Every Phillies Season Ever - Part 2
Here’s the next set of stories.
If you missed part 1, you can catch up on the 1883-1903 Philadelphia Phillies seasons here.
Baseball is amazing because you can enjoy the game in so many different ways. Some people love the intricacies of in-game strategy, while others just want to see Kyle Schwarber launch baseballs to the moon. Lots of fans get into analyzing advanced stats, tracking minor league prospects, or dedicating hours each day to fantasy baseball. Other fans just want to drink beers and eat hot dogs at the ballpark. All are completely acceptable ways to consume the MLB product.
But the best way to enjoy the game, in my humble opinion, is through its stories.
Baseball’s longass history is one of its most beautiful attributes. Each generation of fans gets its own seasons and its own stories. Kids hear their parents’ stories about the stars of yesteryear. Then they watch their own favorite players age and retire, and then they tell their kids their stories. One era’s stories fade while the next era’s are created. Some stories are better than others, but they all belong to someone.
Here are some of the stories belonging to Phillies fans from the early 20th century.
1904: The 1904 Phillies go 52-100 and finish in last place, 53.5 games behind the 1st-place New York Giants. Centerfielder Roy Thomas leads the Phils’ regular starters in OBP and leads the entire league in walks. Thomas would end up leading the NL in walks seven times while with the Phils. He’s the only player in baseball history to have three times as many runs scored (1011) than RBI (299), and he has the highest career OBP to SLG ratio (.413 to .334).
1905: The Phils bounce back to respectability. 83-69, 4th place. But Connie Mack’s Athletics win another pennant over in the AL and remain the most popular team in the city, drawing 554,576 in attendance to the Phils’ 317,932.
1906: 20 year old Phillies pitcher Johnny Lush no-hits Brooklyn on May 1. Would be the franchise’s last no-hitter until Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964. Phils finish in 4th place at 71-82.
1907: Rookie pitcher George McQuillan throws 25 scoreless innings for the Phillies to start his career. Nobody in MLB would top that until 2008 (Brad Ziegler). The 1907 team finishes in 3rd place with an 83-64 record.
1908: The 1908 Phillies allow just 445 runs in 155 games. That’s the fewest runs in franchise history (with the exception of the 60-game 2020 season). McQuillan starts 42 games and leads the rotation with a 1.53 ERA. The team’s overall ERA is 2.10, best in the NL. Unfortunately this Phillies club can’t hit. They finish in 4th place at 83-71.
1909: This 74-79 (5th place) season is a good time to start discussing Sherry Magee, the Phillies’ best all-around player for years. His wall of fame plaque lists some impressive accomplishments, but fails to mention he once knocked an umpire unconscious. (Philadelphia sports talk radio hosts in 1909 quickly labeled Magee “a Philly Guy.”)
1910: Sherry Magee bats .331 to lead the league. Phils finish in 4th place with a 78-75 record. Check out the green jerseys.
1911: Phillies rookie Grover Cleveland Alexander leads the NL with 28 wins. Throws 31 complete games (7 shutouts). 2.57 ERA, 227 Ks, 1.13 WHIP over 367 innings. Team finishes in 4th place at 79-73.
1912: Your Phillies go 73-79 and finish in 5th. Alexander wins 19 games and leads the National League with 195 strikeouts. On April 14 the Titanic hits an iceberg.
1913: In his second season with the Phils, big outfielder Gavvy Cravath slashes .341/.407/.568 and leads the league in home runs (19) and RBI (128). The team finishes in 2nd place at 88-63.
1914: The 1914 Phillies top the league in home runs, paced by 19 from Cravath and 15 from Sherry Magee. Grover Cleveland Alexander leads the league in wins (27), complete games (32), and strikeouts (214). But the team disappoints overall, finishing in 6th place with a 74-80 record.
1915: The Phillies finally win the pennant!!! Alexander has one of the greatest seasons in MLB history, going 31-10 with a 1.22 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. He throws 36 complete games, strikes out 241 batters in 376.1 innings, and leads major league pitchers in just about everything.
The rest of the pitching staff isn’t bad either. Erskine Mayer wins 21 games with a 2.36 ERA. Al Demaree, Eppa Rixey, and George Chalmers post ERAs of 3.05, 2.39, and 2.48, respectively. George McQuillan is back with the Phillies after a few years with other teams, and he chips in with a 2.12 ERA over 63.2 innings.
Meanwhile, the offense leads the league in home runs again with 58. Cravath slashes .285/.393/.510 with 24 HR and 115 RBI, and first baseman Fred Luderus hits .315/.376/.457.
