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My Kingdom For a Pitcher
Phillies’ Manager Burt Shotton stepped out of the dugout onto the turf at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on opening day, April 15, 1930, and was immediately assaulted verbally by 30,000 screaming Brooklyn Robins’ partisans. Wilbert Robinson has managed the Brooklyn team since 1914, and when he retires after the 1931 season, the team will no longer be called the Robins but will revert back to the 1884 American Association team that was called the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Shotton has no way of knowing that from 1947 through 1950, he will be the Dodgers manager. At the moment he is up to his ears trying to make his Phillies better. After the nice finish last year, he feels that if he can tap some improvement from the lefty, Sweetland, and from “Weeping Willie” Willoughby, both of whom had winning records last year, well . . . and then there is Old Pete . . . okay, he’s 43 years-old, but he won 10 games for the Cardinals last year, and maybe there’s a few wins left in his tank, and he can always find ways to help the young pitchers.
Managers have to think that way, and after Sweetland fired a 3-hit complete game shutout at the Robins, and scored the game’s only run in the 8th after his double and a hit by Chuck Klein, the Hoosier Hammer, Shotton is quick to tell the boys that they now lead the league. Five days later, at the Polo Grounds, Shotton is ready for the big test; he will send Old Pete out to match screwballs and fadeaways with the Giants’ Carl Hubbell, 16 years younger, and an 18-game winner in 1929. It’s a classic; the old guy and the young gun matching pitch for pitch with Hubbell a 2-1 winner on Mel Ott’s homerun. But Shotton is pleased with the effort and heads for home with his hopes beginning to rise.
Reality set in soon. Sweetland’s opening shot was an illusion – he goes 7-15 with no more shutouts, and a 7.71 ERA. Willoughby ends at 4-17, ERA 7.59, and Alexander calls it a career after a pounding in relief from the Cardinals. Fidgety Phil Collins has a good year with a 4.78 ERA, 16-11, one shutout, and three saves.
The 1930 Philadelphia Phillies baseball team achieved the dubious distinction of allowing the most runs scored in franchise history, 1,199, 1,024 of them earned. They lost nine times in games where they scored 10 or more runs. Suffering mightily in comparison to the rival American League Philadelphia A’s, winning the second of three consecutive pennants in competition with the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, the Phillies, though scoring 43 more runs than last years’ 5th placers, lost 20 games more and fell flat into the basement once again, 40 games behind the winning St.Louis Cardinals,
You could not fault the hitting – team batting average - .315, second to Giants’ .319. Chuck Klein had an amazing year - .386 batting average, 250 hits, 40 homeruns, 170 RBIs. But this was the year that the Giants’ Bill Terry hit .401, and the Cubs’ Hack Wilson hit 56 homeruns, and batted in 190, so Klein’s feats were mostly overlooked, except in Philadelphia. Lefty O’Doul had another good year but down from the stratospheric 1929. It sounds odd to say a guy has a down year when he hits .383 with 202 hits and 97 RBIs. Pinky Whitney continued to shine in the middle of the lineup (.342, 207 hits, 117 RBIs.)
Toward the end of September, with the team fighting to avoid 100 losses and stay out of the cellar, it was reported that a conversation betwen two oldtimers on the City Hall Plaza in downtown Philadelphia went something like this: 1st OTer, “Did you see the game today?” 2nd OTer, “No, how’d they do?” 1st, “They scored 16 runs” 2nd , “Did they win?”
Actually they took their 100th loss that day – to the champion Cardinals who scored 1,009 runs on the season, St.Louis – 19, Philadelphia – 16.
October 13 – Les Sweetland was sold to the Chicago Cubs’
October 14 – Lefty O’Doul and Fresco Thompson traded to Brooklyn for lefthand pitcher Clise Dudley (27), lefthand pitcher Jumbo Elliot(30), and outfielder Hal “Sheriff” Lee (25).
November 6 – Tommy Thevenow and Weeping Willie Willoughby traded to Pittsburgh for shortstop Dick Bartell (23).