This article was written by Andrew Milner
This article was published in the The National Pastime: From Swampoodle to South Philly (Philadelphia, 2013)
The 1964 Phillies enjoyed a six-and-a-half game lead in the National League with 12 games left in the season, proceeded to lose 10 in a row, and surrendered the pennant to the St. Louis Cardinals. The closing two weeks of the 1964 regular season inflicted psychic baseball wounds which began to heal after the Phillies’ 1980 world championship and have faded with the passing decades and recent string of Phillies successes, (which began with the 2007 Phillies overcoming a seven-game deficit late in the season).
This article looks at the minds of Phillies fans in the weeks leading up to the 1964 collapse. In the manner of G.H. Fleming’s The Unforgettable Season and Jean-Pierre Caillault’s A Tale of Four Cities, this story is told through contemporary newspaper accounts.
When you think of a baseball fan, the stereotype comes to mind: A noisy, pot-bellied guy, chest hair curling over a loud sports shirt, a torpedo-sized cigar in one hand and a six-pack in the other. He’ll roost on a taproom stool all night, telling you how Jimmy Foxx belted ’em out of Shibe Park, or arguing whether Tris Speaker, Joe DiMaggio or Willie Mays could go get the deep ball with more class.
That’s the old breed. It still flourishes, and Mr. R. R. M. Carpenter’s accountants are grateful. The Phils, however, are luring a New Breed which comes in more ornamental designs than the old model.
The new fan wears toreador pants, a “Go, Phils, Go” button attached to a frilly shirt, and smells of Arpege rather than Corona-Corona. Pennant fever has destroyed the reason of most of Philadelphia’s cupcake population. Chicks of all sizes and vintages are becoming wildly romantic about the Phils, of all people.
It is a little astonishing, as if Woody Allen suddenly began playing the hero in James Bond movies. Once the Phils were the objects of scorn, laughter and pity. Now they are cuddly, lovable, neat, fantastic and fab.
Nope, Connie Mack Stadium does not yet look like a run-down sorority house. If the Toreador Set is still in the minority, they are among the most intense loyalists in town. A word against John Callison will draw outraged screeches as fast—almost—as criticism of those furry cats from Liverpool, whatever their names are.
— Bulletin[fn]Sandy Grady, “Yes, Dear, the Phillies Are Cute and Cuddly,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 1, 1964, 51.[/fn]
You could look it up. Bunning is now 9–0 vs. the Mets and [Houston] Colts. He is 6–4 vs. the rest of the National League. That adds up to 15–4.
What that could add up to can only be guessed at, but Bernard Baruch might be needed to break it down to dollars and cents. It already includes a one-hitter—vs. the Colts—and a perfect game—vs. the Mets. It could add up to 20 wins. It could add up to a pennant. It could add up to the Cy Young Award. It could add up to the Most Valuable Player Award.
Before you know it, Jim Bunning will be able to write a check that can make a bank bounce.
— Daily News[fn]Larry Merchant, “Banking on Bunning,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 2, 1964, 47.[/fn]
The Phillies have reached the stage in their National League pennant quest where they win even when they lose.
That’s because the mathematics are all on the side of a front-runner when a flag race goes into its final stages. The league leader can lose games and still gain time unless the other contenders begin to move at a fast clip—which is exactly what the Phillies have been doing for the last week.
A week ago, a .500 pace by the Phillies in their remaining games meant that the Reds would have to play .622 baseball to take the pennant and the Giants would have to play .778 ball to do so. In this last week the Phillies have played .500 ball—worsening the position of both chief contenders because the Reds must now play .724 ball to win and the Giants .808 ball if the Phillies simply maintain that .500 gait.
— Daily News[fn]“Phils Have Calendar on Their Side,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 4, 1964, 50.[/fn]
Sure, I love the Beatles. But do you want to know something? I love the Phillies even better. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
— Daily News letter to editor[fn]Eileen, letter to the editor, Philadelphia Daily News, September 5, 1964, 7.[/fn]
Probably the only Philly fan in Philadelphia who doesn’t show signs of pennant fever is manager Gene Mauch.
