Phillies Open Critical Series Against Braves This Weekend

By Matt Albertson, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Philadelphia Phillies return to South Philly for a crucial series against the division leading Atlanta Braves this evening. The Braves are 4-6 in their last 10 games and were just swept in Atlanta by the rebuilding Kansas City Royals. On the other hand, the Phillies are 7-3 in their last 10 games and just completed a road trip where they recorded four wins and only one loss. The Braves lead over the Phillies in the division was at a season-high 9.5 games on July 15 but is now down to 5.5 games. 

The Washington Nationals are one game ahead of the Phillies in the standings and are in a three way tie for the two wild card spots, along with the Cubs and Cardinals. 

The Phillies must win two games to keep pace in the division race but can make the race really interesting with a sweep of the Braves this weekend. It seems that the Phillies are catching the Braves at an opportune time, too. Not only are the Braves scuffling over the past ten days, but rookie pitching sensation Mike Soroka has been mediocre over his last seven starts. During that span, the young righty has posted a .318 BAA, a 4.38 ERA, and a 3.63 FIP. Overall, Soroka has been excellent in his nine road starts, sporting a 6-0 record with a 1.13 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. The Braves are 13-4 in Soroka's starts this season. 

The Phillies will counter with veteran right hander Jake Arrieta. Since announcing that he had a marble-sized bone spur in his right elbow, he has allowed just two earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings. Arrieta needs a continuation performance for the Phillies to win tonight. It will also be interesting to see what Arrieta's pitch selection will be against the Braves. Arrieta's slider usage has almost completely stopped since he announced his injury so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. The Braves have stacked the lineup with left handed batters tonight, with only Acuna Jr., Donaldson, and Soroka the only dedicated right handers. Arrieta's opponents slash line against lefties this season is .319/.391/.529 with 11 home runs surrendered and 30 runs earned. In 2015 when Arrieta won the Cy Young, his opponents slash was .159/.221/.228 with 3 home runs surrendered and only 17 runs earned. 

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Atlanta Braves (60-43) PHILLIES (54-48)
RHP  Mike Soroka RHP Jake Arrieta
(2019 10-2, 2.46 ERA) (2019 8-7, 4.40 ERA)

Continue reading "Phillies Open Critical Series Against Braves This Weekend" »

The Return of the Burgundy Bombers


By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
The Phillies will wear the infamous "Saturday Night Specials" uniform ensemble this Saturday night against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves will also wear period throwbacks. The all-burgundy uniforms were only worn once 40 years ago on May 19, 1979 when the Phillies lost to the Montreal Expos 10-6. 
Sports nostalgia continues to boom and the Phillies are capitalizing on it with their continued use of 1970s and 1980s uniform schemes and one offs. Three years ago the team wore 1976 uniforms complete with the opening day pillbox cap. Last year the team announced it would wear the popular powder blue 1980s away uniforms at home for Thursday day games. The Phillies were the second club in major league history to wear throwback uniforms when they donned 1957 retros in 1991. But none of the uniforms since then have been as unusual and unique as the 1979 "Saturday Night Specials". 
The original uniforms were the dual brain child of then club president Bill Giles and the 1970s loud uniform craze. The traditional flannel baseball uniform from the 1950s and 1960s gave way to polyester and outrageous color combinations. The team already sported burgundy batting practice jerseys so the novelty of a reverse uniform sans pinstripes (could you imagine if they had pinstripes) seemed worth a shot. But the players hated them immediately. Larry Bowa said they reminded him of uniforms worn for Sunday afternoon softball. Greg Luzinski hated the color because they  looked grape. Larry Christenson, the starting pitcher who made his debut that night in 1979, said that the uniforms were dark and struck the wrong cord with the players. Reliever Tug McGraw said that the entire team hated them because they looked like softball uniforms. 
The Phillies had a 4-0 lead over the visiting, sputtering Expos in the top of the 4th when Christensen beaned catcher Gary Carter. Carter made like he was going to charge the mound but trotted to first. Christenson told Inquirer reporter Matt Breen that he thought there was going to be a brawl after the benches cleared. "I thought itw as going to be a brawl in these purple-nurple uniforms. But nothing happened." The altercation fired the Expos up and they went ahead to beat the Phillies 10-6. Larry Bowa blamed the uniforms. After the game, Luzinski told owner Ruly Carpenter that he'd never wear that uniform again and the team threw the uniforms in the trash. Bill Giles told reporters after the game that the uniforms didn't match up to their exceptions; they fit right and they were too dark for TV.  
The team hated the uniforms but some fans did not. The Inquirer reported on May 27 that club received numerous calls from fans across the country asking to buy the uniforms. The club agreed and sold the entire ensemble for $200 each, with proceeds benefiting intellectually disabled children in the Delaware Valley. Fans have already tweeted the New Era Clubhouse store asking if the uniforms will be available for purchase this weekend, complete with zipper front. 

Part of the distaste for the all-burgundy uniforms was because they ere so dark. The lighting industry has vastly improved in the past 40 years and Citizens Bank Park's new LED lighting will literally shine new light on the old color scheme. Saturday night, we will find out whether or not the LED's superior color rendering index will have fans and players alike viewing the uniforms in a different light. 

