Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Most Embarrassing Teams in Franchise History

Greg PintoCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Most Embarrassing Teams in Franchise History

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    Losing 10,000 games isn't easy.

    You may think it is, but it isn't.

    It takes a special kind of terrible to lose 10,000 games. After all, just two teams—your Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves—have been unfortunate enough to lose 10,000 games, with the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds right on their heels, but not quite there yet.

    Why?

    What makes a professional sports team so unsuccessful? Well, there is the simple fact that the Phillies have been around for an extremely long time, originating as the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883. Even then, however, there are teams that have been around longer than the Phillies and have lost fewer games.

    So what makes the Phillies such an unsuccessful franchise? You don't lose 10,000 games as a professional sports team because you broke a mirror or forgot to throw some salt over your shoulder.

    Like I said, it takes a certain kind of terrible to lose 10,000 games, and there should be no disagreement among Phillies fans that this franchise has gone through some extremely embarrassing times. They've had cheap owners, unwilling to pay stars. They've had terrible managers. They've had guys that should have never seen the MLB don their uniform.

    In fact, in certain, overly embarrassing seasons, they've had them all at once.

    You don't get to be a successful franchise without learning from your mistakes, and the Phillies have certainly had a lengthy, embarrassing history. If they don't want to revert to their losing ways, they'll observe with caution.

    If you don't want to embarrass yourself, don't play like these teams.

    For news, rumors, analysis, and game recaps during spring training, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor!

25. 1926 Phillies

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    Record: 58-93-1

    By 1926, the Phillies were right smack-dab in the middle of a lengthy World Series drought.

    They had lost their first World Series against the  Boston Red Sox in 1915 and would lose their second Fall Classic against the New York Yankees in 1950.

    In between, no one wanted to play for the lowly Phillies, long considered the laughingstock of baseball. The Phillies would finish in eighth place in the National League this season, which of course, was dead last.

    They would score a measly 687 runs, but allow 900.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Jack Bentley, who was 0-2 with an 8.17 ERA.

    *Each team's "most embarrassing player will be pictured on their respective slide.

24. 1960 Phillies

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    Record: 59-95

    By 1960, the Phillies were on the verge of assembling a team with a realistic shot at the World Series, but it should go without saying that without the ability to see the future (and maybe thankfully,) the fan base was more than a bit irritated.

    Prior to the season, the club had acquired outfielder Johnny Callison, and that was, undoubtedly, the best part of the year.

    Manager Eddie Sawyer would retire after just one game that year and the Phillies would replace him with Gene Mauch, a man who would play a large role with another team on this list in just a few seasons.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Ruben Amaro, who hit .231 / .292 / .273.

23. 1972 Phillies

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    Record: 59-97

    The Phillies were dreadful during the 1972 season. They couldn't hit a lick, scoring a puny 503 runs. The fan base was fed up with more than 20 seasons of baseball without the slightest sniff of a legitimate postseason win. The pitching staff was okay, but unimpressive.

    Well, there was that one guy named Steve Carlton that turned out to be pretty good.

    After dealing Rick Wise to the St. Louis Cardinals during the off-season (a point of concern for some fans, mind you,) Carlton somehow managed to win 27 games that season. That's nearly half of the teams win total overall.

    It wasn't all roses for this man though...

    Most Embarrassing Player: John Bateman, who hit .222 / .246 / .294.

22. 1934 Phillies

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    Record: 56-93

    Interesting fact: In 1934, the Phillies entered their first ever minor league agreement with the Hazelton Mountaineers of the New York Penn League. That team probably had more talent on it than the MLB club.

    I'm kidding. (Kind of.)

    The Phillies' offense was worse than embarrassing in '34. They were abysmal. The club scored just 675 runs, which may sound like a lot, but wasn't considering the fact that they played their home games in the offense-friendly Baker Bowl and surrendered more than 100 runs more than they scored.

