With another Red October upon us, we’re taking a look back at great moments in Phillies postseason history, from the epic 1980 NLCS vs. Houston, to the Dude’s extra-inning blast against the Braves in ‘93, to “Bedlam at the Bank.”
After a decade in the baseball wilderness, the Philadelphia Phillies finally returned to the postseason in 2022, capturing the eighth National League title in the franchise’s 140 year history. And though they came up two wins shy of winning the World Series last fall, their improbable and thrilling postseason run reminded many of the sheer excitement that October (and November) baseball brings.
As the Fightins get set for another Red October, let’s take a look back at 11 of the best postseason moments in franchise history.
Oct. 12, 1980, National League Championship Series, Game 5, vs. Houston Astros
Someone really ought to make a documentary about the 1980 NLCS, viewed by many as one of the greatest postseason series in baseball history. The final four games all went into extra innings. For a while, it didn’t look like extra innings would be needed in Game 5, with the Astros up 5-2 at home entering the 8th inning, and future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan on the mound. Ryan faced four batters that inning and never recorded an out as the Phillies scored five times in the 8th. The Astros answered with two runs to tie it in the bottom of the 8th. Garry Maddox knocked in Del Unser for the game-winning run with a double in the top of the 10th, allowing the Phillies to return to the World Series for the first time in 30 years.
Oct. 21, 1980, World Series, Game 6, vs. Kansas City Royals
After 97 agonizing years (September 1964, anyone?), the Phillies finally won the first World Series in franchise history in 1980. In the deciding Game 6, they pretty much stuck to the script they followed all season. Excellent starting pitching from ace Steve Carlton, clutch hitting from third baseman Mike Schmidt, and a high-wire escape act by reliever Tug McGraw. In the top of the 9th, however, one play was quite unscripted, and likely saved the day. With one out and the bases loaded, Royals second baseman Frank White lifted a foul pop toward the Phillies dugout. Catcher Bob Boone and first baseman Pete Rose converged, the ball popped out of Boone’s mitt but Rose was right there to snare it. One Willie Wilson strikeout later, the Phillies were world champions.
Oct. 8, 1983, National League Championship Series, Game 5, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Philly-L.A. rivalry was very much a thing in the late 70s and early 80s. In the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off the Philadelphia 76ers twice in the NBA Finals (1980 and 1982), before the Sixers finally beat the Lakers in the 1983 finals. It was a similar story in baseball, with the Dodgers defeating powerhouse Phillies teams in the NLCS in 1977 (Black Friday, anyone?) and 1978. Several months after the Sixers defeated L.A., the Phillies followed suit, thanks to a big swing from left fielder Gary Matthews. His first-inning three-run home run set the tone for an eventual 7-2 rout, and the Phillies’ second NL Pennant in four seasons.
Oct. 11, 1993, National League Championship Series, Game 5, vs. Atlanta Braves
The Phillies didn’t just end a decade-long playoff drought in 1993, they did so by going worst-to-first. Though the 1993 Phillies were a one-hit wonder, they remain one of the most beloved teams in franchise history, thanks to the many characters who comprised that ragtag roster. Like closer Mitch Williams, centerfield Lenny Dykstra, and veteran reliever Larry Andersen. All three played a huge part in the Phillies’ pivotal Game 5 victory in the 1993 NLCS. As he did in Game 1, Williams coughed up the lead in the 9th, sending the game into extra innings. With one out in the top of the 10th, Dykstra launched a solo home run to put the Phillies ahead. Out of necessity, Andersen served as the unlikely closer in the bottom of the 10th and sealed the victory. Two days later, the Phillies would be headed back to the World Series.
Oct. 13, 2008, National League Championship Series, Game 5, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Phillies would go another 14 seasons without making the playoffs before finally returning in 2007. After being swept by the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 National League Division Series, they were determined to play deeper into October in 2008. Thanks to Matt Stairs, they did. The Phillies were up in the NLCS 2-1, but the Dodgers were on the verge of evening things up with a 5-3 lead in the top of the 8th inning at Dodger Stadium. The Phillies had other ideas. First, center fielder Shane Victorino evened the score with a two-run home run off reliever Cory Wade. Three batters later, pinch hitter Matt Stairs hit one of the most memorable home runs in Phillies history, a two-run moonshot off Jonathan Broxton that put the Phillies ahead to stay, setting them toward their first World Series appearance in 25 years.
