Philadelphia Phillies Logo
- Citizens Bank Park
- David Montgomery, Giles Limited Partnership (Bill Giles), Claire S. Betz, Tri-Play Associates (William C. Buck), Double Play Inc
- General Manager:
- Ruben Amaro, JR.
- Played As:
The history of National League baseball in Philadelphia begins in 1883 with a team so bad they could only win 17 games in a 98-game schedule, averaging more than six errors per game; they finished 8th in an eight-team league, 23 games behind the 7th place team.
From 1883 until 1889 the team was officially, the Philadelphia Quakers, though also recognized as, and often called, the Phillies. In 1890 it was official: they were the Phillies, and except for a two-year interlude during World War II when they took the name Blue Jays, have remained the Philadelphia Phillies.
In 1884, the Quakers got a new manager; his name was Harry Wright, and he came to town with 13 years experience as a man who knew how to teach the game of baseball and how to produce winning teams; in 11 years with the Boston Red Stockings/Red Caps, he won six pennants. Harry Wright managed the Quakers/Phillies for ten years, the longest tenure of one manager in the team’s 127-year history. Wright’s Philadelphia teams never won a pennant; he came closest in 1887 with a second place finish, achieved with a 75-48 record, 3 ½ games behind the winning Detroit Wolverines. Wright’s best player in 1887 was a 24-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate named Charlie Ferguson. In 1887, Ferguson, a right-handed pitcher (coming off a 30-9 1886 season) and switch hitting batter, won 22 and lost 10 in 297 innings pitched; when not pitching, he played second base, third base, and in the outfield, leading the team with a .337 batting average and 85 RBIs in only 300 plate appearances. Tragically, Ferguson died of Typhoid Fever just before the beginning of the 1888 season. Years later, in 1931, Wilbert Robinson, a Hall of Fame manager, called Charlie Ferguson the fifth best player in baseball history.
In 1953, Harry Wright, for his widely recognized contributions to the development and refinement of the strategies and subtleties of the game of baseball, was elected by the Veterans committee to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Billy Hamilton was the next great Philly; from 1890 through 1895, Hamilton played centerfield for the Phillies, and for those six years, achieved on average: a .361 batting average, 143 runs scored, and 85 stolen bases. He was called, “Sliding Billy Hamilton.” In 1891, Sliding Billy was joined in the outfield by Sam Thompson and Ed Delahanty. Hamilton, Thompson, and Delahanty played together for five years in the Phillies outfield, putting up phenomenal numbers, topped in 1894 when all three batted over .400; in a 132-game schedule the team scored 1,179 runs, a single season high for the franchise; Billy Hamilton had 225 hits and 128 walks for an on base percentage of .521; he stole 100 bases and scored 198 runs. That powerhouse 1894 Phillies team finished 4th with a 71-57 record, 18 games behind the winning Baltimore Orioles. Hamilton, Thompson, and Delahanty were all elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.
Following the 1895 season, Billy Hamilton was traded away from Philadelphia to the confusion and resentment of loyal followers of the team; it was a scenario repeated often in the team’s 127 year history – the departure of a star or budding star player, invariably for a player of lesser ability. The next player to fall in that category arrived in 1896, the year that Billy Hamilton left. It was 21 year-old Napoleon “Larry” Lajoie. Lajoie, a sturdy (6’1’’, 195 pound) righthanded run-producing hitter, played first and second base for the Phillies until he jumped to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in the new American League in 1901; when he moved to Cleveland in 1903, the City was so happy to get him that they changed the name of the team from the Broncos to the Naps. In 1915, Lajoie left the Cleveland Naps and took his name with him; Cleveland has been the Indians ever since.
The next great Phillies star may well have been the greatest in team history; he was a right handed pitcher named Grover Cleveland Alexander, they called him Pete. In 1911, 24- year-old Pete Alexander burst upon the Philadelphia baseball scene with a 28-13 record that included seven shutouts. In 1915, Alexander was 31-10 with 12 shutouts, and led the Phillies to their first National League pennant. Alexander beat the Red Sox 2-1 in game one of the World’s Series but the Sox won the next four games to become champions.
In 1916, the Phillies finished 2nd in a torrid, four-team pennant race; Alexander was 33-12 with an all-time major league record 16 shutouts. On April 6, 1917, the U.S. declared war on Germany, five days later on April 11 in Brooklyn, Alexander won the first of a third consecutive 30 or better win season (30-13), as the Phillies once again finished second. On December 11, 1917, Alexander, along with his catcher, Reindeer Bill Killefer, was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Alexander was the starting pitcher for the Cubs on April 16, 1918, but after his 3-2 win over St.Louis on the 26th, did not pitch again in 1918 because he was drafted into the army (he was 31-years-old) and sent to the trenches in France where he suffered from shell-shock, and the effects of a gas attack. In 1919, he was back pitching for the Cubs.
On December 26, 1917, six days after getting Alexander from the Phillies, the Cubs sent 30-year-old left handed power hitter Cy Williams to the Phillies (were they feeling guilty about stealing Pete Alexander?) Williams became the next great Phillie; in a 12-year Phillies career, Cy Williams hit 217 homeruns, leading the league in 1920 (15), 1923 (41), and 1927 (30).
But Cy Williams was joining a sinking ship. Beginning in 1919, for almost three decades the Philadelphia Phillies were breathtakingly bad; in that time, they played 4,490 games and lost 2,792 times; they had 17 last-place finishes and averaged finishing 39.3 games behind the pennant winners. In 1942, they lost 109 games and finished 63 games behind the winning St. Louis Cardinals.
