Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
I have seen New York Yankee baseball fans throw things at opposing players in the outfield. Sometimes a roll of pennies, perhaps a used battery from a flashlight, or anything they have not finished eating and do not like.
Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love yet Philly fans who get upset might chuck things at their own players, like rocks or car batteries for the drunken, brawny types.
Philadelphia Phillies’ fans are arguably the least patient and most volatile in baseball, and I know why.
A report in USA Today (7-3-07) notes that the Phillies are on the verge of becoming the first pro sports franchise to record 10,000 losses. They had 9,996 losses as of July 3, 2007.
The next nearest teams in losses are the Atlanta Braves (9,675) and Chicago Cubs (9,421). I would have guessed the Cubs but not the Braves.
It should be pointed out that the Braves and Cubs were in the original National League in 1876, and the Phillies and Giants came into the NL 7 years later in 1883.
Here are some interesting facts about the Phillies’ dubious record:
The Phillies lost at least 90 games a season 20 times in the 25 years from 1921 to 1945.
From 1919 to 1945 (27 years) the National League Phillies finished last 16 times and second-to-last 7 times. That is 23 out of 27 years in last or next-to-last place. No wonder the working class men drink so much beer in Philadelphia.
One of their managers during their aforementioned lean years was Doc Protho, a practicing dentist whose son, Tommy, was head coach of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams (1971-1974) and San Diego Chargers (1974-1978).
Former Seattle Mariner and current Philadelphia starting pitcher Jamie Moyer grew up in Philadelphia, and there is one Phillies loss he will never forget. In 1986, as a member of the Chicago Cubs, Moyer beat the Phillies and his boyhood hero, Steve Carlton, 7-5 for his first big-league win.
The Phillies went 47-107 in 1961 and finished 46 games out of first place, but the lowest point was a 23-game losing streak that remains the majors’ longest since 1900.
The Phillies most excruciating losses came in a 10-game stretch during September 1964. Philadelphia was leading the NL by 6.5 games on September 21 with 12 games to play. They lost the next 10 and the St. Louis Cardinals won the pennant.
The halfway point to 10,000 losses came on July 24, 1945, at Chicago’s Wrigley Field when the Cubs won 8-3 before a scant crowd of 8,393. When you do not win, no one wants to come see you play.
The Phillies do own the NL record for 100-loss seasons, but here is a perspective worth noting: The Phillies had 13 100-loss seasons during their first 63 seasons and only one in the next 62 years.
Despite the bad news, there is some good news to report.
Philadelphia won the World Series in 1980 and played in the 1993 Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, they lost in Game 6 of the 1993 series when lefty closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams gave up a series-ending home run to Toronto’s Joe Carter at the Sky Dome.
If any of this sounds familiar, think of the baseball movie, Major League, with Charlie Sheen as Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn.
Here is the one really great thing you can say about the Philadelphia Phillies: Mike Schmidt.
Mike Schmidt is arguably the best third-baseman in major league history. There is Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles to think about, but remember that Schmidt was a three-time (that is three-time) Most Valuable Player and also won 10 Gold Gloves.
Did I mention that he also hit 548 home runs (before steroids), had 1,595 ribbies and 2,234 hits. His 48 home runs in 1980 set the single-season record for a third basemen. Oh yeah, Mike Schmidt is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.