25 Incredible Philadelphia Phillies You've Probably Never Heard Of
The history of the Philadelphia Phillies is kind of like that gigantic history textbook that your teachers forced you to lug around in grade school.
That textbook covered an enormous amount of time and history, and frankly, it was impossible to get through the whole thing in one year. So, your teacher would have you skip around from chapter to chapter, reading the most "important" information but leaving some of the more interesting chapters and people out of the curriculum.
The history of the Phillies is very similar: It's extremely long and very hard to cover in its entirety.
With just about 130 years of Phillies baseball in the books, scribes skip around from year to year to cover the greatest moments. The World Series teams of 1980 and 2008 are givens. We've all heard about the Whiz Kids of 1950, the first Phillies team to appear in the World Series in 1915, and the string of dominant clubs during the 1970s, led by Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt.
Those are a lot of great clubs, but generally speaking, barely a fraction of the history of this organization. Created in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers, hundreds of excellent players have worn the Philadelphia uniform in some way, shape, or form, most of whom are often forgotten about as time takes its toll.
Those players accomplished great feats; feats that will no longer go unnoticed.
The goal of this slideshow is to bring some of the greatest players in the history of the organization into the forefront of the minds of the casual Phillies' fan. You diehard fans may have heard of some of these players, but I'm willing to be there are a few surprises.
Shrouded by recent accomplishments, the history of the Phillies has become somewhat of an uncharted territory, and there are still plenty of great names to uncover.
*All statistics refer to time spent with the Phillies' organization alone, unless otherwise stated.
For up to the minute Phillies information, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor.
After assembling the potential names for this slideshow, I realized that the list was massive. So instead of leaving off a bunch of players who qualify for a list like this in one way or another, I decided to at least mention all of them on an honorable mention slide.
So, here are those players, grouped loosely by position.
Pitchers: Kevin Gross, Jack Taylor, Phil Collins, Larry Jackson, Curt Davis, Ben Sanders, Syl Johnson, Jimmy Ring, Gus Weyhing, Red Donahue, Erskine Mayer, Ray Benge, Hal Carlson, and Dutch Leonard.
Position Players: Dave Bancroft, Clay Dalrymple, Spud Davis, Dolph Camilli, and Pinky Whitney.
25. Eppa Rixey
The Line: 87-103, 2.83 ERA, 14.2 WAR
First and foremost, I'd like to make a bit of a note here: I considered leaving players in the Hall of Fame off of this list all together. After all, if you're in the Hall of Fame, you've accomplished something worthy of recognition, right?
However, after polling a few Phillies' fans about their familiarity with players like, for example, Eppa Rixey, it became clear to me that this was not the case.
Now, down to business.
Rixey spent six seasons with the Phillies and is considered one of the best left handed starting pitchers to ever play the game. He built the bulk of his Hall of Fame career with the Cincinnati Reds, but was a member of the 1915 Phillies that appeared in the World Series.
Outside of a few down seasons (and despite what appears at first glance to be an abominable record,) Rixey was a solid member of the Phillies' rotation.
24. Jim Fogarty
The Line: .247 / .331 / .341, 16 HR, 14.4 WAR
Jim Fogarty was a good defensive player at a number of positions during his time in Philadelphia, and he molded himself into something like one of the game's earliest "utility men."
Fogarty spent the majority of his time in the outfield, but he was also capable of playing second and third base, and the common threat between all of those positions was that he played them well.
Fogarty's career lasted just seven seasons, and all of them were spent in Philly. However, the last of those seven seasons was spent with an early version of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1890.
23. Lave Cross
The Line: .295 / .339 / .398, 21 HR, 15.2 WAR
Lave Cross was in the game for a long time. As a player, he spent six of his 21 MLB seasons with the Phillies. He was a unique talent in the sense that he could play multiple positions and not hurt you offensively. In fact, he was a very good hitter.
Cross was able to play catcher, third base, and the outfield, and though he had little power, he was a very good contact hitter.
Interestingly enough, the Phillies once traded him along with Jack Taylor and Jack Clements (both of whom are on this list) to the St. Louis Browns for a package of players that included Red Donahue, who is listed in the honorable mentions.