    They finished in seventh of eight places in the National League.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Ed Holley, who was 1-8 with a 7.18 ERA.

21. 1922 Phillies

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    Record: 57-96-1

    The Phillies had some respectable talent in 1922, headlined by talented outfielder Cy Williams and complemented by sweet-swinging outfielder Cliff Lee (no, not that Cliff Lee) and catcher Butch Henline. Those three guys found favor in the Baker Bowl and managed to push across and score their fair share of runs.

    It was their pitching that was embarrassing in '22.

    Both Jimmy Ring and Lee Meadows were tagged with 18 losses, while the other two men in the starting rotation, Bill Hubbell and Lefty Weinert, lost 15 and 11 respectively, while no man won more than 12.

    Therefore it should come as no surprise that the Phillies, as a team, surrendered nearly 200 more runs than they scored for the season.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Goldie Rapp, who hit .253 / .299 / .317.

20. 1924 Phillies

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    Record: 55-96-1

    When the greatest highlight of your season was the simple fact that you didn't in last place, you know you've had a bad year. In fact, you know you've had more than a few bad years.

    But that was the case for the Phillies in 1924, who had finished in last place four out of five times heading into the '24 campaign, including during the 1923 season.

    The stellar play of Cy Williams helped them out of the cellar, but it would take a minor miracle to send this roster of players, who scored just 676 runs, to finish anywhere close to the top of the league.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Heinie Sand, who hit .245 / .316 / .340.

19. 1903 Phillies

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    Record: 49-86-4

    In 1903, the Phillies would finish 39 and a half games out of first place behind the league-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, but they were making progress. (Kind of.)

    The 1903 Phillies were an abysmal offensive team. They scored just 617 runs and Roy Thomas' .818 OPS was the best the club could offer, with five different regulars posting an OPS south of .700.

    One of the major story lines of the season came when a balcony of the Phillies' home ballpark, then the Baker Bowl, collapsed and killed four people, injuring 125 more.

    But at least they had four ties.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Fred Mitchell (no, not that Fred Mitchell,) who was 11-16 with an ERA of 4.48.

18. 1936 Phillies

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    Record: 54-100

    It wasn't a good time to be a Phillies fan in 1936.

    Realistically, it should have been a great time to be a Phillies fan. The team was loaded with talent, toting names like Dolph Camilli, Pinky Whitney, Chuck Klein, and Johnny Moore on the offensive side of the ball. They scored 726 runs, which should have been enough to keep them out of the cellar.

    Their pitching staff, which would surrender 874 runs, managed to keep them there.

    The club's top pair of starting pitchers, Bucky Walters and Joe Bowman, finished with 21 and 20 losses on the season, respectively. Furthermore, no pitcher other than reliever Claude Passeau finished with an ERA lower than four.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Chile Gomez, who hit .232 / .265 / .250.

17. 1884 Quakers

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    Record: 39-73-1

    In their second year of existence, the Quakers (later renamed the Phillies, of course) were still terrible.

    The club was an offensive push-over, scoring just 549 runs. The only regular with an OPS better than .700 was a guy named Jack Manning. Just one man!

    On the pitching side of the ball, they were even worse. They allowed nearly 300 more runs than they scored, which is obviously a recipe for disaster.

    To say they were a "bad" team may be a drastic understatement.

    Most Embarrassing Player: John Coleman, who was 5-15 with an ERA of 4.90. More from him later.

16. 1919 Phillies

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    Record: 47-90-1

    Fun fact: Lena Blackburne, member of the 1919 Phillies, is credited with being the first man to find the perfect rubbing mud for baseballs to remove their shine after stumbling upon mud near the Delaware River. (Go figure.)

    Another fun fact: His team stunk.

    The '19 Phillies scored a grand total of 510 runs, and you aren't going to win many games like that. Not even the powerful Gavvy Cravath could give the Phillies enough offensive firepower to climb out of the cellar that season, as they finished eighth out of eight yet again.

