Philadelphia Phillies – Year 2: Trying to become a first division team.
In 1884, with Harry Wright, the future Hall of Fame manager, as the ballclub’s third manager, Reach and Rodgers would try to put together a team that they hope would become a better contender for the National League pennant than was the previous year’s team. Among the changes made would be a change in the team’s nickname, as the Quakers would now be known as the Philadelphias, following the naming convention of the time. The local sports writers would later shorten the team’s nickname down to the Phillies, which is today the longest used team nickname in American sports history. But, the local sports writers would continue to call the ballclub the Quakers in their reporting on the team, officially until 1890, using the two names interchangeably, and unofficially into the first couple of decades of the 20th century.
The Harry Wright-led Phillies would face in 1884 the same seven teams that they had faced the previous season: Boston, Providence, New York, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. Their home ball park would remain Recreation Park.
The Phillies would begin the 1884 season as they have begun the disastrous 1883 season, in May, with a home stand. But, unlike the previous season, the Phillies would be involved in a twenty-one-games home stand, facing the Wolverines for two games, the White Stockings for four games, the Bisons for two games, the Blues for two games, then another two-games series with the Bisons, followed by a second two-games series with the Blues, two games with the Beaneaters, two games with the Grays, a second two-games series with Boston and finally a single game series with the Grays. The Phillies’ home opener with the Wolverines would see the Phillies win their first opening day game in the club’s history, as they pounded Detroit, 13-2. After winning the second game in their short series with the Wolverines, the team would win their third game in a row as they would beat the White Stockings in a close game, 9-8. The Phillies, after starting the season off on such a high note, would go back to their losing ways as they would lose their next three games with the White Stockings, followed by a lost to the Bisons, 9-7. After winning their next two games and then splitting the next four games of their home stand, the Phillies would find themselves mired in a long seven games losing streak, which would include seeing them being shut out three times, including a 13-0 defeat at the hands of the Beaneaters, before they would defeat the Grays in the final game of their long home stand, 4-3. Leaving Philadelphia with a record of 8-13, they would begin their first road trip of the season, a trip along the eastern seaboard, where they would face both the Beaneaters and the Grays for two two-games series, before ending the road trip with a two-games series against the Gothams in New York. Their first two two-games series against the Beaneaters and the Grays, which would include a doubleheader that was played first in Boston with the Beaneaters and then in Providence with the Grays on May 30, would see the Phillies end up losing all four games, thus ending the month of May with a losing record of 8-17.
June would begin just as badly for the Phils as May has just ended, as they would lose the two games of their second two-games series with Boston and then lose the first game of their second two-games series with the Grays, 4-0, before they would finally win their first road game of the year, a close 9-8 victory over the Grays. The Phillies would then start an eight-games series with the Gothams, that would include two two-games series in Philadelphia, as well as a second two-games series in New York. After losing the first two games in New York, thus ending their first road trip of the year with a 1-9 record, the Phillies would begin the first of their two two-games series with the Gothams in Philadelphia. The eight-games series between these two future rivals would see the Phillies playing the Gothams as competitively as they could, but when the eight-games series was over, the Phillies would leave Philadelphia having lost the series 3-5, although winning the second of the two-games series played in New York and splitting the second two-games series in Philadelphia. The Phillies would then begin their second major road trip of the year with a single game against the Grays, followed by a two-games series with the Beaneaters, then a second single game series against the Grays, before heading to Cleveland for four games with the Blues, followed by a four-games series in Buffalo, then four games against the White Stockings and then four games with the Wolverines, before finally ending the road trip with two games against the Gothams, for a total of twenty-two games from mid-June to mid-July. After losing the first game in Providence and then splitting the series with the Beaneaters, the Phillies would then lose the second game in Providence, before going on to Cleveland and losing their series with the Blues, 1-3. The Phillies would then drop the series with the Bisons, also 1-3, thus ending the month of June with a 7-17 record for the month, while having a season record of 15-34.
The Philles would begin July losing their four-games series with the White Stockings, 1-3, including losing a July 4 doubleheader by the scores of 3-1 and 22-3, before splitting the four-games series with the Wolverines and then losing the two-games series with the Gothams, ending their long road trip with a 6-16 record. After losing a two-games series at home against the Gothams, the Phillies would play four single games series, facing first the Grays, then Boston, then Providence again and then the Beaneaters once more, before coming home for a long home stand. The Phillies would split the four games, 2-2, losing the first two and then winning the last two. Their next home stand would see the Phillies play two games with the Grays, then two games with the Beaneaters, followed by a single game against the Grays, then two more games with the Beaneaters, followed by another single game series with the Grays, before they would face the Gothams for the final two games of the home stand with their east coast opponents. The Phils would begin the home stand by first losing the two games with the Grays, then losing the two with the Beaneaters, the two teams that would once again be fighting it out for the National League pennant, thus ending July on another losing note, as they would end the month with a dismal 5-15 record, while their season record would now be at 20-49.