Phillies-Dodgers Rivalry - Dick Sisler sends Phils to World Series on Season's Final Day

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
Have you ever wondered why the Phillies teams between the two world wars are rarely written or talked about? Aside from the fact that nobody alive remembers watching those teams in person, they were absolutely putrid. The Phillies first run of success in the 20th century took place between 1913 and 1917 and in that five year span the club finished last once (1914), second three times (1913, 1916, 1917) and first once (1915). Once that core was sold off, traded, or faded into obscurity the team essentially took up permanent residence at the bottom of the National League. In the 31 seasons between 1918 and 1949, the Phillies finished last an astounding 16 times, second last 7 times and posted a winning record once in 1932. The National League had to take over the club for Phillies owner Gerald Nugent because he couldn't pay the bills. The League sold the team to New York lumber executive William Cox who was banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis in November for, get this, betting on the Phillies to win. Fascinating. But fortune shone on the club when they were next sold to the Carpenter family. Robert Carpenter Sr. was married to a DuPont and for the first time in decades, the club was run by an owner who could afford to put money into the team to make it a winner. 
The Carpenter's first order of business was to hire Herb Pennock, the first general manager in team history. Carpenter and Pennock began to rebuild the club from the ground up with an ambitious five year plan. They outbid 15 other clubs for Curt Simmons, paying $65,000 for his services. They also unloaded a lot of money to secure Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis, Stan Lopata, Granny Hamner, Willie "Pudin' Head" Jones, Bubba Church, and Bob Miller. Manager Ben Champan was relieved in 1948 and replaced by Eddie Sawyer, who managed some of the young core in the minors at Utica. Carpenter also added key veterans to the mix for the 1949 season including Dick Sisler and Eddie Waitkus. The Phillies finished 81-73 in 1949, the club's first winning record since 1932. Sawyer corralled the team in the clubhouse after the last game of the 1949 season and told them "Come back next year ready to win the pennant."
The average age of the 1950 Phillies was 26 years old, inspiring sportswriter Harry Paxton to dub the club "the Whiz Kids". The team took over first place in early July and their lead ballooned to five games by August 12. They increased their lead to 7 1/2 games by September 20 with 11 games left in the season. Nothing comes easy for Philadelphia sports teams and the same can be said of the 1950 Phillies. Starting pitcher Curt Simmons' National Guard unit was activated for service in the Korean conflict in September and he left the club on September 10. On September 15, the Phillies opened a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds. Bubba Church started for the Phils. He walked Johnny Wyrostek on four pitches with two outs in the third inning, bringing up the Reds' hulking first baseman Ted "Big Klu" Kluszewski. Church rifled a first pitch fastball to Klu who line the ball back to Simmons, hitting him in the face. The Whiz Kids had lost two key starting pitchers in a matter of five days. Catcher Andy Seminick broke his ankle a few days later against the Giants but continued to play through the rest of the season. To make matters worse, the Phils lost 8 of their next 10 games setting up a crucial final game with the healthy Dodgers on October 1.
The Phillies led the Dodgers by one game in the standings coming into the final contest. The Phillies would secure the pennant if they beat the Dodgers. If the Dodgers won, it would force a tie at the top of the standings, resulting in a best-of-three playoff. On two days rest, Manager Eddie Sawyer gave the ball to Robin Roberts in the club house and said "good luck". The Dodgers were used to the pressure. They were a team that finished in the second division only once during the 1940s and had been to three World Sereis in the decade (1941, 1947 and 1949). The Whiz Kids, on the other hand, were learning to deal with adversity on the fly throughout the 1950 season. 
The game was played at Brooklyn's legendary Ebbets Field before 35,073 fans. Don Newcombe, Brooklyn's top pitcher, started for the Dodgers that day. Roberts recalled later that his arm was still very sore during warmups and he didn't feel like he had his best stuff that day, but he looked over at Newcombe and thought "Hell, he is just as scared as I am. I knew that Newk had pitched almost as much as I had and probably was just as tired, nervous, and anxious as I was. Once I realized that the opposing pitcher was in the same shape, I relaxed and never gave another thought to how tired or nervous I was supposed to be." Both pitchers were sharp to begin the crucial contest with only four hits and two walks being issued by both sides combined in the first five innings, but Philadelphia drew first blood in the top of the sixth. Newcombe retired the first two hitters of the inning, Eddie Waitkus and Richie Ashburn, on ground outs to first base. Dick Sisler hit a screamer between first and second base for a two out single. Next, Del Ennis dropped a lazy fly ball into center for a hit which advanced Sisler to third. Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones hit a first pitch ball to center field, scoring Sisler. In the bottom frame, also with two out, Pee Wee Reese hit a ball hit a screen and dropped onto a ledge. The ball was in play, but it was unreachable and turned into a freak inside the park home run. The game remained tied going into the ninth. 
In the top of the ninth, Andy Seminick reached on a single to third base but left the game when Sawyer replaced him with pinch runner Putsy Caballero. Caballero was caught stealing and the inning ended with a lineout to center field. Stan Lopata was brought in to replace the ailing Seminick with the score still tied. Roberts walked out to the pitchers mound to face the top of the Dodgers' order in the bottom of the ninth. Roberts later recalled, "When I trudged out to face Brooklyn in the bottom of the ninth, I knew that if the Dodgers scored we would very likely lose not only the ballgame but also the pennant. My wife Mary and I had planned on taking a vacation in Florida after the season with some of my World Series money, and I remember for a brief moment thinking 'If we don't win this ballgame, we're not going to get to Florida'." Roberts walked Cal Abrams to start the inning and then surrendered a hit on a line drive to center. Two Dodgers on base with no out in a tie game and Brooklyn's big power hitter, Duke Snider, strode to the plate carrying a .321 batting average with 31 home runs and 107 RBI with him. Roberts assumed Snider would bunt in the situation given no outs with a runner on second in a tie game, so he tossed the ball in not considering Snider would try to smash the ball. Snider slashed the ball into center field where Richie Ashburn was playing shallow. Ashburn fielded the ball on a bounce and rifled a strike to Stan Lopata - Cal Abrams was dead in the water and out by about 10 feet.  The Phillies intentionally walked Jackie Robinson to load the bases and Roberts was able to retire Carl Furillo and Gil Hodges in succession to end the threat and preserve a tie, forcing extra innings. 
Remember that this is baseball in 1950. Robin Roberts just retired the Dodgers in the ninth and was scheduled to lead off the top of the 10th. The Phillies had the future 1950 NL MVP in relief ace Jim Konstanty in the bullpen, but Sawyer instead allowed Roberts to lead off the frame! Roberts rewarded Sawyer's trust with a leadoff single and advanced to second base when Eddie Waitkus also singled to center. Ashburn bunted down the third base line but Newcombe was able to field the ball and force out Roberts at third. Two on, one out and Dick Sisler walked to the plate. Newcombe went after Sisler after forcing Sisler to foul back the first two pitches of the at-bat. Sisler hung in the at bat and crushed a 1-2 pitch to deep left field; the three run home run proved to be the game winning hit. Roberts retired the Dodger side in order in the bottom of the 10th thus securing the Whiz Kids the 1950 NL flag and the franchises first pennant in 35 years. Roberts said that "when Eddie [Waitkus] caught that last pop foul, I had a feeling that I never experienced again in athletics. It was a feeling of relief, complete satisfaction, and exhilieration all rolled together...and my trip to Florida with mary was safe." 
Good news greeted Philadelphians as the read their morning Inquirer on October 2, 1950. The headlines red "S. KOREANS 7 MILES PAST 38TH PARALLEL; REDS' REPLY ON SURRENDER AWAITED. Whiz Kids Win on Sisler Homer; Roberts Gets 20th". In Brooklyn's Daily Eagle, baseball coverage was absent from the front page, but a militaristic baseball metaphor did grace page 12 "Brooklyn's banal charge at the 1950 pennant carried to the last trench of the enemy and there the last hope of victory was shot away by an expert machine gunner named Robin Roberts." 
1950 sporting news
Cartoon from Page 5 of the 10/4/1950 Sporting News.
The ensuing article talked about how R.M. Carpenter insured the club for $1,000,000 in 1950 which was ironic considering he was told the club wasn't worth 30 cents when he bought the team in 1943.

