Former Philadelphia Phillies play-by-play announcer Harry Kalas enjoyed singing “High Hopes” during pennant seasons. In 1955, the Phillies welcomed Mayo Smith, their fourth manager in less than three years. Smith had high hopes of giving the National League title a serious chase.
The season didn’t finish the way Smith had envisioned. Philadelphia earned fourth place in the NL at 77-77, 21.5 games out of first. Sure, Phillies centerfielder Richie Ashburn garnered the NL batting title by hitting .338. However, Philadelphia wasn’t really in contention since the club once endured a 13-game losing streak.
Smith’s team needed to conclude the season on a high note. On Sept. 25, 1955, the Phillies played their regular season finale against the host New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. The Phillies defeated New York (80-74), 3-1, in the second game of a doubleheader to finish the season at .500. New York won the first game of the twin bill, 5-2.
Well, the Phillies came out on top thanks to contributions from shortstop Ted Kazanski, second baseman Bobby Morgan, and first baseman Marv Blaylock. Kazanski went one-for-four at the plate with his only home run of the season, an inside-the-parker, in the top of the fifth off New York starter Jim Hearn for a 1-0 Philadelphia advantage. Blaylock hit a solo sayonara off Hearn, his third big fly of the season, to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth. The three turned a six-four-three double play on a grounder to end a bases-loaded threat in the bottom of the seventh. Morgan and Blaylock completed a double play on a line drive by Willie Mays in the bottom of the eighth with the Phillies up by one (2-1).
Jack Meyer came out of the Philadelphia bullpen to replace starter Curt Simmons in the bottom of the ninth to attempt his 16th save with the Phillies leading by two (3-1). Joey Amalfitano started off with a single to left field. Next, Meyer faced Whitey Lockman and unfurled a wild pitch as Amalfitano advanced to second. Meyer walked Lockman to put runners on second and first with no one out in the bottom of the ninth.
Bobby Hofman represented the winning run at the plate for the Giants. Hofman lined into a triple play, Kazanski to Morgan to Blaylock. Amalfitano was out at second and Lockman had been called out at first. Kazanski, Morgan, and Blaylock completed the game-ending (and season-ending) triple play, the 18th triple play turned by the Phillies in franchise history.
Morgan batted. 232 (112-for-483) in 136 games) with 61 runs, 20 doubles, two triples, 10 roundtrippers, 49 runs batted in. and six stolen bases. Blaylock hit .208 (54-for-259) in 113 games with 30 runs, seven doubles, seven triples, three homers, six steals, and 24 RBIs. In nine games that seaaon, Kazanaki’s lone hit, RBI, and run from 12 at-bats came on the inside-the-park homer off Hearn.
*Information about the 1955 Phillies can be found in “The Phillies Encyclopedia (Third Edition)” by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.