The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies season was the 82nd season for the franchise in Philadelphia. After leading the National League during the latter months of the season, the team suffered a drastic collapse during the final two weeks. The Phillies finished in a second-place tie with the Cincinnati Reds. Both posted a record of 92-70, finishing one game behind the NL and World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, and just two games ahead of fourth-place San Francisco. Gene Mauch managed the Phillies, as they played their home games at Connie Mack Stadium.
On Father's Day, Jim Bunning threw a perfect game against the Mets, the first in the National League since 1880. For perhaps the only time in the stadium's history, the Shea faithful found themselves rooting for the visitors, caught up in the rare achievement, and roaring for Bunning on every pitch in the ninth inning. His strikeout of John Stephenson for the last out capped the performance.
From 1919 through 1947, the Phillies finished last a total of 17 times and next to last seven times. A 1962 cartoon in a baseball magazine depicted a ballplayer arriving at a French Foreign Legion outpost, explaining, "I was released by the Phillies!"
During 1962 and 1963, the Phillies began to climb back to respectability, and throughout the 1964 season, they seemed destined to make it to the World Series, with excellent performances from players such as rookie third baseman Dick Allen, starters Jim Bunning (obtained from the Detroit Tigers at the start of the season to shore up the pitching staff) and Chris Short, and star right fielder Johnny Callison. TV Guide went to press with a World Series preview that featured a photo of Connie Mack Stadium. (Through the 1968 season, both first-place teams automatically went to the World Series, the only postseason play of that time.)
The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies held a six and a half game lead in an exceptionally strong National League with 12 games to play. They then lost ten straight games (the first seven played at home) and fell into a second place tie. The skein started with Chico Ruiz stealing home, with Frank Robinson at bat, for the game's only run. Dick Allen said of the play: "The play broke our humps." The crucial series came when the now second-place Phillies 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 "Phold," as it is known, is one of the most notable collapses in sports history.
The '64 Phillies are immortalized in American pop culture via numerous book chapters, magazine articles, and newspaper columns. At least three full length books are devoted to the '64 Phillies: non-fiction books The 1964 Phillies: The Story of Baseball's Most Memorable Collapse by John P. Rossi and September Swoon: Richie Allen, the '64 Phillies, and Racial Integration by William C. Kashatis; and a novel based on the '64 Phillies collapse titled '64 Intruder, by Gregory T. Glading, which centers on a Phillies fan going back in time and preventing Chico Ruiz from stealing home in the "Phold's" first loss.
^White, Gordon S. Jr. (June 22, 1964). "Bunning Pitches a Perfect Game; Mets Are Perfect Victims, 6 to 0". New York Times. p. 1. "The Phils won the contest...before 32,904 fans who were screaming for Bunning during the last two innings...Yesterday's perfect pitching turned the usually loyal Met fans into Bunning fans in the late innings. From the seventh inning on...Bunning had the crowd...behind him."
^Allen, Dick; Whitaker, Tim (1989). Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen. Ticknor & Fields.
^"Memorable swoons and surges (2 of 12): 1964 Phillies". FOXSports.com. September 12, 2011 (mis-dated; actually September 30, 2011, the day after Boston Red Sox lost wild card in Game 162). Retrieved September 30, 2011. "In an epic meltdown dubbed "The Phillie Phold" of 1964, Philadelphia saw a 6 1/2-game lead evaporate with 12 games to play."Check date values in: |date= (help)
^"Memorable swoons and surges (1 of 12): 2011 Boston Red Sox". FOXSports.com. September 12, 2011 (mis-dated; actually September 30, 2011, the day after Boston Red Sox lost wild card in Game 162). Retrieved September 30, 2011. "By season's end, the Red Sox had become the first team ever to blow a nine-game lead in September and fail to make the postseason."Check date values in: |date= (help)