Nathanson: Dick Allen and How We Talk About Race

SmokebombA smoke bomb explodes behind Allen the day after he announced he wanted out of Philadelphia (Source: Mark Carfagno)

I'm very excited to have Mitch Nathanson offer a compelling and thought provoking piece on Dick Allen for our readers. Mitch is a professor at Villanova University of Law and his book "God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen" was published in 2016. It is the first book-length treatment of the trials and tribulations that Allen went through during his baseball career. Be sure to purchase a copy if you get a chance. - Matt Albertson, STP Historical Contributor

On Friday, Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf held a press conference in City Hall calling for Dick Allen to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he’s on the ballot next year.  Which is downright amazing when you think about it – the white mayor of Philadelphia and white governor of Pennsylvania openly campaigning for the induction of Dick Allen – Dick Allen! -- into baseball’s shrine of immortals.  This comes on the heels of the Hall’s “Golden Era” election panel in 2014 that came up just one vote shy of enshrining the controversial slugger.  Which begs the question: how on Earth did all of this happen?  After all, in 1983, the first year Allen was on the ballot, he received only 3.7% of the sportswriters’ votes and nobody campaigned for him, let alone anybody who counted within the Philadelphia Establishment.  He sputtered on like that for the next several years, never receiving more than 18.9% of the vote and he only received that much once.  After he fell off the writers’ ballot he was routinely ignored by the Hall’s veterans committee and nobody made too much of a fuss over that.  When the process for electing veterans changed a few years back, he once again failed to make their ballot and there was nary a word uttered in his defense. 

But then a group of dedicated Dick Allen supporters put on a campaign to get him on the Hall’s 2014 ballot.  However even they – the diehards – understood that it was a long shot just to get him on the ballot.  As for election to the Hall itself, well, that was really too much to expect.  Just get him on the ballot, they pleaded.  That would be accomplishment enough.  A few months later the word came down -- they had succeeded.  They rejoiced, as they rightly should have.  This was quite a feat. 

