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Although best known as the betrayed manager of the infamous 1919 Black Sox, Kid Gleason began and ended his baseball career in Philadelphia, first as a pitcher for the Phillies and later as a coach for Connie Mack’s A’s.
William J. Gleason, Jr. was born on October 26, 1866 in Camden, N.J., although at least one biographer claims that he was born in south Philadelphia and that his family would move across the Delaware River to Camden while a toddler. Gleason’s father, William, Sr. worked as a foreman for the Pennsylvania Railroad, working out of the Market Street Ferry Terminal. Growing up, Gleason would play baseball, being nicknamed the ‘Kid’ because of both his short stature and his energetic, youthful play, while also working as a brakeman for the railroad, continuing to perform that duty during the off-season for a short time after becoming a professional ballplayer. After playing for local Camden ballclubs, including the Camden Merrit club in 1885, he would play for a team in Williamsport, PA., in 1887 and then play for a team in Scranton, PA., later that same year. The following year, he would play his first professional ballgame as a member of Harry Wright’s Philadelphia Phillies, making his major league debut on April 20, debuting as the team’s opening day pitcher. Pitching against the Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves), the team would lose 4-3.
Playing in twenty-five games during that first season with the Phillies, all but one of which would be as a pitcher, Gleason would start in twenty-three games and finished the other one. His record for the year would be 7-16 with a 2.84 ERA, as he would pitch in 199.7 innings, giving up 199 hits, 11 of which would be home runs, leading the team in that category that year, allow 112 runs to score, 63 of which would be earned, as he would also walk 53 batters, strike out 89, hit 12 batters, leading the team in that category, and throw 11 wild pitches. The following year, 1889, Gleason would play in thirty games, pitching in twenty-nine of them. He would start in twenty-one games, completing fifteen, and finishing seven other games, being the team’s leader in that category. His record for the season would be 9-15 with an ERA of 5.58, as he would pitch in 205 innings, giving up 242 hits, including 8 home runs, while allowing 177 runners to score, with 127 of them being earned. He would also walk 97 batters while striking out 64, hit 9 batters, once again leading the team’s pitching staff and throw 14 wild pitches. Gleason would also save one game, putting him in a tie for the team’s lead with Ben Sanders.
1890 would be the Kid’s breakout year as a pitcher as he would become the team’s ace thanks to that year’s Players’ League revolt. He would start the year off as the team’s opening day pitcher, facing future Hall of Famer Amos Rusie of the New York (now San Francisco) Giants on April 19, leading the Phils to a 4-0 victory over the previous season’s National League champ. Appearing in sixty-three games that season, he would play sixty games as a pitcher and two as a second baseman. Gleason would start in fifty-five games, completing all but one, while finishing the other five, placing him third in the NL in all three categories. His record for the season would be 38-17 for a .691 winning percentage, leading the team in wins (while setting the team’s record for wins in a season, which still stands) and winning percentage and placing him second behind Bill Hutchinson of the Chicago Colts in wins and second behind Tom Lovett of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in winning percenatge, with an ERA of 2.63, leading the team and placing him fifth in the league. He would perform six shut outs, placing him second behind Kid Nichols of the Beaneaters. Gleason would also have two saves, tying him for first place in the NL with Dave Foutz of the Bridegrooms and Hutchinson of the Colts. He would pitch in 506 innings (3), giving up 479 hits (3), of which 8 would be for home runs. Gleason would also give up 253 runs, of which 148 were earned (4), walk 167 batters (5), strike out 222 (3T), perform one balk and throw 11 wild pitches. The following season, 1891, he would once again be the Phils’ opening day pitcher, pitching against the Bridegrooms on April 22, as the Phils would lose the game, 1-0. The Kid would have another winning season, but just barely, as his record drops to 24-22 with an ERA of 3.51, although leading the team in wins and ERA, and, sadly, also losses. In sixty-five games, fifty-three of which would be as a pitcher, Gleason would start in forty-four, completing forty games and finishing nine others, leading the team in all four categories, as well as leading the NL in games finished. He would have one shutout, tying him for the team’s lead with Duke Esper and John Thornton and one save. Gleason would pitch in 418 innings, giving up 431 hits, 10 of which would be for home runs, while also giving up 237 runs, 148 of which would be earned, leading the team in innings pitched, hits allowed, home runs allowed and earned runs allowed. He would also walk 165 batters while striking out only 100, and throw 17 wild pitches, leading the team in both walks and wild pitches. This would be his last season as a Phillie as at some point between the 1891 and the 1892 seasons the Phils would either let him go or trade him to the St. Louis Browns (now the Cardinals) one of the four teams picked up by the National League following the folding of the then second Major League, the American Association.
Among Phillies’ leader, Gleason is presently still 16th in wins (78), 21st in losses (70), 22nd in ERA (3.29), 58th in games pitched (166), tied for 27th in games started (143), 11th in complete games (132), tied for 37th in shut outs (7), tied for 89th in saves (4), 17th in innings pitched (1328.2), 18th in hits allowed (1351), 12th in runs allowed (779), 23rd in earned runs allowed (501), tied for 89th in home runs allowed (37), 9th in walks (482), 34th in strike outs (475), tied for 12th in hit batters (49), 9th in wild pitches (53) and 176th in winning percentage (.527). But, this would not be the last time that Phillies fans would see Gleason as a Phil, but we are presently getting ahead of ourselves.
Gleason would spend two plus seasons with the St. Louis Browns. He would begin the 1892 season as their opening day pitcher, going against the Chicago Colts on April 12, that would end up as a 14-10 lost for the Browns. Gleason would play in sixty-six games, forty-seven of them as a pitcher, of which forty-five would be starts, completing all but two. The rest he would play as either a shortstop or in the outfield. Gleason’s record that season would be 20-24, including two shut outs, with an ERA of 3.33. He would pitch 300 innings that year, giving up 389 hits, 11 of which would be for home runs (7), allow 244 runs to score, of which 148 would be earned (9). Gleason would also walk 151 batters, while striking out 133 and throw 9 wild pitches. He would lead the Browns in all pitching categories mentioned, except for ERA and runs allowed. The following year, 1893, would see him play in fifty-nine games, of which he would pitch in forty-eight games (6T), starting forty-five games (4), completing thirty-seven of them (8), while finishing three, pitching one shut out and saving one game (6T). In 380 and a third innings (7), he would give up 436 hits (5), of which 18 would be for home runs (2), while allowing 276 runs to score, of which 195 were earned, the lead leader in that category. He would also walk 187 batters (3), while striking out 86 and throwing 16 wild pitches (5). He would lead the Browns in wins, games started, home runs allowed, walks, hits allowed, earned runs allowed and wild pitches, while being tied for the lead in games pitched, saves and shut outs.
The 1894 season would see him play for two teams. He would begin the year playing for the Browns, with a record of 2-6 and an ERA of 6.05 in eight games pitched, all starts, with six complete games. Overall, he would play just 9 games with the Browns, playing his other game as a first baseman. He would pitch in only 58 innings, giving up just 75 hits, only two of which would be for home runs, as he would give up 50 runs, only 39 of which would be earned, while walking just 21 batters, striking out 9 and throwing just one wild pitch. On June 23, 1894, the Browns would sell him to the Baltimore Orioles for $2400. Kid would become sort of rejuvenated upon joining the Orioles, as he would end the season with a 15-5 record with a 4.45 ERA, as he would pitch in twenty-one games, playing twenty-six games overall, as he would start twenty games, completing all but one, and finishing one other game. Pitching in 172 innings, he would give up 224 hits, only three of which would be for home runs, allow 111 runs to cross the plate, of which only 85 would be earned. He would also walk 44 batters, while striking out 35 and throwing only three wild pitches, as he would help lead the Orioles to the first of two straight pennants (1894-1895) as a member of their ball club. This would turn out to be his last major year as a pitcher, as the National League, now the only major league in existance, would move the pitcher’s mound to its modern distance of 60′ 6″ from home plate, ending his effectiveness as a pitcher. He would appear in just nine more games as a pitcher in 1895, starting in five, completing three games, and finishing the other four, recording one save, as he would record a 2-4 record with an ERA of 6.97. Gleason would pitch in 50 and a third innings, giving up 77 hits, four of which would be home runs, as he would allow 51 runs to score, of which 39 would be earned. He would also walk 21 batters while striking out 6 and throw one wild pitch.
In nine season as a pitcher, Gleason would compile a record of 138-131 for the Phillies, the Browns and the Orioles for a winning percentage of .513, with a 3.79 ERA. He would pitch in 299 games, starting 266 games and finishing 30 others. Gleason would complete 240 games, while throwing 10 shut outs and saving six. The Kid would pitch in 2389.3 innings, giving up 2552 hits, of which 75 would be home runs, while allowing 1511 runs to score, of which 1007 would be earned. He would also walk 906 batters, strike out 744, hit 21 batters, throw 83 wild pitches and commit one balk.
During the 1895 season, Orioles’ manager, future Hall of Famer Ned Hanlon, would turn Gleason into an everyday player, mainly playing at second base. During that first season as a regular, Gleason would blossom as a player, hitting .309, with a slugging percentage of .399 and an on-base percentage of .366, as he would go 130 for 421 in 112 games. He would knock in 74 runs while scoring 90, as he would collect 14 doubles and 12 triples, while walking 33 times as he would strike out only 18 times. He would also steal 19 bases, as he would help lead the Orioles to their second straight NL pennant. On November 15, the Orioles would send Gleason and $3500 to the Giants, in exchange for catcher Jack Doyle.
