When you're around for nearly 130 years, you're bound to generate a few interesting tidbits that cause the casual fan to stop, think, and say, "Are you serious?"
In regards to the Philadelphia Phillies, however, we've already heard most of those facts over and over again. Yes, we know that Roy Halladay won the Cy Young Award in both leagues and was the second person in baseball history to throw a no-hitter. We know the Phillies have won five straight division titles. Their starting rotation was more than the best in 2011—it was one of the best of all-time.
But there are a number of other tidbits that have been generated throughout the course of the Phillies' long history, some of which are almost too unbelievable to be true—but I assure you, they are. So beyond all of the obvious facts and numbers crunching, there exists an odd realm of Phillies' history. Let's explore.
The Phillies have had a number of great pitchers don their uniforms, and back when it was common for starting pitchers to throw nearly every inning of every game, winning 30 games in a season wasn't all to much of an oddity.
However, when you consider some of the great names the Phillies have had come through their ranks over the years, including all-time great Pete Alexander, it should be somewhat surprising to learn that it was none other than Kid Gleason who was the first pitcher to win 30 games as a member of the Phillies in a single season.
Normally, when someone mentions a left handed pitcher as a "crafty lefty," they mean to imply that he wasn't overpowering and often relied on the batter making contact with the ball to get him out. That wasn't the case for Steve Carlton, who although a crafty lefty, could fool hitters with his breaking pitches.
That was evident in 1972, his first season with the Phillies, when "Lefty" struck out an incredible 310 batters en route to winning the National League Cy Young Award that season.
Nowadays, the Phillies have been able to pass the attendance mark of three million fans per season with ease. If the fans of this team have shown anything, it's that they'll come out and support a winner no matter the price.
That wasn't always the story, however. Once upon a time the Phillies struggled to draw fans at all, and ownership leveraged their situation by threatening to move the club on several occasions. In 1993, however, the club put a winner together, and en route to the World Series, more than three million fans would pass through the turnstiles of Veterans Stadium for the first time.
It's an odd fact, considering they'd have just one winning season during the 1990s.
What's that? Why yes, that is Fernando Valenzuela, Los Angeles Dodgers' legend pitching with the Phillies a year later in 1994. Just goes to show what building a winner will do for a franchise.
Over the course of time, the Phillies have had some great closers. From the legendary performances of Tug McGraw, to the brief stay of Billy Wagner, even to the more recent success of Brad Lidge, but none of those three guys are the Phillies' all-time leader in saves.
That honor belongs to none other than Jose Mesa, who spent just four seasons with the Phillies but somehow managed to collect 112 saves. He also managed to post an ERA of 4.02 as the closer, becoming the poster child for why the saves statistic is overrated.
One upon a time, and for a short while, the Philadelphia Phillies were actually the Philadelphia Blue Jays.
When William B. Cox purchased the club in 1943, the Phillies had a slight boost in attendance before falling back to the cellar when it was revealed that Cox was betting on the club, and subsequently, banned from baseball.
Soon after, Bob Carpenter Jr. took over the team, and looking to bring a little excitement back into the game for the city of Philadelphia, changed the team's nickname to the "Bluejays." The name didn't stick, however. Fans hated it, and it was gone after just two seasons.
Back in 1993, the Phillies were a good team that surprised the world of baseball. In hindsight, it is quite surprising just how good they were. After getting off to a hot start of 17-5, the Phillies would remain in first place for all but one game of the 1993 regular season before advancing to the World Series later that year.
One could probably write a book about fun and / or interesting facts about the life (and death) of Phillies' great Ed Delahanty, including the fact that he was involved in one of the most memorable home run plays of all-time when he was reached for a ball that hopped into a scoreboard well and got stuck or the mystery surrounding his death.
However, from a sheer baseball standpoint, Delahanty's greatest is captured in this fact—he is one of just a handful of players in the history of the game to hit better than .400 at least three times in a single season.
Being able to hit one home run in an MLB game is a challenge, so being able to hit four home runs in a single game is particularly rare accomplishment. In fact, just 15 players in the history of the game have been able to accomplish that feat.
