"The bases were drunk, and I painted the black with my best yakker. But blue squeezed me, and I went full. I came back with my heater, but the stick flares one the other way and chalk flies for two bases. Three earnies! Next thing I know, skipper hooks me and I'm sipping suds with the clubby."
Founded in 1883,
League's Philadelphia Phillies are the longest standing one-name,
one-location team in all professional American sports.
Named for a verbal shorthand of their city of residence
("Philly"), the Phillies replaced the Worcester,
Massachusetts Brown Stockings in the National
League. However, the team was not relocated - the Worcesters were
expelled from the league, and the new Phillies were given their spot. The
name has absolutely nothing to do with horses, even if contemporary
sportswriters sometimes called them "Fillies" just to be funny.
Their initial owners were John Rodgers along with Al
Reach, the sporting goods magnate and the first ever professional
baseball player according to many definitions. Reach was the man to give
the Phillies their name. The time-honored team name in the city had been
of Philadelphia", but that name was already taken by an American
Association entry and would later be adopted by the new entry in the American
League. So, Phillies it was, and Phillies it remains to this day for
the National Leaguers.
The Phillies franchise historically had four strong winning periods:
when they featured one of the strongest outfields of all time in Hall
Thompson and Ed
Delahanty. The 1894
team set an all-time mark for team batting average, but could finish
only fourth in the standings due to weak pitching. The team still
contended throughout the decade.
There is some irony to the fact that the Athletics were generally the
much stronger and more popular team in the city for decades. By the 1940s,
though, neither team was in contention very often. The Phillies'
resurgence in the early 1950s
apparently tipped the scales in their favor, and the A's soon took the
opportunity to head west, leaving the city's senior team as a solo act in
After Mike Schmidt retired in 1989,
the Phillies had a decade of losing seasons, save for a World Series berth
Beloved by the city of Philadelphia, this team with names such as Darren
Dykstra also known as Nails, and Curt
Schilling surprised the city and the nation with their achievements.
Losing to the Toronto
Blue Jays in the World Series, giving the Canadians
two consecutive World Series titles, was nonetheless disappointing. The
team was often described as "shaggy," "unkempt" and
"dirty." The previous year, noting the presence of the clean-cut
Murphy, Kruk himself described the team as "24 morons and one
Mormon." Their character endeared them to Philadelphia, and
attendance records were set the following season. But with that season's (1994)
players' strike, most of the Phillies' fan base was greatly offended, and
since then the Phillies have had little success either on the field or at
the gate - the realignment of the Atlanta
Braves into the National League East in 1994 having had a negative
effect on both as the Braves have won the division every year since
joining it, often by lopsided margins. Indeed, following their 1983World
Series loss to the Baltimore
Orioles, the team neglected to post back-to-back winning seasons until
finally doing so in 2003
and 2004; the
also was second in the NL East, only the third time the Phillies have
finished that high since the 1994 realignment (including a joint
second-place finish with the New
York Mets in 1995).
One hallmark of the Phillies throughout history is losing and inept
management. From 1919
to 1947, a
stretch of 29 seasons, the Phillies finished last 17 times and next to
last in 7 of the seasons. The small size of Baker
Bowl used to be blamed for their problems, but the continuation of
their losing ways after moving to the normal-sized Shibe
Park undercut that theory.
In a 1962
baseball magazine, there was a cartoon showing a ballplayer arriving at a French
Foreign Legion outpost. His explanation: "I was released by the
Phillies!" If the cartoon had been done a year later, it would have
as the Phillies were starting to improve while the Mets lost 120 games in
their first year.
And of course, the famous collapse of 1964,
or "Phold," is legendary. Up by 6 1/2 games with 12 left to
play, the Phillies dropped 10 consecutive games, dropping behind. Then
they started to win again, and if the St.
Louis Cardinals had lost on the final day, the Phillies would have
been included in a tie (along with the Cincinnati
Reds), forcing an unprecedented 3-team playoff for first place. It was
not to be. The Cardinals won that last game, and the Phillies had lost
their chance at the National League crown.
