Ah, Bobby Shantz, yet another player from the ill-fated '64 team with a story to tell. For it was Shantz who was the pitcher most prominently mentioned as a guy that Gene Mauch could/should have started in 1-2 on those games during the 10 game losing streak instead of rolling the dice on a tired Jim Bunning and Chris Short.
And it was Bobby Shantz who indeed pitched two games against the Dodgers in September in which he twirled 7 shutout innings in a 3-1 Phillie loss and then pitched 7.2 brilliant innings to win a 4-3 game in LA, both after relieving an ineffective Rick Wise in the first inning.
Alas. it was also Bobby Shantz who lost the game that perhaps sunk the Phils during that numbing 10 game losing streak, Game 6 of the streak to be precise.
It was the final Saturday afternoon at home in Philadelphia and the Phils, losers of 5 straight games, had seen their once 6.5 game lead sliced to 1.5 games heading into play. Not to worry, an Alex Johnson home run gave the Phils an early 4-0 lead against the Milwaukee Braves and while the offense went blank after that it still seemed enough as Art Mahaffey carried a 4-2 lead into the 8th.
Mahaffey then put two men on base and eventually Shantz came in with runners at 2nd and 3rd and one out. On the bench, Coach Bobby Wine mentioned to Mauch that with the clever Shantz on the mound perhaps the Phils should bring sturdy defender catcher Clay Dalrymple into the game to replace the weaker defender, Gus Triandos. Mauch was said to reply, "no need, my mother could catch Shantz", whereupon Triandos missed a Shantz curveball, allowing the 3rd run to score.
Still, Shantz carried a 4-3 lead into the 9th when he was undone by a Tony Taylor error on a potential double play ball. Eventually Rico Carty hit a 3 run triple off of Shantz and the Phils lost 6-4.
I still remember where I was during that game and how I followed the scores on the radio...Phils lead 4-0 after 3, Phils lead 4-2 after 6, Phils lead 4-3 after 8, Phils lose 6-4. I remember going home and crying, I knew it was over. The next day, a tired Jim Bunning got blasted in a 14-8 loss despite 3 home runs from Johnny Callison and the Phils fell out of first place for good.
It was to be the last decision of Bobby Shantz's illustrious career, and one he talked about often when he attended Phillie baseball card shows in the intervening years. He pitched only one more game that season, ironically allowing a single to Lou Brock as the last batter he ever faced in the big leagues. Ironic because most baseball people thought it was Lou Brock who most changed the dynamics of the 1964 race when he joined the Cards in mid June.
Bobby Shantz, Philadelphia baseball legend.