The Phillies would start August with their losing streak going to six games as their would lose their game with Providence and then their first game with the Beaneaters, before finally ending the streak with a 6-2 victory over Boston. After losing the next game with Providence, the Phillies would split their two games with the Gothams, thus ending the home stand with a 2-8 record, before the two teams would head on to New York for another two games series, which would also end up as a split series. The Phillies would then go back home to Philadelphia for another long home stand, this time against teams from the west, starting with a five-games series with the Blues, followed by a four-games series with the Bisons, then a six-games series with the Wolverines, and then, finally, a four-games series with the White Stockings, for a grand total of twenty-nine games from late-August to mid-September. The Phils would begin the home stand by losing the opener to the Blues, and then tying the second game on August 20, 9-9. They would then win the next three games with Cleveland, including a 20-1 pounding of the Blues, thus winning their first series since their July 23 single series game with Boston, going 3-1-1. They would then lose the series with the Bisons, going 1-3, ending August with a somewhat good record of 7-9-1 and with an overall season mark of 27-58-1.
The Phillies would start off September on a high note as they would win their six-games series with the Wolverines, going 4-2, before getting creamed in their four-games series with the White Stockings, losing by scores of 15-10, 16-6, 19-2 and 5-2, thus ending their long home stand with a somewhat respectible record of 8-10-1. The Phillies would then conduct their second and final western road trip, facing the Bisons, the Blues, the Wolverines and the White Stockings for four games each. The Phillies would start their series against Buffalo by losing the first three games, increasing their losing streak to seven games, before finally ending it with a 3-0 shut out of the Bisons on September 20. The Phillies would then embark on a winning streak of their own, defeating the Blues for four straight games and then winning their first game with the Wolverines, for a six games winning streak, as they would end their first winning month in the team’s history by going 10-9, while increasing their season record to 37-67-1.
The Phillies would start October seeing their winning streak end as they lose to Detroit, 1-0, before going on to win their next two games, winning the series at 3-1. The Phillies would then go on to Chicago, where they would be swept in four games by the White Stockings. They would then come back home on October 15, to finish out the season by losing to the Grays, 8-0, ending the month with a 2-6 record and the season with a record of 39-73-1, with a winning percentage of .348.
In their second season of existance, the Phillies would end the year in sixth place, 23 games behind the fifth place White Stockings and 45 games behind the 1884 NL champions, the Providence Grays. The Phillies would end up playing sixteen ballgames with each of their opponents, except for the Blues, whom they would face in seventeen games. Their best season record would be with the Wolverines, against whom they would go 11-5, followed by the Blues at 10-6-1. They would have losing records with the rest of the league: Bisons and Gothams (5-11), Beaneaters and Grays (3-13) and White Stockings (2-14). The Phillies would go 3-13 in shut outs, 10-11 in 1-run games and 12-43 in blow outs. The Phillies would be 19-37-1 at home, while they would go 20-36 on the road, which would be improvements over their previous season’s home/road record, as they would go 9-40-1 at home and 8-41 on the road. The team’s home attendence for the year, at 100,475 fans, would be an increase over the team’s 1883 attendence mark of 55,992 fans.
In 1884, the team would play in 113 games, with the batters ending the season with a team batting average of .234 (7th), a team slugging percentage of .272 (6th) and a team on-base percentage of .301 (7th). The team batted 3998 times (6th) and had 934 hits (6th), as they scored 549 runs (6th) of which 343 would be by RBIs. Of their 934 hits, the Phillies would have 149 2Bs (5th), 39 3Bs (8th) and 14 HRs (8th). Phillies batters would receive 209 walks (5th), while striking out 512 times (4th). Pitching wise, the Phillies pitchers would have a team ERA of 3.93 (8th), with 106 complete games (7th), of which only three were shut outs (7th), while seven other games would be completed by another pitcher. The pitchers would convert one save (3rd) during the season. In 981 innings pitched (8th), they would give up 1090 hits (7th) and 824 runs (8th), of which 428 were earned. They would give up 38 home runs (6th) and walked 254 batters (6th), while striking out 411 (8th). They also committed 126 wild pitches.
Among the team’s batting leaders, Jack Manning would lead the team in batting average (.271), slugging percentage (.394), on-base percentage (.334), total bases (167), doubles (29), home runs (5), RBIs (52), walks (40), strikeouts (67) and extra-base hits (38), while Bill McClellan would lead the team in at-bats (450), total plate appearances (478), hits (116) and singles (98), Ed Andrews would lead in runs scored (74), Blondie Purcell would lead in triples (7), while McClellan and Sid Ferrar would be tied for most games played at 111. In pitching, Charlie Ferguson led the team in games pitched (50), games started (47), games finished (3), complete games (46), wins (21), loses (25), saves (1), shut outs (2), innings pitched (416.7) and strikeouts (194), while Bill Vinton would lead in ERA (2.23) and Jim McElroy in wild pitches (46).
Charlie Ferguson, in his first major league season, would become the first twenty-game winner in franchise’s history with his 21 victories.
Harry Wright would continue as the Phillies’ manager in 1885, as he continue to try to turn the team into a first division team in the eight team National League.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-Reference.com