Phildelphia Sports Franchises: Philadelphia Phillies
March 23, 2011 Leave a comment
World Series titles: 1980, 2008 (2)
Retired Numbers: #1 Richie Ashburn, #14 Jim Bunning, #20 Mike Schmidt, #32 Steve Carlton, #36 Robin Roberts, #42 Jackie Robinson (retired league-wide)
Rivals: New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Florida Marlins
The Phillies are the oldest continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional American sports, dating to 1883, when they were founded in Philly to replace the team from Worcester, Mass. Although the Phillies moved into a permanent home in the city by 1887, they did not win their first pennant until nearly 30 years later in 1915, thanks to the pitching of Grover Cleveland Alexander and the batting prowess of Gavvy Cravath, who set what was then the modern major-league single-season record for home runs with 24. However, subpar management decisions after their 1915 World Series appearance doomed the Phillies to sink back into relative obscurity. From 1918 to 1948 they only had one winning season. Though Chuck Klein won the MVP in 1932 and the National League Triple Crown in 1933, the team continued to flounder at the bottom of the standings for years.
New ownership in the late 40’s led to a strengthening of the farm system, leading to the introduction of the “Whiz Kids,” led by a lineup of young players developed by the Phillies’ farm system that included future Hall of Famers Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts. Their 1950 season was highlighted by a last-day, pennant-clinching win to lead the Phillies over the Dodgers and into the World Series, where they fell to the Yankees.
After a brief resurgence due to the “Whiz Kids” period, the Phillies sank back to mediocrity during the mid-1950 and early 60’s. In 1961, the Phillies lost 23 games in a row (a record since 1900). However, amidst this dark period, hope began to appear for Phillies fans. Though Ashburn and Roberts were gone, younger pitchers Art Mahaffey, Chris Short, and rookie Ray Culp; veterans Jim Bunning and screwballer Jack Baldschun; and fan favorites Cookie Rojas, Johnny Callison, and NL Rookie of the Year Richie Allen brought the team very close to the World Series in 1964. However, the Phillies squandered a six-and-a-half-game lead during the final weeks of the season that year, losing 10 games in a row with 12 games remaining and losing the pennant by one game to the Cardinals. The “Phold of ’64” is among the most notable collapses in sports history.
At the end of the decade, in October 1970, the Phillies played their final game in Connie Mack Stadium and prepared to move into newly built Veterans Stadium. While some members of the team performed admirably during the 1970s, the Phillies still clung to their position at the bottom of the National League standings. Ten years after “the Phold”, they suffered another minor collapse in August and September of 1974, missing out on the playoffs yet again.
Things then began to turn around after this second pseudo-collapse. After a run of three straight division titles from 1976 to 1978, the Phillies won the NL East in 1980. In a memorable NLCS, with four of the five games going into extra innings, they fell behind 2–1 but battled back to squeeze past Houston on a tenth-inning, game-winning hit by center fielder Garry Maddox, and the city celebrated its first pennant in 30 years.
Facing Kansas City in the 1980 World Series, the Phillies won their first World Series championship ever in six games thanks to the timely hitting of Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose. Schmidt, who was the National League MVP that 1980 season, also won the World Series MVP award on the strength of his .381 batting average, including game-winning hits in Game 2 and the clinching Game 6. Thus, the Phillies became the last of the 16 teams that made up the major leagues from 1901 to 1961 to win a World Series. The Phillies made the playoffs twice more in the 1980s after their Series win, in 1981 and 1983, where they lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series, but they would soon follow these near-misses with a rapid drop back into the basement of the National League. The 1992 season, for example, would end with the Phillies in last place in the National League East.
The 1993 Phillies started the season by going 17–5 in April and finishing with a 97–65 season. The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves in the 1993 National League Championship Series, four games to two, to earn the fifth pennant in franchise history, only to be defeated by the defending league champion Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series. Toronto’s Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run in Game 6 to clinch another Phillies loss. The 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike was a blow to the Phillies’ attendance and on-field success, as was the arrival of the Braves in the division due to league realignment. Several stars came through Philadelphia, though few would stay, and the minor league system continued to develop its young prospects, who would soon rise to Phillies fame.
In 2001, the Phillies had their first winning season in eight seasons. From then on, the Phillies’ season record would not dip below .500 again. In 2004, the Phillies moved to their new home, Citizens Bank Park.
Charlie Manuel took over the reins of the club after the 2004 season, and new owner Pat Gillick reshaped the club as his own, sending stars away in trades and allowing the Phillies’ young core to develop. After the franchise lost its 10,000th game in 2007, its core of young players, including infielders Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins and pitcher Cole Hamels, responded by winning the National League East division title, but were swept by the Colorado Rockies in the Division Series.
In 2008, the Phillies clinched their second straight division title and defeated the Brewers in the Division Series to record the franchise’s first post-season victory since the 1993 World Series. Behind strong pitching from the rotation and stellar offensive production from virtually all members of the starting lineup, the Phillies won the 2008 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hamels was named the series’ Most Valuable Player. The Phillies would then go on to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games for their second World Series title in their 126-year history. Hamels was named both NLCS MVP as well as World Series MVP after going 4–0 in the postseason that year.
Gillick retired as general manager after the 2008 season and was succeeded by one of his assistants, Ruben Amaro, Jr. After adding outfielder Raúl Ibañez to replace the departed Pat Burrell, the Phillies retained the majority of their core players for the 2009 season. In July, they signed three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez and acquired 2008 American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee before the trade deadline.
On September 30, 2009, the Phillies clinched a third consecutive National League East Division title for the first time in franchise history since the 1976 to 1978 seasons. The team continued this run of success with wins over the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS to become the first Phillies team to win back-to-back pennants and the first National League team since the 1996 Atlanta Braves to have an opportunity to defend their World Series title. The Phillies were unable to repeat, falling to the New York Yankees in six.
On December 16, 2009, they acquired starting pitcher Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays for four minor-league prospects, and traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for three prospects.
The 2010 Phillies won their fourth consecutive NL East Division championship despite significant injuries to key players, including Ryan Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz. After dropping seven games behind the Atlanta Braves on July 21, Philadelphia finished with an MLB-best record of 97–65. The acquisition of pitcher Roy Oswalt in early August was a key step, as Oswalt won seven consecutive games in just over five weeks from August 11 through September 17. The Phillies clinched the division on September 27, behind a two-hit shutout by Halladay.
In Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series, Halladay threw the second no-hitter in Major League baseball postseason history, leading the Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds, 4–0. The Phillies went on to sweep the Reds in three games before falling to the eventual World Series champion Giants in a six game NLCS. As opening day is fast approaching and the Phillies’ rotation has been bolstered even further with the return of Cliff Lee, check in tomorrow as we talk about the recent pulse in Phillies world for the upcoming season!