Tag Archives: Jim Bunning

Philography series of Philadelphia Phillies mini-bios to resume

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It was October 2014 and I was writing for another site when I decided to begin a series of mini biographies on important figures in Philadelphia Phillies history.

Over the next few years and across a handful of different writing outlets, that series which I named “Philography” would continue to accumulate entries, a few during each off-season.

This year the tradition continues, beginning next week with what will be the 22nd entry in the Philography series. The new entry will highlight the career of the greatest pitcher in Phillies history, Steve Carlton.

To get Phillies and overall baseball history fans ready, below are links to the previous 21 pieces. These bios will usually key on the individual’s playing career, but I try to provide more personal and professional background if widely available.

I hope that you will find the series increases your enjoyment of baseball and the Phillies in particular, and come back for the new entries. There will be one each month during December, January, February, and March.

Click on the “date” in order to read the Philography piece. Click on the individual name to view their stats page at Baseball Reference.

PHILOGRAPHY SERIES

 

10.17.2014Greg Luzinski

10.24.2014Mitch Williams

10.31.2014Chris Short

11.07.2014Von Hayes

11.14.2014Placido Polanco

11.21.2014Jim Konstanty

11.28.2014Dick Allen

12.06.2014Dick Ruthven

12.12.2014Grover Cleveland  Alexander

12.20.2014Darren Daulton

12.13.2015Larry Bowa

1.09.2016Sherry Magee

1.26.2016Kevin Stocker

2.10.2016Granny Hamner

2.15.2016 – Edith Houghton

12.27.2016Bob Boone

1.19.2017Mike Lieberthal

2.02.2017Red Dooin

11.29.2018Richie Ashburn

2.03.2019Jim Bunning

2.10.2019Mike Schmidt

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Philography: Jim Bunning

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After retiring from baseball, Bunning entered politics, becoming a U.S. Senator from his home state of Kentucky

 

Earlier this off-season my “Philography” series highlighting the playing career of various important figures in Philadelphia Phillies history came here to Phillies Nation.

The series began a few years back and has now grown to 19 individuals for whom I have presented a mini-biography. This year I’ve chosen to go right to the cream of the crop, the five individuals for whom the Phillies organization has actually retired an official uniform number.
Back in late November it was Richie Ashburn, whose uniform #1 was retired by the Phillies when he became the second man honored with a spot on the franchise Wall of Fame in summer 1979.
Now the series resumes with the sixth person honored with a spot on that Wall of Fame in 1984, pitcher Jim Bunning. The right-hander who pitched with the Phillies from 1964-67 and again to close out his big-league career in 1970-71 had his uniform #14 retired on April 6, 2001.
Bunning actually played more seasons with the Detroit Tigers of the American League (9) than his half-dozen years in Philadelphia. And his second career as a politician in which he became a state senator, then a U.S. Congressman, and finally a United States Senator from his home state of Kentucky was perhaps even more notable than his baseball accomplishments.

But those baseball accomplishments were certainly more than just notable. They were strong enough that Bunning was elected for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the veteran’s committee in 1996.

 

Per a tremendous piece by Ralph Berger for SABR, which I urge you to read at that link, Bunning was born into a tightly-knit middle-class Catholic family who lived on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, just across from Cincinnati.
Per the Berger bio, Bunning became a pitcher as a boy since he owned the only ball among his friends’ group. He grew up as a Cincinnati Reds fan. His favorite player was pitcher Bucky Walters, who became the National League MVP in 1939 when Bunning was just seven years old.
Bunning played not only baseball, but also football and basketball as a teenager at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. Then as a freshman at Xavier University, Bunning was offered a contract by a scout with the Detroit Tigers. He would ultimately sign for a $4,000 bonus and $150 monthly salary.

One of the stipulations of his signing was that he be allowed to complete his college education at Xavier. Thus, he would start the first few seasons of his pro career a few months later than his teammates.

