The mind-blowing summer of 1969 taught Americans a lot about themselves. But mostly it taught them geography.

Until astronauts landed there and altered our view of the universe, few knew where the Sea of Tranquility was. Fewer still had heard of Woodstock, Stonewall, or Chappaquiddick.

On the other hand, surrounded by this revolutionary expansion of boundaries and consciousness, but sadly not impacted by it, the 1969 Phillies took us on a journey to an all-too-familiar location. The world may have been transfixed on the moon that summer, but the local baseball team was earthbound, as usual, finishing 37 games out of first place.

The Phillies lost 99 games, an accomplishment that, while not comparable to a moon landing, was nonetheless remarkable. After all, 17 percent of their games - 28 - came against two expansion franchises, Montreal and San Diego.

That summer came to mind last week when the 2015 Phillies concluded their season with the same record as the '69 team - 63-99.

Unlike this largely unwatchable season, though, we couldn't turn away from the Phils in '69. Like the rest of America, which was focused on the legendary hippie spectacle at Max Yasgur's farm, Phillies fans were mesmerized by a free spirit who had a problem with trips.

Three days of peace and music were nothing. We had 162 games of turmoil and Dick Allen.

On June 24, Allen went to Monmouth Park, got stuck in traffic, and was late to a doubleheader, initiating a suspension that lasted 26 games. A month earlier, he'd missed one flight to St. Louis, then, three hours later, a second. In August, he would refuse to travel to Reading for an exhibition, prompting exasperated manager Bob Skinner to quit.

Traded after the season, Allen would be missed. All the headlines and heated conversation he generated kept us from dwelling on how bad the '69 Phillies were.

With no such diversion in 2015, Phillies fans find themselves where they were in October 1969, a place without hope. And, no surprise, some of the questions being asked about this 99-loss team were also heard in that Age of Aquarius season:

How did a team that had contended five years earlier fall so far, so fast? Had the manager lost control? Did the GM deserve to be fired? Should the remaining stars be traded or kept? And, most important, how long will it take to contend again in a division won by a Mets team rich in young pitching talent?

It would be seven years, 1976, before those Phillies reached the postseason. In the mostly painful interlude, they would lose 90-plus games three times; squander at least four No. 1 picks; and jettison their most popular players, Allen and Johnny Callison.

But in baseball - take heart, Andy MacPhail - a few shrewd moves can overcome many mistakes. In one fortuitous eight-month stretch, those Phillies made two that would be their salvation.

In June 1971, they gambled that Mike Schmidt's high school knee injury would knock him out of the first round. With their initial pick, the Phils grabbed pitcher Roy Thomas. Then they waited, hoping to land the Ohio University shortstop with the 30th overall selection.

There were anxious moments. At No. 26, Milwaukee opted for Larry Andersen, who became a very good reliever but also a poster-boy for bad personnel decisions. The big scare came at 29, where Kansas City also was seeking offensive punch. Ultimately, the Royals passed on Schmidt. Don't feel bad for them. They took George Brett instead.

The following February, St. Louis GM Bing Devine called his crusty counterpart with the Phillies, John Quinn. Cardinals owner Gussie Busch was upset by pitcher Steve Carlton's holdout and wanted him gone. Devine said he'd send the lefthander to Philadelphia in exchange for the club's best pitcher, Rick Wise.

Quinn sought counsel from his chief lieutenant, scouting director Paul Owens.

"Take him, John," Owens advised. "This guy is tall, rangy, and he's got such a natural delivery I don't think he'll ever hurt his arm."

It was Quinn's last and greatest trade. Owens succeeded him later that year. Schmidt and Carlton were augmented with earlier draft picks like Bob Boone, Larry Bowa, and Greg Luzinski and with trades for Bake McBride, Tug McGraw, and others. And from 1976 to 1983, Philadelphia's summers were glorious.

Nearly half-a-century after that '69 season, will these Phillies take seven years - or less - to contend again? Or will they descend into one of those prolonged nightmares this franchise has endured so often?

In the movie Woodstock, crowd shots occasionally reveal a young man with a full Afro and wire-rimmed glasses who looks eerily like Allen. Curious, I checked the box scores from the '69 Phils' Aug. 15-17 series with Houston to see whether maybe their enigmatic star had slipped away.

He hadn't. Allen went 4 for 12 with a pair of home runs as the Phillies took two of three.

In the end, that summer of 1969 was about shattered dreams. Allen's departure officially ended the optimism his arrival had promised. Woodstock's Utopian spirit dissipated quickly. So did all the Buck Rogers visions the lunar landing engendered.

All these years later, to keep things in context, being a Phillies fan remains something like being an LSD user. Like all of last week's references to 1969, the bad flashbacks can be intense and frequent.

But, as everyone who jammed Center City that glorious October day seven years ago still remembers, the highs are truly righteous.

@philafitz