There were only six weeks between the announcement of the ballot and the election itself, though, and for much of that time, the talk of the Hall’s 2014 Golden Era ballot was of Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso and Tony Oliva – holdovers from the Golden Era’s previous ballot and seemingly the odds-on favorites to gain induction this time around.  And, oh yeah, Dick Allen was on the ballot as well.  Remember him? people asked.  Great hitter, they said.  Bad attitude, they recalled.  Bad teammate, they had always heard.  Bad dude, they had come to believe.  With Allen the talk wasn’t so much about the statistics because when it came to Allen it was never about the statistics.  It was always about all that other stuff pretty much everybody had by now taken as gospel:  how he got his managers fired, how he couldn’t get along with anybody, how he drank to excess, how he sullied the game just by taking part in it.  There’s a character clause in the Hall’s guidelines, right-thinking baseball fans and writers have admonished for years, and that eliminated Dick Allen, statistics be damned.

Except that this time it didn’t.  As election day drew near, something strange happened -- the chatter surrounding the Golden Era ballot became less about Kaat, Minoso and Oliva and almost all about Allen.  Turns out he wasn’t, and isn’t, such a bad guy after all, people were starting to say.  In fact, more than a few people argued, you could almost call him courageous – enduring all that he, the first black man in Major League Baseball who refused to “turn the other cheek,” had to endure and achieving all that he achieved in spite of the venom and garbage spewing from the stands and in the media on a daily basis.  Of course Jackie Robinson was a civil rights hero, but perhaps, when examining things more deeply, Allen, in his own way, was one as well.

For here was a man who saw injustice in the form of institutional racism and stood up to it.  True, unlike Robinson he had no agenda, no broader social vision, but when he experienced the brutality of segregated spring training he spoke up against it; when he was compelled to endure the summer of 1963 in segregated Little Rock, Arkansas, he let everyone know what it was like for him; when he saw white superstars such as Mickey Mantle receive cover and coddling from the media and club management while black superstars such as himself remained fodder for public ridicule if they dared step out of line, he made sure nobody assumed that he was okay with that.  As those six weeks drew to a close, even many “right-thinking” baseball people started to realize that the Dick Allen they thought they knew was a creation of their own perception more than anything else.  From a different angle, he was somebody else altogether.

This surprising change of heart as it pertains to Dick Allen speaks to something larger, I believe.  For out of the ugliness of decades upon decades of racial strife and confrontation, perhaps a glimmer of hope has emerged.  At long last, it seems, we’re finally beginning – just beginning -- to engage in a national dialogue about race, about the power of perception, about the need of white America to take a step back for a moment and look at the world from the perspective of black America.  Maybe, this dialogue suggests, white America’s assumptions about the way things work or are supposed to work are just that – assumptions.  Maybe a change in perspective would change the assumptions.  Maybe if we took a moment to look at the world through the eyes of somebody different from us we’d see a different world.  Maybe if we took a moment to look at how the racial double standards of the baseball world of the ‘60s must have looked through Allen’s eyes we’d see something other than a bad dude.  Maybe we’d see someone of the sort of character baseball’s Hall of Fame should celebrate rather than bar.  Which was why, I believe, in only a few short weeks, Dick Allen went from nowhere to the doorstep of baseball immortality.

Still, he fell one vote short.  There’s still work to do.  But all is not lost.  After all, when he comes up for consideration again next year he’ll have, at last, the Philadelphia Establishment firmly in his corner.  Here’s hoping it’s enough to get him that vote.

Understanding the Phillies Origins and Nickname

Joe Mulvey, unknown, Jack Coleman, Charlie Ferguson, Sid Farrar, Ed Andrews, Bill McClellan, Jack Manning and Blondie Purcell pose for a picture at Recreation Park on May 16, 1884. (Source: NYPL Spalding Collection)
By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
Two weeks ago I was privileged to spend a weekend in Cooperstown, New York at the SABR 19th Century Committee's annual Frederick-Ivor Campbell Conference. Something that came up a few times was how club's deal with and promote their origins. For example, the Cincinnati Reds currently promote that they were established in 1869, suggesting a direct tie to the infamous, undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings. Well, it's not true. The current organization was founded in 1882. Another discussion during an intermission questioned what current MLB team is the oldest; it's either the Cubs or the Braves but the details are murky. I brought up the Phillies who promote that they are the oldest one city, one name franchise in American professional sports. It is true but there are a few things I felt Phillies fans should know about the club's origins. 
The Phillies celebrated the 136th anniversary of their first game on May 1. Indeed, you can find a lot of Phillies shirts and trinkets with the "est. 1883" on it somewhere. The club even celebrated it's 100th anniversary in 1983 with a special patch on their uniform. The club's true origin, however, is a bit more complex.
The Athletics fired manager Horace B. Phillips in 1881 and he eventually joined forces with sporting goods magnate Al Reach to obtain a major league franchise in the upstart American Association. In 1876, the Athletics refused to go on a western road trip at the end of the season and were subsequently booted from the National League, starting a drought of major league baseball in the Quaker City. The American Association was set to begin its first season in 1882 and wanted teams in big markets, with Philadelphia being a key city. To oversimplify the situation, Phillips and Reach's problem was they did not have players nor a major league-ready stadium and the Association instead chose Sharsig's Athletics, which had both players and a ballpark. So Phillips and Reach did the next best thing and joined the League Alliance.
The League Alliance is a confusing entity so I won't dive into the details here, but for Phillips and Reach's club, it meant that their players were protected from confiscation by other National League clubs and they would play National League teams throughout the year, as exhibitions. National League teams would attract a crowd and playing all National League teams in Philadelphia only was a benefit because the team did not have to go on lengthy road trips to cities like Chicago and Detroit. The League Alliance club was required to pay between $50 to $150 to the League club. Despite this, the club reported a $16,000 profit at the end of the season. The only reason for joining the Alliance as opposed to the League is  because the League had an unwritten cap on the number of clubs, making the Alliance a perfect place for clubs with players almost or of major league talent who did not want their players poached by the League. 
Moving along. 

