Pretty brutal 15-13 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night, though it was a pretty entertaining game. It also was a little bit of history, as the Phillies have racked up a W every time they’ve scored 13 or more runs since August 3, 1969.
So what happened that August afternoon in the Summer of ’69? The Phils took on the Reds in decrepit Shibe Park, playing out the string in a frustrating year, a year in which they would go 63-99. Facing them were the Cincinnati Reds. A month before this game, a Cincinnati Enquirer writer had introduced the phrase “Big Red Machine”, one that the team would adopt over the next decade. The Reds were on their way to becoming one of the great teams in National League history. They would finish 3rd in the NL East in 1969, but the foundation of their great 1970s run was set. Starting for the Reds that Sunday afternoon were Peter Rose, Tony Perez, and Johnny Bench.
On the hill for the Reds that day was veteran Camilo Pascual (aka “Little Potato”. Seriously.) He wouldn’t last long. Pascual was run off the mound in the first inning, having given up 3 runs while getting 1 out. In came “Fat” Jack Fisher. He wouldn’t last much longer. He was pulled in the bottom of the 3rd. Through 6 innings, the Reds 4 pitchers had given up 17 runs, all earned.
But the Phillies pitchers weren’t faring any better. Bill Champion lasted 2+ innings, then got pulled for Al Raffo, who have up 2 runs in one inning. Then, in the top of the 5th, the dam burst. The Reds went wild, racking up 10 runs, taking a 16-9 lead. Pete Rose had both a single and home run in the inning. Turk Farrell would surrender 6 runs for the Phils.
The Reds went up 18-9 in the top of the 6th, and you have to wonder how many of the 13,000 faithful in Shibe headed for the exits. But the Phils weren’t done. In the bottom of the 6th, the Phils scored 7, helped by a Tony Taylor grand slam. A Dick Allen solo shot in the bottom of the 7th closed the gap to 18-17, but then Wayne Granger came in for the Reds and shut the door. Bill Wilson, meanwhile, pitched the final 3 for the Phils and gave up only one run. The Phils got the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, but Ron Stone lined out to right, and the Reds escaped with a 19-17 shootout win. Turk Farrell took the loss for the Phillies. It was a well deserved loss, as he gave up 6 runs in 0.1 of an inning. Farrell would retire at the end of the season and move to England to work on an oil rig. Here’s the box score of that game.
RELATED: Phils beat Cubs, 23-22.
Friday night’s game isn’t the first time the Phillies have faced an all or nothing Game 5. It’s happened twice before, in back to back years. The 1981 Game 5 provided little drama (The Phillies lost to the Expos 3-0 in a strange NLDS Game 5, thanks to the strike that year.) But by far the most memorable Game 5 came at the end of what was, to the casual baseball observer, the most exciting postseason series the Phillies have ever been involved in. By far. Yeah, Phillies fans might prefer the 1980 World Series or the 2008 World Series, but to the true baseball connoisseur neither of those were half as exciting as the 1980 NLCS between the Phillies and the Astros.
After Steve Carlton won the first game, 3-1, the next three games all went into extra innings, including a Game 3 in which Astros starter Joe Niekro threw 10 shutout innings and still couldn’t get the win (The Astros won 1-0 in 11.) That win gave the Astros a 2-1 series lead.
In Game 4, the ‘Stros were up 2-0 with a mere 6 outs separating them from their first ever Series. The Astrodome was electric. But the Phillies big stars Schmidt and Rose came up with huge hits in the 8th, tying the game at 2. Then Manny Trillo, a Philadelphia legend and eventual MVP of the NLCS, hit a sac fly to give the Phils a 3-2 lead. But the Astros scored in the bottom of the 9th to tie it at 3. In the top of the 10th, back to back doubles by Luzinski and Trillo gave the Phils a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish, setting up a Game 5 that somehow was even more exciting than the previous 3 extra inning games. In fact, MLB Network ranked it as the 18th greatest MLB game of all time.
We tend to view history as an inevitability, but it’s a lot more fun when you try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who experienced it. Matt Stairs home run is not as exciting if we don’t remember the despair we were feeling just a few innings earlier, as a listless Phils team looked a lot like, well, the Phillies team we’ve seen in this years postseason thus far. Such was the case in Game 5 in 1980, as the Phils were down 5-2 with but 6 outs remaining, and pitching legend Nolan Ryan was on the mound. Things could not have looked more bleak. And remember, this was at a time when the Phillies had never won anything, and their fans were still feeling the painful effects of Black Friday. Surely, everyone in Philadelphia was already crying in their beer about another postseason gone down the drain.
But suddenly, they came to life. Three straight singles, followed by a Rose walk, and they had chased Nolan Ryan out of the game. Another run scored. Then with 2 outs pinch hitter Del Unser came in and hit a clutch single. And finally, the immortal Manny Trillo hit a triple, completeing the 5 run inning that saw the Phillies take a 5-2 deficit and turn it into a 7-5 lead. Once again, the Astros weren’t done. In the bottom of the 8th, they scored 2, and the game went into extra innings tied at 7. Del Unser hit a double in the 10th, then Gary Maddox brought him home with another double, and the Phils took an 8-7 lead. The Astros had no answer. Dick Ruthven shut the door on the Astros dreams of a World Series, and the Phillies went to their first Series since 1950. I’m not sure my heart can take a game that exciting tonight.