I will continue the story on Kid Gleason next week, starting with his years playing for the New York Giants.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet.org, Delaware Valley Rhythm and Blues Society, Inc.com-Camden Sports Hall of Fame, The Baseball Page.com, Phillies.com
Philadelphia Phillies – Year 8: The Phillies finished in third place in the NL, inspite of losing their manager Harry Wright for most of the season as he goes blind.
The Phillies would start the 1890 season with a major problem. Before the season even starts, as they start to officially call themselves the Phillies, the club would lose several of its players to the teams of the Players’ League, including a new team that the rebellious league had set up in Philadelphia, the new Philadelphia Quakers. This new team would challenge not only the Phils but also the American Association’s Philadelphia franchise, the Philadelphia Athletics, to see which team would reign surpreme in the Philadelphia baseball world.
As the National League finds itself unable to destroy the upstart league through the courts, as New York Supreme Court Justice Morgan J. O’Brien rules on January 28 in favor of John Montgomery Ward, formerly a star pitcher for the New York Giants and now a Hall of Famer, in his reserve clause case against the league, they decide to destroy it on the playing field, despite losing half of the people who had played for National League teams the previous season before the start of the regular season. The league would set things up so that they would end up playing most of their games on the same day as would the teams of their Players’ League opponents, beginning with opening day, April 19.
The Phillies’ opponents for 1890 would include the two franchises that had joined the National League from the weakening American Association, after the previous season, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Cincinnati Reds, replacing the now defunct Washington Nationals and Indianapolis Hoosiers franchises, along with the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Alleghenys, the Spiders and the Chicago franchise, which has before the season changed its nickname from the White Stockings to the Colts. Every member of the league, except for Cincinnati, would face a challenge from a Players’ League franchise, while only Brooklyn and Philadelphia would also face teams from the more friendly American Association. The Phillies would continue to play their home games at the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds, while Harry Wright would begin his seventh season as the team’s manager, trying to see if he can finally pilot the team to a league pennant.
The Phillies would begin their season on the road in April, playing four games against the previous season’s champ, the Giants, and one game against the former American Association champ, the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would win the season opener behind Kid Gleason, defeating the Giants 4-0. They would then lose the next game, 5-3, before winning the four- games series, 3-1, by defeating New York by the scores of 7-3 and 3-1, and landing in a three-way tie for first place with the Beaneaters and the Alleghenys. The Phils would then lose their game with the Bridegrooms, 10-0, ending their road trip with a record of 3-2 and landing in third place, trailing the Beaneaters by a game. They would then go back home to begin an eleven-games home stand with their eastern rivals the Giants (3), the Beaneaters (4) and the Bridegrooms (4). The Phillies would end the month of April by splitting the first two of their three games with the Giants, ending the month with a record of 4-3 while in a three-way tie with the Bridegrooms and Beaneaters for second place, as they all trailed the now leading Colts by half-a-game.
With the start of May, the Phillies would conclude their series with the Giants, winning the final game, and thus winning the series, 3-1, as they would end up in a four-way tie for first place with the Beaneaters, the Colts and the Reds, all four teams a full game ahead of the Alleghenys and the Bridegrooms. The Phils would then sweep their series with the Beaneaters, putting themselves in first place, a game-and-a-half ahead of the second place Colts. The Phillies would then win their sixth game in a row as they would defeat the Bridegrooms in the first game of their four-games series, 6-1. The Phils would then lose their next two games with Brooklyn, before winning the last game of the home stand, and splitting the series 2-2, while winning their home stand, 8-3, still in first place, but now leading the Colts by two full games. The Phils then go to Boston for a one-game series, which they would lose, 14-7, before coming back home for a long twenty-four games series against all of their league opponents that would last the rest of May and the early part of June. The Phillies would begin the home stand by losing their three-games series with the Reds, 1-2, leaving them just a half-game ahead of the Colts, as their western rival come into Philadelphia for a four-games series. The Phils would win the series, 2-1-1, including a suspended final game which had the Colts leading 10-8, which would end up leaving the Phillies still in first place, a game-and-a-half ahead of the Colts, the Bridegrooms and the Giants. The Phils would next face the Alleghenys for four games. They would sweep the series, including a doubleheader sweep on May 28, winning the games by the scores of 12-10 and 7-2, which would leave them still a game-and-a-half ahead of Brooklyn. The Phils would then end the month playing four games with the Spiders, including their second doubleheader of the month, played on May 30. After winning the first game of the series, they would be swept in the doubleheader, losing the two games by the score of 8-4 and 4-1, before winning the final game of the series, thus ending up splitting their series with Cleveland, 2-2. The Phillies would end the month of May with a 17-8 record, and with an overall record of 21-11-1, a game-and-a-half ahead of both the Reds and the Bridegrooms.
The Phillies would start June by winning their series with the Beaneaters, 2-1 and then with the Bridegrooms, also 2-1, before sweeping their three-games series with the Giants, ending the home stand with a winning record of 17-7, leaving them in first, but now only a-half-game ahead of the Reds. The Phillies would then go on the road for seven games with Boston (4) and Brooklyn (3). The Phils would lose the first game in their series with the Beaneaters, 8-5, having their four-games winning streak snapped, before losing the series overall, 1-3. They would then get swept by the Bridegrooms, becoming mired in a five-games losing streak, as they fall into third place, five-and-a-half games behind the Reds. The Phillies would then go back home for a four-games home stand with the Alleghenys. The Phils would win the short home stand 3-1, still in third, but now trailing by three-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go on an eleven-games road trip to Cleveland (4), Chicago (4) and Cincinnati (3) for the rest of the month and the start of July. The Phils would go to Cleveland, winning the series there, 3-1, as they now stood in second place, still three-and-a-half games behind the Reds. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where they would lose the first game of their series with the Colts, thus ending the month with a 13-11-1 record, and an overall record of 34-22-1, falling back into third place, but still three-and-a-half games behind the Reds.
The Phillies would start July off by winning two of their next three games with the Colts, ending the series with a split, before going on to Cincinnati for their first visit to the Queen City on the Ohio. The Phils would win their first road series against the Reds, 2-1, which would include a doubleheader split on July 4th, winning the first game 11-2, and then losing the ‘nightcap’, 7-1, thus ending the road trip with a record of 7-4, still trailing the Reds by three-and-a-half games, tied for second with the Bridegrooms. The Phils would then go back home for a fifteen-games home stand against the Reds, the Spiders, the Alleghenys, the Colts and the Alleghenys again, for five three-games series. The Phillies would start the home stand by winning their series with the Reds, 2-1, leaving them now just two-and-a-half games behind the Reds, while staying in third place. They would then sweep the other four series in their home stand, thus ending the home stand with a 14-1 record, returning to first place, now leading the second place Bridegrooms by two-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go back on the road, for nine games with the Spiders (2), the Colts (3) and the Reds (4). The Phils would begin the road trip by sweeping the Spiders, increasing their winning streak to fifteen games, while increasing their lead over the Bridegrooms to three games. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where their winning streak would be snapped by the Colts, 12-4, before they ended the series losing it, 1-2, with their lead over Brooklyn shrinking down to two games. The Phillies would then go on to Cincinnati, where they promptly lost the first game of their four-games series to the Reds, ending the month with a 21-6 record and an overall record of 55-28-1, now leading the Bridegrooms by just a game-and-a-half.
The Phils would start the month of August by losing two of three to the Reds, thus losing the series, 1-3, and the road trip with a 4-5 record, now in second place and a game behind the Bridegrooms, as the pennant race starts to heat up. The Phillies would then go back home for a short three-games home stand against the Giants (2) and the Beaneaters (1). The Phils would split their short series with the Giants, 1-1, before losing their game with Boston, ending the homestand, 1-2 and now three games behind Brooklyn, as they remain in second place. The Phillies then go back onto the road for nine games with Boston (2), New York (3) and Brooklyn (4). The Phillies go into Boston, where they are swept by the Beaneaters, dropping them into third, still three games behind Brooklyn. The Phils then go to New York, where they would lose the series to the Giants, 1-2, leaving them four games behind the Bridegrooms, before going into Brooklyn. The Phillies would then fall further behind Brooklyn, as they would lose three of their four games with the Bridegrooms, including a doubleheader lost on the 20, by the lopsided scores of 13-2 and 12-7, ending the road trip with a 2-7 record, now six games behind the first place Bridegrooms, as they fall into fourth place. The Phillies would then return home for a long nineteen-games home stand against all of their opponents for four straight three-games series (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago and Cincinnati), two straight two-games series (Boston and New York) and then a final three-games series with Brooklyn. The Phils would start the home stand by redeeming themselves as they would proceed to sweep first the Alleghenys and then the Spiders, putting them back into third place, now three games behind Brooklyn. They then had a setback as they got swept in turn by the Colts, ending August with a losing record of 10-14, and an overall mark of 65-42-1, in a technical tie for third place with the Reds, six games behind the league leading Bridegrooms.
