1964 was supposed to be a great year for the Phillies. They already saw a no hitter from Jim Bunning and they were in the clear to take the division. Well with a 6 1/2 game lead, they blew the last 12 games to miss the playoffs. Known as the “Phold,” this was originally the worst collapse until 2007 when the Mets choked worse than this team.
They couldn’t ask for a better season from Bunning, who went 19-8 with a 2.63 ERA that year. Chris Short also helped Bunning support the pitching. They even got some help from third baseman Dick Allen, who had an excellent rookie season. Manager Gene Mauch knew this team was going to win it’s first world championship.
Starting on September 21, the Phillies went on a ten game losing streak, and the Cincinnati Reds went on to win nine in a row. The turning point in that September 21 game was when Chico Ruiz stole home in the bottom of the 6th inning. The game ended with a Reds victory of 1-0. This began the Phillies 10 game slide.
The crucial series came when Phillies were in 2nd place. They traveled to St. Louis to play the Cardinals after their losing home stand. They dropped the first game of the series to Bob Gibson by a 5-1 score, their eighth loss in a row, dropping them to third place. The Cardinals would sweep the three-game set and assume first place for good. The Reds would catch up and tie the Phillies for second, winning thanks to a tie breaker.
In an interview with the NY Post back in 2007 about the Mets collapse, Bunning talked about his collapse: “The one thing we never got in ’64,” Bunning said, “was the one performance, the one big hit, the one huge pitching performance that could have stopped the bleeding.”
It’s an image that only a few still remember. Like many of the other bad moments in Phillies history, this wiped out by the 2 world championships won in 1980 and 2008.