“He never mentions the pennant,” said his brunette wife, Nina Lee. “He only talks about today’s ballgame, and winning that.”
Her comments come as no surprise to sportswriters, who have wondered privately if Mauch knew how to pronounce “pennant”—they’ve never heard him mention it, either.
But baseball fans who crowd into Connie Mack Stadium not only know the word, they know the chances of calling it theirs—they know that the Phillies have won 60 percent of their games so far this season, and that if they win half the remaining games, the nearest challenger will have little hope of copping the National League flag.
And they know if that happens, fans can plan on seeing the World Series open here Oct. 7.
Right before he leaves for the ballpark, Gene Mauch has his favorite food, hamburger, and then makes sure that jingling in his pocket with his change is a silver medal, his good luck piece ever since a Catholic friend presented him with it years ago.
“Of course we’re not superstitious,” said his friendly wife, smiling as she knocked on the wooden porch post enroute to seeing her visitor to the car.
“But wouldn’t it be terrific if we did win the Pennant?”
— Bulletin[fn]Eileen Foley, “Asks Wife of Phillies’ Manager: Pennant Fever…What’s That?” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 8, 1964, 60.[/fn]
I think the Daily News ‘Go Phillies Go’ banners on the opening day of the season had a lot to do with giving our team the spark to go out and win the pennant.
— Daily News letter to editor[fn]Leo O’Rourke, letter to the editor, Philadelphia Daily News, September 8, 1964, 35.[/fn]
To the editor of The Inquirer:
I just came out of the desert to read in an Egyptian newspaper that the Phillies are leading the National League!
To a life-long Phillies fan this was so impossible that I had the French translated for me by an expert and he said, “In first place by seven games.”
I still believe this is a trick, but even so it pleases me so much that I am going right out to the temples to pray to Isis, Ptha (sic), Hathor and Horus that this dream may continue through at least early October.
— Inquirer letter to the editor from James Michener[fn]James A. Michener, Luxor, Egypt, letter to the editor, “Dazed Author Seeks
Aid for Phils,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 8, 1964, 10.[/fn]
It would be a wonderful thing for baseball if the Phillies win the pennant because it took a phenomenon like the Mets to replace them in this land as a symbol of baseball’s culturally deprived.
It would be no less wonderful if they won it by six games— their present margin over the Giants, Reds and Cards—or by eight or 10 games, but it might be more wonderful if they won it by one or two. The Phillies are a team that has gotten to where it is by somehow getting one more run than the other guy, and that is how the race should go. The 1950 Phillies, to their everlasting credit, blew a bigger lead than the 1964 Phillies now have, prolonging the agony until the 10th inning of the last day of the season. In retrospect, that was their greatest triumph. THAT took talent.
— Daily News[fn]Larry Merchant, “Two Big Lumps—One is Sugar,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 9, 1964, 57.[/fn]
Collectively and individually, the amazing Phillies are rewriting a lot of pages in the baseball record book this year as they make a valiant run for their first pennant in 14 years. In the process, they also are setting a new all-time attendance record—having exceeded, this week, the old mark of 1,217,205 which had stood since the 1950 season of those unforgettable “Whiz Kids.”
This satisfying statistic indicates popular support for the Phillies unprecedented in their long history. In underscores, also, the need for a new and larger stadium to accommodate the growing throngs who would like to see their favorite baseball players in action on the home diamond.
If there ever was any question about Delaware Valley sports fans backing enthusiastically a winning baseball team, the doubts have now been effectively dispelled. The new attendance record provides an additional argument for expediting a spacious new stadium for Philadelphia, with plenty of parking space and convenient to public transportation.
— Inquirer editorial[fn]“Another Record for Those Phillies” (editorial), Philadelphia Inquirer, September 9, 1964, 34.[/fn]
I have been real nervous lately. Sharp-tongued, short-tempered. My old lady has been very nice about it, though. Oh, I haven’t escaped entirely unmarked. She hasn’t been that nice. A lump here, a lump there: about par for a married man.
