After the first game of the 1960 season, Eddie Sawyer, who had returned to the team two years earlier, abruptly quit his job as Phillies manager. "I'm 49," Sawyer explained, "and I want to live to be 50."
Sawyer had uncanny insight because what lay ahead for the Phillies was enough to test even the strongest of mortals. The decade of the 1960s turned out to be one of the most star-crossed eras in club history.
From a record losing streak in 1961, to the excruciatingly painful lost pennant in 1964, to a series of dismal teams in the late '60s, the decade was not a very pleasant one for the Phillies.
What made the decade somewhat palatable was the presence of some excellent players, especially Richie Allen (photo above), Johnny Callison and future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning (photo at left).
Gene Mauch, another name indelibly linked to the '60s Phils, replaced Sawyer. That same season the Phillies landed Tony Taylor and Tony Gonzalez (photo at right) in big trades. In 1961, while finishing last for the fourth straight year, the Phils set a Major League record by losing 23 straight games. The streak ended when John Buzhardt beat the Milwaukee Braves.
Also in 1961, Robin Roberts pitched his last game for the Phillies and Art Mahaffey struck out 17 Chicago Cubs in one game. Mahaffey won 19 in 1962 as the Phillies had their first winning season since 1953.
By 1963--with Richie Ashburn in his first year as a Phillies broadcaster--the team had been rebuilt into a contender by general manager John Quinn (photo at left). With the help of players such as Don Demeter and Wes Covington, the team finished fourth. But a pennant fever was growing.
The 1964 season turned out to be one of the most memorable in Phillies history. Allen arrived and with his brilliant hitting became National League Rookie of the Year. Bunning pitched a perfect game against the New York Mets and Callison's three-run homer in the ninth inning gave the National League a 7-4 victory in the All-Star Game.
Then there was the downside. After leading the league much of the season and owning a six and one-half game lead with 12 games to play, a seemingly certain pennant was snatched away as the Phillies lost 10 straight in late September. The collapse devastated the entire city.
In the years that followed, Quinn tried desperately to capture a pennant by bringing in a slew of veteran players. It didn't work, and the Phils sank to the lower levels of the standings.
Of the few bright spots, Chris Short (photo at right) won 20 games in 1966 and Bunning had his third straight 19-win season. Gonzalez finished second in the batting race in 1967 with a .339 average. In 1969, pitchers Jerry Johnson, Woodie Fryman, Grant Jackson and Rick Wise hurled four consecutive shutouts.