Reach's club, officially known as the Philadelphia Ball Club and Sporting Association  gains admission to the League Alliance on December 7, 1881 at the National League's annual winter meeting. The club existed on paper only. They did not have a home field yet and were in the process of filling out a roster. And how better to fill out a roster of near-major league talent in the 1880's? Advertise in the newspaper, of course. The address listed was for Reach's sporting goods emporium. 

Phila ad

While Reach completed the roster, he also secured a lease for the Horse Market at 24th and Ridge Avenue; the grounds once used as the home field for the National Association's Philadelphia Centennial's in 1875 . The Times announced in January that "every vestige of...the horse "Horse Market" will be removed and new suitable fences, buildings, open seats and large, covered pavilion will be erected in the spring. The pavilion will have a number of reserved chairs for season ticket holders and ladies." Not for nothing, but those plans sound awfully spartan. They were clarified in early March, but still sounded basic. Construction was to be completed April 1 with the first game on April 8. Oh, the ball park also included a bath tub and "shower-bath" in the players' clubhouse. Not bad! The grandstand was situated at the corner of 24th and Columbia Ave (in the picture below, the bottom right). 

The site of Recreation Park from 1882 G. M. Hopkins city atlas, plate H. Courtesy Ed Morton (Source: Free Library of Philadelphia)
The 1882 season did not bode well for the Phillies. In 65 games played against National League opponents, they were 16-44-5. Against the only other League Alliance club, the New York Metropolitans, they were 12-20-1 in 33 games. However, against "outside clubs", the Phils went 44-2-0 in 46 games. The level of competition that separated the major leagues from the amateur level was astounding even in 1882. The Phils and Mets were certainly the best two professional clubs in the country who were not then in a major league. At the 1882 winter meetings, the Phillies were admitted into the National League after the League pushed the Worcester and Troy clubs out.
It's a common misconception that the Worcester Brown Stockings moved to Philadelphia and became the Phillies. As has been explained above, the Phillies played a full season in the League Alliance while Worcester floundered to an 18-66 record and finished last in the National League. Troy and Worcester were the two smallest market teams in the National League and the League wanted to replace them with two larger markets in 1883, especially considering the American Association's successful first year. Reach reorganized the club on November 1, 1882 and changed the club's name from the "Philadelphia Ball Club and Exhibition Company" to the "Philadelphia Ball Club Limited". The club was formally admitted to the National League a month later on December 7, 1882. 
1883_Philadelphia_NLRendering of the 1883 Phillies uniform. Courtesy of
The club's reoganizaton was actually a formal chartering which is why the Phillies recognize 1883 as their founding year. The club was chartered as a limited partnership due to Pennsylvania's prohibition of incorporation of sporting clubs for profit. Al Reach, who was the sole proprietor of the club after Phillips' departure in January 1882, was named chairman and held only 20 of the 150 issued shares. John I Rogers was named secretary and treasurer while Thomas J. Pratt and Stephen Farrelly were shareholders, Farrelly being the majority shareholder with 100 of 150 shares owned. The original charter's current location is unknown, if it even exists any longer. But fortunately the Inquirer published the full charter in its pages on March 29, 1901. I've included this 1901 reprint at the end of the article.
And what of the team's nickname? There's a misconception that the team's nickname was the Quakers in 1883 and baseball-reference identifies the club's nickname as such from 1883-1889. First, nicknames were not official monikers used by major league teams until the 20th century. In the 19th century, nicknames were created and used by newspapers. In 1883 alone, the Philadelphia Baseball Club Limited was identified as "Philadelphias", "Phillies", "Quakers", and even "Athletics". The nickname "Phillies" itself is simply a shortened version "Philadelphias". Shortened nicknames, when possible, were used by newspapers because they took up less space in a column. Plus, "Phillies" rolls off the tongue easier than "Philadelphias". Like "Athletics", the "Phillies" moniker was recycled from an earlier club. In this case, the first usage in newspapers was in reference to the 1873 Philadelphia White Stockings and the nickname was used on occasion to identify at least three different teams between 1873 and 1877. 
In conclusion, the present day Phillies club was formed in 1881 and first took the field in 1882. Al Reach reorganized the club and the Philadelphia Ball Club Limited was chartered in November 1882 and admitted to the National League in December 1882 for the 1883 season, which is why the organization to this day cites 1883 as their founding. 
Reprinted text of the 1882 charter from the March 29, 1901 Inquirer:
1901 charter