22. Andy Seminick
The Line: .244 / .351 / .419, 123 HR, 15.7 WAR
I find it hard to believe that a player who spent 12 seasons with the Phillies and appeared on a World Series team can go practically unnoticed, but that's just the case for Andy Seminick.
He joined the Phillies in 1943, and a few seasons later, was one of the oldest players on the "Whiz Kids'" roster in 1950, despite being just 29-years-old. He served as a mentor for that legendary team, with the other players giving him the nickname "Grandpa Whiz."
The Phillies would later trade him to the Cincinnati Reds for what proved to be an underwhelming return before reacquiring him years later.
21. Dode Paskert
The Line: .272 / .357 / .374, 47 HR, 15.9 WAR
Dode Paskert was involved in a couple of interesting trades, as far as this list is concerned. First and foremost, the Phillies acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds for a package that included George McQuillan, who will appear on this list.
Later, the Phillies traded him to the Chicago Cubs in one of the club's most favorable deals of all-time, with the return being Cy Williams—another player who will appear on this slide show.
For the Phillies, Paskert was an exceptional player. A center field by trade, Paskert spent seven seasons with the Phillies, his best being the 1912 season, where he posted an OPS of .833 and finished 14th in the game's MVP voting.
20. Granny Hamner
The Line: .263 /.305 /.385, 103 HR, 16.1 WAR
Granny Hamner is a former Phillies' player that I personally feel isn't as well-known as he should be.
After all, Hamner signed with the Phillies as a 17-year-old, amateur free agent back in 1944 and would go on to spend 16 seasons with the club. Outside of Jimmy Rollins and Larry Bowa, Hamner is probably the third best shortstop in the history of the organization.
A three-time All-Star, Hamner finished with MVP votes in a surprising six seasons.
19. George McQuillan
The Line: 54-49, 1.79 ERA, 16.1 WAR
George McQuillan spent two stints with the Phillies totaling six seasons, and boy, was he dominant during those years.
Just in case that ERA doesn't tell you the entire story, McQuillan also posted a WHIP of just 1.02 and tossed 72 complete games in 103 starts. Just for fun, he also recorded seven saves.
As was previously mentioned, the Phillies would later trade him to the Cincinnati Reds as part of a package for outfielder Dode Paskert.
18. Kid Gleason
The Line: (.246 / .296 / .297, 2 HR, -0.2 WAR) (78-70, 3.39 ERA, 16.4 WAR)
Kid Gleason was a very unique player, especially for the Phillies. He was the ultimate utility player, putting Wilson Valdez to shame.
If that slash line were to tell you anything, it should be that Gleason wasn't a very prolific offensive player, and the Phillies didn't mind. He was a good defensive player with the ability to play multiple positions in an era where offense from middle infielders was almost an afterthought.
On the mound, Gleason was a presence.
Yes, you read that correctly. I wrote, "On the mound."
Gleason also worked as a pitcher for the Phillies, logging more than 1,300 innings over just four seasons. Somewhere in there he managed to find time to play the middle infield.
17. Earl Moore
The Line: 67-64, 2.63 ERA, 17.3 WAR
After a few solid stints with a couple of different teams, Earl Moore fell right into the lap of the Phillies prior to the 1908 season, and they were able to purchase him for next to nothing.
Though he wasn't much of a factor during that first season, in the next couple of years, Moore would become a crucial part of the Phillies' rotation, winning 18 and 22 games in his first two, full seasons, respectively.
Moore truly had "hit or miss" stuff, and in two different seasons, led the league in walks or strikeouts. A lack of control would ultimate be his downfall.
16. Stan Lopata
The Line: .257 / .355 / .459, 116 HR, 17.7 WAR
Stan Lopata joined the Phillies during the 1948 season, and over the course of the next 11 seasons, would be a very valuable part of the club, whether that meant serving as a bench player, the club's back-up catcher, or even a starter. Lopata also played first base.
When he was going right, Lopata was an on-base machine. He posted an OPS better than .900 twice in his career, was named to the All-Star team on two different occasions, and even received votes for the MVP Award during the 1956 season.
15. Al Orth
The Line: (100-72, 3.49 ERA, 19.6 WAR) (.294 / .311 / .405, 7 HR, 3.4 WAR)
Al Orth began his career with the Phillies in 1895 and over the next seven seasons, would become one of the best pitchers in the history of the franchise.
