Phillies Threatened by Mack Attack

Ban Johnson was a one-man cyclone in the formation and development of the American League – all the original franchises bore his personal stamp. For Philadelphia, he put Connie Mack in charge, and Mister Mack did not disappoint. Mack shook hands with sporting goods manufacturer and Phillies minority owner, Ben Shibe, and persuaded him to buy a 50% share in the new team, to be called the Athletics. To seal the deal, Shibe had an exclusive agreement to supply baseballs for the new league. Shibe and Mack also worked together to build a new ballpark for the team; it was located between 29th and 30th on Columbia avenue in North Philadelphia, and called Columbia Park; it cost $35,000 to build. Mack took over as team treasurer and team manager. As manager he needed players and he found what he was looking for just down the street in Phillies uniforms. No less than seven players from the 1900 Phillies’ roster suited up for Connie Mack’s first A’s team, most notably Nap Lajoie and three pitchers, Chick Fraser, Strawberry Bill Bernhard, and Wiley Piatt.
On March 28, Phillies’ owner, John Rogers filed in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for an injunction barring Lajoie, Fraser, and Bernhard from playing with any other team. On May 17 the injunction was denied. Lajoie was sensational in the new league, leading by large margins in almost all offensive categories – batting average - .426, runs- 145, hits- 232, doubles -48, homeruns- 14, RBIs- 125. The pitchers were a combined 44-38 and the A’s finished fourth.

The first A’s game played in Philadelphia was on April 26, 1901 at Columbia Park before a curious crowd of 10,524 people. Philadelphia Mayor Samuel Ashbridge threw out the first pitch and the A’s lost 5-1 to the Washington Nationals. A few blocks away, at Baker Bowl, the Phillies also lost a game that day, 4-3 to the Boston Beaneaters.

For the season, the Phillies outdrew the A’s 234,937 to 206,329, the last time that would happen for many years.
For the stay-with-the-team Phillies’ players, they were ready to accept the challenge – they had something to prove; and prove it they did – prove that they could win without the big banana, Larry Lajoie. Operating with a league-mandated 16-man roster,they won 83 games, not enough to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, sparked by Honus Wagner who led the league in RBIs and stolen bases, but good enough for a respectable 2nd place finish. To plug the gaping 2nd base hole left by the departed Lajoie, manager Shettsline called on veteran Bill Hallman who responded with a .184 batting average. Shortstop Monte Cross hit .197. But the outfield was solid with Roy Thomas, Elmer Flick, and Ed Delahanty each scoring over 100 runs. The pitching was excellent – Red Donahue, Bill Duggleby, and Al Orth won 20 games each with ERAs below three, and 12 shutouts, five by Duggleby and six by Orth.  

 On September 19, all league games were cancelled out of respect for the funeral of assassinated President William McxKinley.

By max blue

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Ben Shibe, Bill Bernhard, Chick Fraser, Columbia Park, Connie Mack, Nap Lajoie, Philadelphia Phillies, Wiley Piatt


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