The Phillies would start September off by spliting a doubleheader with the Reds on the 1, winning the first game, 2-1 and then losing the ‘nightcap’, 8-5, before winning the third game of the series to win the series, 2-1. They would then split their two-games series with the Giants, which was a doubleheader split on the 3, losing the first game, 9-6, then winning the ‘nightcap’, 9-5, leaving them in third place, eight games behind the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would then be swept by the Beaneaters in their two-games series, leaving them now eight and a half games behind Brooklyn, still in third place, as the Bridegrooms come to Philadelphia for three-games, giving the Phils one last chance to make up ground on first place Brooklyn. The Phils would proceed to sweep the Bridegrooms, winning the three games by scores of 4-3, 13-6 and 9-3, ending the home stand with a record of 12-7, now trailing the Bridegrooms by five-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go on the road for the final time, to play fifteen games in Boston (3), Cincinnati (4), Chicago (2), Pittsburgh (2) and Cleveland (4), for the rest of September and the start of October. The Phillies would start the road trip off by taking two of three from the Beaneaters, leaving them still five-and-a-half games behind Brooklyn and now a game behind the second place Beaneaters. The Philles would then lose three of four to the Reds, watching them stay in third place, six-and-a-half games behind Brooklyn, with only an outside chance to win the pennant. The Phils would then go to Chicago, where they would sweep the Colts, seeing them move up into second place over the Colts, six games behind the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would then go to Pittsburgh, where they would split the two-games series with the Alleghenys, losing the second game by the score of 10-1, thus ending the month with a record of 12-9 and an overall record of 77-51-1, now in third place, seven-and-a-half games behind the Bridegrooms, as Brooklyn clinches the pennant on that same day, September 30, by defeating the Spiders, 4-3 while the second place Colts would lose to the Beaneaters, 6-4.
The Phillies would end the season playing four games in October with the Spiders. After tying the first game, 2-2, they would win the next game, 5-4, before ending the season by being swept in an October 4 doubleheader, losing by the scores of 5-1 and 7-3, ending the month with a record of 1-2-1, the road trip with a record of 7-7-1, and ending the season with a record of 78-53-2, two-and-a-half games behind the second place Colts and nine games behind the league champ, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, so far the only Major League franchise to win a championship two years in a row in two difference leagues (AA 1889, NL 1890).
The Phillies would spend most of the year without their manager as Harry Wright would become blind on May 22. He would not be able to distinguish light from dark for ten days and would not return to manage the Phils until August 6. As Wright recovers, the Phillies would originally replace him with catcher Jack Clements, thus making him the fourth manager in Phillies’ history and the team’s second player-manager. Clements would be at the helm for only nineteen games, compling a record of 12-6-1 for a winning percentage of .667. Phillies co-owner, Al Reach, would replace him as the team’s fifth manager, leading the team for eleven games, compling a losing record of 4-7 for a winning percentage of .364. Reach then replaces himself as the team’s manager with shortstop Bob Allen, making him the team’s sixth manager and the third player-manager in franchise’s history. Allen would remain the team’s leader until Wright’s return, compling a record of 25-10 in thirty-five games, for a winning percentage of .714. Wright would return on August 6, leading the team during the final two-plus months of the pennant race, leading the Phils to its third third place finish, as he compiled a record of 36-31-1 in sixty-eight games, for a winning percentage of .537.
The Phillies would end up playing a total of 133 games, with a home/road split of 54-21-1 at home and 24-32-1 on the road, as 148,366 fans would come to watch them play at home. They would face the Spiders, the Reds and the Beaneaters twenty times each, the Colts and the Allghenys nineteen times, the Bridegrooms eighteen times and the Giants only seventeen times. The Phillies had winning records against four of their opponents, with their best record being against the Alleghenys, as they would go 17-2, followed by the Spiders at 14-5-1. They would have losing records with three teams, with their worst record being against the Bridegrooms, as they went 8-10, followed by both the Beaneaters and the Reds at 9-11. The Phillies would be 9-3 in shut outs, 17-9 in 1-run games and 30-17 in blowouts.
During the season, the Phillies would be either at the top, or near the top, in most offensive categories. The team would be first in doubles (220), batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.342), second in hits (1267), walks (522), slugging percentage (.364) and stolen bases (335), third in run scored (823) and triples (78), fifth in at-bats (4707), sixth in home runs (23) and strikeouts (403), while also knocking in 631 RBIs, while 64 batters would be hit by the pitch. Meanwhile, the pitchers would also be near the top in most categories. They would be second in saves (2), shut outs (9), innings pitched (1194), home runs allowed (22) and strikeouts (507), fifth in complete games (122), and sixth in ERA (3.32), hits allowed (1210), runs allowed (707), and walks (486), as well as start 133 games, complete eleven games, allowed 440 earned runs, throw 45 wild pitches and commit two balks.
Team offensive leaders for the season would include Billy Hamilton in batting average (.325), on-base percentage (.430), runs scored (133), stolen bases (102), also leading the league in that category, and singles (137), being tied for the league lead with Cliff Carroll of the Chicago Colts. Clements would lead the team in slugging percentage (.472) and home runs (7). Allen would lead in games played (133), walks (87) and strikeouts (54), while being tied with Eddie Burke for triples with 11 each. Sam Thompson would be the team leader in at-bats (549), total plate appearances (599), hits (172), tied for the league lead with Jack Glasscock of the New York Giants, total bases (243), doubles (41), being the league leader, RBIs (102) and extra-base hits (54). Al Myers would lead in hit by the bat by being plunked 10 times.
Pitching wise, 1890 would be the coming out year for Kid Gleason, as he would be the team leader in most pitching categories. He would have the lowest ERA (2.63), win the most games (38, which is still the team’s single season record), highest win-lost percentage (.691), game played (60), saves (2), tied for the lead in that category with Dave Foutz of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Bill Hutchison of the Chicago Colts, innings pitched (506), strikeouts (222), games started (55), complete games (54), games finished (5), shutouts (6), hits allowed (479), earned runs allowed (148), while being tied with Tom Vickery for the team lead in home runs allowed (6). Vickery would also lead the team in walks (184), losses (22) and wild pitches (23). The Phils would only have two pitchers who would win twenty or more games, Gleason, setting a club record 38 wins and Vickery with 24.
As the Phillies continue to try to claim their first pennant, the National League Champ, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, would face the American Association Champ, the Louisville Colonels in a seven-games post-season series, that would end up as a 3-3-1 tie between the two teams. Meanwhile, the Players’ League folds, as the league’s idea of having a revenue sharing-pool between the players would backfire, as the owners of the league’s eight teams are unable to make enough of a profit to stay in business. This would force the owners to sell the interest of their teams to the owners of the National League, who would in the process regain many of the players that they had lost to the revolt, such as the Phillies regaining Ed Delahanty from the Cleveland Infants. Meanwhile, as the Players’ League dies, the American Association would kick the Athletics out of the fold, for violating the league’s constitution. The Athletics would then be replaced in the AA by the Quakers of the Players’ League, leaving the Phillies with a rival. Noone, however, would have any idea how damaging the players’ revolt would be to the AA until 1891.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.org, Retrosheet.org
I’m sure that most Phillies fans have probably never even heard of Charlie Ferguson, or if they have, know very little about him. Well, to be rather frank, I was among those who have never even heard of him, until I’d started doing my year-by-year look at our loveable losers and discovered him for the very first time, while also discovering that before his untimely death in 1888, at a very young age, from typhoid fever, he was developing into the team’s first true pitching star, way before the more well known Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Ferguson was born on April 17, 1863, in Charlotteville, Virigina, the home of American Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, and located near the strategic Shenandoah Valley, an area that during his youth would be constantly fought over by Northern and Southern troops during the country’s Civil War, while the city would itself be spared. Going to the University of Pennsylvania for his college education, where he would learn to play baseball, Ferguson would come back home after graduation and proceed to play for the Virginia member of the Eastern (now International) League in 1883. His team would win the Eastern League pennant that year, while his pitching would catch the eyes of the Philadelphia Quakers (now Phillies), who were preparing for their second year as a member of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or the NL. After signing a contract, he would make his Major League debut on May 1, 1884, pitching against the Detroit Wolverine in Philadelphia at Recreation Park. He would be the game’s winning pitcher, as the Phillies would trounce the Wolverines 13-2. During his rookie season, he would pitch in 50 games, starting in 47 of them, and completing all but one of his starts, while finishing up three more. His record would be 21-25, thus becoming the franchise’s first twenty-game winner, as well as saving one other game, and throwing two shut outs, as he ended the season with an ERA of 3.54. Ferguson would pitch in 416.7 innings that year, giving up 297 runs, 164 of which would be earned, on 443 hits, as he struck out 194 batters while walking only 93 and giving up 13 home runs. In his rookie season he would be among the NL leaders in games (6), games started (6), complete games (6), games finished (3), wins (7), loses (2), saves (2), shut outs (10), innings pitched (6), strikeouts (7), hits allowed (6), walks (7), earned runs allowed (1), home runs allowed (7) and walks (7).
After helping lead the team to a 6th place finish in 1884, he would lead them to a third place finish in 1885, as he would have his second straight twenty-win season, as he would go 26-20 that year, with an ERA of 2.22. Ferguson would this time pitch in only 48 games, starting and completing 45 of them, of which five were shut outs, while finishing three other games. He would pitch in 405 innings, giving up just 197 runs, only 100 of which would be earned, on just 345 hits, as he would rung up 197 strike outs while walking just 81 batters and giving up only 5 home runs. On August 29, 1885, in Philadelphia, he would pitch the first Phillies’ No-Hitter, as he would blank the Providence Grays, 1-0. In his second season as a Phil, he would be among the league leaders in games (8), games started (9), complete games (8), games finished (1), wins (5), win/lost percentage (8), ERA (7), shut outs (6), innings pitched (7), strikeouts (6), hits allowed (10) and walks (10). He would also hit .306 for that year, in which he would play 15 games in the outfield for a grand total of 61 games.