 

That pro career began with Richmond of the Ohio-Indiana League in 1950 at 18-years of age. Bunning advanced incrementally through the Tigers minor league system over the next few years, and by the 1953-54 seasons he had reached Double-A Little Rock. There he compiled an 18-23 mark and allowed 333 hits over 351 innings across 69 games, 48 of those as a starter.
He began the 1955 season at Triple-A Buffalo of the International League, just a step away from Major League Baseball. A solid performance in which Bunning went 8-5 with a 3.77 ERA over the first 20 games, 16 of those starts, put the 23-year-old pitcher squarely into the plans of a middle-of-the-road Tigers ball club.
The organization felt that he was developing “an excellent curve ball, a confusing delivery and a sneaky fast ball“, and in July of 1955 that combination would finally get him on to a big-league mound in Detroit.
On the night of July 20, 1955 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Bunning made his first Tigers start. He would go 7.2 innings and was beaten up a bit by the Baltimore Orioles to the tune of six earned runs on eight hits. He struck out five and walked two and was hung with the loss against one of the worse teams in the American League.
It was a bit of an ignominious beginning, and the rest of his rookie season wouldn’t go much better. Bunning finished that 1955 season with the Tigers having compiled a 3-5 record and 6.35 ERA, allowing 59 hits and walking 32 over 51 innings across 15 games, eight of those as a starter.
In 1956 he was back at Triple-A to start the year and again pitched solidly enough to remain in the Tigers plans. He got the call back to Detroit in late July and would remain with the big-league club for the remainder of the season.
Pitching mostly out of the bullpen, Bunning had a solid 2.58 ERA after his first 14 big-league outings that year. But his final appearance of the season on September 24 resulted in disaster when he was bashed for seven earned runs in just one inning against the Chicago White Sox.
Bunning earned a role in the starting rotation during spring training of 1957. In his first start on April 17 against the Kansas City Athletics, Bunning was driven from the mound without even finishing the first inning.

That poor outing caused manager Jack Tighe to lose confidence, and the skipper relegated Bunning to the bullpen for the next month. It would prove to be a career-changing experience for the right-hander. Berger wrote that “working in the pen helped Bunning become a much improved pitcher with a slider that he could consistently get over the plate. He became a pitcher, not just a thrower.”

 

Given another shot at the rotation, Bunning would not look back. On May 16 he beat the Boston Red Sox with a complete game five-hitter at Fenway Park. Remaining in the rotation for most of the remainder of that 1957 season, Bunning made the National League all-star team and won 20 games, finishing ninth in the AL MVP balloting.
This would prove to be the only 20-win season of what would become a 17-year career in the Majors for Bunning. But over the next half-dozen he would remain one of the American League’s most effective starting pitchers.
From the seven seasons from 1957-63 with Detroit, Bunning would go 110-81 with a 1.181 WHIP. He was consistently at or above the 250-innings pitched and 35-start marks, proving one of the league’s most durable as well. He was a 7x AL All-Star, and received MVP votes three times.
Perhaps the highlight for Bunning during this excellent stretch came on the afternoon of July 20, 1958 at Fenway Park in Boston. In the first game of a doubleheader that day, Bunning tossed a 12-strikeout no-hitter against Ted Williams and the host Red Sox.
During his nine total seasons with Detroit, the Tigers only took a run at an American League pennant once. That came during a tremendous 1961 campaign in which the club won 101 games, a total that would have won the pennant in all but two of the prior 15 seasons. Unfortunately for those 1961 Tigers, the New York Yankees led by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle had a season for the ages, winning 109 games.

Entering September, the Tigers trailed the Bronx Bombers by just 1.5 games in the standings. But New York opened that final month by sweeping a three-game set between the two clubs, Detroit dropped 12 of their first 17 that month, and the pennant race was over.

 

Things began to sour for Bunning in Detroit during the 1963 season. A managerial change saw new skipper Chuck Dressen bang heads a few times with his star pitcher. The club was also apparently not enamored with Bunning’s second career as a stock broker, or with his outspoken role as the Tigers’ player representative – an early hint at his interest in politics.
It all came to a head on December 5, 1963 when Detroit general manager Jim Campbell and Phillies GM John Quinn swung a four-player deal. In that trade, Bunning and 32-year-old catcher Gus Triandos went to Philadelphia, with outfielder Don Demeter and young pitcher Jack Hamilton heading to the Tigers.

Bunning would take to the National League like a fish to water. Over his first three seasons with the Phillies, Bunning won 19 games each year and then won 17 in 1967.  He was an NL All-Star in three of the four seasons, and finished as the 1967 NL Cy Young Award runner-up.

