May 15, 1964

1964 imageThe Detroit Tigers Al Kaline was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and Louis Armstrong’s Hello Dolly! was ending its first and only week as Billboard’s number-one song in the U.S. – but Hello Dolly! would go on to win the Grammy as the top song of 1964.

The date was May 15, 1964, and after a successful 5-and-3 home stand, the Phillies flew to Houston to begin a 13-game road trip that would take them on their first West Coast swing of the season.

The Colts were playing their home games in Colts Stadium while the Astrodome was being constructed.

colt stadium image

Colt Stadium was a temporary structure described as “a barn-like-thing.” Uncovered bleachers rimmed the outfield from foul pole to foul pole. It was best remembered as a horribly hot and humid place to play ─ and there was an occasional appearance of a rattlesnake in the outfield.

As an expansion team, the Colts were a rag-tag bunch of grizzled veterans claimed in the expansion draft thrown in with a handful of rookie hopefuls.

Off to a 13-and-17 start, the Colts found themselves in eighth place and 5½ games out of first. However, they won their last two games over the Giants.

Dennis Bennett (3-2) was taking the mound against Don Nottebart (0-4) in the first of four games in Houston.

Nottebart lost four of his six starts, racking up a 5.30 ERA along the way. Dennis Bennett won two of his last three starts, with both wins coming at the Reds expense.

1964 imageThe first inning was scoreless.

John Herrnstein led off the top of the second with a single. Tony Gonzalez walked to put runners on first and second. Clay Dalrymple bunted to advance the runners to second and third.

One out later, Dennis Bennett helped his own cause with a run-scoring single to put the Phillies head 1-0.

Over the first six innings, Dennis Bennett put goose eggs on the scoreboard and the score remained 1-0.

In the top of the seventh, Bobby Wine led off with a single. Bennett laid down a bunt. Catcher John Bateman fielded the ball and tried to get Wine at second, but his throw was late and both runners were safe to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Gene Mauch had Tony Taylor bunting. Nottebart fielded the ball, but overthrew first. Wine scored to make it 2-0 with Bennett and Taylor advancing to second and third. Still nobody out.

Richie Allen drove Bennett and Taylor home with a single to make it 4-0. The two runs gave Allen 15 RBIs.

Dennis Bennett (4-2) gave up five hits, struck out six, and walked only one in pitching the complete-game shutout. Don Nottebart (0-5) took the loss.

In San Francisco, the Giants were hosting the last-place Mets in the first game of a five-game series. It looked like a perfect opportunity for the Giants to open up some ground on the Phillies – but no.

The Mets rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh to top the Giants 4-2. Larry Bearnarth (2-3) picked up the win and Don Larsen (0-1) took the loss – both in relief.

The Giants loss coupled with the Phillies win allowed the Phillies to slip into first place by one-half game over the Giants.

1964 image(Excerpted from 1964 – The Year the Phillies Blew the Pennant by Barry Bowe.)

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