I know what’s bugging me, but can’t do anything about it. You see, I’m a Phillies’ fan, yet I dread the thought of them winning the pennant—if they have to meet the Yankees in the World Series.
Too well do I remember the fiasco of 1950. I can still see those Yankees dashing around the bases and scoring runs like they were playing the Rover Boys. A traumatic experience, the head-shrinkers would call it. And, let’s face it, the same thing will happen again this year if the Phils and the Yanks meet in the Series.
No wonder people are starting to call me Shaky.
Forget it, Shaky, and think of how the Dodgers clobbered the Yanks in four last year. —Ed.
— Daily News letter to editor[fn]“Shaky Phils Fan Dreads the Yanks”(letter to the editor), Philadelphia Bulletin, September 10, 1964, 10.[/fn]
Don’t tell Gene Mauch the Cardinals are coming. Don’t remind him St. Louis is five games back and rumbling through the final two months like a buffalo stampede.
“The only club in the National League that can beat us is the Phillies,” Mauch said. “We did that tonight, and it ain’t gonna happen any more.”
The Cardinals got 20 hits and beat the Phillies, 10–5, last night in 11 weird innings, to snarl to within five games of the lead. It was a big game because the Giants had lost in the afternoon, and the Reds had lost at night, and a Phillies’ victory would have meant a seven-game lead over the world.
“They might be peeking back at us,” Cardinal third baseman Ken Boyer suggested, after getting three hits and driving in three runs, including the tying run with two out in the ninth inning.
“If they win it, they break it open. A seven-game pad would have been tough. Especially the way the schedule is.”
Mauch sneered at Boyer’s suggestion. “If I’m peeking back,” he said, after a closed-door clubhouse meeting, “and we get one more out in the ninth inning, then I’m looking back seven games in front.
“Anyway, I’d rather be peeking back, than peeking ahead.”
— Daily News[fn]Stan Hochman, “Mauch Says Phils’ Only Foe is Phillies,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 10, 1964, 52.[/fn]
Mayor James H.J. Tate more or less put the fate of the proposed stadium up to the Phillies Wednesday, stating if they did not win the pennant it would “seriously jeopardize” the sports bowl loan proposal.
“It will be a sad blow,” the Mayor said commenting on the possible double tragedy.
Barring the Phillies dropping from first place the Mayor said he expects the $25 million loan proposal to pass along with three other loans on the November ballot.
— Inquirer[fn]“Phillies Handed Stadium ‘Ball,’” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 10, 1964, 7.[/fn]
The St. Louis Cardinals are in second place and they are coming. It is hard to see the Phillies blowing the pennant to the Reds or Giants, because the Reds and Giants don’t seem interested enough, but it is not hard to imagine them blowing it to the Cardinals. The Cardinals are interested: they have won 13 of their last 16 games.
Down the stretch, the Cardinals have a few important things going for them, if a team five games out of first place on September 9 can have anything going.
They have their boss, Augie Busch. Busch recently fired general manager Bing Devine because the Cardinals weren’t high enough in the standings for him. In other words, he didn’t think Devine had done a good job of building a contender. No group of athletes has ever had a better chance to embarrass their boss, an incentive that’s almost unfair to the Phillies.
They have this penchant for late-season heroics. A year ago the Cardinals won 19 out of 20 to project themselves into the big picture.
They have the Phillies. The Cardinals beat the Phillies. They have beaten them 10 out of 14 already. Three of the four remaining games are in St. Louis.
And they have Ken Boyer. He’s nice, too.
— Daily News[fn]Larry Merchant, “RBI: Runs Boyered In,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 10, 1964, 53.[/fn]
Nobody knew the advantage of Chris Short’s victory over the Cardinals yesterday more than Big Magic.
Big Magic now says that the Phillies have a 92 percent chance of winning the National League pennant.
Big Magic said the Phillies probably will face the White Sox in the World Series.
