There have been 12 no-hitters thrown by Phillies pitchers in the regular season in franchise history. There have been two perfect games. There have been nine pennant-clinching or division-clinching games, games that ended at 4 in the morning, games where position pitchers pitched and pitchers hit big home runs.
Phils baseball has seen some amazing moments over the years, very few of them bigger than when Roy Halladay made history on a steamy May night in Miami 10 years ago this week. The ace right-hander faced 27 Marlins hitters and retired all 27 of them. At the time, it was just the 20th perfect game thrown in big league history and the second in Phils history. Only Jim Bunning’s perfecto on Father’s Day against the Mets at Shea Stadium in 1964 came before it.
Halladay’s magical night of mastery in Miami is, without question, one of the greatest moments in regular season history, but where does it rank specifically? I’ll be honest, this was a very hard list to compile.
10. 1993 4am Doubleheader
The first game of an early July doubleheader against the Padres suffered a number of rain delays, with the first game not ending until after 1 in the morning. Of course, because this was San Diego’s only trip to Philadelphia that year, the umpires decided they had to get the second game in, too. What followed was a surreal three hours in which the Phils overcame a five-run deficit and won it in 10 on an RBI hit by closer Mitch Williams at 4:40 in the morning. It’s one of those games 100,000 people probably say they attended.
9. Steve Jeltz 2-HR Game (The Jim Rooker Game)
I wrote about this game recently, which you can read here, but needless to say, Pirates radio broadcaster Jim Rooker regretted saying he “would walk back to Pittsburgh” if the struggling Pirates blew their 10-0 first inning lead. Of course, they would, thanks to light-hitting shortstop Steve Jeltz, who hit two homers, one from each side of the plate, the 27th National League player and 81st MLB player to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, and the first Phillie to EVER do it.
8. Jim Bunning Perfect Game
In 1964, Bunning became the first Phillie in team history to throw a perfect game, when he shut down the Mets at Shea Stadium on Father’s Day.
Bunning’s perfect game was the first in the regular season in 42 years, although Don Larsen threw one in the 1956 World Series. Bunning struck out 10 and needed just 90 pitches to finish off his masterpiece.
7. Cole Hamels’ No-Hitter in Final Appearance
I have Hamels’ no-hitter ranked ahead of Bunning’s perfect game because this one has some emotional attachment to it. Consider what was happening when Hamels’ no-hit the Cubs in Wrigley Field.
It was his first start since coming off the disabled list and everyone knew it was going to be his last start as a Phillie. He had been on the trade block for weeks and, with the deadline just a couple days away, Hamels went out and shoved against a Chicago lineup littered with stars. It was truly a bittersweet day as our World Series hero gave us something special to remember him by.
6. Schmidt 4 HR Game in Wrigley
As I mentioned before, there have been 13 no-hitters and perfect games in team history, one of them in the postseason, but the number of hitters who have gone deep four times in a single game are even fewer. When Schmidt hit four home runs against the Cubs at Wrigley in 1976, he became just the 10th player in MLB history to do it, but oddly enough was the third Phillie to pull off the feat (Ed Delahanty in 1896 and Chuck Klein in 1936).
Not only that, Schmidt hit those four dingers in four straight plate appearances.
5. Phillies 23-22 Win in Wrigley
This game came in at No. 20 in MLB Network’s list of their 20 Greatest Games series, and it was insane. I’ll let the box scores tell the story.
Or you can just watch this.
4. Roy Halladay Perfect Game
Maybe it’s recency bias, but this is the most memorable regular season game that didn’t involve the Phillies clinching a postseason berth, and it takes on special significance given the death of Halladay at just 40 years old and the 10th anniversary of this gem.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this perfect game is how many times he came within one pitch of losing it. He went to a three-ball count on seven Miami hitters, six of them full counts. If one of those pitches is out of the strike zone, or if one of those pitches is mistakenly called a ball by the home plate umpire, the perfect game does not happen.
Halladay’s stuff wasn’t as good as in his postseason no-hitter that was to follow a few months later, but he relied on his sinker to record 11 strikeouts on the night. It truly was a masterpiece that has taken on new life in the wake of his untimely passing.
3. 1980 Phils Beat Expos in Montreal
When the Phils took down the Expos on the second-to-last day of the season, it signaled the beginning of a miraculous run through the postseason that would end with the team’s first world championship. But it fails to match the degree of leverage that the two games in front of this game on this list had, when you consider that even if they lost, the ‘80 Phils would have had more chance to lock the NL East down. Still, this is an amazing game.
2. 1950 Phillies Win Pennant on Final Day
With the Phils’ run of success in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s and from 2007-11, we forget about what an absolutely incredible game this was and what was at stake.
The Phillies entered the final game of the season with a one-game lead over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League. Had they lost at Ebbets Field, it would have forced a three-game playoff between the two teams, and it’s doubtful the Phils would have been able to stop the Dodgers from winning the pennant. The 1950 season featured a near 1964-like collapse, as the Phils had squandered a 7 1⁄2 game lead with just 11 days left in the regular season, they had lost eight of their last 10 and five straight heading into the final contest.
Robin Roberts got the start, but it was unknown how long he could go, given he’d started three times in the previous seven days. Their No. 2 starter Curt Simmons, had been lost for the rest of the season when he was called to active military service. Brooklyn went with their ace Don Newcombe, and the two hurlers dueled each other into the 9th inning, with the score tied 1-1.
Bunning, miraculously still in the game, allowed the first two runners to get on, setting the Dodgers up with runners on first and second with nobody out. Slugger Duke Snider then ripped a hit to center fielder Richie Ashburn, who came up firing to home plate. Brooklyn’s third base coach sent the runner on 2nd, Cal Abrams, and Abrams was thrown out by 10 feet on a season-saving throw by Ashburn. Roberts somehow managed to escape the 9th without any damage, which set up a historic Phillies’ top of the 10th.
Manager Eddie Sawyer, with his pitching staff razor thin, allowed Roberts to lead off the inning, and the exhausted pitcher came through with a ground ball base hit up the middle. Eddie Waitkus then blooped a single to center to put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out. That brought left-hander Dick Sisler to the plate, who walloped an opposite field three-run blast to give the Phils a 4-1 lead. It is still perhaps the greatest home run in Phillies history, and certainly the least talked-about.
Roberts would retire the Dodgers in the 10th, and the Phils won the pennant and a trip to the World Series against the New York Yankees.
1. Phillies Clinch 2007 NL East Crown
This is the most exciting regular season game in Phillies history. It was historic, dramatic, and euphoric.
Everyone knows the story. The Phils had somehow hunted down the New York Mets, seven games back with 17 to play, and entered the final game of the season tied with New York at the top of the NL East standings. Game 162 against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park started at 1:30pm ET, while the Mets game against the Marlins at Shea began a half hour earlier. As fans in the stadium watched the scoreboard intently, they saw one run go up on the board for Miami in the top of the first. Then four runs. Then seven.
Before the Phillies had even taken the field, they knew the Mets were going to lose. If they could beat the lowly Nationals, they would pull off the greatest comeback in baseball history.
What happened next was pure joy. Jamie Moyer pitched his heart out, Jimmy Rollins hit his 20th triple, Ryan Howard hit his 47th home run, and Brett Myers struck out Dmitri Young on an insanely good curveball to give the Phils their first NL East crown in 14 years, and launch an unprecedented run of success for the franchise.
On the latest episode of Hittin’ Season, I spoke with Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic about Halladay’s perfect game and the story she and Matt Gelb wrote about the special memento he gave the entire team that has taken on new meaning in the wake of his passing.