This is not to say they had no good ballplayers during that time. Surely the best was another left handed power hitter who picked up where Cy Williams left off. It was Chuck Klein; in 1929, his first full year with the team, the 24-year-old Klein batted .356 with a league-leading 43 homeruns and 145 runs batted in. In 1933 Klein won the batting triple crown, hitting .368, with 28 homeruns, and 120 RBIs; when the season ended he, with his $17,500 salary, was traded to the Chicago Cubs for three players and $125,000. The 1929 Phillies had a quartet of outstanding 24-year-old ballplayers. In addition to Klein, there was thirdbaseman, Pinky Whitney who, after batting in 100 or more runs in four of his first five years with the team, was traded to Boston at the age of 28. Catcher Spud Davis, after five years averaging .324 with a high of .349 in 1933 was traded to the St.Louis Cardinals. First baseman Don Hurst, in six years with the Phillies beginning in 1928, averaged .304, hit 110 homeruns, and batted in 687; he also was traded to the Cubs in 1934.
Other players who passed through the Phillies in the 1930s to become stars with other teams included: Dolph Camilli, Bucky Walters, Curt Davis, Dick Bartell, Jimmie Wilson, Kirby Higbe, and Claude Passeau.
In 1943, as if things couldn’t get worse, what with the war, and all the losing, Baseball Commisioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis banished Phillies’ owner, William Cox from organized Baseball for betting on his team. The Carpenter family of Delaware bought the team and conducted a contest for a new name to change the image of the team; the winning entry – Blue Jays. In 1944 and 1945, the Philadelphia National League team was called, the Blue Jays. In 1946, they reverted to the Phillies. Another change instituted by the new ownership was to hire a general manager for the first time in franchise history; it was 54-year-old Herb Pennock, who had been a highly successful lefthanded pitcher from 1912 until 1934 with the American League A’s, Red Sox, and Yankees. Pennock’s first move was to replace manager Bucky Harris with Freddy Fitzsimmons. “Fat Freddy” lasted two seasons, but when his 1945 team lost 108 games, Pennock replaced him with Ben Chapman. Pennock also began to put together a team better than the one he inherited. Two of his more important moves were to sign outfielder Rich Ashburn and pitcher Robin Roberts, both of whom made their major league debuts in 1948. Sadly for Pennock and the Phillies, Pennock was not there to see them; he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 30, 1948, a month before he was scheduled to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and three months before the 1948 baseball season began.
In 1949, under new manager, Eddie Sawyer, the Phillies finished in third place at 81-73, their first winning season in 17 years. In 1950, they won the second pennant in franchise history with a dramatic season-ending win over the Brooklyn Dodgers keyed by Robin Roberts’ pitching, Rich Ashburn’s defense, and famously, a three-run 10th inning Dick Sisler homerun. The 1950 team was called “the Whiz Kids.” They played a tight four-game World’s Series with the New York Yankees, but lost all four games. Roberts was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, Ashburn in 1995.
The 1950 season stands as a remarkable triumph in the midst of a decade of domination by the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants sparked by Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays, two of the first great black ballplayers to play in the National League. The first black star to play for the Phillies was Dick Allen. In 1964, Dick Allen won rookie of the year honors in the National League when he hit .318 with 29 homeruns and 91 RBIs. The 1964 team is remembered as the team that held a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games left in the season, and proceeded to lose 10 straight games finishing in a tie for 2nd place.
Two things happened in 1972 that make it a notable year in Phillies history: Steve Carlton won 27 of the team’s 59-win total, and 22-year-old Mike Schmidt made his Phillies debut. Carlton would win Cy Young awards in 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982. Schmidt would win most valuable player awards in 1980, 1981, and 1986. Carlton was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994, Schmidt in 1995.
The Phillies, sparked by Carlton and Schmidt, won their third National League pennant and first World’s Series in 1980, beating the Kansas City Royals, four games to two for the championship.
In 1983, the Phillies won again – their fourth franchise pennant, this time sparked by John Denny’s pitching and Gary Matthew’s hitting, though Carlton and Schmidt were .still involved. The team had Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, 10 years removed from their youth on Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, and so were called “the Wheeze Kids.” They lost to the Baltimore Orioles, four games to one in the World’s Series.
Ten years later, in 1993, the Phillies won another pennant and lost another World’s Series. The hitting leaders were Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, John Kruk, and Dave Hollins. Curt Schilling and Tommy Greene each won 16 games; Mitch Williams saved 43. They lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World’s Series, four games to two.
The Phillies opened the 21st century with a last place finish in 2000, but more recently, with the emergence of home-grown talent like Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels, plus astute dealing by general managers, Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, and Ruben Amaro, Jr., they have dominated the National League eastern division with championships in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ryan Howard was Rookie of the Year in 2005 and Most Valuable Player in 2006. Jimmy Rollins was Most Valuable Player in 2007.
In 2008, the Phillies won their sixth pennant and second World’s Series, beating the Tampa Bay Rays four games to one. In 2009, they won their seventh pennant but lost to the New York Yankees in the World’s Series, four games to two.
The 2010 Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants in the League Championship Series four games to two in a bid for their third straight pennant. Righthanded pitcher Roy Halladay, obtained in a trade with the Toronto Bluejays following the 2009 season, was outstanding for the 2010 Phillies, he won the Cy Young award with a 21-10 record that included a perfect game on May 27th against the Florida Marlins. Halladay pitched a no-hit, no-run game against Cincinnati in game one of the Division Championship Series, only the second time in Major League baseball history that a no hitter was pitched in a post season game (the other was Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World’s Series).
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