1964 Phillies: The Pennant Was Stolen!

This article was written by Clem Comly

This article was published in the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies essays


It isn’t hard to believe that during 1965 spring training manager Gene Mauch had the Philadelphia Phillies practice defending the steal of home. The team was a victim of the play on three different occasions down the stretch in the 1964 pennant race.It isn’t hard to believe that during 1965 spring training manager Gene Mauch had the Philadelphia Phillies practice defending the steal of home. Chico Ruiz’s eight-year career peaked in his rookie season when he stole home in the sixth inning with two outs and Frank Robinson at bat for the game’s only run versus the battery of Mahaffey and Dalrymple. This was on September 21, 1964, the first game of the Phillies’ disastrous ten-game losing streak.

But there was more to it than that. On Saturday, September 19, the Phillies played 16 innings in Los Angeles. The Phillies had to be tired. Their last offday had been in August. They were almost finished a road trip itinerary of Phila.-SF-Hou.-LA-Phila. with no travel days. Jack Baldschun, in his third inning of work, got two quick outs but then gave up a Willie Davis single. Davis stole second on Baldschun and Dalrymple. That let Mauch order an intentional walk for Tommy Davis. With Ron Fairly up, Baldschun threw a wild pitch, moving up the runners. Mauch brought in September call-up lefty Morrie Steevens to pitch to Fairly. Willie Davis won the game with a walk-off steal of home. The Phillies were in the beginning of a 1-12 slump.

Let’s move forward to the night after Ruiz’s dash, September 22. Chris Short had loaded the bases with one out, but got Vada Pinson to ground into a force out, knocking in the game’s first run and moving Pete Rose to third base. Frank Robinson, the once and future MVP, stepped to the plate. Rose and Pinson pulled off a double steal as Triandos threw the ball into center field. The proud Robinson stepped back in and took Short downtown for a 4-0 lead; the Phillies’ losing streak was at two. If the Phillies had gotten an out on the double steal, Short would have escaped the inning down only one.

So three critical successful steals of home and Philadelphia finished one game out.

CLEM COMLY (1955-2014) was a SABR member for more than 30 years and longtime co-chair of the Statistical Analysis Committee. He was vice president and treasurer of Retrosheet, the organization’s Cy Young of play-by-play translation and computer input. He was also a contributing editor to several SABR publications, including “Sweet ’60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.” He was an inveterate trivia buff and helped create and vet questions for the contests at the last several annual SABR conventions.

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