Even more surprisingly, three of those players did it with the Phillies. Mike Schmidt, Chuck Klein, and Ed Delahanty accounted for a fifth of the players who've hit four home runs in a single game in MLB history.
Once upon a time, the Phillies weren't the only team based in the city of Philadelphia. Long before they made their home in Oakland, the Athletics organization was based in the "City of Brotherly Love." Some all-time greats, including Jimmie Foxx, suited up for the A's during their career, but it wasn't long before the club as a whole was seeking greener pastures.
When the two clubs did share a city, however, it was quite a spectacle. In 1903, the Phillies and A's played against each other for the first time in what would become a rivalry that extended past the playing field and into personal matters (including bragging rights, of course.)
By the time 1960 rolled around, losing had become commonplace for the Phillies yet again. In fact, even though it was going bad that year, it was about to get worse, and Eddie Sawyer, who had re-joined the Phillies as their manager, wanted no part of it.
After just one game during the 1960 season, Sawyer quit. When asked why, he explained that he was "already 49 years old, and I want to live to be 50."
Before he was traded for Steve Carlton and long before the famed "Phour Aces" of today (or yesterday, now that Roy Oswalt is a free agent), Rick Wise led a strong rotation in his own right. During 1969, he and his rotation companions teamed up to do something special.
Starting with Jerry Johnson and continuing with Woodie Fryman, Larry Jackson, and Wise, the four starters threw four straight shutouts for the Phillies during a four game stretch in 1969.
Photo Credit: Oregon Sports Hall of Fame
Sure, three million fans in a single season is an impressive feat, but it requires baby steps. After all, prior to the 1975 season, the Phillies hadn't been to the World Series since the Whiz Kids failed to capture the crown in 1950. With a young Mike Schmidt now their third baseman, the Phils were on the rise yet again in '75.
Over the next few seasons, they'd build one of baseball's best teams, and the fans respected that, for in 1975 they would eclipse the two million mark in attendance for the first time in the franchise's history.
Here in the present, the Phillies are a good team—a perennial contender, if you will. That wasn't always the case, when the Phillies were one of the league's worst teams and a perennial loser. Finally, they seemed to break that mold in 1976, when the team set a franchise record for wins at 101. Most of that team would be in place when the Phillies won the World Series a few seasons later.
All that remained in place until 2011, when Roy Halladay helped lead them to 102 wins. Will this be a repeat of history? Is a World Series within the Phils' reach in the near future?
Hugh Mulcahy wasn't a great baseball player. In fact, he wasn't even all that good. He lost nearly as many games as he won and that garnered him quite the reputation, and ultimately, the nickname of "Losing Pitcher."
However, when World War II rolled around and MLB players waited for their names to be called, Mulcahy didn't have to wait long. He was the first MLB player to be drafted and serve in World War II.
We all know that Chuck Klein was a great hitter. In fact, it was his bast that made him one of the greatest of all-time. He made that evident in 1933 when he captured the much sought after "Triple Crown"—which is to say that he led the league in home runs, RBI, and batting average.
The Phillies have had some bad seasons, and that has translated to a couple of bad decades of baseball in the city of Philadelphia. However, it is particularly surprising to learn that the Phillies didn't have a single 20-game winner during the 1930s, despite some talented names on the roster.
The closest the team came to having a player win 20 games during the 1930s was in 1931, when Jumbo Elliot actually led the league with 19.
Once upon a time, playing baseball at night was a rarity, and a few years before once upon a time, it never happened. The Phillies and Cincinnati Reds made a bit of history way back in 1935 when the two clubs played the first official night game in MLB history at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.
Taking a look back at the history of the MLB, you'll find a lot of fascinating tidbits, but maybe none more fascinating than the story of Doc Prothro, who could have penciled players' names on the lineup card before a game and fix a cavity for them during a rain delay.
That's right. Not only was Prothro a former manager of the Phillies, but he was also a practicing dentist. Strange.
Nowadays, it isn't all that rare a feat, but back in 1942, there was something to be said about a guy who was good with his glove. Danny Litwhiler was a good hitter, but he was a better fielder, and back in 1942, he was the first player to post a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000.
