On July 15, 2007, the Phillies lost their 10,000th game. They were the first professional sports team to have dropped so many and were 319 ahead of the next club, the Braves. Philadelphia had won 8,810 games.
They trace their history back to 1883, when the Philadelphia Quakers replaced the Worcester Ruby Legs as a National League franchise; because of that circumstance, some sources state that Worcester was the ancestor of today's Phillies, but there is no direct link between the two, as the Worcester franchise was dissolved before Philadelphia was admitted into the league as a totally new franchise. The reality of the name Quakers is also in doubt, as few contemporary sources called them that: they were generally known as the "Philadelphias", a name that was conveniently shortened to "Phillies" or "Phils", and Phillies eventually became official. The team played in the "League Alliance" in 1882, in preparation for joining the National League; it was not really a league, simply a structure to allow them and the New York Metropolitans, who were also gearing up to join the NL but instead moved to the rival American Association, to play one another and to stage exhibition games against visiting NL teams.
The Phillies were not the first major league team to play in Philadelphia, PA, as the Philadelphia Athletics were among the first professional teams in the United States and had been part of the National Association for all five seasons the league existed, then of the National League in its inaugural 1876 season. They then played in the American Association from 1882 to 1891. All that made the Phillies play second fiddle in the city, a situation that did not improve when the Athletics were re-born with the creation of the American League in 1901 and became one of the league's early powerhouses.
As mentioned, the name "Phillies" is a shortening of "Philadelphias" and was first given by sportswriters to a short-lived team in the Eastern Championship Association in 1881, to distinguish them from the Athletics, who were members of the same league. The name was revived as a nickname for the National League squad at a time when the Athletics were also playing in the city, albeit in a different league. The name Quakers, if it was ever used by anyone, soon faded out, and Phillies became the only name for the team except for a brief hiatus in the 1940s.
The Phillies did not find much success in their early decades, not winning their first pennant until 1915. They did have a few great players, most notably OFs Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson, but other budding stars such as Nap Lajoie and Elmer Flick jumped to the AL when it became a major league and had their best years there. The first great Phillies stars of the 20th century were OF Sherry Magee and P Grover Cleveland Alexander, who won 28 games as a rookie in 1911 and would win 30 games three times with the team, leading the NL in ERA each of those years. He started and won Game 1 of the 1915 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, but that would remain the only World Series game won by the Phillies until the 1980 World Series.
After this pennant, the Phillies sank back into mediocrity, playing in a dilapidated bandbox of a stadium called the Baker Bowl, and were run on a shoestring budget. They would regularly feature players signed straight from the amateur ranks without the benefit of any minor league training, and their pitching staffs in the 1930s set all sorts of negative records. They did have one star, OF Chuck Klein, who took full advantage of the Baker Bowl's cozy dimensions to put up some huge seasons, but they were usually a last-place team. In the 1940s, a new owner, William Cox tried to turn the team's fortunes but quickly burned his bridges with Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis when it was learned he had bet on his team, and he was forced to sell the team to Bob Carpenter. He tried to start afresh by renaming the team the Philadelphia Blue Jays. However, the new name was hated by the fans and was quickly dropped. Still, the new ownership finally provided a sense of direction. They built around a group of talented young players such as Richie Ashburn, Del Ennis, Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons and in 1950 won an unexpected pennant with a team nicknamed the "Whiz Kids". The hero that year was relief ace Jim Konstanty, who won the MVP Award, but they were unable to win even one game against the powerful New York Yankees in that year's World Series. They remained competitive for a while after that, but did not win another pennant.
The Phillies' next hurrah came in 1964, when rookie sensation Dick Allen had them leading the National League into the last couple of weeks of September. However, they managed to lose what appeared to be a certain pennant with a late-season collapse, that has usually been blamed on young manager Gene Mauch over-using his pitching aces, Jim Bunning, Dennis Bennett and Chris Short, down the stretch while losing 10 straight games and seeing the St. Louis Cardinals overtake them. It wasn't until the mid-1970s that the Phillies became consistently good for an extended stretch. Led by 3B Mike Schmidt and P Steve Carlton, and featuring strong support players like Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Bob Boone, Tug McGraw and Larry Christenson, they won three straight division titles from 1976 to 1978. While they lost in the National League Championship Series each of those years, they put it all together in 1980, having added Pete Rose to the existing core, and won not just a pennant, but their first-ever World Series title, defeating the Kansas City Royals in 6 games under manager Dallas Green. That team remained together long enough to return to the postseason in 1981 and to the World Series in 1983, by which time they were so old their nickname was the "Wheeze Kids", as they featured senior citizens such as Rose, Carlton, and future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, who were there for only that season after having made their fame with the Cincinnati Reds. They lost the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles, then had to undergo a massive rebuild.
