Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 16.
THE DATE: July 3, 1993
THE GAME: Phillies vs. San Diego Padres, Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
THE STAKES: Phillies are trying to hold onto a shrinking National League East lead
THE GREAT: July 2, 1993, was an exciting Friday in the Malcolm household. It was the day before our annual summer vacation.
The next morning, at about 6:30 a.m. because you have to get there, we’d hop into the car and begin our drive. Over the Betsy Ross Bridge. Route 73 to Route 70 to Route 72. Driving past by the Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area, the smell of sea salt overtakes the car, indicating we’re close.
Anticipation begins to run high. Sugar rises. Until, finally, the enormous Ron Jon Surf Shop rises above the landscape, greeting us as we arrive at our destination. Within minutes we’re pulling up to some house in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island, and for one week, nothing else matters but ensuring your skin doesn’t turn completely red.
But before that Dad has to pack the Astro van. The alarm sounds at 4 a.m. He trudges out of bed, heads downstairs to start a pot of coffee and flips on the television. Since the Phillies were the last thing we watched, it goes right to PRISM. And, oh, look! The Phillies and Padres game is on replay. Now Dad can see what happened in the second game of the doubleheader, since rain had pushed the start time back until some time after he went to bed.
He watches for a moment. It’s odd. Jay Johnstone and Chris Wheeler are talking as if the game is still going on. Now they’re showing the MAB Paints clock. It says 4:15. Our living room clock says … oh my God.
Craig Shipley hit a three-run home run off the Phils’ Jose DeLeon, the mercenary chosen to start game two of this doubleheader, a game that began at 1:28 in the morning. The Padres extended the lead to 5-0 by the fourth, so you’d think the game is out of reach. Why the heck would the Phils care to win this ridiculous game?
Well the Phils’ lead in the division was shrinking, now at six games (from a season-high 11.5). And they lost game one of the scheduled day-night doubleheader, which endured multiple rain delays. Also, in short, the 1993 Phillies were nuts, and this beautiful early morning game symbolizes the team’s gritty, never-die attitude. How dare someone come into our house and sweep us away? Especially at 1 in the morning, when we did our best work?
So in the fifth, down 5-1 with two on, Ricky Jordan slammed a big home run, a three-run shot cutting it to 5-4. David West and Larry Andersen would hold the deficit until the eighth, when pinch-hitter Darren Daulton punched a single through the hole to knot it up.
Yup, pinch-hitter Darren Daulton. “Dutch” hung around all morning to ensure his boys could win this crazy one.
More crazy were the fans. Since the game started after 1 a.m., folks leaving bars (and noticing the Phils were still in the early innings) decided “Hell, why not take in a ballgame?” So during game two, a decent amount of fans actually flooded into the Vet, bringing their drunkenness and rowdiness. Hell yeah.
San Diego threatened Mitch Williams in the ninth, but “Wild Thing” kept it shut. The Phils put pinch-runner Tommy Greene (yup) on second in their half of the ninth, an he broke for home on a crazy wild pitch. But he was thrown out. On to the 10th.
In the 10th against Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, Incaviglia walked. Jim Eisenreich singled. And with one out and no more bench players, Jim Fregosi had no choice but to let Williams hit.
We know what happened next.
“Mitchie-Poo” won it. The Phils celebrated. Thousands of drunks at the Vet went nuts. And Dad could finish packing, as the wild and wonderful game ended at 4:40 a.m.