The most exciting chase in baseball right now is Derek Jeter’s chase of 3,000 hits. I am certainly not a Yankees fan, but I am appreciative of what is going on in New York. It’s been a few years since we had a real record to cheer for (I’m pretty sure Jeter didn’t do steroids) and 3,000 hits for one team is remarkable. Of the 27 players in the 3,000 hit club, only 12 players have hit 3,000 for one squad in history, and Jeter’s name will soon be mentioned in the same exalted breaths as those of Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, and Ty Cobb.
No player in Philadelphia has ever hit 3,000. Not for the Phillies or for the Athletics. To show you how impressive 3,000 is, consider this: Mike Schmidt was a very good hitter, he played in Philly for 18 years (playing in 140 or more games 13 times), and he is the Phils all time leader with 2,234. Not even close to 3,000. The most career hits by a member of the Philadelphia A’s is 1,827, set by the great Al Simmons. Furthermore, no player has ever gotten his 3,000th hit while a member of a Philadelphia team.
But that doesn’t mean that the city of Philadelphia hasn’t had a few brushes with greatness. One Philadelphia pitcher gave up a 3,000th hit, one gave up a 4,000th hit, and we almost had the 4,000 hit mark passed by two Philadelphia players. Furthermore, six members of the 3,000 hit club spent part of their careers in Philly. These are those players, plus the pitchers that gave up the milestones.
Pete Rose. (4,256 career hits. 826 with the Phillies). The Phils got a hold of Rose not long after #3,000. He would get 826 hits for the Phils over the next 5 years, leading the league in hits during the strike shortened 1981 season. He finished his Phils career with 3,990 hits. He would get his 4,000th hit against the Phils Jerry Koosman just 9 games into his tenure with the Expos in 1984.
Ty Cobb. (4,191 career hits. 289 with the Athletics). Yes, Cobb got 3,000 hits with the same squad (Detroit), but a lot of people don’t realize that he didnt end his career in the Motor City. He spent the last two years of his career in Philadelphia (pic of him in an A’s uniform above). And while no player has ever gotten his 3,000th hit while a member of a Philadelphia team, Ty Cobb did get his 4,000th hit while a member of the A’s. Ironically, that hit was recorded in Detroit against the Tigers. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. No mention of it was made in the papers.
Tris Speaker (3,514 career hits. 51 with the A’s) Not much to say about Speaker’s time with the A’s. Ty Cobb’s long time arch rival came to Philadelphia in the twilight of his career, strangely enough, to team up with Cobb. It was a failed experiment. Speaker suffered an injury in an outfield collision in May, played sporadically off the bench, and struck out in his final at bat on August 30th, 1928. Both the first and last games of his career were played in Shibe Park.
Cap Anson (3,418 career hits*. Maybe. Controversy about his total with the Athletics). Cap Anson was a racist jerkoff but a hell of a good baseball player, and he spent his formative baseball years in Philly. From 1872-1875, he was a member of the Philadelphia Athletics. (Not the Connie Mack-led team that is the forerunner of the Oakland Athletics, but the initial Philadelphia Athletics who were members of the American Association. We’ve written about them before). Stats were all kind of crazy back then, with walks counting as hits one year, batters requesting where they wanted the ball thrown, and pitchers throwing from a box. So while Cap Anson is credited with being the first ever member of the 3,000 hit club, nobody can honestly say they have any damn clue exactly how many hits he had. Plus the Majors until recently didn’t count National Association stats, so his stats for the Athletics previously didn’t count (they were in the NA, not the NL). But for some reason MLB reversed field, allowing NA stats. Anyway, who the hell knows how many hits Cap Anson had? And who cares? He was a certifiable a-hole who spent most of his career in Chicago anyways.
Eddie Collins. (3,315 career hits. 1,308 with the Athletics). Lalli wrote an excellent piece on Collins a few weeks ago. Not much to add, but how about this for consistency: for 5 years in Philly between 1910 and 1914, he hit between 181 and 188 hits each year. That’s a pic of him to the right. He wore a popped collar. What a douchebag.
Nap Lajoie. (3,242 career hits. 721 with the Phillies. 233 with the Athletics.) Once again, Lalli has beaten me to the punch, telling the ridiculous story of how the rivalry between the Phils and Athletics allowed the great Lajoie to slip out of town and become a superstar in Cleveland. Our deals with Cleveland never seem to pan out.
As for the only Philadelphia pitcher to surrender a 3,000th hit, that would be Erskine Mayer considered one of the greatest Jewish pitchers of all time. He surrendered #3,000 to Honus Wagner on June 9th, 1914 at the Baker Bowl.
On May 11th, 1980 the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The Phillies defeated the Reds 7-3 and the top of the 7th was a historical one. Pete Rose drew a leadoff walk against Reds reliever Mario Soto. With Bake McBride batting, Rose took advantage of the rare off day for Johnny Bench and stole second on catcher Don Werner. McBride grounded out to the left side for the first out of the inning. Then with Mike Schmidt batting, Rose took off and made it safely to third. Like John R. Finger who wrote about this game in 2009, I vividly remember watching the game, and unless my mind fails me, I clearly remember Rose, a former Red, talking trash when got to 3rd base.
Schmidt walked and set the stage for something that hadn’t happened in the National League since Jackie Robinson did it in 1954. Schmidt broke for second and when the throw went to through, Rose took off for home for the rare three stolen bases in a single inning.
Jayson Werth is the only Phillie to perform the feat since Rose, he did it practically 29 years to the day when he swiped three bags in one inning on May 12, 2009 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.