It was a whole new ballgame in 1969. Montreal and San Diego came into the league and the 12 teams were split into two divisions. The NL East would include New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, St.Louis, Philadelphia, and Montreal. The West would be: Atlanta, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Houston, and San Diego. They would play a 162-game schedule, 18 games with teams in the same division, and 12 games with teams in the other division.
The Phillies with new manager, Bob Skinner, opened the season in Chicago with a deflating 7-6 loss in 11 innings. Don Money, the 23-year-old rookie shortstop drove in five runs with two home runs and a double. His second home run came with two on in the ninth inning to tie the game; his double gave the team a lead in the 11th, but manager Bob Skinner allowed lefty Barry Lersch to continue after four innings of stellar relief, and he gave up a game-winning homerun in the bottom of the 11th. Even more deflating was the loss of staff ace Chris Short to a season-ending arm injury.
The team lurched through winning and losing streaks that eventually cost Skinner his job. They won nine straight games from June 25 to July 2, then lost 23 of 32 and Skinner was gone. Coach George Myatt finished the season as manager with a 19-35 record. Dick Allen played first base and hit .288 with 32 home runs and 89 RBI. After his great opening day performance, Money settled in to hit .229 with six home runs and 42 RBI.
On August 3 at Connie Mack Stadium, the Phllies played one of those highlight film games that people remember so fondly. They led Cincinnati 9-6 after five innings, then trailed 16-9 after the Reds put up a 10 spot in the 5th. In the 6th, Tony Taylor’s grand slam home run sparked a seven-run inning to make it 18-16, but Reds’ reliever Wayne Granger closed the door and the Phillies lost, 19-17.
The 1969 Phillies finished fifth in their six team division, 37 games behind the winning Mets. After seven years of relentless losing, the Mets suddenly were good, in large part because of starting pitchers Tom Seaver (25-7), and Jerry Koosman (17-9), and relievers Tug McGraw (9-3, 12 saves), Ron Taylor (9-4, 13 saves), and Cal Koonce (6-3, 7 saves).
On October 7, the trade that shook the baseball world took place. Dick Allen, Jerry Johnson, and Cookie Rojas from the Phillies to the St.Louis Cardinals for Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner, and Curt Flood.
Curt Flood and Tim McCarver were co-captains of the St. Louis Cardinal 1964, 1967, and 1968 World’s Series teams. McCarver was a two-time All-Star, Flood was a three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold-Glove-winning centerfielder. Flood refused to report to Philadelphia and sued Major League Baseball, foregoing a $90,000 salary to take a principled stand against Baseball’s Reserve Clause, which gave owners total control over their ballplayers. Flood’s case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where he lost. The entire episode, which laid the groundwork for the present agreements over free-agency status of players, is nicely documented in Brad Snyder’s book, "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight For Free Agency in Professional Sports" (Viking, 2006).
Philadelphians should know that Flood didn’t have anything against the Phillies or their fans—he just wanted to be master of his own fate. Modern-day ballplayers should not forget Curt Flood.By max blue
- Barry Lersch, Bob Skinner, Brad Snyder (author), Cal Koonce, Chris Short, Connie Mack Stadium, Cookie Rojas, Curt Flood, Dick Allen, Don Money, George Myatt, Jerry Johnson, Jerry Koosman, Joe Hoerner, Philadelphia Phillies, Reserve clause, Tim McCarver, Tom Seaver, Tug McGraw, Wayne Granger