1886 would be his breakout season, as he would become the Phillies’ first thirty-game winner as he would go 30-9, with a 1.98 ERA, in 48 games pitched, of which 45 would be starts, completing 43. He would also pitch four shut outs that year, while he would finish two other games, and collect two saves. In 395.7 innings of work, he would give up just 145 runs, of which 87 would be earned, on only 317 hits, while striking out 212 batters and walking only 69, while giving up 11 home runs. In his junior year as a Phil, he would be among the leaders in games (7), games started (9), complete games (7), games finished (7), wins (6), win/lost percentage (2), saves (1), ERA (2), shut outs (2), innings pitched (7), strikeouts (8), and home runs allowed (6). Although his efforts would help to improve the team’s overall record, the Phillies would end the year in fourth place in the National League.
In 1887, his pitching record would drop as he would end the season going only 22-10 with an ERA of 3.00, in just 37 games, of which 33 would be starts, he would complete 31 of them, with 2 of them being shut outs, while he would finish four out other games, collecting a save. In only 297.3 innings of work, he would give up 154 runs, of which 99 would be earned, on 297 hits, while he would strike out 125 batters, while walking only 47 and giving up 13 home runs. In his fourth season as a Phil, he would be among the league leaders in only games finished (2), wins (8), win/lost percentage (3), saves (1), ERA (3), shut outs (5) and strikeouts (5).
The main reason for his pitching drop was because the Phillies’ manager, future Hall of Famer Harry Wright, an early strategist of the game, had decided to place Ferguson’s strong bat into the Phils’ regular lineup for the pennant run, as Ferguson would end up playing six games in the outfield, five games at third base, and twenty-seven ballgames at second base, playing that position for the final eight weeks of the season, as he would replace the bats of a couple of second baseman who were hitting a combine total of only .214. In 72 games, Ferguson would hit .337, going to the plate 264 times, knocking in 85 runs on 89 hits, while scoring 67 runs, Ferguson would hit 14 doubles, 6 triples and 3 home runs, while stealing 13 bases. He would walk 34 times while striking out only 19. He would miss out being the team’s leading batter for that year, because he would not have enough plate appearances. He would, though, end up leading the team in RBIs. Ferguson’s strong bat would help the Phillies end up a strong second to the Detroit Wolverines.
The Phillies’ strong finish at the end of the 1887 season, going 16-0-1 in their last seventeen games, would make the team confident of being able to challenge for their first NL pennant when the team entered spring training in 1888. Sadly, it was not to be as they would be struck an early blow in camp as Charlie Ferguson would be struck down by typhoid fever, dying to the dreaded disease on April 29, at the young age of 25. Ferguson would be sent back home to Charlotteville, Virginia, where he would be buried in Maplewood Cementery. During the 1888 season, in which the Phillies would drop to third place in the standings, the Phillies, the Giants, the Beaneaters and the Washington Nationals would all commemorate his passing by wearing a black crepe on their left shoulders of their team uniforms.
During his four years as a Phil, Charlie Ferguson would pitch in 183 games, starting in 170 and completing 165, while finishing 12 others. He would have a winning record of 99-64, with a winning percentage of .607, having 13 shut outs and four saves. In 1514.2 innings pitched, he would give up only 793 runs, 450 of which would be earned, on 1402 hits. He would strike out 728 batters while only walking 290, while giving up only 42 home runs. His career ERA would be 2.67. His career batting average would be .288 in 257 total games played, getting 191 hits in 963 at-bats, knocking in 157 runs while scoring 191. He would have a career total of 37 doubles, 13 triples and 6 home runs, while stealing 22 bases. Ferguson would walk 113 times while striking out 119. His 99 wins would land him in 8th place on the all-time Phillies’ win lists, trailing the likes of Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Robert Roberts and Alexander, as well as Chris Short and possible future Hall of Famer Curt Schilling, while his 64 losses would have him tied for 24th place on that list. His ERA would place him 6th. Ferguson would also be 17th in games started, 4th in complete games, 11th in innings pitched and strikeouts and tied for 14th in shut outs, as well as be among the top 50 in several other pitching categories.
With Ferguson’s death, the Phillies would lose a chance to win a NL pennant before the turn of the century. Although the team would remain a member of the first division, except during the period 1895-97, they would not reach second place again until 1901. His early death would also deny Ferguson a place among baseball immortals at the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., as it would be more than likely he would have won enough games, based on his winning 99 games in just four years with a then good Phillies team, to get the nod via the Veterans Committee, if not for his being stricken down by typhoid.
