Five years after their first National League pennant, the 1920 Phillies hardly looked like that World Series team when they opened spring training at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL.
Not a very good one, 62–91, last place (eight-team league) . . . Manager-player Gavvy Cravath . . . Stadium: Baker Bowl . . . Team batting average, .263 . . . Team ERA, 3.63 . . . Attendance: 330,998, seventh in NL but their highest for the next 22 seasons . . . One coach, Jesse Tannehill.
Cravath was the right fielder; led NL in runs (89), extra-base hits (62), homers (24), RBI (115), walks (86), on-base percentage (.393) and slugging percentage (.510) and OF assists (28) . . . Team Captain first baseman Fred Luderus, hit franchise’s first World Series home run. . . Shortstop Dave Bancroft, a rookie; led team in games played (153) . . . LHP Eppa Rixey, 11–12. 1920 record? 11–12.
1920 Phun Phacts
It was Cravath’s final year of baseball. His 119 career homers were the major league record for one year, until some guy named Babe Ruth broke it.
Luderus was out of the opening day lineup, ending a club-record 533 consecutive game streak that stood until Richie Ashburn broke it in the 1950’s.
Bancroft and Rixey wound up being traded. Each also wound up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Note: Neither is on the Phillies Wall of Fame)
Opening day right fielder for Phillies was none other than 29-year-old Casey Stengel, who became a Hall of Fame manager.
Center fielder Cy Williams led the National League in home runs (15).
RHP Lee Meadows was the only pitcher with a winning record (16–14) on the 11-man staff . . . As a rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1915 he became the first major leaguer to wear eyeglasses while playing, earning the nickname “Specs.”
The season was considered the last of the dead ball era. A total of 261 homers were hit in the majors. The following season, 460 . . . It was the last season in which the spit ball was legal for pitchers . . . A rule change stated that balls hit over the fence in fair territory but landing foul were fair, and hence home runs rather than foul balls . . . RBI (Runs Batted In) became an official statistic.
Originally published at Phillies Insider on April 16, 2020 as “Phillies of 100 Years Ago: Guess who started in right field” and republished here by permission of the author.