It's not a bad time to be a Philadelphia Phillies fan.
You've seen five straight National League East titles, three trips to the National League Championship Series, two trips to the World Series and one victory in the Fall Classic, all in the last five seasons.
You've seen some of the Phillies' all-time greats, like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, build their careers right before your eyes.
In fact, the greatest Phillie of all-time, Mike Schmidt, who played on a couple of excellent teams, believes this is the greatest era of Phillies baseball.
"The environment around Phillies baseball right now, I don't see how it could have ever been better. A full stadium every night, sold out. The pitching staff they have right now is maybe one of the greatest ever in the history of the sport. A team full of potential All-Star players—almost all of them have been All-Stars at one point," Schmidt said. (David Hale of The News Journal.)
But all of us who have ever strolled through Citizens Bank Park and took the time to walk through Memory Lane and take a gander at the Phillies' Wall of Fame know that we missed a lot of great baseball before our time.
We missed Pete Alexander win his league-leading 33rd game back in 1916. In 1899, none of us witnessed Ed Delahanty hit .410. When Chuck Klein won the MVP award in 1932, none of us saw it. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
We've seen a lot of great baseball, but we've missed so much more. Which players do you wish you were alive to see in their prime?
For news, rumors, analysis and game recaps during spring training, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor!
There are going to be some readers who've seen more of these guys than others. That's why I took the general age of the audience into consideration when deciding that no player who was in the MLB after January of 1972 would be included.
For fairness' sake, I was pretty strict about the cutoff. That's why a guy like Chris Short just missed the list.
Jim Konstanty didn't have a tremendously outstanding career, but starting in 1950, the man helped to define what would later become known as the "closer's" role, helping to make the position a more widespread occurrence.
In '50, Konstanty became one of the most important players of the Phillies' roster. As the Whiz Kids charged toward the World Series, Konstanty finished a league-leading 62 games, converting 22 saves. He was rewarded with the league's MVP award and an All-Star appearance.
In a surprise move, he also would start Game 1 of the World Series after Robin Roberts went the distance in the final game of the regular season to make sure the Phillies got there.
The following season, he led the NL in games finished yet again.
Charlie Ferguson spent just four seasons with the Phillies before poor health ended his MLB career, but those seasons had some wondering whether he would become the greatest pitcher to ever play the game.
After an average year to begin his career in 1884, Ferguson became one of the game's most dominant pitchers, throwing no fewer than 297.1 innings and winning no fewer than 22 games during the next three seasons.
In just four seasons, he won 99 games, and maybe more so than any other player in Phillies' history, left us wondering what could have been.
A few years after Charlie Ferguson's last game with the Phillies, George McQuillan, another supremely talented pitcher, came along. Though he pitched in six different seasons with the club, his career in Philadelphia also would be short. (He appeared in fewer than 20 games in three seasons.)
However, McQuillan still managed to win 54 games in his Phillies' career, all while posting an ERA of just 1.79.
Who wouldn't have wanted to watch a pitcher that talented?
Quite honestly, I wouldn't have minded being around just to watch Willie Jones' teammates call him by his nickname of "Puddin' Head."
On a serious note, however, Jones was quite the ballplayer.
Though he didn't have the most outstanding career, Jones spent 13 seasons at the hot corner for the Phillies, putting together a pair of All-Star seasons in 1950 as a member of the Whiz Kids and a return campaign in 1951.
With the Phillies, Jones posted an OPS of .756 and hit 180 home runs.
To large parts of the baseball world, Eppa Rixey is one of the greatest left-handed pitchers to play the game.
A member of the Hall of Fame, Rixey spent eight seasons as a member of the Phillies, starting in 1912. Playing with a lot of bad teams, Rixey often is overlooked thanks in large part to his 87-103 record. But don't let that fool you.
Over that same period, he posted an ERA of 2.83 and a WHIP of 1.245, despite leading the league in losses twice!
Tully Sparks pitched one game for the Phillies in 1897. That's it. He joined the Pittsburgh Pirates two years later. The Phillies almost missed an excellent career.
But, luckily enough, Sparks returned to the Phillies in 1903 and rounded out a nine-year career with the club. During that span, the right-handed pitcher won 95 games, posted an ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of just 1.133.
That's what you call good fortune.
After struggling to find any sort of success with the Chicago Cubs in 1910, Fred Luderus was dealt to the Phillies for Bill Foxen. A year later, the first baseman experienced a breakout season and went on to become one of the franchise's greatest first baseman, fashioning a remarkable 11-year career.
A steady fielder, Luderus hit .278 for the Phillies, with 83 home runs and an OPS of .744.
Pinky Whitney finished in the top 20 in the National League MVP voting in his first two MLB seasons.
That would be the undertone for the rest of his career.
In total, Whitney spent 10 seasons as a member of the Phillies, playing both second and third base. He would receive votes for the MVP award a third time in his career, and in 1936, the infielder made his lone All-Star appearance.
He hit .307 in Philadelphia to go along with 48 home runs and a .789 OPS.
