I was 6 years old when I went to my first Major League game on October 2, 1964.
The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3, at Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio.
There was a triple play that was initiated by an improbable catch by the most improbable of outfielders. There was a come-from-behind win by the Phillies, who, on the verge of clinching the pennant, had lost ten straight games. And, in the Reds' clubhouse after the game, one teammate charged after another with an ice pick.
Just another day at the ballpark.
The Reds entered the game tied for first place in the National League with the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost that evening to the New York Mets, the worst team in the major leagues.
If the Reds had won, and they should have, they would've had a one-game lead with one game left in the season. If the Reds had won the pennant, they would've done it for their beloved manager, Fred Hutchinson, who left the team in August and was now dying of lung cancer.
The Reds went ahead 1-0 in the first inning after Frank Robinson doubled in Pete Rose, who was in his second year in the majors.
In the fourth inning, the Reds had Vada Pinson on second and Robinson on first when the team's first baseman Deron Johnson hit a long fly to left field.
The Phillies left fielder, a rookie named Alex Johnson, who would become one of the worst fielding outfielders of his -- or any -- day, tripped going after the fly ball. As he was falling, he reached up and caught the ball, doubling Pinson off second and Robinson off first. A triple play.
The Reds led 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning when the Phillies pitcher Chris Short hit the Reds all-star shortstop Leo Cardenas with a pitch. Cardenas, with his bat in his hand, charged the mound but was stopped by the Phillies' catcher, Clay Dalrymple.
"Leo woke up a dead ballclub when he did that," Reds pitcher Jim O'Toole said.
O'Toole entered the eighth inning with a three-hit shutout. With one out, and runners on first and second base, the Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor hit a soft line drive over Cardenas's head. But the distracted all-star shortstop made little attempt to catch it, and the ball fell over his head for a single.
The Phillies scored all four of their runs in the eighth inning.
After the game, an irate O'Toole exchanged words with Cardenas in the team's clubhouse. O'Toole shoved Cardenas, who grabbed an ice pick and charged after O'Toole but was restrained.
All sharp objects had been removed from the Phillies clubhouse.
Two weeks earlier, the Phils led the League by 6½ games with 12 games to go. They were such a lock to win the league that the team began printing World Series tickets.
This was before division play. There were ten teams in each the National League and American league. The winners of the two leagues played one another in the World Series.
With such a big lead, one could've blamed the team's manager Gene Mauch for resting his starting pitchers. Instead, Mauch pitched his best starting pitchers, Short and Jim Bunning, on two days rest.
The team lost ten straight before they beat the Reds on October 2.
St. Louis and Cincinnati entered the last game of the season tied for first. The Phillies were a game behind. The Phillies beat the Reds, 10-0, and the Cardinals beat the Mets, and won the pennant and then the World Series against the New York Yankees.
Fred Hutchinson died on November 12.
Gene Mauch kept his job as manager of the Phillies. He managed in the major leagues for nearly another quarter century and never won a pennant.