Main sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Ferguson_%281880s_pitcher%29 - Wikipedia page
http://www.19cbaseball.com/players-charlie-ferguson.html - Biography at Baseball History: 19th Century Baseball.com
http://www.baseball-reference.com//f/ferguch01.shtml - Stats at Baseball-reference.com
http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Obits_F/Ferguson.Charles01.Obit.html - Charlie Ferguson’s Philadelphia Inquirer obit – TheDeadballEra.com
Other sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.com, Phillies.com: Team History, Baseball History: 19th Century Baseball.com
Now, let’s see how the Phillies did pitching wise, both individually and as a team. First, let’s look at the entire pitching staff as a whole.
In 2008, in 162 games, the Phillies pitchers would win 92 games and would lose 70 for a winning percentage of .568. The overall staff ERA would be 3.88, fourth best in the league. The starters would finish four games, which would tie them for fifth in the league, along with the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants. The team would pitch eleven shut outs, tying them for fourth in the NL with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The relief corps would end up saving 47 games, for second place, out of a total of 62 save opportunities, tying them for sixth with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitching staff would pitch a total of 1449 and 2/3 innings (seventh), during which they would give up 1444 hits (eight worst), allow only 680 runners to score (14th worst), of which only 625 of those runs would be earned (13th worst). They would be hit for 160 home runs, tying them for tenth worst in that category with the Chicago Cubs. They would hit a total of 57 batters (seventh worst). The staff would strike out 1081 batters (11th), while walking only 533 (11th), of which 64 would be intentional (third), striking out 2.03 batters for every one that they would walk (seventh). The pitching staff would walk on average 3.31 batters per game (BB/9) (sixth), while striking out 6.71 batters per game (K/9) (12th worst). They would give up on average only 8.96 hits per game (H9) (ninth). They gave up a total of 2280 total bases, tying them for eighth with the San Diego Padres. They would give up only two balks during the entire year, tying them for second in that category with the Diamondbacks. They gave up only 34 wild pitches (second best). They allowed 109 stolen bases (fifth), while helping to catch 34 runners (ninth) and picking off 8 more, tying them for sixth with the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers. They would get 1718 batters out via ground outs (seventh) and get out 1465 more via fly outs (tenth) with a GO/AO ratio of 1.26 (seventh). The staff’s WHIP (Walks plus Hits/Innings Pitched) is 1.36, tied for fifth with the Astros. Opponents are batting .260 (eighth) against the pitching staff, while its SLG (Slugging Percentage Allowed) is .410 (ninth), and its OBA (On-Base Percentage Allowed) is .329 (sixth). The staff has faced(PA) 6229 batters (11th worst), throwing to them (NP) a total of 23,498 pitches (12th worst), throwing 16.21 pitches per inning pitched (P/IP) (fifth). The relief corps would successfully hold the lead 79 times, tying them for fourth with the Astros.
The pitching staff, thanks mainly to the bullpen, but also to a starting rotation that got its act together towards the end of the season, would place itself among the best in team ERA, while placing itself either among the leaders or in the middle of the pack in most pitching categories, including saves, shut outs, complete games, innings pitched, fewest runs allowed and earned runs, fewest wild pitches thrown, fewest hit batters, most batters struck out per nine innings and least batters walked per nine innings, lowest opponents’ batting average, fewest home runs given up and most leads held. After starting the season with a lot of question marks, especially around the relief corps, the team’s pitchers would end up being among the National League elite staffs.
Now individually, the team’s starting ace, Cole Hamels would find himself among the league leaders in wins with 14 (T-15th), innings pitched with 227.1 (second), games started with 33 (T-ninth), earned run average with 3.09 (T-fifth), strikouts with 196 (sixth), complete games with 2 (T-sixth) and shut outs with 2 (T-third). Jamie Moyer is among the league leaders in win with 16 (T-seventh), earned run average with .371 (T-15th) and game started with 33 (T-ninth). Brett Myers is among the leaders in strike outs with 163 (T-17th), complete games with two (T-sixth) and shut outs with 1 (T-seventh). Brad Lidge is among the league leaders in saves with 41 (T-second). J.C. Romero is among the league leaders in games pitched with 81 (T-fifth) as is Ryan Madson with 76 (T-ninth).
The stats show that this year, although he didn’t lead the team in wins, thanks to the offense at time not giving him a lot of runs, Cole Hamels was the team’s ace as he lead the team in most other categories. The stats also shown that getting Brad Lidge has provided the Phillies’ relief corps with a nail down closer. If a team can shut down the Rays’ bats during the World Series, the Phillies should be the team to do it.