Oct. 27-29, 2008, World Series, Game 5, vs. Tampa Bay Rays
This was a game so epic, it began on Monday and didn’t finish until Wednesday. With the Phillies needing just one victory to clinch only the second World Series crown in team history, they took an early 2-0 lead over the Rays at Citizens Bank Park before the rain started to fall. By the time the Rays tied it up in the 6th, the field was unplayable and the game was suspended until the weather cleared up—which was some 48 hours later. When the game resumed in the bottom of the 6th, the Phillies quickly regained the lead. Just as quickly, the Rays tied it back up on a Rocco Baldelli home run in the 7th. They would have taken the lead a few batters later if not for the quick-thinking Chase Utley, who nabbed Jason Bartlett at home plate thanks to a fakeout, and a perfect throw to catcher Carlos Ruiz. The Phillies would take the lead on a Pedro Feliz single in the bottom of the 7th. Two innings later, they were world (blanking) champions.
Oct. 12, 2009, National League Division Series, Game 4, vs. Colorado Rockies
Apologies to Chase Utley’s foul-mouthed proclamation at the end of the 2008 World Series parade, but Ryan Howard’s “Get me to the plate, boys” might be the most important postseason words in Phillies history. That’s because Howard’s teammates followed through on the Big Piece’s dugout call to action in the top of the 9th of Game 4 of the NLDS. Trailing the Rockies 4-2 at a frigid Coors Field, Howard clubbed a two-run double to tie the game. Jayson Werth followed with a game-winning single to plate Howard, and the Phillies moved one step closer to their second straight NL Pennant.
Oct. 19, 2009, National League Championship Series, Game 4, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Another year, another showdown with the Dodgers in the NLCS. And another showdown with Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. One year after Matt Stairs took him deep in L.A., Jimmy Rollins took Broxton into the gap in Philly with two outs and two men on in the bottom of the ninth. Not only did J-Roll walk the Dodgers off, it spawned one of the greatest baseball-movie mashup in the history of the internet.
Oct. 6, 2010, National League Division Series, Game 1, vs. Cincinnati Reds
Huge October moments were common for the Phillies around this time—none bigger than Roy Halladay’s postseason debut. After tossing a perfect game against the Marlins during the regular season, greatness was anticipated each time Doc took the ball. But no one could have predicted what Halladay accomplished against the Reds to open the NLDS, when he threw just the second no-hitter in MLB history. A lone walk to Jay Bruce was the only baserunner Halladay allowed. And it was capped off by a truly amazing play from Halladay’s battery mate, Carlos Ruiz.
Oct. 14, 2022, National League Division Series, Game 3, vs. Atlanta Braves
The 2022 Phillies snuck into the postseason as the final Wild Card team in the newly expanded playoff format. No one gave them much of a chance. When they upset the St. Louis Cardinals on the road in the first round, it was considered a fluke. When they split the first two games of the NLDS in Atlanta, people shrugged. But when Rhys Hoskins spiked his bat after hitting a monstrous 3-run home run off Atlanta’s Spencer Strider in front of possibly the loudest crowd to ever assemble at Citizens Bank Park, the respect the Phillies had rightfully earned was finally given to them.
Oct. 23, 2022, National League Championship Series, Game 5, vs. San Diego Padres
How monumental was Bryce Harper’s two-run, game-winning shot off of Padres reliever Robert Suarez in the decisive Game 5 of the 2022 NLCS? Generations from now, people in Philadelphia will still be saying “Bedlam at the Bank”—the phrase Phillies radio announcer Scott Franzke used to describe the scene after Harper launched the dramatic 8th inning home run that sent the Phillies to the World Series.
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