Though some would argue that his best seasons as a pitcher came after leaving Philadelphia, Orth was still very solid. He posted a losing record just once, and in his last season with the Phillies, Orth won 20 games while leading the league in WHIP at 1.001.
Like Kid Gleason before him, Orth could hit a bit too. He wasn't going to win many awards with the bat, but he was a very solid hitter and played the outfield well, especially during his time with the Phillies.
Interestingly enough, he did it all without throwing the favored off-speed pitch of the era—the curveball. Orth's fastball was so effective that he didn't need an off-speed pitch to fool hitters, earning him the nickname of "The Curveless Wonder."
14. Nap Lajoie
The Line: .345 / .374 / .520, 32 HR, 19.8 WAR
Before that Chase Utley guy came along, Nap Lajoie was probably the best second baseman in the history of the Phillies' organization. Having spent just five seasons with the Phillies, that's quite impressive.
Lajoie's best numbers came later in his career, meriting his induction into the Hall of Fame, but he wasn't too shabby in his days with the Phillies. At one point or another, he would lead the league in doubles, RBI, slugging percentage, and total bases.
He would join the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901 and lead the league, quite literally, in nearly every offensive category.
13. Tully Sparks
The Line: 95-95, 2.48 ERA, 20.3 WAR
Don't let that .500 record fool you. In nine years with the Phillies, Tully Sparks managed to become one of the best pitchers in the history of the organization.
Albeit just one game, Sparks made his MLB debut in 1897, and for a while, it looked like that may be his only game with the Phillies. Up until 1903, Sparks played with three different teams before the Phillies had the chance to re-purchase his contract, and they were glad they did.
Sparks developed into an excellent starting pitcher, and from 1903 to his last season in 1910, the only year that his ERA rose above three was that final season, where he made just three starts.
12. Dan Casey
The Line: 72-59, 2.91 ERA, 20.6 WAR
The entirety of Dan Casey's MLB career spanned just seven seasons, but the bulk of that career (four seasons) was spent with the Phillies from 1886-89. During those four seasons, Casey threw up some unbelievable numbers.
Casey won at least 24 games in each of his first two seasons, winning 14 games in the third before struggling in the fourth.
His best season came in 1887, where Casey led the league in ERA, shutouts, and ERA+.
11. Charlie Buffinton
The Line: 77-50, 2.89 ERA, 23.4 WAR
If you've never heard of a guy like Charlie Buffinton, I certainly won't hold it against you. After all, it's easy to bypass a man who spent just three seasons with the Phillies in the late 1880s, but then again, with the numbers that Buffinton put up in just three seasons, he's kind of hard to miss.
In just three seasons, Buffinton accumulated 77 wins and 1,112.2 innings pitched. Just for fun, I always compare him to Roy Halladay, who would have to win 37 games and pitch 628.1 innings just to match Buffinton's three year total!
Like a number of players at the time, however, Buffinton would later jump to the Philadelphia Athletics, ending his Phillies' career prematurely.
10. Charlie Ferguson
The Line: 99-64, 2.67 ERA, 23.9 WAR
Charlie Ferguson is your classic case of "what could have been."
He spent just four seasons in the MLB—all with the Phillies—before illness ended his career, and with the way he was pitching, it was hard to see him slowing down any time soon.
He won at least 21 games in each of his four seasons, completing an incredible 165 of his 170 starts!
There is a widespread belief that, had Ferguson had a full career, he could have been one of the best pitchers to ever play the game, if not the best.
9. Elmer Flick
The Line: .338 / .419 / .487, 29 HR, 24 WAR
Elmer Flick is one of the main reasons that I decided against excluding Hall of Fame players from this list. Every time I click on his player page on Baseball-Reference.com, it surprises me to see that little gold banner that indicates he is a member of the Hall of Fame.
Most of that Hall of Fame career was built with the Cincinnati Reds, but Flick did have a few very good seasons with the Phillies.
Flick's Phillies career was just four seasons long, but he led the league in RBI in 1900 and collectively, posted a .907 OPS.
8. Cy Williams
The Line: .306 / .380 / .500, 217 HR, 24.8 WAR
As good a player as Dode Paskert was for the Phillies, swapping him for Cy Williams was one of the best decisions this franchise has ever made.
