Who ever heard of Bill Shettsline? Folks around the front office, and possibly a few of the players knew him; he was the club secretary; and then, he was the team field manager. On June 17, after a humiliating 16-4 pasting by the New York Giants had dropped the team to 19-27, President Al Reach fired manager George Stallings and tapped Shettsline, who had never played an inning of professional baseball, to be the Phillies’ new manager. The players had threatened to mutiny and refuse to continue play under the abrasive, 29–year-old Stallings, whose nickname, “Gentleman George” was obviously coined as an ironic thrust. But then, to everyone’s surprise, Shettsline turned out to be a good manager; his 1889 Phillies finished the season at 78-71, in 6th place, and he continued to manage the team for four more years, compiling a 367-303 record. In 1905 Shettsline purchased the team and then sold it in 1909.
One of the things Shettsline did was establish a four-man pitching rotation, much to the benefit of rookie lefthander Wiley Piatt who was 4-4 under Stallings, but 20-10 under Shettsline with six shutouts, tied for the league lead with Cleveland righthander, Red Powell. Two of Piatt’s shutouts were by 1-0 scores, and two were 2-0. Typically, Piatt pitched to the game situation, when his team scored many runs he was likely to allow many, but mostly not enough to lose.
Another rookie to light up the 1898 Phillies sky was 22 year-old outfielder Elmer Flick who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963. Flick hit .302 in his rookie year with a .430 on base percentage. After four years learning his trade as a Phillie, Flick jumped to the newly-formed American League in 1902 and became a star with Cleveland. Nap Lajoie played second base and led the Phillies in homeruns and RBIs in 1898, outperforming Ed Delahanty. Lajoie, like Flick, fled the Phillies in 1902 for the American League. When the what if? game is played in Philadelphia, the names of Lajoie and Flick should head the list of guys who might have affected the history of the franchise in positive ways had they completed their careers as Phillies. Billy Hamilton was the first; there would be more.
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- Al Reach, Bill Shettsline, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty, Elmer Flick, George Stallings, Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Phillies