The Magic of '64 - Part One

It's been 40 years since the 1964 Phillies captured the hearts of Philadelphia. Throughout the season, will take a weekly look back at that magical, wonderful, frustrating season that lives in the lore of Philadelphia baseball history. It was a season of ups and downs that finished on one of the most tragic downs in all of sports. In Part One of the series, we take a look at the new faces on the team and a good start to the season.

Forty years ago today – April 18, 1964 – the Philadelphia Phillies lost their first game of the season. After winning two at home against the fledgling New York Mets, the Phillies moved on to Chicago to take on the Cubs. A 10-8 win in the first game of the series, saw John Klippstein win his second game of the season.

Klippstein had been purchased from the Reds in March of 1963. He was 5-6 with an impressive 1.93 ERA and 8 saves for the Phillies in his first season with the Phillies and was off to a nice start to the '64 season. At age 36, Klippstein had pitched 14 previous seasons in the majors, including being a member of the 1959 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. While Klippstein started strong for the Phillies, by June, his record would be 2-1 and his ERA would have moved to 4.03 before the Phillies sold him to the Minnesota Twins.

In game two of the series, the Phillies bats were silenced and they lost to Chicago 7-0, falling to 3-1 on the season. Still, the Phillies shared first place with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

The 3-1 start was no surprise. The Phillies season had started with high hopes. In '63, the Phillies were 87-75 and had finished 12 games behind the Dodgers. Their pitching staff was among the best in the majors and had allowed the second fewest runs in the National League, behind only the great staff that Los Angeles had assembled. Plus, a key move during the winter seemingly made the Phillies even stronger. In early December, Phillies GM John Quinn orchestrated a trade that sent Don Demeter and Jack Hamilton to Detroit for Jim Bunning and Gus Triandos.

Demeter, who had played with Klippstein on the '59 Dodgers team, had come over to the Phillies after the 1961 season. In '62, he hit .307 and slammed 29 homeruns. A down year in 1963 had him on the bad side of Phillies management and they were quick to unload him on almost any taker. Truth be known, the Phillies dealt Demeter at the right time as he was on the down side of his career and would spend his final four seasons bouncing from Detroit to Boston to Cleveland before retiring after the 1967 season.

Hamilton had come up with the Phillies in 1962 and had two unimpressive seasons, going 11-13 with a 5.14 ERA. To say the least, he was expendable.

In Bunning, the Phillies acquired a Detroit hero. He had pitched nine seasons for the Tigers and had won 118 games. Bunning was 32 when the Phillies traded for him and figured he had some good years left in him. Little did they know just how well he would perform in his new surroundings. In four seasons, Bunning would go 74-46 for the Phillies with a 2.48 ERA. He would average 298 innings per year in his first stint in Philadelphia. Later in his career, the Phillies would bring an aging and much less effective Bunning back to pitch his final two seasons in a Phillies uniform. The addition of Bunning would become huge and while the Phillies pitching staff didn't equal their 1963 numbers, the '64 club featured a talented staff.

For Triandos, the best years in an average career were behind him. He had played 11 seasons in the American League with the Yankees, Orioles and Tigers before coming to the Phillies. Still, the Phillies looked at him as a player who could give regular catcher Clay Dalrymple a day off here and there and would help off the bench.

The biggest addition was a rookie. Richard Anthony Allen had played 10 games with the Phillies in 1963. In '64, his first full season in the majors, Allen would explode onto the scene. In one of the best seasons ever from a Phillies rookie, Allen would lead the league in runs and triples while hitting .318 with 29 homeruns and 91 RBI. The 22 year old Allen would wind up with a rocky Philadelphia career. His outspoken personality and demeanor would turn him into a player that both teammates and fans would either love or hate. Actually, Allen found ways to make enemies wherever he went and he spent his career as somewhat of a major league nomad, playing for Philadelphia, Los Angeles, the White Sox and the Oakland A's. He couldn't have been hated too much in Philadelphia though, because the Phillies brought him back for two seasons late in his career. The Phillies sent Jim Essian, Barry Bonnell and cash to Atlanta for Allen and Johnny Oates in May of 1975. Allen never played a game with the Braves after they had acquired him from the White Sox for Jim Essian and cash the previous December.

With Gene Mauch entering his fifth season as the manager of the Phillies and new faces like Bunning and Allen, the Phillies 3-1 start set the tone for what was to come for Phillies baseball in 1964.

1964 Timeline
April 4, 1964 – Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" hits number one.
April 5, 1964 – General Douglas MacArthur dies at the age of 84.
April 12, 1964 – Arnold Palmer wins The Masters.
April 13, 1964 – Sidney Poitier becomes the first man to win an Oscar as best actor.
April 17, 1964 – Ford introduces the Mustang at a cost of $2368.
April 17, 1964 – First game at Shea Stadium as the Pirates beat New York 4-3.
April 18, 1964 – Sandy Koufax becomes the first pitcher to strike out the side on 9 pitches.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories