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Phillies’ Fortunes Dive
It could not have gotten much worse for the Phillies in 1902. Elmer Flick jumped to the A’s for a few games, then, along with Nap Lajoie, to the Cleveland Blues. Al Orth and Ed Delahanty (say it ain’t so, Ed) to the Washington Senators, Red Donahue to the St. Louis Browns. Manager Shettsline was left with a collection of sub-.300 batters, and sub-.500 pitchers who scored only 484 runs and were lucky to win 56 games and managed to stay out of last place only because the New York Giants were worse. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 103 games in a 142-game schedule, 27 ½ games ahead of the Brooklyn Superbas. Attendance plummeted to 112,066, last in the league.
Much to the grief of long-suffering Phillies’ fans, Connie Mack snatched flame throwing lefty Rube Wadell from the National League Chicago Cubs, who, along with another lefty, Gettysburg Eddie Plank, led the A’s to a pennant in only their second try. Socks Seybold, another NL refugee (from Cincinnati) hit a record 16 homeruns. Attendance soared to 442,473. The parade down Broad Street was tumultuous as the A’s captured the city’s heart, and Phillies’ fans grumbled their way into the nearest bar, learning how to lick their wounds.
Those Phillies’ fans got a small measure of satisfaction just before the season started when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision, and granted a permanent injunction barring Nap Lajoie, Chick Fraser, and Bill Bernhard from playing baseball in Pennsylvania with any team other than the Phillies. Lajoie was not complaining after signing a four-year contract at $7,000 per year to play with the Cleveland Blues. In Cleveland, the fans were so besotted with the flashy ballplayer that they voted to call their team the Cleveland Naps. In 1911, after Lajoie’s production began to slip, Cleveland renamed the team (are you ready for this?) the Molly Maguires. In 1915 they became the Cleveland Indians and so remain.