Throughout the history of the Phillies, the group of "top shortstops" has been a relatively thin herd, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to see Granny Hamner included in that group. Personally, I would have loved to have seen the kind of player he was.
Hamner spent 16 seasons with the Phillies, playing his first season as a 17-year-old in 1944. After picking up a few pointers from the team's veterans in his first couple of seasons, Hamner would settle in as the Phillies' regular shortstop.
He finished in the top 25 of the NL MVP voting six times. Hamner also was a three-time All-Star, and in my opinion, one of the most underrated players in the organization's history.
Playing his last season in 1971, Jim Bunning just made the cut for this list.
The Phillies acquired their future ace (and his catcher, Gus Triandos) in a deal with the Detroit Tigers prior to the 1964 season. In his first year, Bunning would lead the Phillies to their first real shot at a postseason appearance since 1950. Had he not been running on fumes (thanks to manager Gene Mauch) by the end of the season, Bunning may have made it happen.
Twice an All-Star with the Phillies, Bunning twice received votes for the MVP award. In 1967, he finished second in the NL Cy Young voting to the San Francisco Giants' Mike McCormick.
Of course, Bunning is now a member of the Hall of Fame.
I would have loved to watch Nap Lajoie to see if he was really as good as his numbers dictate.
The Hall of Fame second baseman spent five seasons with the Phillies. Even during a time when offensive numbers were up across the board, Lajoie had an incredible career in Philadelphia.
He hit .345, posting an OPS of .894 and hitting 32 home runs. A year after he left the Phillies, in 1901, Lajoie would lead the league in nearly every offensive category as a member of the Philadelphia Athletics.
Who wouldn't have loved to have watched Curt Simmons pitch in person?
After wooing the Phillies with his talent as a member of a local high school All-Star team that squared off with the MLB club at a promotional event, Simmons soon found himself pitching for the Phillies.
He put together a 13-year career for the Phillies, serving primarily as the club's No. 2 starter behind No. 1 Robin Roberts. He won 115 games and posted an ERA of 3.66, becoming a three-time All-Star in the process.
Long before the likes of Ryan Howard and Mike Schmidt suited up for the Phillies, the term "slugger" had an entirely different meaning. Back then, a player with the power to hit prolific home runs out of spacious ballparks on a consistent basis was a much rarer occurrence and something to behold.
That's the kind of player Gavvy Cravath was.
Though not all of the ballparks were spacious, Cravath had a ton of power for the day. Watching him taking batting practice like players do in today's game would have been a spectacle.
In nine seasons with the Phillies, Cravath hit 117 home runs. That total may seem low, but in an era of base hits, bloop singles and soft liners, Cravath was swinging for the fences. As a member of the Phillies, he led the league in home runs six times!
After leading the league in nearly ever statistical category in 1913, including home runs, RBI and OPS, Cravath finished second in the league's MVP voting and finished within the top 25 yet again a year later.
Looking through the history books, the Phillies never had a ton of great catchers. Outside of the popular names like Bob Boone, Darren Daulton, and Mike Lieberthal, the list grows noticeably thin.
Even so, one of the players most often overlooked is former Phillies' catcher Jack Clements. Maybe it's just me, but I would love to have been able to watch Clements and many other catchers from that time period.
Clements spent 14 seasons in Philadelphia, serving primarily as the backstop but also playing a little first base. He was a good hitter, batting .289 with the Phillies, hitting 70 home runs and posting an OPS of .778.
Toward the end of his career, the Phillies traded him to the St. Louis Browns for a package of players that included talented pitcher Red Donahue.
Who wouldn't have loved to watch Billy Hamilton run the bases, among other things?
Undoubtedly a great hitter (we'll get to that in a moment,) it was Hamilton's speed that earned him the nickname of "Sliding Billy" and made him fun to watch. During his career, he led the league in stolen bases five times. In four of those seasons, he swiped more than 100 bags, just missing a fifth.
It was Hamilton's keen eye at the plate that gave him the ability to collect stolen bases. He batted .360 during his Phillies career, leading the league in walks and on-base percentage three times and in batting average twice.
He was the dream lead-off hitter, with the ability to get on-base, steal base, and score runs. Of course, he's also a member of the Hall of Fame.
After developing into an excellent hitter as a member of the Detroit Wolverines, Sam Thompson would come to the Phillies in 1889 and become a Hall of Fame right fielder.
Nicknamed "Big Sam" because of his imposing physical stature, Thompson was one of the best hitters in the history of the Phillies organization. An all-around terrific hitter, he led the league in hits in 1893 with a whopping 222. He would lead the league in hits two more times.
Later in his career, Thompson would develop tremendous power for his day, enabling him to post an OPS of .897 over his 10-year Phillies career. He also hit .334 and slugged 95 home runs.
The evolution of baseball's slugger can be seen in the history of the Phillies. After Gavvy Cravath and before Ryan Howard and Mike Schmidt, Phillies' outfielder Del Ennis made a name for himself by showcasing his extraordinary power.