The team goes 90-62 in the regular season and even wins Game 1 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox… before losing the next four. (Spoiler alert: The Phillies won’t win another World Series game for 65 years.) 20 year old Babe Ruth is on the 1915 Boston team, but doesn’t get to play in the Series except for one pinch-hit appearance.
There’s a lot more that’s great about the Phillies’ first World Series team. We’ll discuss in a future newsletter. But you need to know immediately that a man named Bud Weiser is on their roster.
1916: Alexander wins his 2nd straight pitching triple crown, with 33 wins, a 1.55 ERA and 167 Ks. Throws 16 shutouts, still the single-season record. The Phils go 91-62 but failed to repeat as NL champs, finishing 2.5 games behind Brooklyn.
1917: Team finishes in 2nd again at 87-65. Alexander picks up another triple crown. 30 wins, 1.83 ERA, 200 Ks. THEN THE PHILLIES TRADE HIM FOR A GUY NAMED F**KING PICKLES.
Pickles Dillhoefer plays 8 games for the team, bats .091, dies of typhoid.
Grover Cleveland Alexander goes on to fight in WWI, win a World Series, and get elected to the Hall of Fame.
1918: 55-68, 6th place. Things really go off the rails after the Alexander trade.
Children born in 1918 would see the Phils finish over .500 just once by the time they turned 30. They would also live through the Great Depression & WWII (if typhoid didn't get them first).
1919: Year of the Black Sox World Series scandal. But this is of absolutely no concern to your Philadelphia Phillies, who finish last in the NL. 47-90 record.
1920: Gavvy Cravath's last season. He is a player-manager at this point, but plays very little. Cravath holds the 20th-century career HR record for one year... then Babe Ruth takes it and holds it for over 50 years.
Phils send Gavvy off with a last-place finish. 60-93.
1921: Just a spectacularly bad Phillies team. 51-103. Last place in the NL. Scores the fewest runs, has the highest team ERA, makes the most errors.
Albert Einstein wins the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. Here's a rare photo.
1922: 57-96, 7th place. In 23 of the 27 seasons from 1919 through 1945 the Phillies will finish in last place or next-to-last place in the 8-team National League.
Even the best 1922 Phils game is a loss. Cubs beat them 26-23, and 49 runs remains the MLB single-game record.
1923: 50-104, last place. Phillies centerfielder Cy Williams leads the majors in home runs with 41 and slashes .293/.371/.576. But the pitching staff allows the most runs in the league.
Leo Alphonso “Red” Miller pitches one game for this team. Some claim that he was a fan called out of the stands in the middle of a Phillies blowout loss on July 13. Records show that Miller did pitch only that game in his entire career, allowing 6 runs in 1.2 innings.
1924: 55-96, 7th place. We’re in the middle of Prohibition, by the way, so don’t think you can drink your way through these years.
1925: 68-85, 6th place. Phils outfielder George Harper slashes .349/.391/.558 and hits 18 home runs.
1926: George Harper slashes .314/.391/.558. So of course the Phillies trade him. The team finishes in last place with a 58-93 record.
Robin Roberts is born on September 30.
1927: 51-103, last place. Phils finish 43 games out of first. Team ERA is 5.38.
Richie Ashburn is born on March 19.
1928: 43-109, last place. The bright spot in this nightmare of a season is rookie Chuck Klein. The 23 year old slashes .360/.396/.577 with 11 home runs in 64 games.
1929: 71-82, 5th place. In his first full season, Chuck Klein hits .356 and sets an NL record with 43 HR. Veteran Lefty O'Doul joins the team and hits .398 with 32 HR. A third lefty, Don Hurst, adds 31 HR. (The Baker Bowl’s dimensions, which measured 341 feet to left field but just 280 feet to right, helped all three.)
Phils still can’t pitch (6.13 ERA), but at least they finally climb out of last place!
1930: Welp. Phils fall back into last place. 52-102 record. The stock market is a disaster, unemployment reaches 25%, and the nation is hit with the worst drought in its history. Philadelphia Inquirer comic from Oct. 1930:
Part 3 will pick up in 1931. Subscribe here for free to make sure it gets delivered to your email:
Tweets of the Week, This Week in 2008, Phillie You Forgot About, Prize Winners, and The Section of the Newsletter Where I Make You Look at My Dogs will all return in the regular Monday morning edition of 2008philz.
Thank you for reading and GO PHILS!!!!!!!