chamberlain and a solid supporting list that included protect Hal Greer and forward Billy Cunningham, the 76ers posted the then-best consistent season record allied history (68– 13; outperformed five years after the fact by the Los Angeles Lakers, which was thusly bested by the 1995– 96 Chicago Bulls) and won their second NBA title. The 76ers’ mentor, Alex Hannum, left the group after the 1967– 68 season to work nearer to his family on the West Coast, and a despondent Chamberlain requested an exchange. He was sent to the Lakers in the off-season, and the group neglected to progress past the first round of the postseason in every one of the following three seasons.

The Sixers’ descending winding proceeded through the mid 1970s, and they achieved a noteworthy low when they completed the 1972– 73 season with a record of 9– 73. After an arrival to the play-offs and another first-round exit in 1976, the Sixers chose to spend their way back to respectability, paying $3 million to the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association to obtain Julius (“Dr. J”) Erving before the 1976– 77 season. In his first year, Erving drove the 76ers to the NBA finals, where they would lose to the Portland Trail Blazers in six amusements. The Sixers met all requirements for the play-offs in every one of Erving’s 11 years in Philadelphia, which included three more outings to the NBA finals. The most important of these postseason billets occurred after the 1982– 83 consistent season. That Sixers group was overpowering to the point that inside Moses Malone ensured an undefeated postseason keep running before the play-offs started. Philadelphia nearly satisfied Malone’s strong articulation, losing just a single play-off diversion in transit to catching the group’s third NBA title.

In 1984 the 76ers drafted forward Charles Barkley, who turned into the substance of the group in the wake of Erving and Malone left Philadelphia later in the decade. A stellar individual entertainer, Barkley neglected to lead the 76ers profound into the postseason amid his opportunity in Philadelphia, and—after his exchange to the Phoenix Suns in 1992—the Sixers entered revamping mode.

Philadelphia encountered a group record seven-year play-off dry spell from the 1991– 92 season to the 1997– 98 season, however the play of youthful hotshot Allen Iverson surprised the alliance and resuscitated the establishment. Iverson drove the 76ers to the 2001 finals, yet the establishment lost to the Lakers for a fifth time in the NBA’s title arrangement. Iverson was exchanged away in 2006, and the 76ers entered the 2010s amidst a time of predominately normal play, regularly completing their seasons with winning rates around .500. In 2011– 12 a youthful 76ers squad completed the lockout-abbreviated standard season with a 35– 31 record to win the eighth and last Eastern Conference play-off spot. Philadelphia at that point turned into the fifth eighth seed in NBA history to annoy a best seed when the group crushed the Chicago Bulls in six diversions. The group neglected to benefit from its play-off energy the accompanying season and came back to its then-late pattern of average play.

The Sixers contracted Sam Hinkie as general administrator amid the 2013 off-season, and he founded a radical remaking design. As opposed to endeavor to handle the most ideal group each season, he concentrated on a long haul technique that saw the group get various draft picks in exchanges and draft harmed players who might not quickly enhance the 76ers but rather who could end up being takes once they mended. Hinkie’s quirky approach prompted Philadelphia’s getting to be one of the most exceedingly terrible groups in the class, as confirm in the squad’s tying the NBA record for back to back misfortunes (26) amid the 2013– 14 season. After three straight periods of unavoidable losses—including a 10– 72 record in 2015– 16—Hinkie surrendered from the group, and the 76ers started a more conventional reconstructing program.

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