In fact, Ennis' struggles in other areas of the game led to his ultimate baseball demise. Looking back, it is safe to say that he was one of the Phillies' most underrated power hitters.
In his 11 seasons with the Phillies, Ennis became a potent, middle-of-the-order threat. He hit 259 home runs over that span of time and had more than 100 RBI six times.
A three-time All-Star, Ennis finished in the top 15 in the NL MVP voting six times.
Throughout the history of the organization, the Phillies have had their fair share of supremely talented center fielders. But few were better than Roy Thomas.
Playing his first of 12 seasons with the Phillies in 1899, Thomas made it apparent that the name of his game was getting on base to create runs, and he would make a career of doing just that.
Thomas would lead the league in walks seven times and on-base percentage twice. That's pretty much what his career in Philadelphia was all about. As a Phillie, he had 964 walks and posted an OBP of .421.
Of course, he also hit .295, which certainly didn't hurt.
Joining Roy Thomas in the outfield for most of his career was left fielder (and future first baseman) Sherry Magee.
One of the most underrated players in the history of the organization, Magee was a talented hitter with no obvious flaws in his game, especially during the prime years of his career. In 11 seasons with the Phillies, he hit .299 and posted an OPS of .818, slugging 75 home runs and stealing close to 400 bases.
During the 1910 season, he led the league in nearly every offensive category.
When Roy Thomas was finished patrolling center field for the Phillies, the club made a transaction with the Chicago Cubs, sending Dode Paskert to the Cubbies in exchange for fellow center fielder Cy Williams. It would become one of the greatest trades in the history of the organization.
Paskert was by no means a bad player, but Williams was great. He spent 13 seasons with the Phillies, the majority as the club's primary center fielder.
A well-rounded hitter, there was little that Williams couldn't do. As a Phillie, he posted a batting average of .306, with an .880 OPS and 217 home runs. That's not bad production from a center fielder by any stretch of the imagination.
He led the league in home runs three times with the Phillies, including during the 1923 season when he hit 41. In fact, during the prime years of his career, Williams would become quite the power hitter, a rarity for center fielders—and most players in general—of the day.
In this town, "Phillies baseball" and "Richie Ashburn" go hand in hand.
Some of us had the opportunity to hear Ashburn call Phillies games as a member of the broadcast team, but very few of us had the opportunity to watch him play—something I'm sure most fans would love to do.
Ashburn made his debut in 1948, finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting while securing an All-Star appearance. That year would set the tone for the rest of his career.
"Whitey" spent 12 seasons as a Phillie, hitting .311 and posting an OPS of .782. In his career, he made five All-Star appearances and finished in the top 30 for the NL MVP award seven times.
If you've ever walked around the outside of Citizens Bank Park, you would have come across a statue of Robin Roberts. Now I can't speak for the rest of you, but anyone enshrined with a statue is a man that I would have liked to have seen play.
Roberts joined the Phillies' starting rotation in 1948 after attending Michigan State. Just a couple of seasons later, he was leading the 1950 "Whiz Kids" toward a World Series title, though they were ultimately defeated by the New York Yankees.
Beginning that season, however, Roberts put together one of the best stretches of pitching of all time. He rattled off six straight seasons of at least 20 wins (leading the league in that category four times) and became the definition of a "workhorse." From 1951-56, the fewest complete games thrown in a season by Roberts was 22!
Now a member of the Hall of Fame, who wouldn't have wanted to see Roberts pitch?
Beginning his career with the Phillies in 1928, Chuck Klein would go on to become one of the most prolific hitters in the club's history.
He would spend 15 seasons with the Phillies, appearing in the All-Star Game twice.
In a time when offensive numbers were up across the board, Klein could flat-out rake. He hit .326 as a Phillie, posted an OPS of .935, and hit 243 home runs.
From 1930-33, Klein was one of the best hitters in baseball, leading the league in nearly every statistical category. He won the MVP award in 1932, and in the years before and after, finished in second place.
Was Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty really as good as his numbers dictate?
Before he passed away in mysterious fashion, Delahanty spent 13 seasons playing for the Phillies and threw up some incredible numbers. "Big Ed" hit .348, posted an OPS of .922 and hit 87 home runs, leading the league in that regard twice.
Playing left field, first base and second base, Delahanty posted an OPS of at least 1.000 six times. He hit at least .400 three times, and almost did it again in 1896.
Simply put, the man was one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game.
The man known as Grover Cleveland Alexander was so good at baseball that his life story sounds almost like the stuff legends are made of.
The Hall of Fame pitcher spent eight seasons with the Phillies, dominating the opponent nearly every time he took the mound. If I had time, I'd take this opportunity to list every category and the number of times that Alexander led each one. I don't.
As a Phillie, Alexander posted a record of 190-91, an ERA of 2.18 and a WHIP of just 1.075.
With the Phillies, he led the league in wins and WHIP five times, ERA four times and innings pitched six times.
Then again, that is the stuff legends are made of.