This Day in Sports, August 20: Phillies Lose Record 23rd Straight Game

August 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Ignominy is a terrible thing. Waking up and wondering whether or not you’re going to lose another game today is a horrible way to start the day. The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies collectively harbored those same thoughts. On August 20, 1961, the Phillies lost their 23rd consecutive game, a modern baseball record.

The Phillies had enjoyed a rare rise to prominence a decade earlier, culminating with the famous “Whiz Kids” winning the National League pennant on the final day of the 1950 regular season. Hopes quickly faded after that, as key members of that team either retired or were traded, plunging the Phillies back to the familiar state of mediocrity.

In 1961, the Phillies were predicted to once again be near or at the bottom of the National League standings. They did not disappoint, plodding through the early months of the season hovering at the bottom of the standings. On July 29, they lost to the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, their record 30-65 at the time.

The Phillies continued losing. And losing. And losing. They were swept in successive fashion by the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pirates again, and the Chicago Cubs.

On August 20 while facing the Milwaukee Braves, the Phillies dropped the first game of a scheduled double-header, losing to eventual Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn. In the second game, the Phillies trotted pitcher John Buzhardt to the mound.

Buzhardt had been the last pitcher to win a game for the Phillies, beating the Giants 4-3 on July 28. On this day Buzhardt had good stuff, and the Phillies struck early, seizing the lead in the fourth inning on a Wes Covington 2-run homer. The Phillies added one more run in the sixth, and then put it away with four more runs in the top of the eighth. Buzhardt went on to complete the game, finally putting the Phillies back in the win column, 7-4.

After the game, during the plane ride back to Philadelphia, the Phillies were told that a crowd was waiting for them at the airport to greet them. Sure enough, when the plane landed, there were over 2,000 fans waiting for them, including a 300-piece band, to greet the victorious Phillies.

“We were hesitant to get off the plane,” then Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor recalled. “But it was a good feeling. The band lifted (manager) Gene Mauch on their shoulders.”

The 1988 Baltimore Orioles made a run at the record, losing 20 straight. But no team has come close since, assuring the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies the distinction of the all-time record for futility.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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