SABR

From Swampoodle to South Philly

Journal from the 2013 Convention, focusing on baseball in Philadelphia.

  • Prelude to the Formation of the American Association By Brock Helander

    Six of the eight most populous cities in the United States were not represented in the National League for the baseball season of 1881. Independent teams throughout the United States enjoyed both popularity and financial success and the need for a second major league became obvious. he prelude to the formation of the American Association in November 1881 is herein examined in the context of the September Western tours of the interregnum Atlantics and Athletics and the principals supposedly involved in a preliminary meeting in October.

  • The Jefferson Street Ball Parks (1864–91) By Jerrold Casway

    The Philadelphia ballparks situated at Jefferson and Master Streets, between 27th and 25th Streets, have a significant historic importance for our national pastime. Originally, this plot of land was known as the Jefferson Parade Grounds. It was used as a bivouac and training site in the years leading up to the Civil War.

  • Philadelphia, October 1866: The Center of the Baseball Universe By Jeff Laing

    In the late nineteenth century, Philadelphia was a hotbed of baseball activity, and specifically of idiosyncratic match-ups. For three weeks in October 1866, Philadelphia was the scene of two “world” championship series that helped determine the future course of baseball in the areas of professionalism and race.

  • Did New York Steal the Championship of 1867 from Philadelphia? By Richard Hershberger

    Baseball was booming in the years immediately following the Civil War. Competitive rivalries grew more heated. This environment led inevitably to controversies. One of the greatest was the claim that the New York clubs colluded in 1867 to steal the championship from the Athletic Club of Philadelphia, to keep the pennant in New York. This charge was made in Pennsylvania, and some writers accept it to this day. But is it true?

  • Mundell’s Solar Tips: The Intersection of Amateur, Trade, Professional and Major League Baseball in Philadelphia By Paul Browne

    In Philadelphia, Mundell’s Solar Tips moved back and forth among the various levels of baseball during the 1880s and 1890s. Their history is illustrative of the more open and entrepreneurial baseball world that ended long ago.

  • Tuck Turner’s Magical 1894 Phillies Season By Peter Mancuso

    George A. “Tuck” Turner was a member of the National League and American Association for seven seasons (1893–98) and a utility outfielder for the Phillies for the first five of those big league seasons. How Tuck Turner became a major leaguer and a member of the Philadelphia Phillies is an unusual story.

  • Columbia Park II: Philadelphia American League, 1901–08 By Ron Selter

    Columbia Park was the second ballpark in Philadelphia to carry the name. The first Columbia Park had been used by the National Association Philadelphia Centennials for all of two months in 1875. Columbia Park II opened for baseball on April 26, 1901, as the first home park of the American League Philadelphia Athletics. Unlike many of the other Deadball Era wooden ballparks, this one never burned.

  • The Long Way to Philadelphia: The Strange Route Leading Rube Waddell To Join The Philadelphia Athletics By Joe Niese

    The enigmatic Rube Waddell struggled during the first few years of his professional career, and was lucky just to be a .500 pitcher. It was not until Connie Mack coerced him into coming to the Philadelphia Athletics in June 1902 that Waddell was finally able to harness his talents, becoming one of the first great left-handed pitchers the game had seen.

  • The Strangest Month in the Strange Career of Rube Waddell By Steven A. King

    One controversial aspect of Rube Waddell’s career, while he was still playing and a century later, is what happened during the last month of the 1905 season that resulted in his missing the World Series. This was the first played by Philadelphia and would be his one opportunity to pitch on the grand stage. What really happened on September 8, 1905?

  • Tim Hurst’s Last Call By Rick Huhn

    It was an unlikely time for a post-game riot, even in a baseball-crazy city like Philadelphia. Yet that is exactly what occurred at newly-minted Shibe Park on the afternoon of August 3, 1909. Several hundred Athletics fans, instead of celebrating a doubleheader sweep of the White Sox, rushed the field as others, in the upper tier, threw seat cushions, bottles, and even their straw hats. The target of their anger was veteran umpire Tim Hurst. Hurst did not know it at the time, but as he was escorted from the field he had just umpired his last game in the major leagues.

