Gene Mauch’s 1964 Philadelphia Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead in the National League with 12 to play. They proceeded to lose 10 straight and were passed by eventual World Series victors St. Louis. If none of that sounds familiar, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi — the “fuckin’ retard” of Brett Myers fame — tracks down a few members of that doomed ballclub, looking for quotes about the ’07 New York Mets. (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
“I feel sorry for them; they’ve been in first place the whole year,” Tony Gonzalez, a starting outfielder on the ’64 Phils, said yesterday from his home in Miami. “And there’s a chance they won’t even get the wild card.”
I was through it in ’64 and wouldn’t want it to happen to anybody else,” he said. “No matter what you do, you keep falling down. The Mets scored nine runs the other day and still lost. Their bullpen was the best in the league earlier in the year, and now they can’t get anybody out. The same funny things happened to us in ’64. . . .
“[Johnny] Callison hit three homers in a game, and we still lost. Chico Ruiz and Willie Davis stole home to beat us. In another game, Felipe Alou strikes out and reaches first on a passed ball with two outs, and then Hank Aaron hits a homer into the upper deck and beats us. I think ’64 was worse than what’s happening with the Mets because of the way we lost.”
Ray Culp, whose sore elbow kept him from pitching during the Phillies’ late-season ’64 collapse, said he “absolutely can sympathize” with the Mets, “because if they let it slip away, they’ll have some bad memories.”
“That,” said Culp, a real estate investor in Austin, Texas, “is not my most pleasant year to remember.”
Even if the Mets continue to falter, the image of the ’64 Phillies never will be erased, said Jack Baldschun, who had 21 saves for the ’64 Phillies. “I’ve always said if we had won the pennant, we wouldn’t have gotten as much press as we did for losing it.”
Dennis Bennett, who went 12-14 for the ’64 Phils, wasn’t as sympathetic to the Mets’ woes.
“I don’t feel sorry for them,” said Bennett, who owns a cocktail lounge/restaurant in Oregon. “I feel happy for the Phillies. I signed with the Phillies, so a piece of me is still with them.”