April 14, 1964

Tuesday, April 14

Opening Day.

The Phillies opened the season with a two-game series against the New York Mets. Dennis Bennett (0-0) versus Al Jackson (0-0) in front of 21,016 fans in Connie Mack Stadium in the opener.

New York Metropolitans

The Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants abandoned New York City after the 1957 season to relocate to Los Angeles and San Francisco. That left the largest city in the U.S. with only one baseball team. The Yankees. Without a National League team.

It took four years to refill the void.

The New York Metropolitans joined the National League as an expansion team in 1962. In a tribute to the past, they adopted a combination of Dodgers blue and Giants orange as team colors.

The early Mets teams were rag-tag castoffs, has-beens, and players who didn’t belong in the big leagues. In their inaugural season the Mets set the major league record for futility with a record of 40-120. Yet it could’ve been worse. Two games were canceled and never played. Those first-year Mets finished an astonishing 60½ games out of first place.

The Mets “improved” to 51-111 in their second season. Finishing “just” 48 games off the pace. And things didn’t look any rosier for the 1964 Mets.

Dennis Bennett: 24-year-old lefthander signed out of Yreka Union High School in California. Six-foot-three. Sent to Johnson City in the Class D Appalachian League for rookie season. Took four years to work his way through the system.

Made it to big club in 1962. Won nine games in each of first two seasons.

Play Ball

√ Dennis Bennett tossed a scoreless top half of the first.

With one out in the bottom of the first:

  • Johnny Callison and Richie Allen drew back-to-back walks.
  • Roy Sievers crushed a home run (#1) and the Phillies led 3-0.

Roy Sievers – A power-hitting first baseman acquired during the 1961 off-season in a trade sending John Buzhardt and infielder Charley Smith to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Sievers.

Best season: 1957 with the Washington Senators. Led the American League with 42 home runs and 114 RBIs. Hit 21 and 19 home runs and drove in 80 and 82 runs in first two seasons with the Phillies. At 37, Phillies hoping to squeeze one more good year out of him.

Back to the Action:

In the bottom of the second:

  • Clay Dalrymple singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.
  • Bobby Wine singled Dalrymple home to make it 4-0.

The Mets hit the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Joe Christopher homered (#1) cut the deficit to 4-2.

And the Mets threatened again in the top of the fifth.

  • Dick Smith beat out a bunt and Amado Samuel beat out an infield single to put runners on first and second.
  • Ron Hunt tapped a grounder toward third. Richie Allen gloved the ball, stepped on third, and fired across the diamond to double Hunt at first. Samuel moved up to second base.
  • Bennett walked Jim Hickman – which riled manager Gene Mauch.

Despite the fact that Bennett was sitting on top of a 4-1 lead and hadn’t allowed a ball out of the infield in that inning, Mauch hooked him and replaced him with Johnny Klippstein.

Johnny Klippstein – a 36-year-old right-handed reliever with 14 years in the majors. Lifetime record of 87-109. Phillies purchased him from the Cincinnati Reds during spring training the previous year. Went 5-6 in 49 games with a sizzling 1.93 ERA.

Back to the Action:

  • Mauch’s move looked catastrophic when Klippstein gave up a two-run single to Hawk Taylor that pulled the Mets to within a run of the Phillies at 4-3.
  • But Klippstein ended the rally by striking out Joe Christopher.

The Phils answered with one out in the bottom of the eighth:

  • Johnny Callison beat out an infield hit.
  • Richie Allen followed with a gapper to left. Third-base coach George Myatt waved Callison home. Left-fielder Frank Thomas made a strong throw toward the relay man, but shortstop Al Moran muffed the throw and allowed Callison to score without a play to up the Phillies lead to 5-3.

And that was it.

Johnny Klippstein (1-0) baffled the Mets over the final 41/3 innings ─ striking out four while walking no one ─ to pick up the victory. Al Jackson (0-1) took the loss,

Around the League

Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers also won their openers. And the Colt 45s had won the traditional season opener in Cincinnati the day before. Thus, five teams tied for first place at 1-0.


Written by Barry Bowe
Former sportswriter - first to put Timmy Duncan's name on the sports page.

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