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Phillies Take Home Opener, 5-3

Apr. 14, 1964 - The Phillies didn’t overpower them with pitching or overwhelm them with offense tonight, but they did exhibit a dazzling defense to the New York Mets and a cheering opening night crowd of 21,016 at Connie Mack Stadium. The Phillies executed at least four eye-opening plays and these were the difference as the home club edged the Mets, 5-3.

The pesky Mets, who gave the Phillies fits last season despite their last-place finish, fell behind, 4-0, after two innings, but they kept battling back and routed starter Dennis Bennett in the fifth. The Mets could have won the game rather easily if not for the Phillies’ excellent defensive plays.

The Mets outhit the Phillies, 11-6, and left nine men on base, three times as many as Philadelphia stranded. Al Jackson, the lefty who has always been tough on the Phils, settled down after a rocky start and held the Phillies completely in check from the third until the eighth, when the winners scored their insurance tally.

The big early blow for the Phillies was a three-run homer in the first inning by Roy Sievers (pictured), the veteran first baseman who ranks sixth on the all-time list of active major league players in home runs. “It felt good when I hit it,” Roy said afterward, “but I was afraid it was going to die on me. They tell me it just about got out.”

Johnny Klippstein was the winners’ mound hero. He replaced Bennett in the fifth and, after yielding a two-run single to Bob Taylor, the first batter he faced, kept the New Yorkers in check the rest of the way to pick up the victory.

The big plays the Phillies made in the field were, in order:

— A diving stop by second baseman Tony Taylor of Ron Hunt’s hard grounder with Mets on first and second and nobody out in the third innings.

— An ankle-high, bare-handed grab of Taylor’s hurried flip of the ball on the same play by shortstop Bobby Wine, who then fired to first to complete a double play.

— A one-handed catch of a vicious liner to deep left by rookie Danny Cater with two Mets on base and one out in the seventh to rob pinch-hitter Jesse Gonder of at least a double.

— A sprawling stop in foul territory and accurate throw to Klippstein by first baseman Ruben Amaro, who had just come into the game in a defensive move, to take away at least a double from pinch-hitter John Stephenson at the start of the ninth.

“There was a lot of leather out there,” said happy Philadelphia manager Gene Mauch afterward. “They were great plays — but I hope they’re the kind of plays that don’t have to be made too often.” Met manager Casey Stengel’s analysis? “The home run beat us.”

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