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Pinky And the Hammer Return: Team Still Bad
In 1936, nearly halfway through their stumbling years in the baseball wilderness of last and near-last finishes, Phillies’ management decided to try a new approach: instead of selling or trading their good players, they would bring them back. On April 30, after losing 10 of 17 games to start the season, they traded Mickey Haslin to the Boston Bees for Pinky Whitney. Welcome back, Pinky, we missed you. On May 21, with the team at 12-21, they traded Ethan Allen and Curt Davis to the Cubs for Chuck Klein – we missed you,too, Hammer, though there were those who questioned giving up a guy like Davis who had put up 35 wins in the past two years, when decent pitching was in short supply.
The day after the Klein trade was announced, there was further rejoicing in Philadelphia when the Phillies beat the front-running New York Giants at the Polo Grounds 15-0. A red-letter day in Phillies history – Pinky Whitney hit a first inning grand slam homerun off Fat Freddy Fitzsimmons. Bucky Walters batted last, and followed Pinky’s blast with a 2-run shot of his own; he also pitched a complete game, four-hit shutout.
July 6, 1936, Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – mark it – another historical day for the Phillies – a four-homerun day for Chuck Klein. The Pirates, at 42-34, were six games back of the streaking Cardinals, and needed evey win they could get – they saw the floundering Phillies as a chance to pick up ground. But, hang on, Klein touched righthander Jim Weaver – this was a guy who deserved the name “Big Jim” – he was 6’6’’ tall and weighed 250 pounds – for a 3-run homer in the first inning. Klein’s second homer, a solo shot in the fourth inning, also off Big Jim, restored the 4-run lead as Claude Passeau battled the potent Bucs who touched him for 3 runs in the 6th on RBIs from Lloyd “little poison”Waner, Paul, “big poison” Waner, and Arky Vaughan. Pittsburgh right hand reliever, Mace Brown, was the victim of Klein’s 3rd homer, another solo, in the 7th to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead into the ninth. Passeau couldn’t hold it, and was relieved in the 9th by Bucky Walters who got the last out in a tie game. Klein’s 4th homer, this one off Bill Swift, came leading off the 10th, and proved the game-winner, though the Phils tacked on two more for a 9-6 lead. Walters, in relief was not exactly dazzling, (1 hit, 3 walks), but he was good enough to get his 6th win (against 8 losses).
Sadly, in the end, the return of the heroes made no difference in the final standings as the Phillies lost 100 games and finished last.