    Yet another fun fact, Blackburne certainly didn't help the cause.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Lena Blackburne, who hit .199 / .228 / .289.

15. 1904 Phillies

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    Record: 52-100-3

    Phillies fans hoped that moving into the 20th century would be a harbinger of good fortune for their favorite baseball club. As was normally the case, they were in for some disappointing seasons, especially early on in the century.

    1904 was no different. The Phillies scored 571 runs, but surrendered more than 200 more than they scored. Obviously, that is not conducive to winning. Though they were a solid team, they were just average. In fact, they were probably below average, and finished in last place.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Bill Duggleby, who was 12-13 with a 3.78 ERA.

14. 1930 Phillies

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    Record: 52-102-2

    On the surface, 1930 seems to be a rather dull year for the Phillies and their fans. On the surface, it was the same old Phillies. There was no commitment to winning and yet another last place finish.

    But you have to dig deeper than that.

    The Phillies were still playing in the Baker Bowl, a ballpark that could breathe life into an offense at any time. Several hitters, including Chuck Klein, Lefty O'Doul, Pinky Whitney, and Don Hurst had one of the best years of their career.

    The offense scored 930 runs that season.

    The problem was simple: The whole offensive defibrillator analogy works both ways, and the pitching staff couldn't keep runs off the board. They surrendered an incredible 1,199 runs. Two members of the starting rotation posted ERAs of more than seven!

    They were so bad it was entertaining to watch them lose!

    Most Embarrassing Player: Tommy Thevenow, who hit .286 / .316 / .326.

13. 1927 Phillies

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    Record: 51-103-1

    You know you've got problems when the best player on your team was a man by the name of Dutch Ulrich, who spent all of three seasons in the MLB.

    In 1927, the Phillies were a team of nobodies and played the same way. Cy Williams is probably the only name on the roster that the casual fan would even stop and wonder about. The pitching staff lacked talent, the offense lacked pop, and the Phillies lacked results.

    They surrendered nearly 300 more runs than the scored, led on by this man...

    Most Embarrassing Player: Les Sweetland, who was 2-10 with an ERA of 6.16.

12. 1921 Phillies

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    Record: 50-103

    The Phillies were terrible on the field in 1921. That's what landed them on this list in the first place, but they were embarrassing off the field as well.

    One incident following a game in Philadelphia was particularly embarrassing. After a home game, several players hopped in teammate Frank Bruggy's car for a ride. Two pedestrians walked in front of the car and a slew of Phillies, including our most embarrassing player, yelled at them.

    Jimmy Smith, Cy Williams, Bruggy, Goldie Rapp, and Cliff Lee (no, not that Cliff Lee,) were questioned by police, but only one was arrested, which leads us to our...

    Most Embarrassing Player: Not only did Smith hit .231 / .266 / .320 on the season, but he was also arrested and charged with assault.

11. 1940 Phillies

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    Record: 50-103

    By 1940, the Phillies were officially the laughingstock of baseball.

    They had moved out of the hitter-friendly confines of the Baker Bowl and into Shibe Park, leave all of their offensive sting behind.

    Looking at the talent on (or not on, in this case) the roster, the Associated Press' poll of baseball writers revealed that 73 of 76 writers believed the Phillies would finish in dead last.

    They did. 50 games behind the National League winning Cincinnati Reds.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Bobby Bragan, who hit .222 / .265 / .300.

10. 1923 Phillies

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    Record: 50-104-1

    By 1923, the harsh realization among Phillies fans set in: That World Series appearance in 1915 was probably going to be the last one for a while.

    When the organization dropped that series to the Boston Red Sox, the Phillies went into a nosedive. Ownership cut funding. Talented players went elsewhere, and the only people who wanted to play for the Phillies were scrubs that couldn't find work elsewhere.

    The results were plain as day on the field.