 

Every Phillies fan who was around and old enough to follow the club (I was two years old that summer) is well aware of what happened during the 1964 season. What happened over the final two weeks that September has left a scar that remains visible more than a half-century later.
But that summer was filled with excitement for baseball fans in Philadelphia. Few days were more so than the afternoon of Sunday, June 21. On that Father’s Day at Shea Stadium in New York in the first game of a doubleheader, Bunning pitched a Perfect Game against the host Mets.
Berger describes the early innings of that afternoon as largely uneventful, with the Bunning and Triandos battery working the New York lineup perfectly. As the game wore on and the stakes grew higher, Phillies manager Gene Mauch began to juggle his defenders to get the best possible support behind his pitching horse.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, perfection was saved by a defensive gem. Berger wrote on it as follows:
Mets catcher Jesse Gonder smashed a line drive between second and first. Second sacker Tony Taylor lunged to his left, knocked the ball down, crawled on his knees to grab the ball, and nipped Gonder at first. That was the last play in the game that resembled a hit for the Mets.

Bunning got New York shortstop Charley Smith on a pop-out to Phillies shortstop Bobby Wine to open the bottom of the 9th inning. He then struck out a pair of pinch-hitters sent to the plate by Mets skipper Casey Stengel, getting John Stephenson swinging on a 2-2 pitch to clinch perfection.

 

An 18-year-old wunderkind named Rick Wise followed Bunning’s perfection with a solid performance of his own, with Wise gaining his first of what would be 188 career big-league victories in game two of that doubleheader. That Sunday sweep in the Big Apple pushed the Phillies two games in front in the National League pennant race.
An August spurt would lift the Phillies to a season high 7.5 games in front of their National League rivals a number of times during late August. They still held a 6.5 game lead as late as September 20.

And then, with just 12 games left, it all fell apart. The Phillies infamously lost 13 of 15 games after September 15, including 10 in a row. Despite winning their final two games, the club would finish a game behind the Saint Louis Cardinals.

 

Despite having a winning team in each of his four seasons with the club from 1964-67, the Phillies would never truly contend for a pennant aside from that 1964 club during Bunning’s first go-around in Philadelphia.
On December 15, 1967 with the Phillies looking to move into a rebuilding mode, Quinn shipped a now 36-year-old Bunning off to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for pitchers Woodie Fryman and Bill Laxton, minor league prospect Harold Clem, and a 20-year-old infield prospect named Don Money.
Bunning would split the 1968-69 seasons pitching for the Pirates and then the Los Angeles Dodgers. With Major League Baseball having expanded and moved to a divisional format for the first time, the Dodgers were involved in a four-team battle royale for  the newly formed National League West Division.
Los Angeles obtained Bunning in an August 15, 1969 trade from Pittsburgh, and the veteran righty would immediately join and remain in the Dodgers starting rotation. Within a week, LA took the divisional lead. But despite Bunning pitching well for them, the Dodgers would fade over the final two weeks in a performance that nearly mirrored the 1964 Phillies collapse.
That would prove to be Bunning’s final shot at the postseason. He never did pitch in a playoff game during his entire career. The Dodgers released him on October 22, 1969. Exactly one week later the Phillies brought him back, signing him as a 38-year-old free agent.
At that point the Phillies were preparing for their final season at Connie Mack Stadium, formerly Shibe Park, which had been a Philadelphia professional baseball institution since opening in 1909. The club wanted Bunning to provide some name recognition and experience for a team that had dealt away mercurial star Dick Allen and was looking to get younger in preparation for the 1970’s and a new era in a new ballpark.
Bunning made his final start at Connie Mack Stadium on Sunday, September 27, 1970. It was a classic pitching showdown with another future Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins, who had briefly been Bunning’s teammate with the 1965-66 Phillies. The 27-year-old Jenkins would come out on top, tossing a complete game, holding the Phillies to four hits in a 5-3 victory.
The following spring would mark the opening of a new multi-purpose sports stadium in South Philadelphia. Bunning was tapped by manager Frank Lucchesi with the honors of taking the mound for the first Phillies game at Veteran’s Stadium.

On Saturday afternoon, April 10, 1971 at approximately 2:21pm local time, Bunning delivered his first offering. Montreal Expos leadoff man Boots Day grounded that first pitch right back at him, Bunning turned and flipped to first baseman Deron Johnson for the out, and a new era in Phillies baseball was underway.

