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The Road is a Lonely Place
In 1889 the Phillies were hard to beat when they played at home; on the road it was another story; they were 43-24 at home, 20-40 away. At home they scored 467 runs, on the road only 274. Home attendance picked up to 281,869 accordingly, in large part no doubt because they liked to see how far Big Sam Thompson could hit a baseball; the big guy slammed 20 homeruns, 36 doubles, 4 triples, and batted in 111 as the Phillies for the first time had an authentic slugger in the lineup.
The home field advantage was never more evident than in the first month of the season when, after a season opener in Washington, the team played 28 straight home games, facing all seven other teams in the league and ending the month with a 19-10 record, two games ahead of the pennant winning New York Giants. Charlie Buffinton pitched 11 of those games on his way to a 28-win season with 16 losses.
It was mostly downhill after May as the Phillies lost more games than they won and finished with a sub .500 season at 63-64 in fourth place, 20 ½ games behind the Giants who edged one game ahead of the Boston Beaneaters on the final day of the season despite a heroic effort by righthander John Clarkson. From September 18 until the end of the season on October 5, Clarkson was the starting pitcher in 14 of his teams’ 16 games; he won 10 but could not bring in the final game against Pittsburgh. A case could be made that the pennant was lost by the Beaneaters in Philadelphia on September 16 when Charlie Buffinton beat Clarkson 3-2.
In 1889 Detroit was a decade or so away from becoming the Motor City with a population too small to support a Major League baseball franchise. The Wolverines folded after the 1888 season, replaced by the American Association Cleveland Blues who were renamed the Spiders allegedly because so many of their players were skinny.
The Phillies’ payroll in 1889 was $24,150, top dollar of $4,000 to team captain Arthur Irwin. Sam Thompson was paid $2,500.By max blue