Part of the fun of being a baseball fan is the knowledge that otherwise ordinary players sometimes become legends overnight. Howard Ehmke was one of those players. Though he had been a very effective pitcher for the Red Sox in the early 1920s, by 1929 he had run out of steam, and Connie Mack was ready to let him go that August. But the 35-year old sidewinder convinced the Tall Tactician that he had one more great game left in his arm, and he remained on the roster.
Mack shocked the baseball world when he went with Ehmke as his starter before Game 1 of the 1929 World Series against the Cubs. Even Al Simmons was reported to have said to Mack when he saw Ehmke warm up, “Are you going to pitch him?” It was one of the greatest hunches in baseball history. Ehmke mowed down the Cubs right-handed heavy lineup, striking out 13 and leading the A’s to a 3-1 win (You can read the full story here). They would go on to win the Series in 5 games. Only three pitchers have ever struck out more than 13 in the 84 Fall Classics since then.
That winter, he decided to approach Mack with an idea. Baseball fields turned into such a mess when it started to rain, Ehmke thought it would be a good idea to maintain the integrity of the infield by spreading a large canvas tarpaulin over the diamond when it started to rain. Mack decided to invest in the company. It paid off. Both the tarp and Ehmke Manufacturing were born, and the company still operates out of Northeast Philadelphia (though they now make military gear instead of baseball gear).
In honor of Ehmke’s 120th birthday, take 20% off of this Philadelphia A’s shirt by using the discount code Ehmke on Shibesports.com.
I’ve been away from here for a minute but with a good reason that I think most of you will be quite excited about…I’m teaming with Phillies Nation to do a Philly Dream Series between the 1929 A’s and the 2008 Phillies! That’s right, instead of recreating a Series like I did here the past two years with the 1911 World Series and the 1929 World Series, we’ve decided to create our own Series. We’ve done it by running the two teams through a sim called Whatifsports.com. We’re going to have pregame videos, box scores, postgame writeups and some other really fun stuff, as the games will take place on the same days as the actual World Series (Game 1 is Wednesday). Really excited to take this goofy little idea to the next level and to a larger crowd, and I certainly hope you faithful fans of the site who followed my last two Series will come along as well. This is gonna be a heck of a lot of fun.
1990 had not been a particularly memorable year for Terry Mulholland. He was 6-6 with a 4.34 ERA on the season, and as he took the Vet Stadium mound on August 15th against a Giants team led by Will Clark and Matt Williams, he didn’t feel particularly great.
“It wasn’t a great warmup,” Mulholland said. “I didn’t throw more than a handful of balls over the plate. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the way I was pitching.”
But once the umpire yelled “Play Ball!” it was quickly apparent that he had something special. He struck out the first two batters, and mowed down the Giants lineup through the first six innings, with not a single Giant reaching first base.
Mulholland’s family, who were watching from their home in Uniontown, PA with Terry’s maternal grandparents, could feel the excitement rising. “We stayed with that tradition of not saying ‘no-hitter’” Terry’s father said. “We’re not even superstitious, but baseball players do it that way in the dugout, so we did too.”
Then, in the top of the 7th, a minor blemish. Charlie Hayes scooped up a Rich Parker grounder and threw it erratically to first. The throw pulled Kruk off the bag, and an error was charged to Hayes. Still, Mulholland had his no-hitter intact, and he enticed Dave Anderson to ground into a double play, eliminating Parker, then covered the bag on a grounder to Krukker to end the inning.
By that point, the crowd of 32, 156 at the Vet was going wild. The Phils had taken a comfortable 6-0 lead, so the only drama left was whether or not Mulholland would get his no-no. He goaded three Giants in the 8th to hit lazy fly balls into the outfield, and he was three outs away from becoming the first Phillie to throw a no-hitter in front of a home crowd since Red Donahue had shut down the Boston Beaneaters at the Baker Bowl in 1898.
Pinch hitter Bill Bathe led off the 9th by grounding out to Charlie Hayes. Then Juan Uribe sent a weak dribbler to short. Out #2. Up to the plate stepped a pinch hitter, future Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Mulholland quickly ran the count to 1-2. The crowd began to chant “TER-RY! TER-RY!” Mulholland began to feel the pressure, and took a timeout to gather his thoughts. “My right leg was beginning to feel kind of wobbly,” he said later. “I didn’t feel 100 percent behind the next pitch, so I huddled with myself.”
Two pitches later, Carter sent a screamer down the third base line, at the man whose earlier error had spoiled the perfect game. “It was a hard shot down the line,” Mulholland said. “I couldn’t tell if it was going to be fair or foul and [Hayes] didn’t have time to make that decision.” Hayes shot his left glove arm across his body, and reeled in the rope (You can watch the play here). It was done. Terry Mulholland had pitched the first no-hitter in Vet Stadium history, against the team that had traded him to the Phils less than a year earlier.
”You can’t realize what went through my mind when he caught that ball. It was such a rush of emotion. I’m not usually an emotional guy, but I knew the significance of that.”
Meanwhile, back in Uniontown, his parents were soaking it all in. “We all just looked at the zeros,” said the senior Terry Mulholland, “and said, ‘Isn’t that great?’”
Pat Gillick is a hero in this town because they won a title under his watch. But it is certainly worth noting that the vast majority of that team was signed by Ed Wade. The only major players on that team brought in by Gillick were Jamie Moyer, Jayson Werth, and Brad Lidge (well, unless you count Matt Stairs as a major part of that team). In 2006, he traded Bobby Abreu for a bag of baseballs. Furthermore, Gillick nearly derailed the team in 2007 when he made one of the worst trades in Phillies history, one that still carries repercussions today.
As the Phils headed into the 2007 season, their front office and fans were dogged by the frustration a team feels when it keeps coming tantalizingly close to the post-season. In 2006, they missed it by three games. In 2005, they missed it by one. So they knew they were close, and thought that a front line pitcher would get them over the top. Enter the vastly overrated Freddie Garcia, coming off a season in which he had won 17 games, but had a bloated ERA of 4.53 (To show how worthless wins are to gauge a pitcher, last year Cliff Lee had 6 wins and a 3.16 ERA). Nonetheless, the Phils thought he could be the staff ace they needed to get them over the hump, and so they decided that he was worth two blue chippers, Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez. Garcia was signed to a one year, $10 million contract, then went out on the field and completely bombed, going 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA. Of course, the numbers were so bad because he was hiding a shoulder injury from the team. After giving up 6 runs and recording 4 outs in a loss to Kansas City in June, he was sent to the DL. He never pitched for the Phillies again.
Now, a Freddie Garcia for Gavin Floyd trade would have been bad enough. Floyd was no superstar, but the numbers he put up from 2008-2010 would have made him a fine back of the rotation pitcher. But it was the other pitcher that makes Gillick look
like a dope, and has to make you wonder if the Phillies would have felt the need to spend so lavishly on starting pitchers at the expense of the bullpen and hitting the past few years. Gio Gonzalez is a full fledged stud, and unlike current Phils pitchers is both young and signed to an incredibly generous deal for the Nationals (5 years, $42 million.) He has been essentially unhittable since 2010, putting up numbers very similar to Cliff Lee’s for about a third of the price, and Gio was #3 in NL Cy Young voting last year. The only scratch on his record is his connection to Biogenesis, which could result in a lengthy suspension in the near future.
It is worth noting that the White Sox blew it just as bad as the Phils did with Gonzalez…after receiving him so generously from Philadelphia, they turned around and traded him to Oakland for Nick Swisher, who lasted one year in Chicago and batted .219.
With the trade deadline coming up (and the Phils hopefully selling), I thought we’d look at a few terrible trades in team history. I’ve already covered a few, but I’m gonna cover a couple more and then make a list of the worst five trades in Phils history.
It’s just incredible how many times the Phils have been raked over the coals by the Cubs. There was the infamous Ryne Sandberg trade, there was the awful Ferguson Jenkins trade, and just as awful as those two was when the Phillies traded away one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history to the Cubbies for a man named Pickles and a few bucks.
In 1915, Alexander established himself as a pitcher on the same level as Walter Johnson. His season is almost incomprehensible to the modern fan. He went an amazing 31-10 with an unbelievable 1.22 ERA. The next year he went 33-12 with a 1.55 ERA. In 1917, he went 30-13 with a 1.83 ERA. An incredible run of seasons, and Alexander had established himself as one of the greatest players in the game. So what did the Phils do? They traded him (and his highly regarded batterymate “reindeer” Bill Killifer) for practically nothing.
They had their reasons. The US had just been dragged into World War I, and the Phils assumed Alexander would be drafted, so they traded him to the Cubs for Pickles Dillhoefer, Mike Prendergrast, and $55,000. Alexander did indeed get drafted by the Army, and fought on the front lines. The horrifying experience left him deaf in his left ear, injured his arm, left him with epilepsy, and
caused him to drink heavily. Even so, he dominated for two years with the Cubs after the war, and remained a decent pitcher into the 1920s. However, his drinking became a major issue, and in 1925 the Cubs sent him off to the Cardinals. He was a World Series hero for the Cards in 1926, and had a few more decent seasons before hanging them up in 1930. He would win a total of 183 games after leaving the Phillies.
As for Pickles and Prendegrast? They were non-entities. Pickles would play a total of 8 games for the Phils, batting .091. Prendegrast would last just over a season, going 13-15, with a 3.20 ERA. And even worse than the trade itself, it kicked off an era in futility that has never been matched in pro sports, and probably never will be again. After finishing in 2nd place in 1917, they slipped to 6th place in 1918 without Alexander. They would fall to last place in 1919. It was a position they would get comfortable with…they finished last or next to last in 24 of the next 27 seasons. They finished over .500 in one of those 27 seasons. The Grover Cleveland trade started a freefall which continued downhill for the next generation. Pickles Dillhoefer wouldn’t be around to see the downfall his trade to the Phillies hastened. He died of typhoid in 1922.
DICK BARTELL (SS-1933). Tremendously underrated shortstop of the 1930s, “Rowdy Richard” Bartell is ranked the 38th best shortstop in baseball history by thebaseballpage.com, and yet I have barely heard of him (though he is involved in one of my favorite photos in baseball history). He and Chuck Klein were the only two Phillies to play in the very first All-Star game, in 1933. Dick was the type of player Philly loves, running hard on every grounder, and he was hated in Brooklyn for the way he threw his spikes in the air when he slid into base. The Phillies traded him to the Giants in 1934. In 1940, he became a goat for the Tigers, when in Game 7, with the team holding a 1-0 lead, he caught a relay throw from the outfield with a slow runner just rounding third. For reasons that have never been understood, he froze with the ball, despite his teammates yelling at him to throw it home. The Reds scored another run and won Game 7, 2-1.
PINKY WHITNEY (3B-1936). Another of the most underrated Phillies of all time, Pinky was a hard hitting third baseman for the Phils in the 1920s and 30s, and part of that 1930 team we love so much. His .341 BA in 1937 was 4th best in the league. He made only one All-Star team, and that was in 1936. He was also a fine fielder, and Phillies Nation has his ranked as the #47th best Phillie of all time.
HERSH MARTIN (OF-1938). Hersh was a career minor leaguer who finally got the call up to the bigs at age 28. He made the most of it, and in 1938 he was the only Phillie selected to the All-Star game, after batting .335 in the first half of the season. He cooled off a bit in the 2nd half, finishing the year at .298. He played two more years with the Phils, then was demoted back to the minors (strangely, when you consider that the Phillies were hardly better than a minor league team at the time). He was called back up by the Yankees during the War, and batted .302 in 1944.
DANNY LITWHILER (OF-1942). 1942 was a big year for Danny Litwhiler. He was the first regular major leaguer to have an error free season, which may have had something to do with the fact that he was the first player to stitch all 5 of the fingers of a glove together (That glove is on display in the Baseball Hall of Fame). It was also his first and only All-Star game appearance, as he was the Phils lone representative in the midst of yet another awful year. He was a hustler and a scrapper, and his tenaciouness paid off, as the Cardinals took him off of the awful Phillies and placed him on a winner the next season.
WOODIE FRYMAN (P-1968). Fryman got off to a torrid start for the Phils in 1968, opening the year 10-5 with a 1.61 ERA. That earned him a spot on the All-Star team, the only Phillie to make the team that year. He didn’t get a shot to show his stuff in the game, however. 8 years later, while a member of the Expos, he again made the All-Star team, he was again the team’s only representative, and once again did not take the hill. After finally retiring from baseball in 1983 he returned to his tobacco farm in Kentucky.
Jacoby Ellsbury made an ass out of the Phillies last night, swiping five bags, and in the process setting a team record. It was also the most the Phillies have ever given up to one player in a game. But there is a Phillie who has done even better, and a member of the Philadelphia A’s who did better twice in a two week time frame!
One of the all-time great Phillies is Billy Hamilton, a member of the 1894 Phillies outfield that had 3 players (Hamilton, Ed Delahantey, and Sam Thompson) each hit over .400, and yet still finished 3rd in the NL.
On August 31, 1894, the Phils took on the hapless Washington Senators, on their way to a 11th place finish. Bill Wynne took the hill for his first (and last) Major League start. Behind the plate was back-up catcher Dan Dugdale. Hamilton made their lives a living hell, taking advantage of the inexperienced pitcher and a catcher whose career would be over a month later, and swiped seven bases (2nd base four times and 3rd base three times), still tied for an MLB record. The Phils won easily, 11-5. It was hardly an anomaly, as Hamilton would steal 100 on the season, leading the league. He would finish his career with 914 stolen bases, still good for 3rd all time after Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock. He’d end his career with a .344 batting average as well, and be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961. His 7 steals in a game tie him with George Gore of the Chicago White Stockings, who did it in 1881.
Only 4 different players have stolen 6 bases in a game. Carl Crawford did it in 2009, Eric Young did it in 1996, and Otis Nixon did it in 1991. But remarkably, Philadelphia A’s superstar Eddie “Cocky” Collins did it twice…in 12 days! The first time was on September 11th, 1912, against the Detroit Tigers. On September 22nd, he did it again, this time against the Red Sox. He’d finish the season with 63 steals. Despite being the greatest 2nd baseman in Philadelphia baseball history, these days Collins is probably better known as the “honest” guy on the 1919 Black Sox.
With Yu Darvish having his perfect game broken up with two outs in the 9th on Tuesday night, I thought we’d take a look at all no-hitters broken up with 2 outs in the 9th involving Philly teams. We’ll start with games that Phillies and A’s pitchers lost no-nos in the 9th, then later we’ll look at games in which Philly hitters broke up no-hitters.
April 14th, 1915. Herb Pennock (A’s) vs the Boston Red Sox. This game is particularly notable because it came on Opening Day. The Kennett Square native Pennock (above) mowed down the Red Sox for 8 2/3 innings. Then with two outs in the 9th, up came Harry Hooper. The young Philly lefty reared back, fired, and Hooper hit a bouncer just to the left of the mound. Pennock could have grabbed it, but decided to let his 2nd baseman Nap Lajoie do the honors. Lajoie tried to bare hand it, could not, and Hooper made it to first with a single. Pennock had to settle for a one-hit shutout. It would be the highlight of the disastrous 1915 campaign, not made any better when Mack released Pennock, who was quickly scooped up by those same Red Sox. With the Sox and later the Yankees, Pennock went on to a Hall of Fame career. Mack called releasing him the biggest mistake he ever made.
June 5, 1915. Grover Cleveland Alexander (Phillies) vs the St. Louis Cardinals. Less than 2 months after Pennock’s no-no was spoiled, the great Grover Cleveland lost one as well. With two outs in the 9th, light hitting Arthur Butler, a career .241 hitter, punched a single off of Alexander. It was to be a dominant campaign for the great right hander, as he would throw four one-hitters that season (still an MLB record), a season that ended with the Phillies in the World Series against the same Red Sox team Pennock nearly no-hit on Opening Day. Incredibly, the two best pitchers in Phillies history (Steve Carlton and Alexander) threw a combined 11 one-hitters and zero no-hitters in their careers.
So there were two near no-hitters for Philly pitchers within two months of each other and there hasn’t been a single one since in the next 98 years. Baseball is a funny game. But there is one honorable mention, for a guy who pulled off a reverse Yu Darvish. On May 13th, 1954, Robin Roberts gave up a homer to Bobby Adams of the Cincinnati Redlegs to lead off the game. Roberts then mowed down the next 27 guys in order and the Phils won the game 8-1. Another Robin Roberts near no-hitter fun fact: In 1963, while a member of the Orioles, he faced off against Gary Peters of the White Sox. Peters threw a one-hitter, and Roberts had the only hit. It is believed to be the only time a pitcher has had the only hit of a one-hitter. Roberts also once lost a no-hitter with one out in the 9th, but never with two outs.
Ok, now let’s look at no-hitters Philly batters broke up in the 9th.
July 9th, 1890. George Meakim (Louisville Colonels) vs A’s (A different A’s franchise, not the one founded in 1901). With two outs in the 9th, 38 year old George “Orator” Shafer (pictured right) broke up Meakim’s no-hit bid. Orator got his nickname because he talked so much, talking to himself when no-one else was around to listen. Meakim would never come close to another no-hitter, winning 15 games in his short career.
July 23rd, 1896. Cy Young (Cleveland Spiders) vs. Phillies. With two outs in the 9th, Cy Young was one out away from his first ever no-hitter. Unfortunately for him, the man stepping into the batters box was none other than Big Ed Delahanty, who would bat .397 on the year. Delahanty connected on a Young pitch for a clean single, and Young would have to wait another year to collect his first career no-no. You can learn more about his first no-hitter in this pretty cool video.
June 4th, 1908. George “Hooks” Wiltse (NY Giants) vs. Phillies. Right up there with the Armando Galarraga game in terms of controversial perfect games blown. Wiltse had a perfect game going through 8 innings, and the first two Phillies went down meekly in the 9th. Up stepped Phillies pitcher George McQuillan, who was having quite a day at the office as well: he had a shutout going. Wiltse ran the count to 1-2 and then unloaded a strike right down the middle of the plate. Unfortunately for Wiltse, home plate umpire Cy Rigler choked and called it a ball. Shaken, Wiltse hit McQuillan with the next pitch. He calmed down, got the 3rd out, and the game went into extras. In the 10th, the Giants pushed a run across, Wiltse took down the side 1-2-3, keeping his no-hitter intact, though not his perfect game. Rigler later admitted he blew the call, and sent Wiltse cigars for years to try to atone for it.
May 6th, 1918. Dan Griner (Brooklyn Dodgers) vs. Phillies. One look at Griner’s stats, and it’s amazing people didn’t discount wins way before they did. The righty had a perfectly decent 3.49 career ERA, and yet a record of 28-55. On this day, Griner (pictured, left) took the hill for Brooklyn, having not won a game since 1915. In 1916 he was used only in relief, in 1917 he didn’t play at all, and he started 1918 with an 0-3 record. But on this day, he finally seemed to be destined for his moment in the sun. He shut down the Phillies through 8 2/3, and who should come to the plate but our old friend Gavvy Cravath? Cravath cracked a single, spoiling the no-no. Griner did settle down and retire the next batter, however, and get the win. It would be the final win of his Major League career. Griner would be dropped from the team a month later. You can see the box score of that game here.
July 18th, 1972. Steve Arlin (San Diego Padres) vs. the Phillies. After Johan Santana threw that no-hitter last year, the Padres became the answer to the trivia question: what’s the only franchise in baseball to have never thrown a no-hitter? Well, the closest they ever came was in this game in 1972, against the woeful Phillies. That Phillies team is famous for one reason: Steve Carlton won 27 of their 59 games. On this day, Arlin, who had been drafted by the Phillies in 1966, mowed down the Phils easily. With two outs in the 9th, up came Denny Doyle, a career .250 hitter. Arlin quickly ran the count to 1-2. The following comes from an article in Sports Illustrated last year:
That’s when first-year Padres manager Don Zimmer thought Doyle, a lefthanded hitting second baseman, was going to bunt. Zimmer signaled from the dugout to have third baseman Dave Roberts move up about eight feet on the grass.
Doyle, connecting on an inside slider, hit a ball that bounced over Roberts’ head — a ball that he would have been able to field had he been playing in his normal position. Padres shortstop Enzo Hernandez couldn’t make the play.
Arlin gave up a hit to the next batter, too, before closing out the 5-1 win. To this day, he’s still ticked about it.
“It was a case of Zimmer over-managing,” Arlin says. “Zimmer wasn’t the sharpest nail in the toolbox. He was growing into the job, but we knew he (Doyle) wasn’t going to bunt with two strikes. And he never bunted in his life.
“Roberts knew he shouldn’t have been playing in. He took a couple of steps back, but Zimmer waved him in again. If Roberts were back in his regular position, it would have been an easy play. I wasn’t happy. Everything was working.”
After the game, Zimmer knew that he’d made a mistake so came up to Arlin and handed him a razor blade, and “told me to go ahead and use it on him.”
August 3, 1990. Doug Drabek (Pirates) vs the Phillies. Although the game was in the Vet, by the 9th inning, the home crowd was cheering hard for a no-hitter. After all, it was far more likely than the Phils making up the 11-0 deficit they were in. After Drabek retired Charlie Hayes on a grounder to short and Ricky Jordan swinging, up stepped Campusano, who had replaced Lenny Dykstra in the 7th inning. Drabek ran the count to 3-2. Campusano carried the next pitch to right center and the no-no was over. The home crowd booed, which upset the Phillies. Said Tom Herr, “It’s kind of frustrating when the fans are rooting against the home team.”
“I knew (Campusano) was a good fastball hitter. I went inside, but not far enough and he burned me. I wanted (the no-hitter). When you get that close and you don’t get it, it’s hard.”
I’m sure Yu Darvish knows exactly how he feels.
(hat tip to mikeespress.com, where there was a list of all of these game. Incredible work by those guys putting their list together.)
In 1980, the fiery Dallas Green led the Philadelphia Phillies to their first ever World Series title. Just over a year later, Green was taken from the Phils, as the Chicago Cubs hired him to be their GM. He immediately went to work, firing Chicago fan favorites and bringing in Phillies players such as Keith Moreland, Dickie Noles, and Dan Larsen. But it was on January 27th, 1982, that the most memorable trade between the Phillies and the Cubs took place. The end result was the worst trade ever in a long Phillies history of terrible trades.
As soon as he ascended to the GM position, Green recognized that the Cubs needed some veteran leadership, and called his old friend Bill Giles in the Phillies front office. Phillies President Giles and Bowa were locked in a tense contract dispute, with Bowa wanting a 3-year extension and Giles (and GM Paul Owen) loathe to give so many years to a shortstop who was already 36-years old. Furthermore, the Phillies had two young shortstops waiting in the wings who were expected to take over at short in the near future. They were Luis Aguayo and Ryne Sandberg (above left).
By early January, rumors of an impending deal began to appear in the papers. In an interview on Philadelphia radio on January 7th, an angry Bowa said that the trade with the Cubs then being discussed by the two front offices would send him, Dick Davis, and Luis Aguayo to the Cubs for the all-glove no-bat Ivan DeJesus and a pitcher named Bill Caudill. DeJesus would essentially be a cheaper and slightly younger placeholder than Bowa until Sandberg came up, while also shoring up the defense.
