Fourth Is Better Than Last

Another pennant came to Philadelphia, but not to the Phillies, although they got a lot better They put up 83 wins for a 31-game improvement in the standings with pretty much the same team as last year’s tail-enders. Manager Hugh Duffy gets the credit; he brought a couple of aging pitchers over from his old team, the Boston Beaneaters, to stir things up around the batting cage. Togie Pittinger went 23-14, and Kid Nichols, with already 350 major league wins to his credit, went 10-6. It was the Kid’s final season, and one can only speculate what his presence brought to the Phillies’ clubhouse.

A fourth place finish behind McGraw’s world-beaters (105 wins), followed by the Pittsburgh Pirates (96), and the Chicago Cubs (92). In the first 13 years of the 20th century, those three teams dominated the top three spots in the National League. The Giants won five pennants, Pittsburgh and Chicago four each In those years, the Phillies were the only other team to horn in on the fun with a third place finish in 1907, and a second place finish in 1913.

McGraw agreed to a World’s Series this time around, and did not hesitate to say, “I told you so”, when his team dimissed Connie Mack’s A’s, four games to one behind Christy Mathewson’s three shutouts. The A’s did not score an earned run in the entire series.    
With two major league franchises operating in the same city, it was encumbent upon schedule makers to avoid having the two teams playing at home on the same day. Also, in the absence of air travel, and automobiles still in a primitive state, trains were about the only way to get from one place to another. Here in the 21st century we can only look back on those early day club travelling secretaries, or whatever they were called, with admiration or even awe, at making arrangements for a 20 to 25 man group with all their gear, to get from, say, Philadelphia to Chicago in time for a 2 P.M. game. If you had trouble sleeping on a train you were in for a tough day at the old ballpark.

So how did the 1905 Phillies manage to have a better road (44-33) than home (39-36) record? Did Manager Duffy feed knockout drops to his benighted baseball battlers on those long, interminable overnight trips?

By max blue
Hugh Duffy, Kid Nichols, Philadelphia Phillies, Togie Pittinger


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