Williams would go on to patrol center field for the Phillies for 13 seasons, becoming a legitimate power threat in an era where the long-ball was still a developing phenomenon. In fact, Williams would lead the league in home runs three times with the Phillies, as well as once with the Chicago Cubs.
He received votes for the MVP award twice, and at various points during his career, led the league in slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.
7. John Titus
The Line: .278 / .368 / .379, 31 HR, 25.8 WAR
Looking at that picture, John Titus clearly isn't happy about having to be included in this slide show.
All joking aside, he shouldn't have to be.
Titus spent 10 seasons with the Phillies from 1903-12, playing a solid right field and doing his best to contribute at the plate. He didn't have much power, but what he lacked in strength, he made up for in consistency. He posted an OPS of at least .717 in nine of his 10 seasons with the Phillies.
6. Jack Clements
The Line: .289 / .352 / .426, 70 HR, 29.5 WAR
Not long ago, I made a case for Jack Clements as the most underrated catcher in the history of the Phillies' organization, and I'm sticking to it, even with Carlos Ruiz in mind.
Clements spent a whopping 14 seasons with the Phillies and never got enough credit for the work he did. He was a very solid defensive catcher and provided a spark of offense from a position that was not oriented towards the offensive side of the game at the time.
His best season came in 1895, when Clements posted an OPS of 1.058, hit .394, and slugged 13 home runs.
5. Gavvy Cravath
The Line: .291 / .381 / .489, 117 HR, 30.6 WAR
When Gavvy Cravath was patrolling right field for the Phillies, the term "slugger" wasn't something you'd hear often, but he was as close to being a slugger as you could get for the time period.
Cravath spent nine seasons with the Phillies, and during six of those seasons, led the league in home runs. At various points during his career, Cravath led the league in runs, hits, RBI, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and total bases as well.
He finished second in MVP voting in 1913.
Because the "slugger" is an entirely different type of hitter in today's game, a guy like Cravath is easy to pass over, but realistically, there is no reason not to mention him in the same breath as Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, and Del Ennis.
He was one of the preeminent sluggers of his day.
4. Sam Thompson
The Line: .334 / .388 / .509, 95 HR, 32.1 WAR
Sam Thompson should be in the Mustache Hall of Fame, if there is such a thing.
Back to reality. Thompson's career could be summed up by simply saying that the man could just flat out hit. He spent 10 seasons with the Phillies beginning in 1890, and he showed that he could hit for average and power, and do just about everything in between.
Thompson led the league in home runs twice, and at various other points during his career, led the league in hits, doubles, triples, RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS+.
In 1894, he hit .415. Enough said.
3. Billy Hamilton
The Line: .360 / .468 / .459, 23 HR, 39.4 WAR
A quick look at Billy Hamilton's statistics show why he is a member of the Hall of Fame. What I'm still struggling to figure out is why he isn't mentioned more frequently.
"Sliding Billy" spent just six seasons with the Phillies, but they were some incredible seasons. An on-base machine, he lead the league in walks in three of those six seasons; ditto for on-base percentage. He also led the league in runs, hits, stolen bases (eclipsing the 100 mark three times), batting average, OPS, and OPS+.
Simply put, the man could flat out rake, and when he got on base, he was fast. Really fast.
2. Roy Thomas
The Line: .295 / .421 / .334, 6 HR, 39.7 WAR
Speaking of on-base machines, how about Roy Thomas?
Thomas spent 12 seasons with the Phillies, leading the league in walks in seven of them. He led the league in on-base percentage twice, retiring with a career OBP of .413. Once on base, Thomas had the ability to make things happen with his feet.
He was also an excellent defensive player, patrolling center field for the Phillies before moving on to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1. Sherry Magee
The Line: .299 / .371 / .447, 75 HR, 47.6 WAR
Not too long ago, I called Sherry Magee the most underrated player in the history of the Phillies' organization. That list included a bevy of great players, including Dick Allen, so that should give you a hint as to how much I think of Magee as a player.
Magee could do it all. He was an excellent offensive player, leading the league in nearly every offensive statistic at some point during his career. Of his 11 years in Philadelphia, Magee's best season was the 1910 campaign. During that year, he led the league in runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and total bases.
Simply put, he is one of the greatest players in the history of the organization, and you'll hardly ever hear anyone talking about him.