Phillies Time Machine: 1968

For six straight seasons, the Phillies finished the season above the .500 mark. Granted, a couple of those seasons were barely above .500, but the Phillies were a winning team. In 1968, the string of success was broken as the Phillies finished ten games under .500 with all kinds of feuds and distractions taking place off the field that made the season seem even worse than it was. It all started with an unauthorized plane ticket, New York City traffic and a bad horse ride.

Dick Allen and Gene Mauch were never going to be buddies, but the Phillies hoped the two could co-exist. Their relationship was much like the Allen Iverson and Larry Brown years with the 76ers, only Mauch exercised much more authority and punishment over Allen, than Brown did on Iverson.

In spring training, Allen decided he needed to travel to his home and left the team without permission. Few people even knew where the teams tempermental young slugger was. When he returned, he was fined. In April, Allen missed the team bus and then claimed that he got stuck in traffic, arriving late for a game against the Mets at Shea Stadium. Mauch benched him for that one.

The real blow-up came in May. Allen claimed that he had pulled a muscle while horseback riding and was pulled from the lineup. It would be two weeks before he told the Phillies he could play and then stated that he could have played all along. With the Phillies at 26-27, the Allen and Mauch show had to be cancelled and the Phillies decided that Allen should stay and Mauch should be the one to go. George Myatt took over for two games, with the Phillies going 2-0, before Bob Skinner, who was the Phillies AAA manager, took over the reins and all hoped that things would settle down.

Instead of getting better, things officially fell apart. The Phillies went 48-59 under Skinner and fell 21 games out by the end of the season.

Suddenly, the Phillies were a team on a downward spiral. They had dealt Jim Bunning to Pittsburgh for Woodie Fryman and Don Money during spring training, removing one of the more popular Phillies from the picture. Chris Short was their top pitcher, going 19-13 in the dismal '68 season and Allen provided the only real punch, hitting 33 homeruns.

The losing hurt the Phillies at the gate as under 700,000 fans turned out at Connie Mack Stadium. It wasn't just a bad team keeping fans away, but an increasingly dangerous neighborhood around the stadium had made outings to Phillies games risky. In addition to that, there was little parking in the area for fans and Connie Mack Stadium was starting to show its age. With few exciting players playing in an aging stadium located in a crime riddled part of the city, the Phillies were in trouble.

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