Every Phillies Season Ever - Part 1
Learn the franchise's entire history before Opening Day.
The first 140 seasons of Phillies baseball produced two championships. That sounds bad, but the first 97 seasons produced zero championships. So the franchise is sort of on a roll.
Before the 2023 season starts, let’s take a look at how we got here. Over the course of the next few newsletters, we’ll revisit every Phillies season.
1883: The first Phillies season ever (although they were more commonly called the Quakers until 1890). Team goes 17-81. On the bright side, they set franchise records for everything.
A Philadelphia Inquirer report from Opening Day shows that major league umpires were against us from the very start: “On a passed ball [Philadelphia outfielder Blondie] Purcell started for third, and fairly reached there, but was decided out at third, a very unjust decision, which was vigorously hissed.”
1884: The Phils hire respected baseball pioneer Harry Wright as manager. The team commits 103 fewer errors than it did in 1883 and wins over twice as many games. Finishes 39-73 overall.
1885: The Phillies post their first winning season, finishing 56-54. Charlie Ferguson throws the franchise's first no-hitter on August 29. Ferguson would be the team's best pitcher and hitter for a few years.
1886: This club goes 71-43 and finishes 4th in the NL. Charlie Ferguson starts 45 games, completes 43, and wins 30. He posts a 1.98 ERA over 395 innings and, best of all, doesn’t die of typhoid fever.
1887: The Phils open Philadelphia Park (later known as the Baker Bowl) at Broad & Lehigh. Team goes 75-48, winning 16 straight to end the season. They finish 2nd in the NL, 3.5 games behind the Detroit Wolverines. Charlie Ferguson hits .337 and feels great.
1888: Not a good season. Charlie Ferguson contracts typhoid fever and dies in April at the age of 25. The team bats .225 and scores 366 fewer runs than it scored in 1887. Attendance plummets. 69-61 overall.
1889: The Phillies go 63-64. Outfielder "Big Sam" Thompson joins the team and hits 20 HR—four more than all of the 1888 Phils combined. Big Sam makes $2,500 that season.
1890: The team acquires outfielder "Slidin' Billy" Hamilton. He hits .325 with a .430 OBP and 102 SB, and the Phils finish 3rd in the NL with a 78-53 record.
1891: Club goes 68-69, finishes 4th place in the NL. Slidin’ Billy hits .340 and steals 111 bases.
1892: The Phils finish 87-66, once again 4th in the NL. Outfielder Ed Delahanty bats over .300 for the first of 12 consecutive seasons. In three of those seasons he’d bat over .400.
1893: Outfielders Ed Delahanty, Sam Thompson and Billy Hamilton bat .368, .370 and .380, respectively, as the team averages 7.6 runs per game. The original '93 Phils have some pitching issues though. They go 72-57 and finish 4th.
1894: Delahanty, Thompson and Hamilton each bat over .400 with an OPS over 1.000. Hamilton's numbers are particularly insane: .521 OBP, 100 SB, 198 runs scored. Somehow the team still finishes 4th with a 71-57 record.
1895: The Phillies lead the league in attendance as they stay in the pennant race until late September. Finish in 3rd place at 78-53. The outfield is still ridiculous- Delahanty: .404/.500/.617; Thompson: .392/.430/.654; Hamilton: .389/.490/.495, 97 SB.
1896: Before the season, the Phils inexplicably trade future Hall of Famer Slidin’ Billy Hamilton to Boston. In return they get player-manager Billy Nash. Nash is so garbage that he benches himself. Team goes 62-68.
1897: New Phillies star Nap Lajoie hits .361 and slugs .569, but the team finishes 55-77 (10th in the NL).
1898: Phillies pitcher Bill Duggleby hits a grand slam in his first major league at bat. Nobody would do that again for over 100 years… Then it would happen three times between 2005 and 2010. (In 2010 it’s Daniel Nava off of Joe Blanton.) The 1898 team finishes in 6th place at 78-71.