 

Bunning would remain in the starting rotation on a regular basis through July 1 but became less and less effective as the summer rolled on, finally relegated to bullpen duty over the last two months.
His final official Win in a Phillies uniform came on June 16, 1971 at The Vet in a 6-3 victory over Willie MaysWillie McCoveyBobby Bonds and the San Francisco Giants.
During his six total seasons with the Phillies, Bunning went 89-73 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.111 WHIP. He allowed 1,361 hits over 1,520.2 innings across 226 games, 208 of them starts, while striking out 1,197 opposing batters. He remains seventh on the all-time franchise strikeouts list today.

Including his years with Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles, Bunning fashioned a career 224-184 mark. He compiled a 3.27 ERA, 1.179 WHIP and struck out 2,855 batters over 591 games and 3,760.1 innings pitched.

 

After his retirement, Bunning was hired as a manager in the Phillies farm system and moved up through the ranks over the early-1970’s. As the big-league club was becoming a contender in the middle of the decade, Bunning appeared to be being groomed for the Phillies managerial job.
As told by Berger, there was apparently some falling out between Bunning and influential Phillies farm director Dallas Green. The two had been teammates during the mid-60’s and were longtime friends. But the Phillies unwillingness to give him the big-league job and Bunning’s own “brutal honesty“, as Berger put it, finally led to his being released after the NL East-winning 1976 campaign.
Following a failed attempt at becoming part-owner of the Houston Astros, Bunning returned home to Kentucky where he became a player agent. He was also recruited to run for a city council position in Fort Thomas and won, launching his political career.
In 1980, Bunning was elected to the Kentucky state house, where he would serve as a state senator through 1984. He tried a run for governor and fell short by 54-44% in that 1983 election, but his name was now growing statewide. He would win as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress just four years later and served in the House of Representatives for six terms.

When longtime Democratic Party incumbent Wendell Ford decided to retire and not run in the 1998 race for the United States Senate, Bunning accepted the Republican Party’s challenge to try to claim the seat. In a hard-fought campaign, Bunning edged out his Democratic Party opponent by 49.8-49.2% to claim a Senate seat.

 

Bunning would hold on to that U.S. Senate seat with a 50.7-49.3% victory over another strong Democratic challenger in 2004. But then as the 2010 election cycle approached, the then 78-year-old decided against seeking a third term. He had, however, played a large role in the Republican Party rise to power, and was succeeded in his seat by another Republican, Rand Paul.
Back in 1952 when he had received his first pro contract with the Tigers, Bunning purchased an engagement ring for his childhood sweetheart. He and the former Mary Catherine Theis would remain married for the rest of their lives and would have nine children. By 2013, that union had also produced 35 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

On May 26, 2017, Jim Bunning died from complications of a stroke that he had suffered in October 2016. He was 85 years of age. He is buried in the town of Fort Thomas, where his political career began, in his beloved home state of Kentucky.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Philography: Jim Bunning

Philography series to resume with Phillies retired number legends

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Phillies legends Schmidt, Carlton, Bunning to be covered as ‘Philography’ series resumes

It was just over four years ago that I first decided to write mini-biographies about famous Philadelphia Phillies figures of the past. The effort was largely for me. I have always enjoyed history and biographies of influential and famous figures from the past, not just sports-related.

While I knew the “baseball card” information on most of the players, I knew very little about their backgrounds. Where did they come from? What was the specific path leading them to Philadelphia?
If they played for another team, what achievements did they enjoy with that club? How did their career, and in some cases their lives, come to an end? Did they enjoy a post-baseball career?
Out of this natural curiosity on my part the “Philography” series was first born. I decided that I wanted to write about the playing careers, and touch on other aspects of the lives, of some of my own Phillies favorites of the past. The series would begin with a star player from my youth, “The Bull” himself, Greg Luzinski.
Over the next two months, I produced a new piece each week, picking from the team’s past in no specific pattern: Mitch WilliamsChris ShortVon HayesPlacido PolancoJim KonstantyDick AllenDick RuthvenGrover Cleveland “Pete” AlexanderDarren Daulton,
Paintings and memorabilia adorn the walls and fill the
halls on the Hall of Fame level at Citizens Bank Park

The Philography series was officially born. I then made the decision that this would become a regular off-season project, to write a handful of Phillies mini-bios each fall and winter.

