Philadelphia Phillies Retro Scorecard Recap: September 16,1997

(Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images)
(Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images) /

I’m finishing off this season of Philadelphia Phillies retro scorecard recaps by opening up my rigid scorecard from a game played 24 years ago today on September 16, 1997, at Veterans Stadium between the Phils and the visiting New York Mets. It’s one of the first games I ever kept score at, and it figured to feature a big milestone, as Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling entered the contest just four strikeouts shy of 300 for the season.

This was a pretty big deal, as only once before in franchise history (Steve Carlton, 1972) had a Phillies pitcher reached that mark. And now Schilling was looking to provide a rare highlight during a 1997 season where he and Scott Rolen were basically the only bright spots for a 68-win club.

On this particular Tuesday night, an announced crowd of 16,585 fans packed the Vet for the rubber match of a brief series that had seen the teams split a doubleheader the day before.

Schilling gets off to a solid start, retiring the Mets in order in each of the first two frames and whiffing three of them along the way to close to within one strikeout of 300 for the year. The Phillies also manage to spot him a lead in the bottom of the second, as Rico Brogna‘s one-out ground-rule double is followed by a two-run blast by Mike Lieberthal. It’s 2-0 Phils, and it may already be enough to hold up with Schilling on the mound.

On this date 24 years ago, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling hit a strikeout milestone against the New York Mets.

With anticipation building for the strikeout milestone, Schilling induces three groundouts in the third, and the magical K will have to wait at least another inning. The Phillies’ offense does its part to speed things up, as Midre Cummings, Mickey Morandini, and Gregg Jefferies make three outs on six pitches in the bottom half against Mets starter Rick Reed. Now it’s on to the fourth, and it’s time for some Phillies history.

Brian McRae flies out for the first out, but Edgardo Alfonzo swings and misses at a 1-2 offering, and there it is, Curt Schilling’s 300th strikeout of the season. He goes on to retire John Olerud on one pitch to end the inning, and, what do you know, Schilling is perfect through four.

Schilling tacks on two more punchouts in the fifth as part of another 1-2-3 inning. This is getting interesting. The Phillies then push another run across in the bottom of the inning, with Cummings collecting a two-out single to drive in Kevin Stocker and make it a 3-0 game.

The Mets are once again no match for Schilling in the sixth. Or the seventh. It’s stretch time at the Vet, and Curt Schilling has retired all 21 Mets he’s faced thus far.

Could it be?

No, it could not.

Schilling does strike out Bernard Gilkey to start the eighth, but he surrenders a one-out single to Luis Lopez, spoiling his bids for both a perfect game and a no-hitter. Making matters worse, Carlos Baerga doubles home Lopez to end the shutout. Schilling avoids further damage, and it’s 3-1 Phillies headed to the home half of the eighth.

The Phils can’t add to the lead, and Schilling returns to the mound for the top of the ninth. He’s at 96 pitches and has basically told Terry Francona that he will slash his tires if he sees him pick up the bullpen phone.

Matt Franco strikes out to start the inning, Schilling’s ninth K of the night. Then things get dicey, as McRae drives a home run to right to make this a one-run game.

Yet Schilling seems unfazed, as he puts away the final two Mets hitters to seal the deal and give the Phillies a 3-2 win on this memorable evening. Time of game: 2 hours, 6 minutes. Unreal. Schilling would eventually finish the 1997 season with 319 strikeouts, establishing a new Phillies record that may stand for all-time. It will end up being a career-best for Schilling, as well.

Next. Benching Alec Bohm highlights the team's ineptitude. dark

Even though it may not statistically be his best season, I feel that Curt Schilling’s 1997 campaign might be his most impressive, given that he won 17 games and posted a sub-3.00 ERA despite the team behind him. And his talent on the mound was on full display on this evening 24 years ago.