September Swoon

Richie Allen, the 64 Phillies, and Racial Integration

By (author) William C. Kashatus

Paperback - £22.95

Publication date:

15 March 2004

Length of book:

280 pages

Publisher

Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271027425

Everything seemed to be going the Phillies’ way. Up by 6 1/2 games with just 12 left to play in the 1964 season, they appeared to have clinched their first pennant in more than a decade. Outfielder Johnny Callison narrowly missed being the National League MVP. Third baseman Richie Allen was Rookie of the Year. But the "Fightin’ Phils" didn’t make it to the postseason—they lost 10 straight and finished a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Besides engineering the greatest collapse of any team in major league baseball history, the ’64 Phillies had another, more important distinction: they were Philadelphia’s first truly integrated baseball team. In September Swoon William Kashatus tells the dramatic story—both on the field and off the field—of the Phillies’ bittersweet season of 1964.

More than any other team in Philadelphia’s sports history, the ’64 Phillies saddled the city with a reputation for being a "loser." Even when victory seemed assured, Philadelphia found a way to lose. Unfortunately, the collapse, dubbed the "September swoon," was the beginning of a self-destructive skid in both team play and racial integration, for the very things that made the players unique threatened to tear the team apart. An antagonistic press and contentious fans blamed Richie Allen, the Phillies’ first black superstar, for the team’s losing ways, accusing him of dividing the team along racial lines. Allen manipulated the resulting controversy in the hopes that he would be traded, but in the process he managed to further fray already tenuous race relations.

Based on personal interviews, player biographies, and newspaper accounts, September Swoon brings to life a season and a team that got so many Philadelphians, both black and white, to care deeply and passionately about the game at a turbulent period in the city’s—and our nation’s—history. The hometown fans reveled in their triumphs and cried in their defeat, because they saw in them a reflection of themselves. The ’64 Phillies not only won over the loyalties of a racially divided city, but gave Philadelphians a reason to dream—of a pennant, of a contender, and of a City of Brotherly Love.

September Swoon captures the drama of the 1964 pennant race while shedding much light on the problems the Phillies faced with the racial integration that centered on talented rookie Richie Allen. Any Phillies fan will enjoy reading Kashatus’s interesting book.”

—Allen Lewis, former Philadelphia Inquirer baseball writer and member of the writer’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame