This Date in Phillies History: Kevin Gross Caught Cheating

On August 10, 1987, Kevin Gross secured his name in the annals of baseball history as more than just a pitcher with an MVP mustache.  He forever joined ranks with the likes of John McGraw, Gaylord Perry, Joe Niekro and Whitey Ford as one of the biggest cheaters in the game.

The Phillies were leading the Cubs at the Vet by a score of 4-2 in the top of the 5th inning when Cubs manager Gene Michael had a word with home plate umpire Charlie Williams.  Williams gathered the rest of his crew and paid a visit to Gross at the mound.  They asked to see his glove and after a quick inspection, Michael’s suspicions were confirmed: Gross had a strip of sandpaper glued to the heel of his glove to scuff balls.  Although no doctored balls were discovered,  Gross was immediately ejected.

Even though he was caught red-handed, Gross wouldn’t admit to his wrongdoing after the game:  “There was no reason to come out and check the glove for anything.  I’m not saying anything.”  After he was told the umps found the sandpaper, Gross said “I don’t know.  I don’t need anything in my glove.  I’ll have something to say tomorrow.  I don’t know what’s going on.”

The day after the game, Gross was called into Commissioner Giamatti’s office for a 4-hour hearing after which the league handed down a 10-game suspension.  By this time, Gross came around and admitted that he did have sandpaper in his glove, but that he “didn’t use it.”  The pitcher said, “I was not scuffing any ball in the game last night.”  Instead, he was “just fooling” with the sandpaper.

It was later reported that Gross, who had lost 5-6 mph on his fastball, was using sandpaper to compensate.  Gene Michael actually suspected Gross was scuffing balls in a previous game that year, but waited until the August 10th match-up to raise the issue with umpires.

Gross obviously wasn’t paying much attention to the league if he thought he was going to get away with the stunt.  The night Gross was caught, Twins pitcher Joe Niekro was in the midst of a 10-day suspension for having sandpaper and an emery board in his pocket during an August 3rd game against the Angels.

As an aside, I never understood why pitchers who scuffed balls or used foreign substances to get the ball to do wacky things are romanticized, while players who use steroids are vilified.  Why is one considered part of baseball lore, while the other is downright evil?  Pitchers who were notorious for doctoring balls are proud members of the Hall of Fame, but I don’t see Barry Bonds or Manny Ramirez ever being inducted.  I’d argue that doctoring balls is just as bad, if not worse, than using performance enhancing drugs.  Both are against the rules of the game, both are clearly unethical, and both allow the player to do things he couldn’t naturally do.  However, while taking steroids may make you a little stronger, a little faster, and recover from injury in a little less time, it won’t make the ball do impossible things.  Just because it’s nostalgic, doesn’t mean it’s okay.


This Date in Phillies History: Ted Kazanski’s Inside-the-Park Grand Slam

Ted Kazanski (not to be confused with Kaczynski) didn’t have a stellar career in the majors.  In his six-year career, all of which was spent as a Phillie, the utility infielder batted .217 with a total of 118 runs, 116 RBI, and 14 HR.  But on August 8, 1956, Kazanski made a mark that no Phillie has since matched.

On this date 55 years ago, the Phillies were facing the New York Giants at Polo Grounds.  The Phils were up 3-2 heading into the top of the 6th inning.  Giants pitcher Jim Hearn, coaxed a leadoff ground out from Del Ennis and then gave up consecutive singles to Elmer Valo and Willie Jones.  After Granny Hamner was intentionally walked, second baseman Ted Kazanski stepped to the plate with the based loaded and one out.  Kazanski smoked a liner to the center field wall, which stood 483′ from home plate. Even with Willie Mays sprinting to the ball, the fact that Polo Grounds boasted the deepest center field wall of any stadium in major league history gave Kazanski all the time he needed to round the bases and score.

Kazanski completing the round-tripper with Valo giving him the signal to slide. (AP)

Kazanski was the 4th, and last, Phillie to hit an inside-the-park granny.  The others were Irish Meusel (1918), George Harper (1924) and interestingly one of the guys who crossed the plate before Kazanski: Willie Jones (1951).  Five Philadelphia Athletics accomplished the rare feat, two of whom did it twice: Harry Davis (1902 and 1904), Danny Murphy (1904 and 1908), Stuffy McInnis (1911), Lee Gooch (1917) and Ferris Fain (1947).


The Phillies’ Longest Winning Streak

On July 28th, the Phillies faced Tim Lincecum and the Giants and fell 4-1.  They haven’t lost since. The Phils went on to sweep the Pirates and Rockies in three-game sets and have taken the first 3 of 4 against the Giants, winning 9 consecutive games.  Today, the Phillies are once again up against Luiz the cab-driver with Roy Oswalt looking to extend the team’s win streak to double-digits.

Nine wins in a row is nice, but it’s not even close to the team record.  That record, 16 wins without a loss, belongs to the dapper gentlemen pictured above of the 1887 Philadelphia Quakers.  On September 15th, the Quakers were stuck in 4th place mired 9.5 games behind the Detroit Wolverines. They then got hot, really hot.

The Quakers swept the Indianapolis Hoosiers, the Wolverines, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys, the Washington Nationals and the Boston Beaneaters for 13 straight victories.  The final series of the season was a 4-game set at the original Polo Grounds against the New York Giants.  The Quakers took the first two, tied the third and then won the last game of the series and the season on October 8th.  This capped what Major League Baseball considers a 16-game winning streak, but what the hockey-guy in me wants to call a 17-game unbeaten streak. No matter the name, the streak propelled the Quakers to a 2nd place finish in the National League.

The 2011 Phillies have some work to do if they want to push the franchise record for consecutive wins past 16 games.  In addition to beating Lincecum today, they will need to sweep the Dodgers in L.A., sweep the Nationals at home and take the first game of the D-Backs series.  It won’t be easy, but if any team can do it, the real dream team in this town can.

Note: The Phillies’ longest winning streak in the modern-era is 13 games, which was earned in 1977.


Philly Sports Memories- Nick Staskin

There’s nothing like watching professional sports when you are a kid.  The players are larger than life and the things they do on the field are seemingly impossible. They simply do no wrong.  Before we were old enough to know about PEDs and DUIs and all the other off-the-field crap that grabs more attention than their actual play, these athletes were our heroes.

That’s why childhood memories of our favorite players or favorite teams endure long into our adult lives.  We hold on to the nostalgia of the way we saw the game when we were young because everything having to do with sports was so pure.

With that in mind, we’ve reached out to local sports reporters, bloggers, and personalities to see which of their childhood sports memories have stuck with them more than all others.

The first contributor to our series is Nick “Beerman” Staskin (pictured). When Nick isn’t serving fans Miller Lite in left field at Citizen’s Bank Park, he’s writing for the excellent Phils blog, Phillies Nation.

Nick’s response:

The memory that most sticks out in my head as a Phillies fan growing up is one that really had no meaning at all. When I was 14 years old, my dad took me to an early April game against the Atlanta Braves on a cold night. The reason? Curt Schilling was going opposite Greg Maddux.

The game took exactly two hours to play and ended when Mike Lieberthal scored Greg Jeffries on an RBI single in the 9th inning to give the Phils a 1-0 win.

Schilling and Maddux did not disappoint. Maddux went eight innings surrendering no runs and only five hits, but Schilling one-upped him throwing the complete game shutout while striking out 10 and only allowing two hits.

Being there with my dad to watch two of the best pitchers of that era duel like that is something that I’ll never forget, and the reason I can’t wait to raise a baseball fan of my own one day.

The game Nick remembers most took place on April 10, 1998.  You can see the boxscore here.  It was actually the second time that week Schilling faced Maddux. Just five days earlier, Schilling struck out 15 Braves en route to a 2-1 complete game win over Maddux in Atlanta.  Schilling’s stat line that week: 2 wins, 0 losses; 2 complete games; 1 ER; 25 Ks; 6 hits; and, 2 BB.

H/T to Nick for his contribution.  He can be found on twitter here.  


An Athletic You Should Know: Eccentric Madman Rube Waddell

There’s one position in each team sport that requires more mental toughness than all of the rest.  In football it’s the quarterback, in basketball it’s the point guard, in hockey it’s the goalie, and in baseball it’s the pitcher.  With pitching comes the relentless pressure of knowing that you are one mistake away from single-handedly losing the game for your team.  Whether it’s a defense mechanism to cope with this stress, or simply a job requirement, major league pitchers, especially lefties, are generally the weirdest players on the field.  And the oddest of the bunch was Philadelphia Athletics’ pitcher, Rube Waddell.

A harbinger of things to come, George Edward Waddell was born on Friday the 13th in October of 1876 in  northeastern Pennsylvania.  He learned his craft on nearby farmland by throwing rocks at crows trying to poach seeds as they were being planted.  Waddell developed farm boy size and was soon dominating the local youth baseball league.

When he was 19, he earned a spot on Butler’s local semi-pro team anddisplayed an overpowering fastball.  He also displayed a childlike rawness that reflected his provincial background.  When he started playing, he would bean any runner who hit a groundball back to the mound instead of forcing the player out at first, explaining “hit the batter and he’s out where I come from.”  Discovered by a traveling salesman in 1896, Waddell was offered a job on the Franklin Braves in the newly-formed Iron and Oil League.

When Waddell arrived in Franklin, catcher Jack Nelson gave him the nickname “Rube,” which was reserved for hicks and it stuck immediately.  Although there was no questioning his talent, Waddell’s head was often somewhere other than in the game.  He would leave in the middle of games to go fishing, or, if a firetruck passed the field he would run off and chase it.  He would also go on drinking benders and disappear for days on end.

After Franklin folded, Waddell’s next opportunity came with Volant, a local college.  Volant made Rube an offer he couldn’t refuse: free tuition and room and board, in addition to $1 per game and free tobacco.    At Volant, both his skill and his eccentricities were on full display.  He was absolutely dominant as the lefty had developed a sharp curve ball and great control.  He averaged 15 strikeouts per 7-inning game.  More than once, Rube called for all of his players to the leave the field and pitched with no defense behind him.  Waddell would celebrate three-strikeout innings by cartwheeling, or walking on his hands, or somersaulting off the field back to the dugout.

With these antics, he soon caught the attention of major league baseball teams and signed with the National League’s Louisville Colonels in 1897.  However, he lasted just two games and left after being fined $50 for drinking, which had by this time become a major problem.  Over the course of the next few years, he split time between the majors and the minors.  In 1902, Connie Mack took a risk on the oddball and signed him to the Philadelphia Athletics.

As an Athletic, Waddell immediately turned things around and put up unreal numbers in 1902 en route to clinching the franchise’s first pennant.  His first start came on June 26th, 51 games into the season.  Appearing in only 33 games that year, he compiled a 24-7 record, a 2.05 ERA, led the American League with 210 strikeouts (50 more than runner-up Cy Young who appeared in 100 more innings than did Waddell).  He also pitched baseball’s first immaculate inning on July 1st.  Over the course of Waddell’s career in Philadelphia, from ’03-’07, he won 21, 25, 27, 15 and 19 games respectively.  His ERA with the A’s was a paltry 1.97 with a low of 1.48 in 1905.  During that season, Waddell was motoring along until he got into a fight with a teammate over a straw hat and injured his throwing shoulder.  This injury cost him the last month of the season, including the World Series. (Phillies owner Horace Fogel said Waddell was absent because he was paid off.)  From ’04-’07 he pitched at least 7 shutouts per season.  He also led the majors in strikeouts over 5 consecutive seasons.  His record of 349 ks in 1904 stood for 60 seasons until Sandy Koufax struck out 382 in 1965.

Waddell’s turnaround was a direct result of Connie Mack’s managing.  According to Mack, Waddell “had more stuff than any pitcher I ever saw. He had everything but a sense of responsibility.”  Because of this, Mack paid Waddell on an as-needed basis in singles so he wouldn’t blow his earnings on alcohol.  While Mack could control Waddell’s paychecks, he couldn’t control all of the idiosyncrasies.  Waddell’s fascination with fire departments continued throughout his time with the A’s and he routinely wore red under his clothing just in case a fire bell would ring.  He missed starts because he was fishing, or was late to games because he was playing marbles in the streets of Philadelphia with children.  He was married three times and was often put in jail for missing alimony payments.

Cooperstown historian Lee Allen succinctly described 1903 in the life of Rube Waddell:

He began that year sleeping in a firehouse in Camden, New Jersey, and ended it tending bar in a saloon in Wheeling, West Virginia. In between those events he won 22 games for the Philadelphia Athletics, played left end for the Business Men’s Rugby Football Club of Grand Rapids, Michigan, toured the nation in a melodrama called The Stain of Guilt, courted, married and became separated from May Wynne Skinner of Lynn, Massachusetts, saved a woman from drowning, accidentally shot a friend through the hand, and was bitten by a lion.

Other examples of the bizarre with Waddell include:

  • He wrestled alligators during the off season.
  • He played for two Philadelphia Athletics clubs in 1902: the baseball club and the Philadelphia Athletics of the first National Football League (at 6’2″ and 200 lbs. he was a fullback).
  • He almost shot Connie Mack in the head when a pistol fell out of his pocket and fired at the team hotel.
  • His contract included a clause, at his catcher’s insistence, that prohibited Waddell from eating crackers in bed.  During the early years, players would share beds on road trips and Ossee Schreckengost couldn’t sleep because of the crumbs.
  • In 1903, he climbed into the stands to beat up a spectator who was heckling him and was suspended for 5 games.
  • In one game, Waddell was at bat in the 8th inning with 2 outs and a man on second.  After a pitch, the catcher threw to second in a pick-off attempt, but the ball sailed into the outfield.  The A’s runner took off and was rounding home to score when the center fielder fired home.  Waddell, with bat still in hand, swung and hit the ball back into play.  He was called out for interference.  His explanation for the gaffe, “They’d been feeding me curves all afternoon, and this was the first straight ball I’d looked at!”

At the end of the 1907 season, Waddell was slumping badly and was then sold to St. Louis “in the interests of team unity.”  He pitched out the final three years of his major league career before drinking his way back to the minors in 1911.

The events surrounding Waddell’s death were just as memorable as those surrounding his life.  In the fall of 1912, he was living in Kentucky with friends when a nearby dam collapsed and caused devastating flooding in the region.  Waddell immediately went to help out in whatever way he could, by pulling people out of homes and by working for hours on end in cold water piling up sandbags.  Although his actions were herioc, they also proved costly as he developed pneumonia.  As a result, his body was severely weakened and he battled bouts of pneumonia and tuberculosis from which he never fully recovered.  He died in 1914 at the age of 37…on April Fool’s day.

In 1946, he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.  By all accounts, Waddell was known much more for his eccentricities than for his talent.  But there is no doubt that the former rivaled the latter as Waddell was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.


Philadelphia’s Lone MLB All-Star MVP


Beginning in 1962, Major League Baseball has chosen the Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game. Throughout the years, it’s been called a number of things (Arch Ward Memorial Award, Commissioner’s Trophy, and now the Ted Williams MVP Award), but only one Phillie has ever called the award his own.

Three Phillies were selected to represent the National League in the 1964 All-Star Game at Shea Stadium: Jim Bunning (P), Chris Short (P), and Johnny Callison (OF).  The Phils players had mixed results.  Bunning shined, spreading two hits over 2 shut-out innings while striking out four (Bob Allison, Bobby Richardson, Elston Howard, and our good-old-friend Jim Fregosi).  In the top of the 6th, Chris Short was brought in with the NL leading 3-1.  After striking out Tony Oliva, Short gave up consecutive singles to Mickey Mantle and Harmon Killebrew.  He coaxed a fly-out from Bob Allison, but then gave up a 2-run triple to Brooks Robinson before earning the final out of the inning and being replaced.

The AL would take a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th on a Jim Fregosi sacrifice fly.  The National League All-Stars went down in order in the bottom of the 7th and the bottom of the 8th.  Entering the bottom of the 9th inning, they were still down one run to the American Leaguers.

Willie Mays walked, stole 2nd, and then scored on an Orlando Cepeda hit to tie the game. After a Ken Boyer pop-up, a walk and a Hank Aaron strike out, up stepped Johnny Callison. With 2 outs and 2 men on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Callison smoked a Dick Radatz offering deep into the right field seats for a game-winning, walk-off home run.

The go-home-run was good enough for Callison to earn the MVP award (then the Arch Ward Memorial).  He is the only Phillie to ever take home the award.  Callison’s walk-off HR wasn’t the first in All-Star game history, but it is the last.

Callison joined Ted Williams (1941) and Stan Musial (1955) as the only players in baseball history to accomplish the feat.


Horace Fogel: The Strangest Owner in Phillies History

The history of sports in Philadelphia is littered with characters that seem more fit for fiction than for reality.  Right up there in the Bizarre Hall of Fame is Horace S. Fogel, a former Phillies owner whose career began in sportswriting and ended with a lifetime ban from baseball.  This is his story.

Fogel was a Pennsylvania native, born in Macungie, Lehigh County in 1861.  He started out as a telegrapher and then began a career in journalism at the Baltimore Day.  He returned to Philadelphia in 1883 and was offered a job at the Philadelphia Press, where he was in charge of the telegraph service but covered baseball for extra money.  At the time, newspapers weren’t covering the sport and Fogel found a niche by publishing several columns a day.  The next year he took a job as official scorekeeper for the Athletics, getting his foot in the door of professional baseball.

In 1887, he was hired as manager of the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the National League and led them to a last place finish.  His managerial stint lasted less than a year and ended with a 20-49 record.  After his unsuccessful bid to manage a pro ball club, he went back to journalism and became associate editor of the Sporting Life as well as head of the baseball department at the Philadelphia Public Ledger.

After 15 more years in sportswriting, Fogel was again given a job as skipper, this time for the New York Giants in 1902.  His second attempt at managing was literally laughable.  The press was highly critical of Fogel, who was deemed “hardly fitted” to manage the team.  He openly criticized players which “stirred up discord, and the team which left Polo Grounds early in May harmonious to a man returned on Decoration Day nearly split in twain by dissension.”  Most notable from his time with the Giants was his managing of Christy Mathewson, the second year pitcher who won 20 games in his rookie year.  Fogel didn’t think much of Mathewson’s skills on the mound, so Fogel converted him to a first baseman, then an outfielder, then a shortstop.  Fogel was hammered for this decision, which was referred to as “the baseball crime of the century.”  Luckily, Fogel was fired just three months into his tenure.  Mathewson was put back where he belonged and went on to a Hall of Fame career of 373 wins and a lifetime 2.31 ERA.

From 1902 through 1909, Fogel again went back to the sports page.  He was the sporting editor for the Philadelphia Telegraph.  By this time in his career, he was a known commodity: a loudmouthed front-runner with little-to-no credibility.  When the local teams weren’t doing well, he crushed them.  When they strung a few wins together, he announced they were unbeatable.  He had no problem overstating his opinions and often feuded with players in print.

So in November of 1909, when it was announced that Fogel had purchased the Philadelphia Phillies, the public was more than surprised.  First, with Fogel’s unsuccessful managerial track record, people were concerned about the state of the team.  And second, everyone knew Fogel couldn’t have come up with the $350,000.00 to $500,000.00 that bought the team.  The not so unspoken rumor was that the Taft family of Cincinnati and Charles Murphy, President of the Chicago Cubs, were the real financial owners of the Phillies and were simply using Fogel as a figurehead.  One would think that one man with a stake in two National League teams would be an issue, but other than some reporters questioning the deal, no real investigation was conducted.

Fogel brought immediate and drastic change to the Phillies.  He fired manager William Murray with a letter that read, in its entirety: “The Philadelphia Baseball Club no longer requires your services.”  Murray was replaced Charles “Red” Dooin, the Phillies’ catcher since 1902.  Fogel completely revamped the uniforms, going from the classic black trim on white or grey with black socks seen here to green on white with a large Old-English “P” and green striped socks.  Fogel also didn’t like the name of the team, so he changed it.  He was quoted as saying:

The name Phillies is too trite.  It has come to mean a comfortable lackadaisicalness, the fourth-place groove.  And Quakers stands for peaceful people who will dodge a fight.  We’re not going to be that way.  We’re going to get into fights.

And with that explanation he urged everyone to adopt his new name for the National League club: The Philadelphia Live Wires.  To promote the name, Fogel even came up with a new “logo,” which featured an eagle grasping sparkling wires.    Thankfully, other than a few references in newspaper articles in 1910, the new name didn’t stick and fans continued referring to the team as the Phillies.

Fogel’s antics continued through his ownership years and his pregame festivities were memorable.  In addition to a concert before every home game, he often held three-ring-circuses on the field before the games.  He once had a couple married in a lion cage on the pitcher’s mound with a lion serving as the witness to the nuptials.  Another time he released 100 pigeons in the city with free tickets to the next game attached to their legs.

His gimmicks didn’t lead to much success on the field.  In 1910, the Phillies finished three games above .500 and in 4th place in the NL; 1911 brought another 4th place finish (even with rookie Pete Alexander’s 28 win season); and in 1912, the Phillies finished in 5th place.

It was in the latter stages of the 1912 season that Fogel stepped over the line.  At that point in the season, the New York Giants were pulling away from the Chicago Cubs for the pennant.  Fogel was known to be a drinker and card-player and he maintained close relationships with his newspaper buddies.  So in August and September of the 1912 season, with the Phillies well out of the race, Fogel was seen drinking more and more with his old pals.  When the alcohol was flowing, so was Fogel’s mouth.  He started a one-man campaign accusing the National League of a conspiracy theory to give the New York Giants the pennant over his Phillies (who finished 30.5 games back) and the Cubs (whose ownership Fogel was inextricably linked with).

Thomas Lynch

The conspirators in his theory included not only league brass, but also other National League teams.  He first accused St. Louis manager Roger Bresnahan of not fielding his regulars in games against the Giants and throwing the games in favor of the New York team.  Then he wrote about the “fix” to everyone who would listen and published several articles about it in a few separate newspapers.  He wrote a letter to Thomas Lynch, league president, stating his position that Lynch had instructed umpires to call games in favor of the Giants and against the Phillies in a plot to ensure the Giants would win the pennant.  In September, he wired the owner of the Reds and stated that the pennant race was “crooked.”  He published an article in a Chicago newspaper that alleged the Giants “won at least twenty-one games because of unfair umpiring.”  He also wrote to seven other owners of teams in the National League calling the pennant race dishonest and insinuating he had proof of wrongdoing.

The league finally had enough of Fogel’s charges.  Lynch, who didn’t even mask his feeling that Fogel wasn’t the real owner of the team, responded:

As far as President Fogel’s attacks on the President of the National League is concerned, I care nothing.  My 25 years’ record in baseball speaks for itself.  The cowardly attack on the honesty of the umpires and the game itself is a different matter, however, and cannot be overlooked.  I shall take these charges of President Fogel before the board of directors of the National League, which has sole jurisdiction.  Regardless of whether Mr. Fogel has a financial interest in the Philadelphia Club or not, he is the president of that organization, and the charges he makes can only be handled by the league itself.

A league investigation of Fogel’s baseless charges turned out to be the worst thing that could have happened for him.  After a short investigation which turned up no evidence at all, Lynch charged Fogel with several counts of improper conduct and called a hearing to take place in New York on November 27, 1912.  All of the National League owners were present and heard testimony from several witnesses over the course of two days.  Fogel’s only defense was that the charges were moot and the National League had no jurisdiction over him.  Fogel had resigned as the Phillies’ President 5 days before the hearing and named Alfred Wiler, the Phillies’ VP, his successor.  Fogel’s weak attempt to avoid punishment didn’t work.  In a vote of 7-0 with one abstention (Wilner), Fogel was found to have lodged unsubstantiated claims against the integrity of the game and was deemed guilty of Lynch’s charges.  His punishment was severe: Fogel was forever banned from baseball.

After the decision, Fogel claimed “the jury was packed against [him]” and that he wouldn’t obey the decision.  He stated,  “I will sell or represent as I please, the Philadelphia club in the National League as long as I feel inclined to do so and no one can disturb me from doing so.”  Fogel also threatened to bring this matter to the court system.

However loud Fogel’s bite after his censure, his bite was non-existent.  There was defiant refusal to submit to the decision, no appeal to the court system, no nothing…Fogel was out of baseball.

His reporting career continued in true Fogel-fashion.  In 1920, he published an article in the Inquirer charging that both the the 1905 World Series and 1908 World Series were fixed.  He cited “sources” who alleged that Athletic’s pitcher Rube Waddell didn’t pitch in the 1905 series because New York gamblers bribed him with $17,000 and that during the pennant race in ’08, several Phillies were paid thousands of dollars by a member of the NY Giants to sit out games.  Not surprisingly, these claims were unsubstantiated and flatly rejected as falsehoods.

Fogel lived out the rest of his life in Philadelphia and died in 1928 at the age of 66.

We are all lucky that the public saw Fogel for what he was: an eccentric sideshow.  Otherwise, we might all be wearing green shirseys with “Live Wires” on the front.

RELATED: Phillies owner William Cox banned for life. 


Eight-Year-Olds, Dude.

We’d love to think all of our hometown players throughout history were the “good guys.”  Philadelphia athletes reflect on Philadelphia, and therefore, on Philadelphians as well.  Even if they don’t make All-Star teams or bring us a championships, we remain ardently devoted to any player who works hard on the field and carries himself well off the field.  It’s a lot more fun to relive the good guys, but we know not all of our players have lived up to that standard.  And because this is a history site, not a party-line blog, we bring you stories of both the good and bad.

Ed Bouchee broke into the majors with the Phillies in 1957.  He batted .293 with 35 doubles, 8 triples, 17 home runs and 76 RBI, which placed him 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting.  The Montana-born Bouchee had quite a career ahead of him, and fans quickly jumped on the Bouchee-bandwagon.  However, it didn’t take long for off-the-field issues to hurt the rising star’s career.

In the winter of 1958, school children in Spokane, WA began reporting that a man in a white and blue station wagon was driving around and offering rides and showing them pictures.  These reports went on for weeks and an intensive investigation was launched.  A tipster jotted down a suspicious station wagon’s license plate and turned it into the police.  The next day, investigators were at the doorstep of the car’s owner: Ed Bouchee.  At the police station, he was placed in a lineup and identified by three separate young girls.  With the ID, Bouchee was charged with child molestation.  With the evidence mounting, Bouchee admitted to luring a 6-year-old girl into his car, showing her indecent photos and then exposing himself to the young girl.  He also admitted to similar conduct in four other cases that were under investigation involving girls that were 10, 11, 14 and 18 years old.  After the arrest and charge, Bouchee said “I knew I’d get caught.  I’m glad I got caught now.”

In the end, Bouchee pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent exposure involving the 6 and 10-year-old girl.  A psychiatrist testified that Bouchee suffered from “compulsive exhibitionism,” a neurosis caused by emotional illness.   Indecent exposure to a minor is a felony in Washington state that, at the time, carried a maximum of 20 years in prison.  However, Bouchee was placed on probation for 3 years and forced to undergo psychiatric treatment.  With the sentence, Bouchee was also indefinitely suspended from baseball.

He was admitted to the Institute for Living in Hartford, Conn. in early March and discharged on May 30 after his doctors determined he had recovered.

On July 1, 1958, commissioner Ford Frick reinstated Bouchee to baseball.  Frick said:

It was the only decision I could live with…I have made an exhaustive study of all the evidence and I am convinced Bouchee is completely cured…If there was any evidence that he would fail again, I would not have reinstated him.  I am assuming sole and complete responsibility.

When Bouchee returned to the Phillies, he was generally accepted back by his teammates and fans.  However, he never matched the production of his rookie year.  He played in Philadelphia until 1960, when he was sent to the Cubs.  He played his last year in the majors in 1962 as a member of the 40-120 expansion Mets.

Today, Bouchee is reportedly living in Arizona, maintaining the low profile he has kept since his guilty plea.


The Other Big Trades in Flyers History

This past Thursday, the Flyers front office made two of the biggest trades in team history.  The Flyers swapped Jeff Carter for Jakub Voracek and a 1st and a 3rd, and followed that up with Mike Richards for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a 2nd rounder in next year’s draft.  In less time than it takes for one West German BMW Commerical, Richards and Carter, the faces of the franchise for the past 5 years, were gone.  With these blockbusters in the books, lets take a look at some of the other big impact deals in Flyers History:

January 31, 1971: The Flyers send Mike Walton to the Boston Bruins for Rick MacLeish and Danny Schock.

MacLeish became a Flyers legend, scoring 328 goals in the Orange and Black in addition to 54 in the playoffs.  Add to that a Cup clinching goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins to give the Flyers their first championship, and you’ve got one hell of a trade.  The Hawk was a consistent 30 goal scorer in the regular season, and turned things on in the playoffs: he led the NHL in playoff scoring during the Flyers’ runs to the Cups in ’74 and ’75.

May 15, 1973: The Flyers send a 1st-Round pick (Bob Neely) and future consideration (Doug Favell) to the Leafs for Bernie Parent and a 2nd-Round pick (Larry Goodenough).

Without this trade, the Flyers don’t win consecutive Cups in ’74 and ’75.  In those Cup years, Parent won back to back Vezina (best goalie) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) Trophies.  Parent became the best goalie in franchise history and his #1 was the first hockey sweater to be retired in Philadelphia.

May 24, 1974: The Flyers trade Larry Wright, Al MacAdam and a 1st-Round pick to the California Golden Bears for Reggie Leach.

The Flyers had just won their first Stanley Cup and they went ahead and traded young talent for a known commodity in sharp-shooter Reggie Leach.  The move proved to be the right one as Leach was one of the stars of the ’75 Cup winning team.  Alongside Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber, Leach scored 47 regular season goals and 8 in 17 playoff games.

August 20, 1982: The Flyers trade Greg Adams, Ken Linseman and a 1st and a 3rd to the Hartford Whalers for Mark Howe and a 3rd-Round pick (Derrick Smith.

Mark Howe suffered a horrible injury late in the 1980 season when he slid feet first into the net and basically impaled himself on the steel of the old-school point in the middle of the net.  The Whalers thought Howe wouldn’t get back to form and the Flyers took a chance on him.  Howe became one the best two-way defensemen of the ’80s, made the Stanley Cup Finals three times and was a 3-time runner up for the Norris Trophy.

June 20, 1992: The Flyers give the house to the Quebec Nordiques for Eric Lindros.  The house included: Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Steve Duchesne, Kerry Huffman, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, 2 1st-Round picks (1993- Jocelyn Thibault; and 1994- Nolan Baumgartner) and $15,000,000.00.

Although the Lindros had all the tools and all the potential to become the “Next One,” hindsight proved that the Flyers got the short-end of the stick in this deal.  When healthy, Lindros was one of the most dominant players in the league.  But several concussions severely limited the E-Train’s effectiveness and shortened his career.  There was also the locker room issues in which Lindros was front and center.  The Avalanche ended up with a young Peter Forsberg (pictured above), trade bait they used to acquire Patrick Roy and a Stanley Cup.

February 9, 1995: The Flyers trade Mark Recchi and a 3rd-Round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Eric Desjardins, John LeClair and Gilbert Dionne.

Although this trade didn’t correlate to a Stanley Cup, it was a fantastic deal for the Flyers, especially considering Recchi would rejoin the team a few years later.  For over a decade, Desjardins was the Flyers’ best defenseman.  Before injuries got the better of him, Desjardins was a consistent 40-50 pt. blue liner.  Along with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg, LeClair formed the Legion of Doom line, one of the most physical and productive lines in team history.  LeClair became the first American-born player in the NHL to record 3 consecutive 50-goal seasons and ranks 5th in team history with 333 goals in a Flyers uniform.

August 20, 1997: The Flyers trade Mikael Renberg and Karl Dykhuis to the Tampa Bay Lightening for 1st-Round picks in ’98, ’99, ’00 and ’01.  With those picks the Flyers chose: Simon Gagne, Maxime Oullet, Justin Williams and Tim Gleason (who was transferred to Ottawa).

By breaking up the Legion of Doom, the Flyers acquired a stockpile of draft picks that resulted in Simon Gagne and Justin Williams.  As a rookie, Gagne scored 20 goals, added 28 assists and was named to the NHL All-Rookie team.  He made the All-Star team in his second season, but his career really took off after the lockout when he played with Forsberg and Knuble on the Dueces Wild line.  Gags was always one of the most offensively skilled players on the team until 3 concussions in 5 months and then a hernia injury shut him down and eventually led to him being traded in 2010.  Justin Williams was another offensively talented winger who, in my opinion, was traded away a bit too early.

January 23, 2000: The Flyers trade Rod Brind’Amour, Jean-Marc Pelletier and a 2nd-round pick to Carolina for Keith Primeau and a 5th-Round pick.

At the time, getting rid of Rod-the-Bod was gut-wrenching.  He was one of the true good-guys: hard-working, professional, passionate.  But the guy we got in return gave us one of the most memorable playoff goals of all time and 4 years later, he gave us the most dominant playoff performance in Flyers history.  In the 2000 Eastern Conference Semis, Primeau did this to Pittsburgh in the 5th OT of Game Four.  And then in 2004, he was a man on fire.  To say that Primeau carried the Flyers during the run to the Eastern Conference Finals is an understatement; he scored 9 clutch goals and 16 points during the 18 postseason games.  They aren’t called the “Primeau Playoffs” for nothing.

February 15, 2007: Flyers trade Peter Forsberg to the Nashville Predators for Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, a 3rd-Round pick, and a 1st-Round pick that was subsequently traded back to the Predators for Kimmo Timonen and Scottie Hartnell.

When this trade was made, Forsberg’s career was just about over.  The 17 games he managed to play for the Predators wasn’t worth nearly what the Flyers got in return.  Timonen is as smart as they come and is captain material (he was Nashville’s at the time of the trade).  Hartnell has proven to be a contributor in addition to being an agitator.  At the time, Ryan Parent and Scottie Upshall were young players with a ton of upside.  Of all the trades on the list, this one may be the most lopsided in favor of the Fly-guys.

February 24, 2007: The Flyers send Alexei Zhitnik to the Atlanta Thrashers for Braydon Coburn.

The Thrashers brought in the Russian-born defenseman for playoff experience late in ’07 season.  Not a good move.  Zhitnik’s contract was bought out less than a year later and he returned to Russia.  Coburn, on the other hand, has developed into one of the better skating defenseman and can provide offense when called upon.  Coburn shined during the 2010 playoffs.

June 26, 2009: The Flyers trade Joffrey Lupol, Luca Sbisa two 1sts and a 3rd to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle.

In the summer of ’09 the Flyers again traded away youth for veteran leadership.  In addition to the picks, Lupol was 25 and and Sbisa was just 19.  Although he battled through injuries this year, Pronger was a stud in the 2010 season that ended in the Stanley Cup Finals.  The 36-year-old almost never makes a poor decision and provides the grit and leadership along the blue-line and in the locker room that will most likely have him wearing the “C” come October.

H/T to flyershistory.com, which lists every trade in franchise history.


Reason No. 437 for Hating the NY Mets: Jimmy Piersall

Mets center-fielder Jimmy Piersall set the gold standard for showing up the opposing pitcher, and he did so against the Phillies.

On June 23, 1963, the Phillies faced the Mets at Forbes Field.  Jimmy Piersall led off the bottom of the 5th inning with a home run against Dallas Green to put the Mets up 2-0.  The ball was little more than a pop-fly that just cleared the right field wall   It happened to be Piersall’s 100th career homer; and Piersall happened to be certifiable.  Instead of simply trotting around the bases and quietly celebrating the milestone, Piersall did what he vowed to do:  He circled the bases running backwards.

Duke Snider had hit his 400th career earlier in the season and Piersall didn’t think Snider received enough attention for the feat.  He wanted to make sure his 100th got noticed, and he even practiced the backwards trot.  When he was interviewed about his celebration after the game, he said “I did it good too.  I even shook hands with the coach on third base.”

The stunt didn’t amuse Commissioner Ford Frick.  Although he didn’t reprimand Piersall, he warned that if he ever did it again, “He’ll hear about it.  But then he probably won’t hit another 100 so the subject won’t come up.”  Casey Stengal, the Mets manager at the time, didn’t approve either.  He cut Piersall just two days later.