Solving A Mystery: Sam Thompson and the "Philadelphia" Uniform

Sam thompson
By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
A coworker piqued my curiosity last week with a daily sports trivia tear off calendar. The trivia question asked what is the longest single word city to never appear, in full, on a major league baseball uniform? The answer, of course, is Philadelphia. However, I recalled an old Sam Thompson baseball card that had "Philadelphia" clearly across the chest. So what gives? First, some background on how Thompson joined the Phillies.
"Big" Sam Thompson joined the Phillies in 1889 after spending his first four major league seasons with the Detroit Wolverines. Detroit won the National League pennant in 1887 with a 79-45 record, 3.5 games better than the second place Phillies, and faced the American Association's St. Louis Brown Stockings in a 15 game postseason World Series which was played in 10 different major league cities. Detroit beat St. Louis 10 games to 5 and won baseball's first World Series trophy, the Dauvray Cup. Baseball was volatile in the 19th century to say the least and the Wolverines folded following the 1888 season, which meant the '88 Wolverines were up for grabs. Rumors swirled but eventually it was announced that the Phillies purchased Thompson's release from Detroit on October 16, 1888 for $5,000. Thompson spent 10 seasons with the Phillies and that is the first clue to solving the baseball card image.
So what did the Phillies' uniforms look like in this 10 year period? Fortunately there's decent photographic evidence as to the design of the uniforms. Below are the uniforms in question.
 “The new [Philadelphia] uniform is the same as that of last year [1890], pearl gray with red trimmings. The cap is flat on top and has two rows of red. The ties, belts, and stockings are red.” 
The same image with a different date was used to identify the 1895 club and no contrary written evidence suggests that the uniform changed.
There are a few missing links in the photographic history of Phillies uniforms during Big Sam's stay in Philadelphia, however the uniform styles are pretty consistent with little variation. White and red always make up the home uniform while dark blue and red or gray and red make up the away uniform. The only way for the average fan to see the club's uniform was to buy a ticket to a ball game, buy a Spalding or Reach base ball guide, or read a random description in the newspaper. Evidence of the uniform in question would surely grab a sports writer's interest due to it's unique design. But no evidence exists. So what gives?
This leads us to the card itself. The card is an Old Judge card issued by the Goodwin Company. These were inserted in Old Judge cigarette packages each year between 1887 and 1890 and Thompson appeared on only two Old Judge cards, first in 1887 and again in 1889. Thompson played for the Wolverines, not the Phillies, in 1887 so we can rule that year out. The year we're looking for is an 1889 uniform, but it doesn't match the photographic nor written evidence of the 1889 Phillies uniform. A dead end - almost. As we saw with the 1894 and 1895 Phillies uniforms from the Spalding Base Ball Guide above, the same photo was used for both years. A look at the 1887 Sam Thompson Old Judge baseball card provides an answer. 
1887 sam thompson
The only difference between the undated baseball card and the 1887 card is Philadelphia is written across the chest instead of Detroit. Everything else is the same. Goodwin & Co. used the same Thompson image from 1887 for its 1889 reissue with a twist - the company did some manual image editing and covered "Detroit" with "Philadelphia" 
Notice how irregular the letters are in the dark arch, as if the letters were outlined with a precision cutting tool or knife. The method is a mystery, but the card is not. Sam Thompson's mystery Phillies card is an edited 1887 Detroit Wolverines image sold as an 1889 Phillies baseball card.