If you are wondering about Big Magic it is a huge hunk of metal. It can’t go to its left. It couldn’t reach the right field wall at Connie Mack Stadium if it tried until 1984.
Big Magic is a computer, a Honeywell 1400 computer if you please. It is housed at the Franklin Institute.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had the computer attempt to figure the pennant winner,” said Al Polaneczky who feeds the computer with data cards once a day and gets the probabilities for the National and American League pennant races.
Big Magic’s daily diet consists of the remaining schedules of each club against every other club. It digests the data, then gives its daily probabilities.
“The method we are using is much the same as we follow in computing sales,” Polaneczky added. “We call it the Monte Carlo technique because we are actually gambling with data. The operation is well proven. It has a solid basis in mathematics.”
Gene Mauch hopes so.
— Daily News[fn]Frank Bilovsky, ”Computer Figures It’ll Be Phillies vs. White Sox,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 11, 1964, 35.[/fn]
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (UPI)—The Phillies were such prohibitive favorites in the legal bookmaking establishments here that no bets were being taken today on their chances of winning the National League pennant.
With the Phillies listed as “out,” so far as wagering was concerned, the odds-makers in their day-to-day line posted the St. Louis Cardinals at 10–1 and the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants at 20–1.
— Daily News[fn]“Las Vegas Takes Phils Off Boards,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 11, 1964, 53.[/fn]
NEW YORK (UPI)—An old-fashioned “quickie” World Series—the first since 1956 when New York and Brooklyn played their last subway series—will be in the offing this year if the Phillies face either the New York Yankees or the Baltimore Orioles.
The elimination of the travel days between games two and three and five and six should the series opponents represent cities 300 miles or less apart was announced yesterday by baseball commissioner Ford Frick. The travel days would remain part of the series schedule in the event of a series between the Phillies and the Chicago White Sox.
— Daily News[fn]“’Quickie’ World Series Likely,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 11, 1964, 55.[/fn]
It is a cinch who will be the hero, the darling of the masses, as the Phils whip down the stretch drive. Names such as Allen and Callison and Short and Bunning pale into triviality, compared to the true idol of World Series time.
The Most Valuable Player around Connie Mack Stadium is sure to be Frank (Everybody’s Friend) Powell.
Powell cannot throw, run or hit. He has a graying thatch, thick specs and a comfortable girth. For the next three weeks, however, he will be the most popular Phillie in captivity—his fan mail will make the Beatles look like anonymous nonentities.
Powell is in charge of World Series tickets. His old title was Director of Sales. His new title is Big Chief With Heap Big Headache And Not Enough Pasteboards.
“Our first thought is to make sure the real Phillie fans, the ones who supported the club all year, get a chance at World Series tickets,” said Everybody’s Friend. “With a park this small (roughly, 34,000 seats), it’s going to be a real problem. We could probably sell it out five times.”
Letters asking to reserve Series tickets have hit Powell’s desk at a 20–30-a-day clip since early in the year. A form letter goes back to each fan. The Phils will give the green light for customers Wednesday to shoot in Series orders. Prices, as last year’s, will be $12 tops.
— Bulletin[fn]Sandy Grady, “The Phils’ World Series Ticket Nabob: He Doesn’t Have an Enemy in the World… Yet!” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 13, 1964, 2 (sports section).[/fn]
WHAT COULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN SEEING THE PHILLIES WIN THE PENNANT?
(Watching them take the Series on RCA Victor Color TV!)
Phillies fans, this is your year. Callison won the All-Star Game. The Phils must win the pennant. And who can argue that they’ll win the Series in a climax? Your only problem is: how do you get to see the Series? Connie Mack stadium [sic] seats only 33,608 and maybe 2 million of us want “in.” The answer is: at least see it in living color. And that means RCA Victor Color TV, the finest color available. It’s the finest because RCA Victor has spent 10 years in pioneering and perfecting it. Your dealer can put you in front of a set for only $399.95.
It’s worth the price just to see the whole Series in color—but, as a bonus, you can figure that there are 51 other weeks in the year of other great color TV shows as well.