In December 2015 a piece on Larry Bowa was produced, and we were off and running once again. A month later I reached back in time to produce a piece on Sherry Magee. Before spring training began for the 2016 season there would be installments on Kevin StockerGranny Hamner, and the only female to appear thus far, Edith Houghton.
The series returned in December of 2016 with a piece on Bob Boone, and I made a decision to push the series in a specific direction for the first time. That off-season, I would go after the Phillies all-time best catchers who hadn’t previously been covered. With Daulton and Boone in the books, the series continued with Wall of Famer Mike Lieberthal and old-timer Red Dooin.

And then the series was shelved. Last off-season saw a number of changes in my life, and most of my writing took a back seat for a while. I returned to regular baseball writing this summer upon joining the staff here at Phillies Nation. And now, the series will be making its return as well.
This off-season will see the continuation of “Philography” with some of the biggest names in franchise history. Over the next few weeks there will be pieces covering each of the five players who have had an actual uniform number retired by the Philadelphia Phillies due to their play with the team: Richie AshburnJim BunningMike SchmidtSteve Carlton, and Robin Roberts.
I hope that you enjoy these pieces, which it will be my goal to release each weekend beginning after Thanksgiving. If you are interested in catching up with the past “Philography” series installments, they can each be found at the following links.

Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Bunning Passes Away

Jim Bunning was one of baseball’s all-time greatest pitchers. The former Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies star passed away today at age 85.
In 1996, Bunning was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. He won 224 games during his big league career, and was the first to win more than 100 games in the National and American Leagues. The right-hander was also the first to strikeout over 1,000 batters in both.
He also pitched a no-hitter in both leagues. With the Phillies in 1964, he tossed the seventh Perfect Game in Major League Baseball history. It came at Shea Stadium against the host New York Mets. He was the father of seven children at the time.

Heaven got its No 1 starter today. Our lives & the nation are better off because of your love & dedication to family.

Bunning was born on August 23, 1931 in Southgate, Kentucky. He attended high school in Cincinnati and was a star multi-sport athlete. He then attended Xavier University.

BUNNING WITH THE TIGERS

As Ralph Berger wrote for SABR, the Detroit Tigers wanted Bunning. Therefore, the club made a unique arrangement with his parents. The Tigers allowed Bunning to finish his schooling while pitching in the minors.
In May of his freshman year, Detroit Tigers scout Bruce Connatser told Jim’s father that the Tigers were interested in signing Jim. The parents had no objection to his playing professional baseball, but they wanted him to finish college. The Tigers agreed to let Jim finish the spring semester before reporting for baseball – meaning he would miss spring training for the next three years. The club also agreed that his first minor-league team would be Richmond, Indiana, of the Class D Indiana-Ohio League, less than an hour from home. The Tigers gave Bunning a $4,000 signing bonus and a $150-a-month salary. With the bonus, he bought an engagement ring for Mary Theis, his childhood sweetheart. Now that he was under contract to a professional baseball team, his basketball scholarship at Xavier was canceled, and his parents paid for the balance of his college education.
Bunning would go 118-87 over parts of nine seasons with Detroit. He tossed his first career no-hitter in 1958 against the Boston Red Sox. Bunning won 17 games for a 101-win Tigers in 1961. That club finished second in the American League pennant race.

BUNNING WITH THE PHILLIES

In December of 1963, Bunning was traded by the Tigers along with catcher Gus Triandos. Detroit received star outfielder Don Demeter and a young pitcher named Jack Hamilton.
The righty would put together an 89-73 mark over six seasons in Philadelphia. He won 19 games for the Phillies ill-fated 1964 team. That club collapsed down the stretch, finishing in second place.
He was a 5x AL all-star with Detroit and a 2x NL all-star with the Phillies. Furthermore, he was the 1967 National League Cy Young Award runner-up. The award voted that year to Mike McCormick of the San Francisco Giants.
He led the American League in strikeouts in both 1959 and 1960. His 253 punch-outs in 1967 led all of baseball. Bunning recorded 2,855 strikeouts over the course of his career.
In December of 1967, Bunning was dealt by the Phillies to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Coming to the Phils were pitcher Woodie Fryman, infielder Don Money, and two others.

RETURN TO PHILADELPHIA

Bunning pitched during the 1968 and 1969 seasons with the Pirates and Dodgers. He then returned to the Phillies as a free agent in December 1969.
Bunning pitched in relief in the penultimate game at Connie Mack Stadium (formerly Shibe Park) on September 30, 1970.
On Saturday, April 10, 1971 he drew the starting assignment. It was the first Phillies game in the history of Veteran’s Stadium. Bunning got the win in a 4-1 Phillies victory over the Montreal Expos.
That 1971 season would prove the final in Bunning’s big league career. He was elected to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1984.