A few players have been able to accomplish this feat since, but the first one is always special. Just ask former Phillies' starting pitcher Ken Raffensberger, who made the All-Star team in 1944 (despite losing 20 games on the season) and made an appearance.
Not only did he make an appearance in the game, but Raffensberger was the first Phillies' pitcher in franchise history to collect a win in the All-Star Game.
Back in 1950, the role of "relief pitcher" was still growing. Though it was becoming more popular, it was nothing like the bullpen is today. Back then, if you were going to win an MVP Award, you had to do something special, either with the bat or as a starting pitcher.
In 1950, however, Konstanty was special. He helped to define the reliever's role as a member of the Phillies when he appeared in 74 games and recorded 22 saves en route to being named the league's MVP—the first for a reliever.
Though they've done it since, the Phillies hosted the All-Star Game for the first time in 1952, and it was a star-studded match-up. Granny Hamner, Robin Roberts, and Curt Simmons represented the Phillies, while players like Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, and Stan Musial also played in the game, which was won by the National League.
So maybe Von Hayes wasn't the superstar that the Phillies expected he would be when they traded five players to the Cleveland Indians for him, but he was still one heck of a great hitter. He had that talent on display in a game against the New York Mets.
After leading off with a home run in the first inning, the Phillies would bat around and reach Hayes' spot in the order yet again, when Hayes left the yard yet again, this time for a grand slam. He became the first player in MLB history to hit two home runs in the first inning of a game.
Lave Cross wasn't the greatest Phillie of all-time. In fact, he wasn't all that great, period. However, he was a shortstop, had some speed, and made okay contact, so if he could get lucky and hit for a bit of power, why would it be anyone but Cross who hit the first cycle in Phillies history?
He would later be joined by prestigious names like Gregg Jefferies and David Bell in this regard, but thankfully, those names were offset by guys like Chuck Klein, who did it twice, and Johnny Callison.
Curt Schilling was one of the greatest Phillies' pitchers of all-time—a steal when you come to the realization that all it took to acquire him was Jason Grimsley. Schilling had some of his best seasons with the Phils before moving on to bigger and better things with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox.
Schilling was a strikeout machine in his tenure with the Phillies, and in back to back seasons, he recorded more than 300 strikeouts, the only member of the Phils to do so.
It took the Phillies quite a while to reach the World Series for the first time in 1915, but it didn't take first baseman Fred Luderus to reach the bleachers. In 1915, Luderus became the first player in the history of the Phillies' franchise to hit a home run in the World Series, against the Boston Red Sox.
A lot of Phillies' fans are familiar with Larry Andersen as the radio voice of the Phillies. However, once upon a time, the broadcaster set an interesting standard on the field.
A longtime reliever, Andersen was a member of the "Wheeze Kids" roster in 1983 when the Phillies made a trip to the World Series. Thing is, he was just 30-years-old. 10 years later, Andersen would re-join the Phillies, this time, he was 40-years-old, but still contributing out of the bullpen.
Of course, he would lose his second World Series in as many tries with the Phils.
The following fact is even more surprising when you realize that the guy pictured on the left hand side of your screen spent 18 seasons with the Phillies. Throughout their history, the Phils have had a number of great sluggers, but in their first 100 years of existence, no Phillie hit more than 50 home runs. Not even Mike Schmidt.
Ryan Howard would take care of that.
Okay, so that title is a little bit misleading.
When the Phillies took on the Boston Red Sox in the 1915 World Series, Babe Ruth was indeed on the roster for the Sox. However, Ruth was a 20-year-old rookie and didn't see much playing time. In fact, he was still considered a pitcher and didn't make an appearance.
Ruth had just one at-bat, in which he was retired by Phillies' pitching, effectively going 0-for-1.
Phillies' fans know how good Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt were, but for those who don't have an idea, just take a look at the stranglehold they had the league's top awards in during their Phillies careers. Carlton won the Cy Young Award four times and Schmidt won three MVPs.
Together, from the period spanning from 1972-1986, they won a combined seven awards for their work on the diamond.