P.S.: If the Phils don’t win the pennant … (bite your tongue!) color TV will not become obsolete. In fact, seeing the World Series, the NCAA football games and your favorite programs in color may help make life almost bearable.
— Bulletin full-page advertisement
SAN FRANCISCO, SEPT. 14— There are 20 sports writers in the United States who must decide whether Jim Bunning, John Callison or Rich (Don’t call me Richie) Allen is the National League’s Most Valuable player [sic] and Bunning, Callison and Allen won’t cooperate.
All three keep behaving like MVPs, making it impossible to separate their contributions to the pennant that is growing in Philadelphia.
Yesterday, for instance, the Phillies moved a win and a day closer to the World Series and it was Bunning and Callison and Allen who did most of the moving in a wind-aided 4–1 victory over the Giants.
Bunning muzzled the Giants for ten innings, the best performance in a hurricane since Humphrey Bogart made Key Largo. Callison broke open the shivering tie with his single in the tenth. Allen’s two-run homer followed—just in time to prevent 35,305 cases of windburn.
It was no way to help a sports writer make up his mind.
Somebody asked Gene Mauch what he would do if he was a sports writer and—before they carried the guy out—Mauch said:
“To tell you the truth, I couldn’t cast a vote. I’d have to pass…”
— Bulletin[fn]George Kiseda, “MVP Election: Candidates Run a Hard Bargain,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 14, 1964, 39.[/fn]
Alvin Dark knows what made the Phillies tick like a time bomb.
Tick: Jim Bunning. Tick: Johnny Callison. Tick: Richie Allen. Boom.
Dark surveyed the wreckage of his battered pennant hopes yesterday after the Phillies whipped the Giants 4–1 in 10 innings.
Tick: Bunning pitched a gritty seven-hitter. Tick: Callison drove in the winning run with a single off lefthander Dick Estelle. Tick: Allen lashed a two-run homer off reliever Ron Herbel. Boom went the Giants, fluttering seven games back of the Phillies while the Cardinals stuck six games back.
“The Phillies couldn’t have won it without Bunning,” Dark said. “They couldn’t have won it without Callison, or without Allen.”
Not that Dark was running up the white flag. “The Phillies still have to win nine out of 19 to get to 95 games,” he said, and people wrote it down out of politeness.
— Daily News[fn]Stan Hochman, “Phils Time Bomb Ticks… Ticks… Ticks,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 14, 1964, 47.[/fn]
DEAR PHILLIES, ‘UNCLE’
YOURS TRULY, GIANTS
— San Francisco theater marquee in photograph, captioned, “BY DAY IN ’FRISCO— Theater owner in Giants home town concedes National League flag to Phils”(above a photo of marquee at Gimbel’s at 9th and Market in Philadelphia reading GO PHILLIES/WE’RE FOR YOU), Bulletin[fn]Philadelphia Bulletin, September 16, 1964, 69.[/fn]
The Phillies’ Magic Number is down to 12, which should mean things are getting better.
Big Magic, the Honeywell 1400 computer, sees it differently. It says the Phillies now have an 89 percent chance to win the pennant. The other 11 percent went to the St. Louis Cardinals in tests run this morning at the Computing Center of the Franklin Institute.
— Bulletin[fn]“Phils Flag Chances Rated at 89 Per Cent,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 16, 1964, 69.[/fn]
HOUSTON, Sept. 15.—The Phillies announced plans to accept World Series ticket applications Tuesday, then played like future champions as they took another stride closer to the National League pennant in their 1–0 night-game victory over the Houston Colts.
The second-place St. Louis Cardinals swept a twilight-night doubleheader with the Milwaukee Braves, reducing the Phillies’ league lead to six games. Nevertheless, this—their third win in a row—was an important triumph for the Phils.
It’s beginning to sound like a broken record, but it’s a fact—John Callison batted in the winning run. The star right fielder, making a strong bid for the Most Valuable Player Award, singled home Richie Allen, who had led off the sixth inning with a double, and that was all the scoring.