    They scored a measly 748 runs, compared to the 1,008 that they surrendered.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Heinie Sand, again, who hit .228 / .347 / .309.

9. 1961 Phillies

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    Record: 47-107-1

    By 1961, the Phillies were on their way to respectability in just a few seasons.

    Well, kind of.

    But in order to get to that promised land, or so it seemed it would be, there are a few bumps in the road. The '61 season was more like that "little" flood you think you can drive through and end up swimming back out.

    During the season, the Phillies strung together what I suppose you could call an "impressive" 23-game losing streak, the longest of its kind since 1900. (Hey, you need to be really bad to lose that many games in a row.)

    The Phillies would finish well out of first place.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Ken Walters, who hit .228 / .251 / .328.

8. 1938 Phillies

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    Record: 45-105-1

    1938 was a season of firsts for the Phillies.

    First and foremost, it was the first of five straight losing seasons. It was also the beginning of an extremely long string of losing seasons in general, signaled by the club's move out of the Baker Bowl and into Shibe Park so that it could share expenses with the Philadelphia Athletics.

    Ownership was obviously cutting spending on the field as well.

    The Phillies scored just 550 runs this season, allowing 840.

    The team's best player that season was Max Butcher.

    Who?

    Exactly.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Bill Atwood, who hit .196 / .261 / .263.

7. 1945 Phillies

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    Record: 46-108

    Sorry about the poor quality of that photo, but finding a photo of Tony Daniels was kind of like trying to find the Phillies offense in the 2011 NLDS. Zing!

    When you look up the history of the Phillies for the '45 season, you'll find a tiny caption that reads, "Also known as the Philadelphia Blue Jays." No, you're not mistaken. It was a marketing ploy gone horribly wrong, and the Phillies were done with the nickname a short time after.

    But it was kind of like a metaphor for the on-the-field product: A team with no identity.

    The most recognizable name on the roster belonged to a 37-year-old Jimmie Foxx, who had next to zero impact on the the club. The offense sputtered, the pitching was blown to smithereens, and the club finished in last place yet again. 

    Most Embarrassing Player: Tony Daniels, who hit .200 / .249 / .230.

6. 1939 Phillies

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    Record: 45-106-1

    1939. Its better known as the year that the Phillies traded Chuck Klein and their hopes of ever winning another National League pennant again to the Pittsburgh Pirates for who knows what.

    On the last slide, I wrote about how the Phillies were an organization without an identity. This team was even more clueless. They couldn't even boast a recognizable name on their bench, winding down his career.

    They were a group of replacement level players disguised as a Major League Baseball team, and that was just the way ownership wanted it—a cheap way to attempt to fill the seats without fielding a talented baseball team.

    I had my pick of most embarrassing players here, but the simple fact that the club's best player that year was a guy by the name of Morrie Arnovich should tell you something.

    Most Embarrassing Player: George Scharein, who hit .238 / .262 / .293.

5. 1928 Phillies

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    Record: 43-109

    1928 was a bland season for the Phillies.

    I don't even have any interesting facts about it.

    They just stunk. Bad.

    Though the team managed to score 660 runs, the pitching staff gave them virtually no chance at climbing out of the cellar by surrendering 957. There was certainly hope on the horizon, however, as Chuck Klein played in his rookie campaign during this season, giving the Phillies a legitimate offensive threat for years to come.

    But that pitching staff—who's lowest ERA was 4.45 by staff "ace" Ray Benge—was a sight for sore eyes.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Heinie Sand. For a third time. (Seriously, how is this guy considered one of the best Phillies' shortstops of all-time? Is the group really that bad?) He hit .211 / .310 / .277 during the '28 season.

4. 1941 Phillies

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    Record: 43-111-1

    About a decade from this point in time, the Phillies would field one of the most promising, exciting teams in the organization's history, but in 1941, Phillies fans would have laughed at you and called you crazy had you told them that.