1899: The Phils close out the 19th century with a solid 94-58 season (3rd place). Delahanty hits .410. Youngsters Nap Lajoie and Elmer Flick hit .378 and .342, respectively. A four-pitcher starting rotation produces three 20-game winners. The future looks bright! Championships are on the way!
(Narrator: The future was grim and championships were very far away.)
1900: Team goes 75-63 and finishes in 3rd place. They score 20 runs in multiple games, which wouldn’t happen again until 2008.
1901: Nap Lajoie and two other players (Bill Bernhard and Chick Fraser) ditch the Phillies to join the newly founded Philadelphia Athletics of the American League. Lajoie hits .426 and wins the triple crown. Back in the NL, the Phils finish in 2nd place with an 83-57 record.
1902: More Phillies players jump to the AL, including Ed Delahanty and Elmer Flick. The team goes 56-81, finishing 7th. Meanwhile, the Athletics win a pennant in their 2nd year of existence and hold a parade down Broad St.
1903: The World Series is established, and the NL’s Pittsburgh Pirates beat the AL’s Boston Americans to become the first World Series champions. 77 years later your Philadelphia Phillies will finally celebrate that title… But the 1903 Phils go 49-86.
In July 1903, Ed Delahanty was kicked off a train heading from Detroit to New York. Allegedly, he was drunk and disorderly. His mangled body would be found a week later beneath Niagara Falls.
It’s unclear to this day whether his death was an accident, a suicide, or a murder.
On that cheery note, we’ll take a break. If you’d like to read about the 1904-2022 Phillies before Opening Day, subscribe here for free.
Tweets of the week.
Here are this week’s top Phillies tweets, selected by a panel of individuals with perfect March Madness brackets:
The Phils’ massive new video board is sick. “Ill,” even. Crossing Broad tracked down this pic from IG user chrisdenoncour:
Would you like to see all of the Phillies’ 2022 postseason home runs in two minutes? Of course you would. DidThePhilsLose has you covered:
The Phillies wore green hats on St. Patrick’s Day, but not their traditional green jerseys. They said it had something to do with a Nike contract, but we know the real reason:
Edwin Diaz injured a tendon in his knee while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic, and he’s expected to miss the entire 2023 season. Just a brutal development, and you have to feel terrible for Diaz. But somehow the freak injury ignited a debate about whether MLB players should be in the WBC at all. I’m with Jared Carrabis on this one:Kevin’s going through it right now, so I’m not gonna undress him for this tweet. BUT IF I I DID, I would counter with…Edwin Diaz didn’t even get hurt in the actual game. Also, the WBC has been awesome and we haven’t even gotten to the bulk of the heavyweight fights yet. https://t.co/7qtw72Tq6yThe people who are defending the WBC are such dorks. That tournament sucks and is absolutely not worth risking exactly what unfolded tonight. Nobody cares and all of you pretending to care are lameKFC @KFCBarstool
Dave from BearDE has the only appropriate reaction to the Diaz news:
This week in 2008.
It’s prediction time as we inch closer to 2008 Opening Day. The Phillies are the defending NL East champs and they’re full of confidence. But members of the national media say we should temper our expectations. Here are their thoughts on the Phils:
I guess we’ll see.
Phillie you forgot about.
Wally Ritchie, 4 seasons with the Phils (1987-1988, 1991-1992). 6-5, 177.2 innings, 4 saves, 3.14 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 5.0 K/9.
Congrats to twitter handle mattyschells on winning the autographed Matt Stairs card. DM me with a mailing address and I’ll ship it out.
Next week the prize is an autographed Pat Burrell card. So if you haven’t already, now is a great time to subscribe:
This is the section of the newsletter where I make you look at my dogs.
As always, thank you for reading and GO PHILS!!!
If you keep up with the pace of doing 20 seasons per article then I can't wait to see the 1923-1943 portion where you get to cover 20 years of absolutely horrendous baseball
I enjoy reading your newsletters. Keep up the good work, John!