It was the third straight game in which Callison knocked in the winning run.
— Inquirer[fn]Allen Lewis, “Phils Score 1–0 Shutout At Houston,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1964, 1.[/fn]
Let’s be Phillies-sophical about it all…
How would this look at the Victory Ball?
Thirty days hath September but we need only four in October.
I’m the guy that picked them in spring training.
So what if it did take 14 years—it was worth it.
I can see it waving now.
They make me feel young all over.
— Captions of fan photos in a Ballantine Beer ad, Inquirer[fn]Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1964, 41.[/fn]
“This club,” (Vic) Power said, “we’re relaxed. When I was in Minneapolis, everybody was tense. Everybody was afraid of something, somebody. I don’t know who. Maybe the owner. I know it wasn’t the manager because he was a nice guy.
“This club is so relaxed—they’re always jumping around, they play the radio real loud, they make jokes.
“When I was in San Francisco last week, I was almost going crazy—the radio was going real loud, they were making jokes, everybody was ribbing everybody.
“This club don’t care about nothin’.”
— Bulletin[fn]George Kiseda, “Phillies ‘Shoot’ Holes in Pressure Theory,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 17, 1964, 37.[/fn]
This is the year for The Phillies. This is the time when the most thrilling sound in the air is the crack of a bat. This is the time when every baseball fan salaams his favorite star, rubs his rabbit’s foot and puts the double hex on every challenger. This is the time when you will want to decorate your den, office or club room with pictures of the 1964 Phillies players…
— Bulletin display ad
Through most of the 1934 season, the world champion Giants were virtually unopposed. On Sept. 7th, with three weeks to go, the Cardinals trailed by seven games. This was the old St. Louis Gas House Gang of Frisch, and Pepper Martin and Joe Medwick and Leo Durocher, with the Dean brothers, Dizzy and Paul, winning 49 games between them.
This was also the year Bill Terry, the Giants’ manager, asked at the wrong time and in the wrong tone: “Is Brooklyn still in the league?” On closing day the Cardinals led by one game, but in the ninth inning the Reds filled the bases against Dizzy with none out. Then the St. Louis scoreboard flashed the news: “Dodgers, 8; Giants, 5.”
Diz grinned and fired the high hard one. Two batters struck out. The third popped up. Dean had his 30th victory and the Cardinals had the pennant.
Is Gene Mauch, of the Phillies, listening? About three weeks ago the teams his club had to beat were Cincinnati and San Francisco. The Cardinals were fourth, 11 games off the pace.
A week ago Philadelphia’s lead was only five games, but it wasn’t the Reds or Giants who had closed the gap. The Cardinals were second, having made up six games in a fortnight.
They had almost a month to go. If they could pick up six more games in that space…
So far they haven’t done it. They were idle Thursday, six games back before the Phillies’ night game at Los Angeles. At that point each had 16 games to play. The Cardinals have five with the Mets, the Phils none with New York, Houston or Chicago.
Philadelphia starts the last week of the season with three night games in St. Louis, then finishes with a pair in third-place Cincinnati. After the confrontation with the Phillies, the Cards wrap it up at home with three shots against the Mets.
No, sorry. No forecasts, predictions, prophecies, prognosis or auguries.
— Inquirer[fn]Red Smith, “Phils Reminded of Those 1934 Giants,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 18, 1964, 48.[/fn]
WHICH OF THESE THREE FAMOUS PHILLIES MADE THE BIGGEST HIT?
Is it Jim Bunning, who hurled a perfect game?
Or Johnny Callison, who slashed the crucial homer in the all-star fracas?
Or is it the new Phillies Tip?
Phillies Tips, like the Phillies team, is on everybody’s lips.
— Display ad, Bulletin[fn]Philadelphia Bulletin, September 18, 1964, 33.[/fn]
The city, stricken with pennant fever these past few weeks, has now come down with a delightful new ailment—the World Series virus.
Nearly everybody, or so it seems, has been infected by the bug as the Phillies, with only two weeks of the season left, drive for their first National League pennant since 1950.
