Say It Ain’t So

It was so – the Phillies lost 90 games, and finished dead last, seven games behind the 7th place St. Louis Cardinals and 47 ½ games behind the winning Cincinnati Reds under their new manager, Pat Moran. The sainted Christy Mathewson, who had come over from the Giants to manage the Reds in 1916, and had been responsible for assembling the championship team, had not returned from France where he had been serving with the Army chemical corps. It turned out to be a problem with communication; Mathewson was fighting for his life to recover from the influenza virus that devastated the world in 1919, but letters to Reds owner Garry Herrmann were not received so Moran was hired to manage the team.

Colby Jack Coombs took a shot at managing the Phillies, but gave it up in mid-season toward the end of a second 13 grls when an 18-44 record became more than he or anybody else could take. Gavvy Cravath, at 38, old for a player, but young for a manager, took over and managed to tease 29 wins out of his way overmatched ballboys as they also lost 46. Cactus tried to show the boys how to do it, hitting .341 with 12 homeruns in 83 games. The Phillies, playing in hitter-friendly Baker Bowl, once more led the league in homeruns with 42, but the pitching also yielded the most homeruns (40) and was easily as bad as the record showed. Eppa Rixey won only six games and lost 12. In a curious August 9 deal, the Phillies traded Possum Whitted to Pittsburgh for notorious nut-case Casey Stengel. Also curious was that attendance doubled from the previous year to 240,324, possibly because the rival A’s lost 104 games, 14 more than the Phillies; it was not a good year to be a Philadelphia baseball crank.

The 1919 World’s Series, won by Cincinnati over the gambling-tainted Chicago Black Sox, has been well documented. Nobody accused the 1919 Phillies of anything but bad play.

By max blue
Baker Bowl, Casey Stengel, Christy Mathewson, Colby Jack, Eppa Rixey, Gavvy Cravath, Philadelphia Phillies, Possum Whitted


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