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A Tenth Place Team
Billy Nash was still playing his mediocre third base for the 1897 Phillies, but again to the confusion of Phillies’ fandom, the managerial reigns were handed to Gentleman George Stallings, a guy even younger than Nash. Stallings got the team off to a blistering 8-1 start. It began on Patriots’ Day, April 19, in Boston, a day also marked by the first running of the Boston Marathon. The Phillies pulled out a highly unlikely win with Al Orth besting star Beaneater lefty Kid Nichols, 6-5. Orth beat Nichols again eight days later in Philadelphia, 10-8 for the undefeated Phillies fifth win. It was an illusion of course, as Orth finished 14-17 for a tenth place team, and Nichols went 31-11 leading his team to a hard fought championship over the three-time defending champion Baltimore Orioles. Al Orth’s two April wins over Boston were all the team would get, losing the next 10 times they played. The Phillies also went 2-10 against the Orioles. .
On July 28th the Phillies won two games in Pittsburgh to almost reach .500 with a 40-42 record and hopes of rising higher. Instead, they lost 15 of 17 including a 12-game losing streak, and limped to a 55-77 10th place finish.
Larry Lajoie became a star, hitting .361 with nine homeruns, 40 doubles, 23 triples, and 127 RBIs. Ed Delahanty hit .377 with 60 extra base hits but just 96 RBIs. Sam Thompson, at age 37, played in only three games. The days of big offensive numbers were over as the team scored 10 or more runs only 22 times. And the pitching was bad, Brewery Jack Taylor leading with a 16-20 record. Attendance dropped to 290,027, fifth in the 12-team league.