BUNNING’S POLITICAL CAREER

Moving into politics, he was elected to the Fort Thomas, Kentucky city council in 1977.
In 1983, Bunning lost as the Republican candidate for Governor. But he remained a major player in Kentucky politics.
In 1986, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served as a U.S. congressman through 1999.
Bunning was then elected to the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. A noted conservative, he served as a Senator until 2011.
Bunning suffered a stroke in October of 2016. His death came as a result of complications due to the effects.

MEMORIALS AND FAMILY

Per Fox19 in Cincinnati, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell released the following statement.
“Senator Jim Bunning led a long and storied life. From his days in the major leagues to his years as my colleague in the Senate — and the many points in between, from the City Council to the House of Representatives — Jim rarely shied away from a new adventure. This Hall of Famer will long be remembered for many things. A perfect game, a larger-than-life personality, a passion for Kentucky, and a loving family. Elaine and I offer our sincere condolences to Mary and the entire Bunning family.”
Here in Philadelphia, he is a baseball immortal. His retired number 14 is displayed at Citizens Bank Park. Richie Ashburn (1), Mike Schmidt (20), Steve Carlton (32) and Robin Roberts (36) also have retired numbers.
Bunning is survived by the former Mary Catherine Theis. The couple was married for 65 years. Per Wikipedia, the couple had five daughters and four sons. They also had 35 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren as of 2013.

Philadelphia Phillies All-Time 25-Man Roster

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The Philadelphia Phillies  owe their birth in 1883 to the death of the old Worcester club. Worcester in Massachusetts had been deemed too small to support a major league team.

After three seasons in the National League, the club was disbanded and the franchise rights sold.

Needing a team to balance out their schedule, the NL awarded an expansion team to Philadelphia to begin play in the 1883 season.

Originally nicknamed the “Quakers”, the team was frequently referred to that season as the “Philadelphias”, which was shortened to “Phillies” on a regular basis.

Known as the “Phillies” and the “Quakers” through 1889, the former was embraced much more by fans and sportswriters, and so “Phillies” became the official nickname in the 1890 season.

The “Philadelphia Phillies” name remains the oldest continuous same city, same name professional sports team in American history.

EARLY DECADES 

The Phillies were a fairly successful club on the field for the better part of the first 35 or so years of their existence. In 1915, the team won their first National League pennant after having finished in second place three times and third place another half-dozen times prior.

Beginning in 1918, the fortunes of the team changed for the worse. Thanks to a series of poor ownership groups, the Phillies would experience just one winning season until 1949.

From the 1918 through 1948 campaigns, the Phils finished a combined 1,189 games below the .500 mark. For five straight seasons from 1938-42, the club lost at least 103 games each year. They would pass the century mark in losses in seven seasons between 1936 and the end of World War II.

THE WHIZ KIDS AND 1964 COLLAPSE

The ‘Whiz Kids’, a young group of talented players, emerged to break the spell with a winning 1949. The following year they captured just the second NL pennant in franchise history, and continued playing competitively through the 1957 season.

After sinking back to the bottom of the league once again from the 1958-61 seasons, another group of youngsters emerged to form the next winning Phillies club.

The 1964 team infamously held a 6.5 game lead with just 12 games to play, only to collapse with 10 straight losses. That team would finish in second place, a game out.

Though the team had a winning record every year from 1962-67, they never came close other than that one ill-fated season.

DIVISIONAL ERA YIELDS FIRST BIG WINNER

Baseball expanded and began divisional play in the 1969 season. The Phillies again collapsed to the bottom of the standings, finishing in last place for five straight years through 1973.

Once again, a new group of homegrown players began to emerge. Supplemented by a series of astute acquisitions by a talented leadership group that included owner Ruly Carpenter, scouting director Dallas Green, and general manager Paul Owens, the Phillies built a sustainable winner.

From 1976-83 the Phillies were regular contenders. They won the NL East title six times in those eight seasons, counting the 1981 split-season.

Finally in 1980, the Phillies reached the pinnacle of Major League Baseball. In front of the home fans at Veteran’s Stadium, the team won the World Series, capturing the first championship in franchise history.

