VIDEO: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies
It’s definitely worse than the curse. That hex the Red Sox finally vanquished in 2004 had nothing on the crippling misfortune that’s afflicted the Philadelphia Phillies for virtually their entire 123-year history.
And to punctuate a century-and-a-quarter’s worth of ineptitude, the team is on the cusp of achieving something that’s truly remarkable in its ingloriousness. Unless they go on an odds-defying winning streak, the fightin’ Phils, who had lost 9995 games as of Monday morning will suffer their 10,000th defeat next week. If things really go badly for manager Charlie Manuel’s boys, it could happen as early as Saturday, July 7. That’s right, 10,000.
No other baseball team has even approached that level of ineptitude. The lovable "losers," the Chicago Cubs (established seven seasons before the Phillies, in 1876), actually have a winning all-time record and, again as of Monday morning, have dropped a comparably paltry 9422 games. The comparatively young (1901) Red Sox, who bemoaned their championship-less-ness for 86 noisy, squirming years, have, as of Monday am, lost just 7991 games, and have six championships under their belt.
The Phillies unimaginably bad record gets worse when you consider that's it's not just about baseball. No other team on the planet — professional, college, high school, you name it — in any sport you can think of, has ever lost 10,000 games. Not some doormat elementary-school lacrosse team in Latvia, not even the Washington Generals, whose fate it was to play the Harlem Globetrotters every night. Saddam Hussein’s election opponents haven’t even lost as much as the Phillies have.
The Phillies, in fact, have captured just one World Series title in their tenure on this earth, and that was in 1980. Their division rivals, the upstart expansion-team Florida Marlins, won a pair of championships within their first 10 years. How can that be explained? Easily. The Phillies have set the bar when it comes to blunder ball. The 1961 Phillies lost 23 in a row, a record that may stand forever.
But that pales in comparison to what the Phillies accomplished in 1964. The star-crossed franchise’s flair for unmitigated failure reached new heights — or depths — 43 years ago, when it produced what many believe to be the greatest choke of all time (with apologies to the 1978 Red Sox).
The Phillies had a six-and-a-half game lead with 12 to play in ’64. It was almost mathematically impossible for them not to win. But the Phils, experts at defying logic, managed to lose 10 straight clutch games at crunch time, and went home to watch the Cardinals beat the Yankees in seven in the World Series on TV.
Losing has become part of the fabric of Phillie fandom. Consider the Web sites that have sprouted up in anticipation of the milestone loss: celebrate10000.com, countdownto10000.com, phillysucks.com/tenthou.html. In some ways, record-breaking defeat has become a source of perverted pride. As they say at phillysucks.com, "10,000 losses is way more suckage than anyone else."