    The 1941 Phillies were just another group of losers, finishing in last place in the National League, 57 games behind the National League pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers.

    The team was in an obvious "retooling" stage, with few recognizable names on its roster. Those guys were just placeholders, as ownership waited to sign and develop young, affordable talent down the road, and the results showed.

    Things I Find Amusing: There was a player on this team named Cy Blanton.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Danny Murtaugh, who hit .219 / .275 / .248. Great manager, not-so-great player.

3. 1942 Phillies

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    Record: 42-109

    It must have been really hard to be a Phillies fan in the early 1940s, when the Phillies reeled off two of the worst seasons in the franchise's history in back-to-back years.

    We just covered the 1941 season, and not much had changed a year later, making it even more surprising, at least in my mind, that the Phillies were as good as they were in 1950. It was quite a substantial turnaround.

    All you need to know is that the Phillies finished an incredible 62.5 games out of first place behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, they were that terrible. You could make a strong case that just three of the team's regular players, including the starting rotation, had what could even be  considered close to an "average" season.

    Here's an interesting tidbit: During this season, the Phillies decided to try and shorten their name to just "Phils." One smart baseball writer said of this change, "The gag is wanted to get the 'lie' out of their name."

    Most Embarrassing Player:  Mickey Livingston, who hit .205 / .283 / .264.

2. 1883 Quakers

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    Record: 17-81-1

    The Phillies, as we know them today, were created in 1883 under the name of the Philadelphia Quakers.

    They didn't exactly get off to a hot start.

    The Quakers were easily one of the worst teams in all of professional sports, not that this is to be unexpected when you're playing in your first professional season, but certainly embarrassing nonetheless.

    The Quakers had one legitimate offensive threat in catcher Emil Gross, and he played in just 57 games that season. Perhaps by proxy, the club scored just 437 runs in its inaugural campaign.

    The real problem is that they allowed more than twice that amount.The pitching was absolutely horrendous.

    The Quakers roster featured just four regular pitchers, none of whom would post a winning percentage better than .250 or an ERA lower than 4.36, but then again, none of them were quite as terrible as our...

    Most Embarrassing Player: The return of John Coleman, who posted a record of 12-48 and an ERA 4.87. Coleman accounted for nearly 60% of the team's losses, and in the Quakers inaugural season, would set the record for most losses in a single season, which stands to this day.

1. 1964 Phillies

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    Record: 92-70

    I thought about this one for a long time.

    What constitutes as "embarrassing" in the city of Philadelphia, in relation to the Phillies? Unequivocally, losing and a lack of effort are neck and neck at the top of the list, and that is reflected heavily in this slideshow, no doubt.

    Phillies fans are a unique breed. Sure, they like to win, but who doesn't? This is a fan base that respects its players for doing whatever it takes to win a game, which is why in the end, this is the team that make the top of the "most embarrassing" list: The 1964 Phillies.

    The team that "pholded" right out of the postseason.

    Entering the final 12 games of the regular season, the Phillies sat atop of the National League. They were sitting pretty. However, like a weak building before a major earthquake, the Phillies were ready to collapse.

    Manager Gene Mauch was running the Phillies right into the ground. He trot out of his regular players every single day, rarely rewarding them with a day off. That was painfully true for starting pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short.

    As the Phillies went into their skid, Bunning and Short pitched more innings as the Phillies lost more games, and the club would 10 of its final 12, finishing in third place in the National League and missing the postseason.

    "The Phold" is considered one of the greatest collapses in the history of professional sports, and if you ask a Phillies fan what they would consider "embarrassing," I'm sure this is at the top of their list.

    That's why you didn't see a single postseason-bound team on this list. If you play well enough, and hard enough, to get there, the fans will respect you. If you fold like a wet piece of paper, there is going to be hell to pay.

    Most Embarrassing Player: Bobby Wine, who hit .212 / .274 / .304.