Phillies announce 2019 Wall of Fame ballot

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
The Phillies announced the 2019 Wall of Fame candidates on Monday February 4. The Wall of Fame induction is set for August 3, prior to the 7:05 first pitch against the Chicago White Sox. Fans can select up to three candidates to be considered by the organization for induction. Voting concludes on February 28 at 5pm EST. Details including a bio and stats (where applicable) are included on the ballot's web page (2019 Phillies Wall of Fame ballot)
Last year, the Phillies posthumously inducted pitcher Roy Halladay along with the first "brass" inductee, former GM Pat Gillick. No fan ballot was offered.
The majority of candidates on the 2019 ballot are familiar candidates: Steve "Bedrock" Bedrosian, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Placido Polanco, Scott Rolen, and Manny Trillio. The new faces are Bobby Abreu, Rich Dubee, Doug Glanville, and Bake McBride. 
As in previous years, the eligibility requirements are that the candidate must have had four or more years of service to the Phillies and must be retired at least three years. The statistical record is not the only determining factor; longevity, ability, character, "special achievements" and contributions to the club are also considered, according to the Phillies website. The top five consensus fan choices will advance to the club's Wall of Fame Selection Committee who ultimately select the inductee.
The 2017 ballot was relatively weak in comparison to previous years. It appeared as if the club wanted to ensure that Pete Rose would be a consensus top five selection by the fans and ultimately the Committee's selection as inductee, following the precedent set by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016. This happened and Rose was selected as the 2017 inductee until allegations of an illicit relationship with a minor surfaced weeks before Alumni Weekend.
This year's class is a relatively weak one with no obvious inductee. The club seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel for living Phillies greats this year.  With all due respect to Rich Dubee, a pitching coach appearing on the ballot seems to be a stretch and a ballot non-factor. I realize his tenure included the greatest pitching rotation in recent history but unlike managers and general managers, pitching and hitting coaches exist more in the background. The pool will significantly improve in the coming years as 2008-2011 players become eligible.
I would think that Bobby Abreu, Jim Fregosi, Bake McBride, and Manny Trillo would constitute four of the top five fan choices that the Committee will consider. From that group, I would expect Trillo to be selected by the Committee. He was a central piece to the 1980 World Series championship team and his play in the 1980 National League Championship Series earned him the series MVP. Bobby Abreu is the longest tenured of this group and has the best offensive statistics. Jim Fregosi, of course, managed arguably the most popular team in club history, leading the Phils to the National League pennant in 1993. Finally, Bake McBride was a terrific leadoff hitter for the 1980 Phillies and put up solid numbers during his five year tenure in Philadelphia, slashing .292/.335/.435.  
Personally, I consider the Wall of Fame as the absolute best players, managers, and "brass" in club history. Do the ten 2019 candidates fit the bill? Some more than others. As I mentioned earlier, all of the candidates on the 2019 ballot are living. Their appearance on induction day is fun for the fans and critical for the club because they count on sellouts for Alumni Weekend. Deceased personnel "don't put butts in seats" but I think the entirety of Phillies history should be considered. Recently, the ballots seem to be more of a popularity contest more so than the greatest to ever don a Phillies uniform. What do I mean? 
The Phillies should do the right thing and induct the four Hall of Famers who are absent from the Wall of Fame. Harry Wright (manager 1884-1893), Napoleon Lajoie (infielder 1896-1900), Elmer Flick (rightfielder 1898-1901), and Dave "Beauty" Bancroft (shortstop 1915-1920) are all long since deceased, but are Hall of Famers in their own regard. Induct them wholesale with one or two living candidates. 

Phillies sign outfielder Billy Hamilton from Kansas City

Billy Hamilton
By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
On January 7, the Philadelphia Phillies inked outfielder and base stealing specialist Billy Hamilton from junior circuit's Kansas City club. The three year contract is rumored to be worth $3,000 per year. The 24-year old outfielder slashed .294/.394/.388 with Kansas City and stole 130 bases over the past two seasons, leading the league with 111 bags in his sophomore campaign. In addition, he also scored 165 runs, had 21 doubles, 16 triples, and slugged three home runs. 
Phillies owner John I. Rogers explained his excitement to the Inquirer :"I am very glad we secured that young man because I think he is about the best substitute we could get...he is a young man with exemplary habits."
Kansas City put three contract's up for purchase in December in an effort to liquidate valuable assets; Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Cleveland and Chicago were interested in the players on the block. The Sporting Life reports that the the bidding for the three players was so high that the clubs agreed to purchase the contracts as a lot. National League President Nick Young was blindfolded and drew slips from a hat and the Phillies were fortunate to be given the rights to Hamilton. The Phillies received the consent of both Hamilton and Kansas City to attempt to sign the young outfielder, who drew interest from clubs in two major leagues. Contract negotiations between the Phillies and Hamilton hit a snag earlier this year when Hamilton reportedly would not sign with the Phillies unless the club paid him $2,200 of the purchase money paid for his contract, plus a salary of $3,000 per year for fiver years. 
Hamilton's expected use is unknown at this time, as the club is rumored to use him in either a bench role or in the starting lineup as a top-of-the-order hitter. Over the past two seasons, he has proved to be an exceptional talent on at the plate, on the bases, and in the field. It is this publication's opinion that the Phillies would benefit greatly from his presence in the starting nine. It would give a jolt to the offense and improve the club on defense. 
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It's clear that I an not talking about the former Reds and current Royals speed demon Billy Hamilton! Hall of Famer "Sliding" Billy Hamilton was purchased from the major league American Association Kansas City Cowboys on January 7, 1890. The 1890 season was a strange year for baseball as there were not one, not two, but three major league organizations in the United States - the senior National League, the junior American Association which began play in 1882, and the upstart Players' League, a union league organized by the players themselves. Philadelphia was only one of two cities in the United States to host teams in all three leagues with the Phillies in the National League, the Athletics in the American Association, and the Athletics/Quakers in the Players' League. Players who unionized broke their contracts and jumped to the outlaw Players League which resulted in one of the most volatile hot stove seasons in history. 
The Kansas City Cowboys were the American Association caboose in 1889. The American Association itself was teetering on the edge of death in the late by 1890 and Kansas City sold its top three players as it exited the Association and left to play in the minor league Western League in 1890. 
Hamilton was a bonafide star for the Phillies between 1890 and 1895, slashing .360/.468/.459 with 510 stolen bases, 1,084 hits, 126 doubles, 51 triples, and 23 home runs. He was a member of the 1894 Phillies all .400 hitting outfield along with fellow Hall of Famers Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson. (Hamilton slashed .403/.521/.523 in 1894 and lead the league with 702 plate appearances, 198 runs, 100 stolen bases, and 128 walks.)
The coincidence that both the Hall of Famer Billy Hamilton and current major leaguer Billy Hamilton have the same name, same skill set, and played/play for a major league Kansas City club was too much to pass up. 
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Original announcement:

Sat, Jan 11, 1890 – Page 2 · The Times (Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) ·

Phillies Add Maroon Alternate Cap to Regular Rotation

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
On Thursday, New Era announced in a tweet that the Phillies have added the popular 1970-1991 maroon Phillies cap as a second alternate cap, suggesting the club will use the cap and a corresponding uniform more regularly in 2019. The club wore the cap along with 1983 powder blue road uniforms at select Thursday night home games in 2018. Last season, the maroon caps did not have the official MLB batter logo on the back of the cap whereas those worn in 2019 will have that logo. 
Why the logo was absent from the maroon caps last season is not clear. Chris Creamer of suggested that the logo's absence was because the cap was not part of the official uniform rotation like the standard red cap and alternate blue cap modeled on the 1948 uniforms. No mention is made in the MLB rule book that the logo is required for league play. It's possible that the absent logo was simply an oversight. It's unknown whether or not this logo was present on all other "Turn Back the Clock" editions from previous years. For example, the 1960s retro uniforms worn against the Cardinals on June 19 and 21, 2015 included the logo. The 1915 retro caps worn in 2015 were sold with the logo on the back, while the 2016 pillbox cap worn with 1976 retro uniforms was sold without the logo. It seems uniformity for "Turn Back the Clock" caps was not a priority. 

The team has yet to announce when it will wear the newly added maroon alternate in 2019. Last year's ensemble paid homage to the 1983 Phillies, who won the National League pennant 35 years ago. Iterations of the popular 1970-1991 uniform have been worn for special occasions, with varying degrees of accuracy, in 2002 (1970s), 2003 (1971 and 1983), 2010 (1972), 2011 (1974 and 1984), 2012 (1991), 2013 (1991), 2016 (1976), and 2018 (1983). 

The entire Phillies regular season wardrobe, except the current away uniform and specialty uniforms worn for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Mother's Day, Fathers Day, and St. Patrick's Day, are all retro in some degree. The standard home uniform was first worn by the club in 1950 and retired in 1970. The Sunday home alternate is a throwback to the 1948 home uniforms and is, in my humble opinion, the best of the lot. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies elect to sport a generic 1970-1991 uniform or if they will again select a particular year to model, and if it will be a home or away uniform...BOTH! I will write a followup article when the club announces their plans and critique the degree to accuracy which the reproductions are to their archived originals.

Charlie Manuel has a chance at baseball immortality

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Monday that former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is included on Today's Game Era Veteran's Committee ballot. Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-2002 and the Phillies from 2005-2013 and compiled a 1,000-826 (.548) record. He was 780-636 (.551) with the Phillies where he won five straight division titles between 2007-2011, won two National League pennants in 2008 and 2009, and won the World Series in 2008. His .548 winning percentage is 16th among managers with at least 1,000 career managerial victories. 
Per the Hall of Fame, "the Today's Game Era is one of four Eras Committees -- along with Modern Baseball, Golden Days and Early Baseball -- that provide an avenue outside voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America for Hall of Fame consideration to managers, umpires and executives, as well as players retired for more than 15 seasons. Specifically, the Today's Game Committee encompasses candidates who made the most indelible contributions to baseball from 1988 to the present." 
Other candidates who join Manuel on the ballot are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson (manager), Lou Piniella (manager), Lee Smith and George Steinbrenner (owner).
The managerial candidates are interesting and similar to each other in that they do not top the managerial wins list 1988-present. Manuel, Johnson and Piniella each guided teams to World Series titles, but Johnson did so prior to the Today's Game Committee's focus period. Manuel is the only manager on this year's ballot to have led teams to multiple World Series appearances and the only candidate to have posted a winning record in the postseason. Unlike Johnson and Piniella, Manuel was never named Manager of the Year . 
In recent years, the Veteran's Committee has elected multiple candidates to the Hall of Fame. Since 2008, the committee has elected 20 persons to the Hall of Fame compared to 23 inductees via the BBWAA ballot. In that span, the Veteran's Committee has elected six managers: Billy Southworth (2008), Dick Williams (2008), Whitey Herzog (2010), Bobby Cox (2014), Tony La Russa (2014), and Joe Torre (2014). Every manager that has been inducted since 2008 has more managerial wins than Charlie Manuel, as do Johnson and Piniella. 
The question is does Manuel have a legitimate chance at induction to the Hall of Fame when the committee announces its results in January? I find it highly unlikely. The most likely candidate to be inducted next year is George Steinbrenner for his role in resurrecting the Yankees franchise to prominence in the late 1970s and again in the 1990s. Beyond Steinbrenner, the likelihood for anyone else to be inducted is slim. What bodes well for Manuel is that the Hall of Fame wants a greater presence from the Today's Game era which is why that committee votes more regularly than any of the other four committees. It is without question, however, that the era's best managers were all inducted in 2014 (Cox, La Russa, and Torre). A trend is also clear: since 2008, only six of the 20 candidates inducted via the Veteran's Committee were voted in as players. The pendulum may begin to swing towards the players this year and/or in future years. 
As an aside, it will be interesting to see how Will Clark fares this year because he is one of the players most comparable to Chase Utley.