The Phillies won an unexpected pennant in 1993, as they seemingly managed to get great years all at the same time from a number of talented but inconsistent players such as Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Jim Eisenreich, Dave Hollins or Mitch Williams. They did have one true pitching great in Curt Schilling and managed to upset the heavily-favored Atlanta Braves in the NLCS before losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series when Williams gave up a dramatic walk-off homer to Joe Carter in Game 6. That team was really a one-year wonder, and the Braves dominated the NL East over the next decade or more, leaving just crumbs to the other teams.
After years of mediocrity, the Phillies came back to prominence in the late 2000s under manager Charlie Manuel and with teams led by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Brett Myers, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. They won their first division title in 14 years in 2007 but after a quick postseason exit that year, they breezed through the postseason in 2008, behind Hamels' outstanding pitching, winning just their second World Series title when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games. They then made it back the next year, having added Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez to their pitching staff, but lost the World Series to the New York Yankees. They made another great pitching addition in 2010, with Roy Halladay, who won 21 games, then pitched a no-hitter in his first postseason start, against the Cincinnati Reds on October 6th. The team looked poised to make it three straight appearances in the World Series, but they were upset by the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. They won over 100 games in 2011 and another division title, but this time lost at the Division Series stage, and thus ended what was arguably the greatest Phillies dynasty.
The Phillies tried to return to postseason contention with some prominent free agent signings in the late 2010s, most notably that of Bryce Harper before the 2019 season, but they remained a .500 team, costing manager Gabe Kapler his job after just two seasons. Veteran manager Joe Girardi was brought in to lead the Phils back to the playoffs, but they failed to reach that goal in 2020 in spite of the expanded postseason field resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.
- National League MVP:
- National League Cy Young Award:
- National League Rookie of the Year Award:
- Charlie Ferguson: August 29, 1885
- Red Donahue: July 8, 1898
- Chick Fraser: September 18, 1903
- Johnny Lush: May 1, 1906
- Jim Bunning: June 21, 1964
- Rick Wise: June 23, 1971
- Terry Mulholland: August 15, 1990
- Tommy Greene: May 23, 1991
- Kevin Millwood: April 27, 2003
- Roy Halladay: May 29, 2010
- Roy Halladay: October 6, 2010 (Game 1 of NLDS)
- Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles & Jonathan Papelbon: September 1, 2014
- Cole Hamels: July 25, 2015
- Four home runs in one game:
- Hitting for the Cycle:
- Robert Gordon: "Then Bowa Said to Schmidt…": The Best Phillies Stories Ever Told, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2013. ISBN 978-1-60078-801-7
- Donald Honig: The Philadelphia Phillies: An Illustrated History, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1992. ISBN 0671761072
- David M. Jordan: Occasional Glory: The History of the Philadelphia Phillies, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2012 (originally published in 2002). ISBN 978-0-7864-7028-0
- Frederick G. Lieb and Stan Baumgartner: The Philadelphia Phillies, Kent State University Press, Kent, OH, 2009 (originally published in 1953).
- Mark Stang: Phillies Photos: 100 Years of Philadelphia Phillies Images, Orange Frazer Press, Wilmington, OH, 2008. ISBN 978-1933197-586
- Robert D. Warrington: "Philadelphia in the 1882 League Alliance", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 48 Number 2, Fall 2019, pp. 105-124.
- Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky: The Phillies Encyclopedia, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2004.
- Rich Westcott: Philadelphia Phillies Past & Present, MVP Books, Osceola, WI, 2010.
- Rich Westcott: Tales from the Philadelphia Phillies Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Phillies Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing LLC, Champaign, IL, 2012.
- Rich Westcott: Philadelphia's Top 50 Baseball Players, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8032-4340-8
- Rich Westcott: "Philadelphia Phillies", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 141-147.
- Rich Westcott: The Champions of Philadelphia: The Greatest Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers Teams, Sports Publishing LLC, New York, NY, 2016. ISBN 9781613218044
- Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, 1993
- John Thorn: Total Baseball, Total Sports Publishing, 1989, 1995
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