When you finish 52–102, 40 games out of first place, there is no joy in Mudville. Yes, that’s the capsule of the 1930 Phillies. What went wrong? Well, here are the unattractive details.

Offensively, that team set six franchise records that still stand for a season, most runs (944), hits (1,783), singles (1,268), doubles (345), runs batted in (884) and batting average (.315). They were recognized at the time as the greatest hitting team in modern baseball.

They also set four records that haven’t been matched on the mound. Brace yourself. Most runs allowed (1,119), earned runs (1,204), hits (1,993) and ERA (6.70). Yep, 6.70. The pitchers had some help from the defense, 239 errors, led by shortstop Tommy Thevenow’s career-high 56.

Not surprising, the Phils were last in attendance, 299,077.

Surprisingly, manager Burt Shotton, lasted the season. Heck, he managed the Phils from 1928–33, surviving a 43–109 rookie season.

The 1930 season overall is known as the best rabbit-ball season. The National League hit .303 and had nine players bat over .350. Bill Terry won the batting title (.401). Five of the Phillies starting eight batted over .313.

Critics were quick to point out the dimensions of Baker Bowl as the culprit for the unearthly Phillies numbers: 280 feet to the right field foul pole, 300 feet to right-center, a 50-foot high right field wall. The leading hitters, Chuck Klein and Lefty O’Doul, hit from the left side. As a team, .344 at home and .286 on the road. Yet, 35 of their 52 wins came at home despite a 7.18 ERA.

One Philadelphia sportswriter wrote, “The Phillies use Lifeboy soap but still stink.

Tidbits RF Klein had a monster year, .386 (3rd in NL), 158 runs (1st), 250 hits (2nd), 59 doubles (1st), 40 home runs (2nd), 170 RBI (2nd), 50 strikeouts in 722 plate appearances. There’s more: He had TWO 26-game hitting streaks. In between, he hit safely in 19 of 23 games. Overall, that’s 71 out of 75 games, a .425 average. That’s insane.

LF O’Doul, .383 (4th in NL), 122 runs, 37 doubles, 22 home runs, 97 RBI. He was the 1929 NL batting champion, .398.

3B Pinky Whitney, .342, 117 RBI, 41 doubles. That average is the highest for any Phillies third baseman…..ever.

RHP Phil Collins was the only pitcher among 14 on the staff with a winning record, 16–11. Nicknamed Fidgety-Phil because of his nervous traits on the mound. Oddly, nickname is inscribed on his tombstone.

LHP Les Sweetland was the team’s ERA leader, ignominiously, 7.71 (7–15 record). He opened the season pitching a 3-hit, 1–0 shutout at Brooklyn. It went downhill from there.

Two Phillies greats ended their careers. RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander was 0–3 and last pitched on May 28. OF Cy Williams hit .421 in 21 games without any home runs. His last game, September 22.

Nearby Over at Shibe Park, it was a totally opposite story for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s . . . 102–52 American League Champions . . . 4–2 World Series winners over the St. Louis Cardinals . . . 721,663 attendance, second best in the A.L.


Text originally published at “Phillies Insider” on August 6, 2020 as “90 years ago” and republished here by permission of the author.

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