A rare distinction in baseball is to have hit four home runs in one
game. There are only fifteen times that this has happened. The Phillies
have had three batters with four
home runs in a game, this is more than any other team, past or
Schmidt hit his on April 17, 1976,
a warm and windy day at Wrigley
Field in Chicago.
In this wild-and-crazy game, the Cubs led 13-2 after 4 innings, only
to end up losing 18-16 in 10 innings. When Schmidt hit his fourth
homer of the day, in the top of the 10th, frustrated Cubs' broadcaster
Brickhouse asked the rhetorical question, "What is goin' on
Phillies program promoting the forthcoming
move to Veteran's Stadium.
Phillies fans have endured a reputation for generally rowdy behavior
(an old saying was "Phillies fans would boo a wedding or a
funeral").While some players have openly complained about a segment
of fans who routinely boo their own team, it must also be said that
Phillies fans are among the most loyal in the major leagues, turning out
to support the team despite a multitude of losing seasons. This is mainly
due to the fans' appreciation of players who give maximum effort; many of
the Phils' most popular players have not necessarily been the best or most
talented, but rather the scrappiest.
The Philly fans reputation for rowdiness is nothing new. Visiting team
radio announcers in the 1960s would regularly report over the airwaves
about fights breaking out in the stands at Connie
Their reputation was enhanced by several events that occurred at
Veteran’s Stadium and the general behavior in the infamous 700 level at
the Vet. The city of Philadelphia built a court into the Vet to deal with
rowdy fans. Fans have thrown snowballs at Santa during an Eagles game
(though that happened before The Vet was built) and booed a Destiny's
Child singer wearing a Lakers jersey before a NBA title game in 2001.
Phillies fans often booed their own Hall of Famers, such as Mike Schmidt.
Since the 1980s, team management has been consistently criticized as
being cheap and uninterested in winning - this despite three World Series
appearances between 1980 and 1993. A series of terrible managers and
general managers was briefly interrupted by 1993's
magical run, which ended in a World
Series defeat to the defending champions, the Toronto
Blue Jays. The Phillies or the Jays have not returned to the
post-season since. The opening of the new ballpark brought hope to fans,
but the hope has quickly faded as the team has failed to meet expectations
in the '00 decade. On October 10, 2005, general manager Ed Wade was fired
after his seventh season.
At the beginning of the 2005 season, as confirmed by The Sporting
News Baseball Record Book, the Phillies' lifetime record from
1883-2004, was 8606-9805, a .467 winning percentage. After the 2005
season, their lifetime record is 8694-9879, a .468 winning percentage. At
over a thousand games under .500, the Phillies have lost more games than
any other "major" professional team in the history of sports in
the United States.
The team's name, Phillies, is the longest continuous use of a
nickname in American professional sports. Newspaper writers tried to
change the name to "Quakers"
or "Live Wires" in the 1910s, and the team took a fan poll
giving them the secondary name of "Blue
Jays" in 1943,
but neither of them caught on as an official team name and
contemporary newspapers often called them the Philadelphia Phillies in
one part of a story and the Blue Jays in another. The Blue Jays name
seems to have fallen out of favor for good around 1949.
During the team's tenure in National League Ballpark in the 1920's
(commonly referred to as 'Baker
Bowl', after their late owner), a common joke, which was inspired
by an outfield wall advertisement, was, "the Phillies may use
Lifebuoy, but they still stink". Lifebuoy was a brand name of
soap manufactured by Lever Brothers. There were various versions of
the same joke, usually employed by detractors of other losing teams.
Until 2005, the Phillies claimed the longest national championship
drought in baseball history (including World Series precursors), at 97
years (from their founding until their victory in 1980). This
unfortunate record has just been tied by the Chicago
for home games and gray
for away games. Both with the word "Phillies" across the
front and name and number on the back. Red hats with the letter "P".
Logo design: A blue baseball infield trimmed in white and
scarlet red with a white Liberty
Bell inside and "Phillies" in scarlet red script and
underscore with blue stars dotting the "I"s in white trim.
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