TWO MAGICAL SEASONS IN LONG STRETCH OF FUTILITY

Following a second World Series appearance in four years in the 1983 season, the Phillies organization again began to scramble. A series of bad personnel moves resulted in a slow decline to another losing era.

The years 1987-92 were a mostly miserable half-dozen season stretch of failure. The club had a losing record every year. In fact, that futility would stretch out to the year 2000, with 13 of 14 losing seasons.

The one notable exception during that stretch of futility came during a worst-to-first 1993 season. In that year, a hard-scrabble core group of mullet-wearing players known as ‘Macho Row’ created summer long magic.

The Phillies led nearly wire-to-wire in the NL East that season in perhaps the most fun summer of baseball in franchise history. It was all capped by an upset of the heavily favored Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

That 1993 Phillies team would then push the defending champion Toronto Blue Jays nearly to the brink in the World Series, finally being eliminated on Joe Carter‘s historic walkoff home run.

GLORY ERA

It would not be until the 2001 season that the Phillies would field another winner. That season began the greatest winning stretch in franchise history.

Over a dozen years, only the 80-81 record of the 2002 team was below the .500 mark. Thanks to a large group of homegrown stars largely put together by GM Ed Wade and supplemented by astute trades and signings by his successor Pat Gillick, the Phillies would capture five consecutive NL East crowns.

In 2011, the Phillies would win a franchise record 102 games during the regular season. The icing on the cake during that run came in 2008. Those Phillies matched the 1980 club by capturing just the second World Series championship in franchise history.

The Phillies rise thanks to that homegrown core ended almost as abruptly as it had begun. Most of that core aged out together after 2012, and the Phillies have not fielded a winning team since.

Now in the midst of a major rebuilding program, the Philadelphia Phillies are trying to emerge using that same proven formula: building from within. The club has improved their minor league system greatly, and put themselves in a strong financial position to contend within the next couple of years.

HISTORY OF MEMORABLE PLAYERS

A look back through the history of this storied team shows long valleys of losing. But it also shows that over the last half-century, the Phillies have been one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball.

There have been many greats to pull on a Phillies uniform in over a century of play. 32 players who have worn that uniform are now enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Nine of them played a significant portion of their careers with the Phillies.

Five Phillies have won the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Four pitchers have captured the Cy Young Award, while four more have been the NL Rookie of the Year.

There have been 16 different players to capture a Gold Glove Award, with the Phillies having seen one of their players win the honors at every position across the diamond.

The Phillies are a truly historic team, one of baseball’s “Classic Eight” franchises. If you opened the papers in 1883, you could read about a Philadelphia Phillies team. Now as we head towards 2017, fans can do the same, just as their great-great-great grandparents did before them.

APOLOGIES TO PHILLIES GREATS LEFT OUT

When crafting an All-Time 25-Man Roster for a team with a long and storied a history as the Phillies, you are going to leave out some truly great players.

The Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame includes 35 men who have taken the field as a player with the team. Of those players, 17 did not make my Phillies All-Time 25-Man Roster.

To keep things more realistic, I have included two relievers and two catchers. To the following players, and dozens more, I truly apologize. None of these Phillies greats made my roster:

Roy ThomasDarren DaultonJohnny CallisonDel EnnisGavvy CravathCharlie FergusonEppa RixeyRoy HalladayJonathan PapelbonBrad LidgeRyan MadsonCy WilliamsTony TaylorSam ThompsonWillie JonesGarry MaddoxGreg LuzinskiJuan SamuelGranny HamnerPat BurrellBrett Myers.

PHILLIES ALL-TIME ROSTER

PITCHING STAFF (11)

Jim Bunning: 4th WHIP, 7th WAR & K’s, 11th IP, 12th ERA, 14th Wins, 2x NL All-Star, runner-up 1967 Cy Young Award, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame, #14 retired

Grover Cleveland Alexander: 2nd ERA, BAA & WHIP, 3rd pitching WAR, Wins & IP, 6th K’s, 2x top ten NL MVP voting, numerous league and MLB leader, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Steve Carlton: 1st pitching WAR, Wins & Strikeouts, 2nd IP, 6th BAA, 7x NL All-Star, 4x Cy Young Award winner, 4x top ten NL MVP voting, 1981 Gold Glove, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame, #32 retired

