1964 Phillies: Building the not-quite-perfect beast

By Jim Sweetman

This article originally appeared in "The Year of the Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies" (SABR, 2013), edited by Mel Marmer and Bill Nowlin.

The 1964 Phillies were the handiwork of two general managers, Roy Hamey and John Quinn. Hamey laid the groundwork during his tenure from 1954 through 1958. But it was Quinn, hired in January of 1959, whom owner Robert Carpenter allowed to greatly transform the team. Compared to current-day general managers, both Hamey and Quinn had limited options in trying to assemble a successful roster.

Though they lacked such modern tools as an amateur draft that drew from high-school, college, and amateur team rosters (which began in 1965), and free agency for veteran players (which started in 1975), Hamey and Quinn put together a winning team using the means at their disposal. When confronted with the age-old choice between bringing in new players as amateurs or acquiring more established players from other teams, the two GMs did both. As a result, the 19 regular players who made up the core of the 1964 Phillies were a fairly even mix of players developed in-house and those with experience with other clubs.

In 1964 most new players entering a team’s development system were usually amateur free agents – players who had not yet signed with another club. On the 1964 Phillies, nine regulars came to the team in this manner, including Dick Allen, Chris Short, and Rick Wise. Once signed, players typically spent several years with various minor-league teams associated with the major-league club. The Phillies who came up through the system averaged about 4⅓ seasons in the minors, ranging from Wise’s 12 games at Bakersfield, in the California State League (Class A), to Dallas Green and Bobby Wine’s six seasons on the farm.

Teams sometimes offered signing bonuses to amateur players when there was competition for their services, but the exact terms of the bonuses were not always made public. Two Phillies regulars signed for publicly-reported bonuses well in excess of the $14,863 that the average major leaguer made in 1964: Ray Culp was given $100,000 to sign, and Dick Allen was given $70,000. In addition, Art Mahaffey signed for a “standard” $4,000 bounty, while Chris Short received a signing bonus for an amount that was never made public.

By the late 1950s, concern by team owners over the size of signing bonuses had led to a series of steps that attempted to constrain them. At the 1958 winter meetings, baseball’s owners instituted the First-Year Player Draft.

Under the rules of this draft, teams could protect a limited number of major-league and minor-league players (39 in the first year of the draft.) Major-league teams then had an opportunity to select from a minor-league team any unprotected player who had completed one year in Organized Baseball, provided that the selecting team paid a fee to the player’s original team and kept him on the major-league roster. The Phillies took advantage of this draft to acquire two 1964 regulars: Jack Baldschun, who was chosen from the Cincinnati system in the 1960 draft, and Clay Dalrymple, who was taken from Milwaukee in 1959. Rick Wise’s short minor-league tenure was due to the fact that the Phillies had to keep him on their major-league roster in 1964 to protect him from being drafted by another team.

Because players of this era were tied to their clubs by the reserve clause, teams looking to acquire a player from another team’s protected roster had to work out a trade with the other team or an outright purchase of the player’s contract.

Seven 1964 Phillies regulars came to the team via trade: Ruben Amaro, Jim Bunning, Johnny Callison, Wes Covington, Tony Gonzalez, Cookie Rojas, and Tony Taylor,. These players were a mix of major-league veterans, like Bunning, who had spent seven seasons in the Detroit Tigers’ rotation, and Roy Sievers, a 15-year veteran; and rookies like Callison and Gonzalez. One Phillies regular came to the team via a straight sale of his contract: Ed Roebuck, who was purchased from the Washington Senators.

Major leaguers could become free agents if they were released by the team that controlled their contract, but none of the 1964 Phillies came to the team in this manner.

The table below summarizes how the Phillies acquired their nineteen 1964 regulars.1

 

Table 1: Origins of 1964 Phillies Regular Players

Player Acquisition
Date
Acquisition
Method
Acquisition
Source
Dick Allen 1960 Amateur Free Agent  
Ruben Amaro 12/03/58 Trade St. Louis
Jack Baldschun 11/28/60 First Year Player Draft Cincinnati
Dennis Bennett 05/07/58 Amateur Free Agent  
Jim Bunning 12/05/63 Trade Detroit
Johnny Callison 12/09/59 Trade White Sox
Wes Covington 07/02/61 Trade Kansas City
Ray Culp 06/06/59 Amateur Free Agent  
Clay Dalrymple 11/30/59 First-Year Player Draft Milwaukee
Tony Gonzalez 06/15/60 Trade Cincinnati
Dallas Green 1955 Amateur Free Agent  
John Herrnstein 12/02/58 Amateur Free Agent  
Art Mahaffey 06/29/56 Amateur Free Agent  
Ed Roebuck 04/21/64 Contract Sold Washington
Cookie Rojas 11/27/62 Trade Cincinnati
Chris Short 06/14/57 Amateur Free Agent  
Roy Sievers 11/28/61 Trade White Sox
Tony Taylor 05/13/60 Trade Cubs
Gus Triandos 12/05/63 Trade Detroit
Bobby Wine 1957 Amateur Free Agent  
Rick Wise 06/16/63 Amateur Free Agent  

 

How does the makeup of the 1964 Phillies compare to their rivals? Looking at the two teams they fought for the pennant – St. Louis and Cincinnati – they look quite similar.

The Cardinals’ origins largely mirror those of the Phillies, as shown in Table 2. The differences were that St. Louis did not utilize any players chosen through the First-Year Player Draft, while Philadelphia did not use any major-league free agents.

The Cardinals’ former free agent was, ironically, Curt Simmons, who was released by the Phillies. After the Phils cut him loose in 1960, Simmons was signed by St. Louis, where he earned nearly 70 wins over parts of seven seasons, including 18 in 1964. His record against his former mates was 19-6. He defeated the Phillies four times in 1964.

The Reds had a few more players acquired by sale and fewer brought in by trade. Overall, though, their roster shows a balance of players developed in-house and those who began their development elsewhere, not unlike the Phillies and Cardinals.

 

Table 2: Makeup of Rosters of 1964 NL Pennant Contenders

  Phillies Cardinals Reds
Amateur Free Agents 9 8 10
Major League Free Agents 0 1 1
First Year Player Draft 2 0 0
Trade 9 9 7
Sale 1 1 3

 

The one significant difference among the teams was the major-league experience of the players they traded for or acquired through purchase. Although all three clubs acquired a mix of veterans and rookies, the Phillies and Cardinals acquired more veterans. While Philadelphia brought in players with an average of 4.1 years as a major-league regular and the Cardinals brought in players with 3.9 years of major-league experience, the players acquired by the Reds had just 2.0 years as a regular. The Reds apparently put a slightly lower premium on players with major-league experience.

With fewer options in 1964 for putting together a major-league roster, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the three teams with such similar records were constructed in the same manner. Apparently, baseball’s unwritten rule book – the one that tells managers which players to use in certain situations – also contains a chapter or two for general managers.

JIM SWEETMAN’s paternal great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland to work in the shipyards in Bristol, Pennsylvania, in the late 1800s, establishing the family’s affinity for Philadelphia baseball. He remains a lifelong Phillies fan, despite growing up on the edge of the New York media market in central New Jersey and living for the past 25 years just outside Washington, D.C. Since 1994, he’s operated www.broadandpattison.com, a website providing daily slices of Phillies history, for which he has conducted extensive reviews of contemporary press accounts. He holds Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees from Rutgers University and an MBA from James Madison University. He is a senior official with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he manages efforts to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs, primarily those dealing with information technology.

 

Notes

1 For the purposes of this article, a regular player is a position player who appeared in 80 games for his team in 1964, or a pitcher who appeared in 25 games.