1943 Philadelphia Blue Jays
1943 Philadelphia Blue Jays / Franchise: Philadelphia Phillies / BR Team Page
History, Comments, Contributions
The 1943 Philadelphia Blue Jays managed to escape the National League cellar in spite of a rather trying year. On February 9th, the National League took over the Philadelphia Phillies from indebted owner Gerry Nugent and a week later, on February 18th, sold the team to William D. Cox, a lumber trader. To put an end to the bad aura associated with the Phillies' name, Cox decided to rename them the "Blue Jays", although the new name never really caught on and would be dropped after a couple of seasons. With World War II travel regulations in effect, the Phillies could not use their usual spring training site in Miami Beach, FL and decided instead to use Swarthmore College. However that plan fell through when the United States Navy requisitioned the site for an engineering unit, forcing the team to move its spring activities to Hershey, PA.
The team's new owner was only 33 years old and a sports enthusiast who believed in the value of running as a form of conditioning. He thus hired a track coach to take his players through drills, while introducing training routines that were highly unusual for the times. However, the team's manager, Bucky Harris, was very much a man of the old school and did not welcome Cox's newfangled ideas. He soon found a pretext to fire Cox's appointed trainer, Harold Anson Bruce, but Cox got back at him, as Harris did not last the season. Harris had the last laugh however, as he stated when he was fired that Cox was betting on his team. The Commissioner's office investigated, and on November 23rd, Cox was fired by Kenesaw Mountain Landis when the allegations proved to be founded.
The Phillies had won only 42 games in 1942, and with the team's roster depleted by wartime enlistments in the armed services, there was little cause for optimism. In fact, the team was in such dire condition that the National League had considered holding a special draft, forcing the other seven teams to sell a player to the Phils to make the team somewhat more competitive. That proposal was shot down, and when the Phils held an open tryout camp on March 1st, only three players showed up, none of them in a position to be of any help. Instead, they worked the trade front, and managed to land some talent in 1B Babe Dahlgren, Ps Schoolboy Rowe and Jack Kraus, and infielder Glen Stewart. They had only 20 players under contract when spring training opened, which made it hard to even stage intra-squad games. There were few actual exhibition games, most of the pre-season major league action coming in the four-game city series against the Philadelphia Athletics in early April. In an exhibition game against Yale University, owner Cox played catcher for the opening inning.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Babe Dahlgren
- James D. Szalontai: "The Philadelphia Phillies’ 1943 Spring Training", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 80-85.