Cole Hamels: 3rd K’s, 4th pitching WAR, 6th Wins & IP, 9th WHIP, 3x NL All-Star, 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP

Cliff Lee: 3rd WHIP, 11th pitching WAR & K’s, 13th ERA, 2x NL All-Star

Tug McGraw: 3rd RP WAR, 4th Games, 6th Saves, 14th WHIP, 17th ERA, Wall of Fame

Ron Reed: 1st RP WAR, 6th Games, 7th Saves, 10th WHIP, 15th ERA

Robin Roberts: 1st IP, 2nd pitching WAR, Wins & K’s, 11th WHIP, 7x NL All-Star, Wall of Fame

Curt Schilling: 3rd BAA, 5th pitching WAR & K’s, 7th WHIP & Wins, 9th IP, 3x NL All-Star, Wall of Fame

Chris Short: 4th IP, K’s & Wins, 8th pitching WAR, 19th BAA, 2x NL All-Star, Wall of Fame

Curt Simmons: 5th Wins & IP, 6th pitching WAR, 8th K’s, 3x NL All-Star, Wall of Fame

INFIELDERS (6)

Dick Allen, 1B/3B: 8th OPS, 10th WAR & HR, 11th Triples, 19th RBI & BB, 1964 NL Rookie of the Year, 3x NL All-Star, Wall of Fame

Larry Bowa, SS: 6th Hits & SB, 7th Triples, 15th Runs, 5x NL All-Star, 2x Gold Glove Award, Wall of Fame

Ryan Howard, 1B: 2nd HR, 3rd RBI, 4th Slugging, 7th BB, 10th Doubles, 13th Hits & Runs, 16th OPS, 2005 NL Rookie of the Year, 2006 NL MVP & Silver Slugger, 2008 runner-up NL MVP, 2009 NLCS MVP, 3x NL All-Star

Jimmy Rollins, SS: 1st Hits, Doubles, AB & defensive WAR, 2nd Steals & Games, 3rd Runs & Triples, 6th WAR & BB, 3x NL All-Star, 4x NL Gold Glove Award, 2007 NL MVP & Silver Slugger

Mike Schmidt, 3B: 1st WAR, HR, RBI, Runs, Games & BB, 2nd Hits, 3rd Slugging, 5th OPS, 14th OBP, 15th Steals, 19th Triples, 12x NL All-Star, 10x Gold Glove Award, 6x Silver Slugger, 1980-81 & 1986 NL MVP, 1980 World Series MVP, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Chase Utley, 2B: 3rd WAR, 5th Doubles, 6th Runs, 9th Hits, 17th Slugging, 19th OPS, 6x NL All-Star, 4x Silver Slugger

CATCHERS (2)

Bob Boone: among catchers – 3rd Games & Hits, 4th RBI, 7th HR & Runs, 3x NL All-Star, 2x Gold Glove Award, Wall of Fame

Mike Lieberthal: among catchers – 1st Hits, HR, Doubles & AB, 2nd RBI & Games, 3rd WAR, 4th OPS, 5th AVG, 2x NL All-Star, 1999 NL Gold Glove Award, Wall of Fame

OUTFIELDERS (6)

Bobby Abreu: 2nd (t) OPS, 4th OBP & Doubles, 5th Slugging, 7th WAR & Steals, 10th Runs, 11th HR & RBI, 14th Hits, 2x NL All-Star, 2004 Silver Slugger, 2005 NL Gold Glove Award

Richie Ashburn: 3rd Hits, Games & AB, 4th WAR & Runs, 5th Triples, 8th OBP, 9th Doubles, 11th Steals, 4x NL All-Star, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Ed Delahanty: 1st Triples, 2nd WAR & AVG, Runs & Doubles, 3rd Steals, 4th OPS & Hits, 5th OBP, 7th Slugging, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Billy Hamilton: 1st AVG & Steals, 2nd (t) OPS, 9th WAR, 12th Runs, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Chuck Klein: 1st OPS & Slugging, 5th AVG, HR, RBI, & Runs, 7th Hits & Doubles, 11th OBP, 12th WAR, 1932 NL MVP, 1931 & 1933 runner-up NL MVP, 1933 NL All-Star, Hall of Fame, Wall of Fame

Sherry Magee: 2nd Triples, 4th Steals, 5th WAR, 6th Doubles, 8th Hits, 9th RBI & Runs, 16th AVG, Wall of Fame