But though the trade seemed imminent at that time, it wouldn’t be completed for another three weeks. Why? Because Dallas Green didn’t want Aguayo. He wanted the other young Phillies shortstop. The following comes from an interview with Green in the book Almost a Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the 1980 Phillies:
“Ivan DeJesus was a proven-and marketable-shortstop. At first the Phillies tried to keep Ryne Sandberg from us. But I insisted on him if I was to make the deal. I think the Phillies knew Ryne was a good athlete. They just had no place to play him for two or three years. They were going for a pennant and there was some skepticism that he could play shortstop in the majors. Schmidt was at third. I always thought Ryne could play center field, but Maddox was there. The Phillies never really thought of him as a second baseman and besides Trillo was already there.”
On January 27th, Green finally convinced the Phillies to part with Sandberg instead of Aguayo, and the trade went through. The papers paid little attention to Sandberg. After all, the young shortstop had hit a paltry .167 in 1981 in 13 games played for the Phils. He was good, but most people saw him as a throw in on the deal. Bowa (right) realized his potential, however. When told that the “throw-in” was Sandberg, Bowa responded, “Well then, I was the guy they threw in because Sandberg is going to be a great player.” Those were the only kind words Bowa had to say about the deal, as he lashed out at the Phillies front office, telling the Daily News that the Phillies had once been like a family, but “That all changed when Giles took over. It’s all corporate now. No more family.”
Furious at the Phils, Bowa decided to get back at them by helping to groom Sandberg into a star. Again from the excellent book above, Cubs teammate Dickie Noles talks about Bowa and Sandberg.
“Ryne and Bowa were inseperable. They were at the ballpark before anyone else, working their tails off, taking ground balls, hitting, working the double play. I think Bowa also loosened him up a bit. Ryne was a real quiet guy. But Bowa got him to come out of his shell, to talk a little trash. He gave him a little cockiness, but in a good way.”
By 1984, Ryne Sandberg was the best 2nd baseman in baseball, and was named NL MVP that year. He would go to the All-Star game 10 times and win the Gold Glove 9 times. His career .989 fielding percentage is the best ever for an MLB 2nd baseman. He is universally acknowledged as one of the best 10 2nd baseman in MLB history.
Ivan DeJesus turned out to be OK. He played for the Phils for three years, and it must be noted that his excellent defense did help the team make the 1983 World Series. And Luis Aguayo, the shortstop the Cubs didn’t want? He turned out to be…adequate is perhaps the kindest term, a utility player for the Phils for 9 years. As Whitey succinctly put it during one game during Aguayo’s tenure in Philadelphia: “Luis Aguayo is on deck. Aguayo hasn’t exactly been reminding anybody of Rogers Hornsby lately.”
Remarkably, most of these men’s futures would all also be tied in somehow to the Phillies. Sandberg has of course become manager of the team. Bowa was their manager from 2001-2004, and was just named bench coach. Green would later return to the Phils’ front office as a senior advisor. And Luis Aguayo was the New York Mets third base coach in 2008, the year they collapsed in September and blew it against the Philadelphia Phillies.
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For 13 long years, Buzz Arlett toiled in the minors, putting up incredibly gaudy numbers as both a pitcher and a hitter. Major league teams came calling, but his team, the Oakland Oaks, wanted far more money for his services (minor league teams used to sell their players to the Majors) than any team was ready to spend. And so, year after year, he destroyed Pacific Coast League pitching, setting a record for most home runs in the minor leagues that still stands today and regularly hitting in the high .300s. Finally, in 1931, the pitiful Philadelphia Phillies decided to pay the money and give him a shot.
He started the 1931 season on fire, and after six weeks, he was leading the majors with a .385 average and had already hit 11 homers. Fans at the Baker Bowl had something to cheer about for the first time since 1915. But he hurt his leg while sliding, then broke his thumb in June. His defense, always a liability, had certainly not improved with age and injuries, and he made regular blunders in the field. He would finish the season with a .313 average, 18 homers, and 72 RBIs. Despite those numbers, the Phillies decided to waive him, and he was claimed by minor league giants the Baltimore Orioles, where he played for several more years. He would play in the minors until 1937, never again getting a cup of coffee in the pros. In 1984, SABR named him the greatest minor league ballplayer of all time.