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Time was running out on the Phillies; the Houston and Mets patsies were getting better. In 1962, the first expansion year, the Phillies were 31-5 against them, 50-75 against the league. In 1963, the numbers were 20-16 vs H/M, 67-59 vs league. In 1964, 28-8 vs H/M, 64-62 vs league. Here in 1965, 23-13 H/M, 62-63 league. Clearly, the Phillies were in a neutral rut against the league, and when the Colt .45s and Mets became competitive, which was only a matter of time, the Phillies faced the prospect of sinking to the bottom again, unless they could come up with some more prospects like Dick Allen. In South Philly bars, the depressing prospect of finishing below the Mets was a hot topic.
Attendance fell by 259,000 in 1965, from the franchise record 1,425,891 in 1964 as Philadelphia baseball fans licked their wounds and tried to recover from the shock of coughing up a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games to play. Almost 50 years later there are those who still have not forgiven.
But there was baseball to be played and deals to be made as General Managers all over the league continued the endless tinkering trying to make their teams better, hoping to find the next super star, wherever he might be. It was and remains an imperfect art. In 1965, the Phillies had one sitting on the end of the bullpen bench, and let him get away. His name was Ferguson Jenkins. The 22 year-old rookie won two and lost one in 12 innings of work with 10 strikeouts, two walks, and a 2.19 ERA. Jenkins got the win in the final game of the season, a 13-inning affair at Shea Stadium, that concluded a bizarre four games in two days series against the Mets.
A summary of those two doubleheaders reveals much about why Mets’ manager Casey Stengel called his team a head-shaking,“Amazin’”. October 2-Game one – Jim Bunning pitched a 2-hit, 10 strikeout shutout in 6-0 win. Game two – Second game of day/night double header went 18 innings and ended in a 0-0 tie when everybody was so exhausted they couldn’t continue. For the Phillies, Chris Short pitched 15 innings and struck out 18 Mets. October 3 – Game three – Ray Culp beat Mets 3-1 on four hits and six Ks. Game four – Phils 23 year-old rookie lefthander, Grant Jackson struck out 11 in nine innings. Ferguson Jenkins pitched innings 12 and 13 with four Ks and became the winning pitcher when rookie third baseman Billy Sorrell homered in his 13th ML at bat.
In summary: Three wins and a tie for Philadelphia over New York. In 49 innings the Mets scored two runs on 22 hits and struck out 53 times. Amazin’.