“Go Phillies Go!” is the battlecry in every neighborhood, in every nook and corner of the metropolitan area—and even beyond.
The slogan, or some variation thereof, shines forth from bedsheet banners, flags and pennants, and from billboards.
Fans shout it. Signs in store after store proclaim it.
Pretty girls stroll about wearing five-inch buttons emblazoned with:
“Go Phillies Go.”
On a billboard on the eastbound side on the Vine St. extension of the Schuylkill Expressway near the 22nd st. off-ramp, the regular Strawbridge and Clothier advertisement has been replaced with:
“All the way! PHILLIES”
And there’s a story behind a huge Phillies banner outside the rail division of the Transport Workers Union, 1630 Arch St.
A union spokesman said John Mellon, president, and his staff were half an hour late for a meeting with management. They apologized, saying something important had come up.
They didn’t explain, the spokesman said, that hanging the Phils’ banner was the “important business.”
Official Philadelphia is also getting ready to honor the Phillies and take care of the World Series crowds that will flock here, if the Phillies take the pennant.
Mayor Tate is forming a “host committee” to make Philadelphia’s hospitality available to visitors to the fullest extent.
The members, to be announced tomorrow, include persons from the business, sporting and entertainment world as well as civic groups.
Some kind of big rally or demonstration is planned for after the Series—if the Phillies get into it—win or lose, a spokesman for the mayor said yesterday.
“We’re highly gratified,” he said, “about the number of organizations which have called in wanting to cooperate. It’s an outpouring of enthusiasm for the Phillies.”
A similar tale was told by a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.
“A lot of people are talking about doing something spectacular,” he said, “but nothing definite has been decided yet.”
Another source indicated that the Phillies’ management would like the players to concentrate entirely on winning ball games from here on in, instead of taking part in celebrations.
But the fans’ enthusiasm is unbounded.
Three empty three-story buildings at 11th st. and Ridge av. are decorated from top to bottom with Phillies’ slogans.
“Swing and stay all the way with the Phillies” and “You did it before; you can do it again” are a couple of them.
The bedecked structures are just opposite the Mummers Bar at 1105 Ridge av., sponsors of the Phillies’ display.
The bar people plan to stretch a sign across Ridge av. from the bar to the buildings reading: “Go, Phillies, Go. 1964 World Champions.”
A slightly more staid but just as enthusiastic salute to the home team are the 30 flags stretched along Chestnut st. saying: “Fight, Phillies, Fight.”
“We’re going to keep them up until the Phils win the pennant,” said Jack Pearson, president of the Chestnut Street Association.
— Bulletin, front page[fn]Francis J. Burke, “Town Goes Wild as Phils Near Pennant; Innkeepers, Bars Ready for Series Crowds,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 20, 1964, 1.[/fn]
Bucky Hoffman has been waiting for 14 years to get his right arm tattooed to match his left arm.
It looks as if this might be the year.
In 1950, Bucky had “Fighting Phillies 1950” tattooed on his arm.
“I got that done about two hours after Roberts beat Newcombe,” he told me, when I found him tending bar, as he usually is, at the Mummers Bar at 11th st. and Ridge av. “I went right from Brooklyn into Manhattan and had it done.”
Bucky has the design for his other arm drawn on cardboard and tucked behind the bar. It confidently says, “Phillies World Champs 1964.”
It will also have Pike’s name on it. Pike is a regular customer and buddy, and he made the design.
“That’s the way he wants it on,” Bucky said, “and that’s what he’s gonna get.”
“We got about 300 more feet of flags to put up,” Willy Kramer, Bucky’s co-fanatic, told me. “We gotta paint the street some more. We’ve invited the Phillies team to have a party here. We’ll get permission to close off the street and have string bands.”
Bobby Searles and his wife came in, and he rolled up his sleeve to show me a tattoo which says, “Fighting Phillies.”
“I got mine in 1943,” he said. “I’m a rabid fan.”
“If they blow the pennant,” Bucky said in a moment of sober reflection, “I got my suitcase right here. I’m blowing town.”
