On the face of it, the 1912 Phillies should have done better. But they got off- years from players at every position and finished a fizzling fifth, 30 ½ games behind the winning Giants who won 103 games. Pete Alexander, at 19-17, and only three shutouts, was the biggest disappointment. After his outstanding rookie year, he never got it together in 1912. The record suggests that he might have been pitching hurt, especially in April and May when he was going 8,9, and 11 games between starts. This from a man who, when healthy, routinely pitched on two or three days rest, and often both ends of a doubleheader.
But in 1912, the Giants won their second straight pennant with a performance so dominating, that even if Alexander had gone undefeated it probably would not have made any difference. John McGraw drove them from the start, and when they completed a 16-game winning streak on July 3 to go along with four earlier nine-game winning streaks, their record stood at 54-11, and with three months left in the season, the only question remaining was: who would the Giants play in the World’s Series?
It would be the Red Sox who won game seven on a play, famous in baseball history, that must have given John McGraw a heart attack. The Giants had taken a 2-1 lead in the 10th inning on a single by Fred Merkle who had taken the bone out of his head. Giants centerfielder Fred Snodgrass’ muff of a routine fly from Hack Engle to open the bottom of the 10th is the famous play, but mostly overlooked and probably more important to the outcome, was the next Merkle bonehead play. The hero went to goat again when he and catcher Chief Myers allowed Tris Speaker’s fowl popup to drop between them on what should have been the second out. Speaker then singled to tie the score and the Sox went on to win the championship.
Bright spots for the Phillies in 1912 were few, but there were some. Fred Luderus hit 10 homeruns to establish himself as a legitimate power threat following his 16 homer 1911 season. Gavvy Cravath had 50 extra base hits including 11 homers. Two rookie pitchers made contributions - righthander Tom Seaton (16-12), and lefty Eppa Rixey (10-10). More students for the Dooin/Moran school of baseball pitchology. Rixey was a 6’5” beanpole who answered to the nickname “Jeptha”. In 1920, after eight productive seasons with the Phillies, he became one of those footnotes in baseball history – a Phillies pitcher who after being traded, went on to a Hall of Fame career.
By max blue
- Eppa Rixey, Fred Luderus, Fred Merkle, Fred Snodgrass, Gavvy Cravath, John McGraw, Pete Alexander, Philadelphia Phillies, Tom Seaton, Tris Speaker