Phillies Battle for 7th Place
The 1920s were roaring, the Phillies were not. They were competitive only with the other two bad teams in the league; against the last place Boston Braves and the 6th place St. Louis Cardinals they had winning records (12-10). They finished 7th at 55-96, losing eight fewer games than in 1923 but still way behind even 6th place St.Louis. Some looked on this as progress. Others remembered what it felt like to win a pennant in 1915, and there were legions of fans who remembered the 1895 team when the Phillies had four outfielders hit over .400, and Billy Hamilton scored 198 runs. They still wondered how that team could only finish in 4th place, 18 games behind the winning Baltimore Orioles.
The fate of the baseball fan – when your current team is failing, remember the good old days.There was never any lack of fan interest in Philadelphia, but in recent years it was hard to continue caring when management persisted in dealing away the best players for guys who ought to be working as a street cleaner rather than pawning themselves off as ballplayers. On May 25, the Phillies purchased Ray Steineder from the Pirates – why? Here was a so-called righthanded pitcher who somehow had a two-year major league career in which he pitched a total of 86 innings. Why would you buy a guy like that?
And what was the point of trading Curt Walker to Cincinnati for George Harper? Both were lefthand hitting outfielders who played 11 years of major league ball with strikingly similar career numbers for also ran teams. And why would you sell Cliff Lee? It was hard to stay interested.
Competition by the Phillies against the league’s better teams was lacking, although somehow the team gathered itself to win seven games against the Giants who won their 4th straight pennant. McGraw’s Giants, after comparatively easy wins in 1921, 1922, and 1923, found themselves in a death struggle with “Uncle” Wilbert Robinson’s Brooklyn Robins sparked by speed baller Clarence Arthur, better known as Dazzy, Vance (28-6, 262 Ks in 308 innings), and long time Cardinal ace pitcher, now a Robin, moist baller, “Spittin’ Bill” Doak.
But as bad as the Phillies were, some of the Giants took them seriously enough to offer bribes to “go easy” in a game the Giants needed to clinch the pennant on September 27. It didn’t take long for Commisioner Landis to land hard on Giants’ outfielder Jimmy O’Connell and coach Cozy Dolan. When they admitted (say what?) to approaching Phillies shortstop, Heinie Sand with unnamed incentives to play with limited interest, Landis immediately banned them from baseball.
The World’s Series was a rollicking seven-game affair featuring the first post season appearance of Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson. They called him “the Big Train”, and here he was after 18 seasons and 376 wins. Johnson lost in his debut, but the Senators’ prevailed in seven sparked by Goose Goslin (.344, 3 homeruns), and Bucky Harris (.333, 2 HRs). For the Giants, Frankie Frisch hit .333 and Bill Terry .429.