“If they don’t win,” one patron warned sternly, “this is gonna be a parking lot here, bud.”
— Bulletin[fn]James Smart, “Go, Phillies! Bucky’s Arm is Waiting,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 20, 1964, 4.[/fn]
Neither the prospect of catching early morning school buses, trains after a few hours shuteyes, the chill weather nor the fickleness of chartered airline schedules dampened the crowd of 2000 Phillies fans who swarmed to International Airport early Monday morning to welcome their heroes home.
School children, collegians, and elderly fans, who have been hanging on every pitch for months, were darned if they were going to miss the chance to give their pennant-bound team a fitting welcome.
And as Mayor James H. J. Tate strode out to meet the team’s chartered American Airlines Boeing 707 Astro-Jet as it touched down at 12:30am, bedlam broke out in the airport’s second-floor concourse.
The packed crowd, which had been waiting since late Saturday night, feverously wiped the fogged-up plate-glass windows with handkerchiefs and coat-sleeves to better see their “boys.”
Schoolchildren who had been industriously working on their homework threw their books down and cheered lustily as Manager Gene Mauch led the team off the ramp.
Although pennants and signs were not in abundance the noise emanating from the concourse left little doubt as to where allegiances lay.
— Inquirer[fn]Dennis M. Higgins, “Tate and 2000 Greet Phillies After 3–2 Win Over Dodgers,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 1964, 1.[/fn]
The throng let out a lusty welcome at 12:30am. when the Phils, led by manager Gene Mauch, came own the ramp of the jet that had brought them from Los Angeles.
But the cheers quickly died as the Phils headed for the nearest exit.
Some fans, obviously “sign-stealers,” stationed themselves at exits where they could get a close up look at Rich Allen, Chris Short, Jim Bunning and others.
“Oh, they’re wonderful,” said Evelyn William, 35, a housewife, of 1724 N. Taney st.
“They’re marvelous,” commented Dorothy Falkenstein, of 234 Margate rd., Upper Darby.
Margie Connally, 19, of 235 Westmoreland ave., Hatboro, was breathless with joy.
But Mrs. Emma Bravo, 36, of 2308 Chestnut ave., Ardmore, wanted to know “Why they didn’t com[e] up that ramp where we all waited.” She came carrying a “Go Phillies Go” sign but left chanting “Down with the Phillies.”
Bruce Kesler, 13, of 1803 Glenifer st, had two “Go Phillies Go” buttons on his sweatshirt. Close to tears he said, “I haven’t missed a home game since July 28. I buy Phillies helmets, buttons, banners, everything with Phillies on it.
“But I didn’t get to see hardly any of them. And, now I don’t think I’ll go to any games any more—even the World Series.”
Even Bill Campbell, the radio announcer, caught a bit of the fans’ wrath. One guy yelled as Campbell walked by, “There’s another long ball that ain’t going nowhere.”
— Daily News[fn]Bill Malone, “Dashing Phillies Leave Fans Miffed,” Philadelphia Daily News, September 21, 1964, 3.[/fn]
Although the scent of World Series was in the air, some of the Phils are keeping their fingers crossed. Bunning was one.
“Don’t forget,” he warned, “we still have 12 games to play.”
“I wanted to come here tonight,” (Mayor) Tate said. “I wanted to extend my congratulations to the team and I’m hoping the pennant will be safe in Philadelphia by the weekend.”
Mrs. Cookie Rojas was happy but calm.
“Yes, Sir,” she said, “the way I see it we’ll have it clinched by Thursday night.”
— Bulletin[fn]“Phils, Orchestra Home in Triumph: League Leaders Are Greeted by 2,000 Fans,” Philadelphia Bulletin, September 21, 1964, 3.[/fn]
ANDREW MILNER is a freelance writer has written for the “SABR Review of Books,” “The Cooperstown Review” as well as “Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game.” He has contributed to “American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas” (2013), “Sports in America from Colonial Times to the Twenty-First Century” (2011) and the “St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture” (2000).