  • The Delaware River Shipbuilding League, 1918 By Jim Leeke

    Baseball leagues flourished in American shipyards during World War I as legions of workers built warships and troop transports to safeguard the Atlantic sea lanes and carry men and materiel to Europe. Among the best of these circuits was the Delaware River Shipbuilding League of 1918.

  • Harry Passon: Philadelphia Baseball Entrepreneur By Rebecca T. Alpert

    Semi-professional baseball, black and white, flourished in Philadelphia in the first half of the twentieth century. Harry Passon (1897–1954), a Jewish owner of Philadelphia’s leading sporting goods store, played a strategic role in organizing and promoting it.

  • The Real Jimmie Foxx By Bill Jenkinson

    The story of Jimmie Foxx is bittersweet. In his prime, he was one of baseball’s greatest sluggers. But his career diminished prematurely as he battled injury and alcohol. Foxx struggled with life after baseball and ultimately died before his time. So, who was James Emory Foxx, and how should he be perceived by fans in the twenty-first century?

  • The Day Ted Williams Became the Last .400 Hitter in Baseball By Bill Nowlin

    Young Ted Williams woke up on the morning of September 28, 1941, in Philadelphia hitting .39955, just .00045 below the hallowed .400 mark. In eight at-bats of a doubleheader against the Athletics at Shibe Park that day, he cemented his legend.

  • The Philadelphia Phillies' 1943 Spring Training By James D. Szalontai

    In 1943 major league teams were forced to abandon the salubrious conditions of the South for spring training. Teams had to scramble to find northern training camps and were often burdened by harsh weather, fewer exhibition games, and inferior training facilities. With a new owner, the Philadelphia Phillies ultimately and perhaps reluctantly settled on Hershey, a community founded by chocolate king Milton S. Hershey, as their spring training headquarters.

  • Eddie Waitkus and "The Natural": What is Assumption? What is Fact? By Rob Edelman

    Eddie Waitkus, the Fightin’ Phillies first-sacker, is best remembered not for his 182 hits and .284 average on the 1950 National League pennant-winners and not for any other on-field accomplishment. Instead, his name is inexorably linked to the plight and fate of the central character in an all-time classic baseball novel. To what extent was author Bernard Malamud influenced by baseball history and baseball lore in his portrayal of Roy Hobbs in The Natural?

  • Phillies Bonus Babies, 1953-57 By Sam Zygner

    Beginning in 1947 and ending in 1965, Major League Baseball instituted what became known as the “Bonus Rule.” Under the rule, any team was allowed to sign a prospect—many of whom were just out of high school—to a bonus of $4,000 or more under the stipulation that they spend two years on a major league roster. The Phillies signed three of the most high profile talents available: Thomas Francis Qualters, Frederick William Van Dusen, and Mack Edwin Burk. Like most of these signees, they would find little gold at the end of their baseball rainbows.

  • Tom Qualters’s Amazing 1954 Season for the Philadelphia Phillies By Stephen D. Boren

    According to the "Sports Encyclopedia Baseball," only four players have been on a major league roster all season without entering a game. The most recent was Tom Qualters, who was signed as a bonus baby with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1953.

  • 1964 Phillies, Fans, and Media By Andrew Milner

    This article looks at the minds of Phillies fans in the weeks leading up to the 1964 collapse. In the manner of G.H. Fleming’s The Unforgettable Season and Jean-Pierre Caillault’s A Tale of Four Cities, this story is told through contemporary newspaper accounts.

  • Dick Allen’s Second Act By Mitchell Nathanson

    It is hard to imagine a more polarizing figure in Philadelphia sports history than Dick Allen. Countless gallons of ink have been spilled in furtherance of trying to capture and explain Allen’s stormy relationship with the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia during his 1963–69 tenure with the club. Much less focus has been given, however, to his mid-Seventies return to Philadelphia amid circumstances that were seemingly far different from those in which he left it.

  • Fan Perspectives on Race and Baseball in the City of Brotherly Love By Jen McGovern

    The history of baseball in America has always been closely tied to the history of race in America. In Philadelphia, historic hostilities to integration blemished the city’s reputation of racial acceptance. Current Phillies fans have gradually embraced diversity but some still sense lingering racial tensions.

  • Expanded e-edition articles can be found online at SABR.org! By SABR

    Read all the articles from the expanded e-edition of "The National Pastime" below.

  • Download the e-book By SABR

    Read the special expanded edition of the 2013 TNP on your computer or e-reader in PDF, EPUB or MOBI/Kindle formats!

  • Connie Mack: The Tall Tactician By Doug Skipper

    He was known as “The Tall Tactician” and was baseball’s grand old gentleman for more than a generation. Statuesque, stately, and slim, he clutched a rolled-up scorecard as he sat or stood ramrod straight in the dugout, attired in a business suit rather than a uniform, a derby or bowler in place of a baseball cap. He carried himself with quiet dignity, and commanded the respect of friend and foe. Widely addressed by players and other officials as Mr. Mack, he and the Philadelphia Athletics were so closely linked for 50 years that the team was often dubbed “the Mackmen.”

  • The Early Years of Philadelphia Baseball By Rich Westcott

    Philadelphia has played a major role in the history of American’s national pastime. Baseball, or an early version of the game, has thrived in the city for nearly two centuries, and has been prominent in the evolution of the sport. Indeed, Philadelphia and baseball are unequivocally linked in a relationship that is as tight as anything else in the city.

  • Philadelphia Phillies: A Vibrant History By Rich Westcott

    As a franchise that began 130 years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies have made an indelible mark not only on the city where they play but also on the whole sport of baseball.

  • William T. Stecher: Ignominious Record Holder, Community Servant By Jonathan Frankel

    If you look it up, the record book tells you that William Stecher set a record in 1890 (since broken) for the most career games by a pitcher who lost all his games (0–10) and most career innings by a pitcher with an ERA above 10.00 (68 innings, 10.32). Not flattering records for any player to hold. But how did Stecher come about this line and these records in his single season in the majors with the 1890 American Association Athletics of Philadelphia?

  • Baseball’s Deadliest Disaster: “Black Saturday” in Philadelphia By Robert D. Warrington

    On August 8, 1903, part of the top left-field bleacher balcony at the Philadelphia Phillies’ ballpark collapsed, hurling hundreds of people headlong to the pavement below. Twelve people died and 232 were injured. The tragedy, its aftermath, and the far-reaching effects it had on ballpark design and construction are examined in this article.

  • The Great Philadelphia Ballpark Riot By Robert D. Warrington

    Hall of Fame manager John McGraw had tempestuous relations with all league opponents, but it was particularly fractious with the Philadelphia Phillies. After a game in 1913, Phillies pitcher Addison Brennan took a swing at the Little Napoleon — and connected.

  • Dropping the Pitch: Leona Kearns, Eddie Ainsmith and the Philadelphia Bobbies By Barbara Gregorich

    Leona Kearns was a young woman, a teenage pitcher during the Roaring Twenties. Eddie Ainsmith was once a major-league catcher. When their lives intersected, tragedy was the result.

  • Connie Mack’s Second Great Athletics Team: Eclipsed by the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees, But Even Better By Bryan Soderholm-Difatte

    In the annals of baseball history, the New York Yankees are often remembered as being most formidable when they had Babe Ruth batting third and Lou Gehrig right behind him in the cleanup slot. They were the heart of the 1927 Yankees—still mythologized by many as the greatest team ever there was. But were the Philadelphia Athletics, who won three consecutive AL pennants from 1929-31, even better?

  • The 1929 Mack Attack By Jimmy Keenan

    The 1929 World Series was highlighted by Connie Mack's surprise decision to start Howard Ehmke in Game 1 and the Philadelphia Athletics' 10-run inning in Game 4.

  • Black Tuesday: Philadelphia A's trades in December 1933 By David Jordan

    The Philadelphia Athletics, just a few years off three consecutive AL pennants, took a nosedive at the gate in 1933 and needed cash fast. At the winter meetings in December, the A's traded away five of their most valuable players “in a series of spectacular deals” for nearly a quarter-million dollars: Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane, George Earnshaw, Rube Walberg and Max Bishop. "Black Tuesday" altered the franchise's fortunes for the rest of its years in Philadelphia.

  • A Phil Named Syl By Matthew Clifford

    A profile of Syl Johnson, who pitched for 19 years with the Cardinals, Phillies, Tigers and Reds.

  • Connie Mack and Wartime Baseball — 1943 By Norman Macht

    In 1943, Gerry Nugent and the Phillies were flat broke. Worse than that: They were concave broke. Not only were they penniless, they were in debt to the National League. NL president Ford Frick went looking for somebody to rescue the franchise. Bob Paul, sports editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, was approached by local sports promoter and professional basketball pioneer Eddie Gottlieb, acting on behalf of Leon Levy, president of WCAU and one of the backers of the new CBS network. This is Paul’s story.

  • The Sultan of Slap and Run By Francis Kinlaw

    The Phillies’ Richie Ashburn hit only 29 homers— approximately one per 300 times at bat—in a 15-year career, and none of them are legendary because of their length. Eight were inside-the-parkers that never left the playing field. Seven were hit in 1962 alone. This article sheds light on an often overlooked aspect of Ashburn’s career.

  • Kids Snatch a Flag By Francis Kinlaw

    A few poetic verses on the 1950 National League pennant race.

  • A Final Season: The 1954 Philadelphia Athletics By Thomas Van Hyning

    Pundits may call the 1954 Athletics one of the all-time worst major-league teams, but they had talented players and fine human beings, among them Art Ditmar, Spook Jacobs, Vic Power, Bill Renna, and Bobby Shantz. This is the story of Philadelphia's final entry in the American League, which finished a full 60 games back of first place.

  • Handy in a Pinch: Dave Philley By Cort Vitty

    Fans of the 1958 Philadelphia Phillies had little to cheer about at the end of a rather dismal season. When the final standings were posted, the club was firmly planted dead last in the National League. One bright note was the team’s pinch-hitting performance. A leading contributor was a well-traveled veteran named Dave Philley, who hit .404 off the bench and ended the season with a remarkable streak of eight consecutive pinch safeties to set a major-league record. Not bad for a 38-year-old journeyman.

  • Philadelphia Area Teams that Have Participated in the Little League World Series By Mark Kanter

    There have been a number of baseball pennants and world championships in the Philadelphia and nearby New Jersey area over the last 120 years. However, participating in baseball championships is not confined to the professional rung. Amateur boys and girls play for the Little League World Series. By the 1950s, Little League had sprung up all over the United States. In particular, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania were fertile ground. Eighteen teams from communities within 65 miles of Philadelphia have played in the Little League World Series. Five of those teams won the championship.

  • Mitch Williams’ Amazing Month: Eight Wins Out of the Bullpen By Bob Bogart

    In August 1991, Mitch Williams was the winning pitcher in eight ballgames, challenging the National League’s record of nine wins in a month, first set by Christy Mathewson in August 1903 and 1904, and then tied by Grover Cleveland Alexander in May of 1920. Many probably think that Williams must have set up his own wins by blowing saves, only to have the Phillies rally in their final at-bat and secure “vultured” victories for Williams. The assumption certainly follows the reputation Williams carried throughout his career, but it could not be further from the truth.

  • Pitch Perfect: Re-examining Brad Lidge’s Performance in 2008 Using Win Probabilities Added and Leverage Index By Jim Sweetman

    To Phillies fans, the image of Brad Lidge on his knees, arms raised in triumph after recording the final out of the 2008 World Series defines that magical season, if not Lidge’s career as a Phillie. While Lidge was a perfect 48 for 48 (including postseason) in save opportunities, he was not completely perfect. We explore the question of how much better Lidge’s performance was than other championship Phillies closers.

  • Philadelphia's Other Hall of Famers By Steven Glassman

    Many Baseball Hall of Fame inductees are associated with the American League Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies by way of career accomplishments, or by wearing the team ball cap on their Hall of Fame plaque. Many others in the Hall have connections to the city of Philadelphia and the city’s baseball teams since the 1860s.

  • Editor's note By Morris Levin

    Editor's note from Morris Levin.

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