In 1883, Philadelphia, along with New York, would rejoin the eight-teams National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or the National League, after the 1876 editions of both clubs, in the league’s first season of existence, were both expelled by the league for their refusal to participate in a late season western cities road trip. The new Philadelphia team, nicknamed the Quakers, would be brought into existance by former professional ballplayer and sporting goods manufacturer Al Reach, and his partner, attorney John Rogers, after the two men had successfully won the franchise rights of the now defunct Worcester (Massachusetts) Brown Stockings (also known as the Ruby Legs), which has gone bankrupt in 1882. Reach would become the team’s first president. The team’s first manager would be Bob Ferguson, who was, like Reach, a former professional ballplayer, as well as the former manager of the Troy (New York) Trojans, another disbanded team, whose franchise right would be bought by the New York Gothams (later the New York/San Francisco Giants). The Quakers would play their home games out of Recreation Park, which was located in North Philadelphia between 23rd and 25th Streets and Ridge and Columbia (now Cecil B. Moore) Avenues.
The Phillies’ opponents for its inaugural season, along with fellow newcomer, the New York Gothams, would be, by geographical order: Boston Beaneaters (1876 member); Providence (Rhode Island) Grays (1878 member); Buffalo (New York) Bisons (1879 member); Cleveland Blues (1879 member); Detroit Wolverines (1881 member) and Chicago White Stockings (1876 member). Of the other six teams, only Boston (now in Atlanta) and Chicago, along with the new teams from Philadelphia and New York (now in San Francisco), would still be playing in the National League.
The Quakers’ first game, which was also their first home game, would be played on May 1, 1883 against the Providence Grays. The game would end up as a 4-3 lost to the Grays. The Phillies would then play two more games with the Grays, followed by a three game series at home with the Beaneaters, all loses, including two games in which the opposition would score twenty or more runs against the Quakers, a 24-6 thumping by the Grays on May 3 and a 20-8 defeat by the Beaneaters on May 7, ending the team’s first home stand winless. After losing two straight games on the road to the White Stockings in Chicago, the Quakers would finally get the first victory in Phillies’ history, a 12-1 victory on May 14 against the White Stockings, thus ending the first losing streak in Phillies’ history at eight games. After winning their second victory over the Wolverines in Detroit, for the club’s first winning streak, the Quakers would lose the next two games in the series, quickly followed by a two-game split with the Blues in Cleveland before they would lose their three games series against the Bisons in Buffalo, including the first game in which the Phillies would be unable to score a single run, losing 4-0 on May 25, before winning the last game in the series on May 28, 3-2, thus ending its first road trip at 4-7. But before their next home stand, the Quakers’ manager, Ferguson, with a record of 4-13, would be fired by the owners, thus becoming the first Phillies manager to be let go. He would be quickly replaced by Blondie Purcell, a player on the Quakers’, thus becoming the team’s first player-manager. Sadly, the change in managers would not improve the team’s fortunes, as they would begin their next home stand, on May 30, losing the team’s first doubleheader, dropping both games to the White Stockings by the lopsided scores of 15-8 and 22-4. The team would then end their first month of existance by losing their third game in a row to the White Stockings by the score of 4-3, with a record for the month of 4-16.
June would begin just as badly for the Quakers as it would finish its first four game series by losing to the White Stockings 10-1. During the rest of the home stand, three more four games series with the Wolverines, Blues, and Bisons, the team would go 4-8, which would include the first game in which the Quakers would score 20 or more runs, a 20-4 drubbings of the Wolverines on June 6, which was also the team’s first home victory, as well as the team’s first shut out victory, a 2-0 win against the Bisons on June 14, ending the home stand at 4-12. The team would then go back on the road for two two-games series with the Beaneaters and the Grays and a single game series with the Gothams. The Quakers’ bad fortune would continue as they would lose the first six games of that road trip, including a 29-4 shlacking by the Beaneaters on June 20, before finally gaining another road victory, the team’s first shut out defeat of an opponent on the road, as they would defeat the Grays 4-0 on June 26, before losing the last two games of the road trip. The team would then come home to face the Gothams, losing the game 8-6, thus ending the month of June with a losing record of 5-18 and an overall record of 9-34, last in the league. Also in June, on the ninth, the NL would allow the Quakers to slash its ticket prices down to .25 cents, so that it would be able to compete with the more popular Philadelphia Athletics baseball club of the rival American Association, as the team’s home attendence would increase because of the decrease in ticket price.
In July, things doesn’t get any better for the ballclub, as the Quakers would lose two more games to the Gothams, the first one at Recreation Park, then the other in New York, before they begin a short four games home stand with the Grays and the Beaneaters. After winning a forfeit with the Grays (the actual score was 9-11 Grays) as the Grays had to leave town so that they could play a game with the Gothams in New York on that same day, the Quakers would get swept once again by the Beaneaters, including a game that they would play after the forfeited game with the Grays (both played on July 4). (The forefited game would also be the first series that the Phillies would win in the club’s history.) The Quakers would then spend the rest of the month on another ‘western’ road trip, which would include a five games series (their first) with the Blues, and three straight four games series against the Bisons, the White Stockings and the Wolverines. By the time they finally limp back home on August 4 to face the Gothams, the road trip would be a complete disaster, as they would only win three games of the seventeen games road trip, thus ending the month of July with a 3-17 record, while their overall season record would now be at 12-51, still in last place.
Back home, the Phillies would lose to the Gothams, before heading to New York to lose the next game. After coming back home to gain a victory over their fellow newcomer, they would go back to New York, where they would be swept in two games there. They would then be swept in two straight three games series by both the Beaneaters and the Grays, the two teams who were at this point fighting for the National League pennant. Among these loses would be a 28-0 drubbing at the hands of the Grays on August 21, the most lopsided shut out in the game’s history. The Quakers would then end the month playing three more games with the Gothams (one of which was played at Recreation Park) and two home games with the Grays, losing all five, thus ending the month of August with a 2-17 record and an overall record of 14-68.
The Quakers would spend the rest of the season playing at home, playing seventeen games with the Beaneaters (1), the Grays (1), the Gothams (2), the Blues (3), the Bisons (3), the Wolverines (4) and the White Stockings (3). The Quakers would go 3-13-1 in those games, which would include their third two-games winning streak, as they would win single games with the Grays, winning their second series, and the Gothams, get no-hit on September 13 by Hugh Daly of the Blues, losing 1-0, and be tied for the first time in the team’s history on September 22 with the Wolverines, as the two teams would play that day to a 6-6 tie. The Quakers would end its first season in the National League in last place with a 17-81-1 record, 23 games behind seventh place Detroit and 46 games behind the league’s champion, the Boston Beaneaters.
Against the rest of the league, the team would only have losing records in 1883: Beaneaters (0-14); Grays (3-11); Gothams (2-12); Bisons (5-9); Blues (2-12); Wolverines (3-11-1) and White Stockings (2-12), with its worst record being against the Beaneaters and its best being against the Bisons. They would be 3-7 in shut outs, 2-12 in 1-run games and 4-42 in blowouts.
In a 99 games season, the team would go to the plate a total of 3576 times (6th) while getting only 859 hits (7th) for a team batting average of .240 (8th), a team on-base percentage of .269 (8th) and a team slugging percentage of .320 (8th). The Quakers would score 437 runs (8th) on 299 RBIs. The team would get 181 2Bs (6th), 48 3Bs (6th) and 3 HRs (8th), while also receiving 141 walks (4th) as they struck out 355 (5th) times. Pitching wise, the Quakers had a Team ERA of 5.34 (8th), and in 99 games played, they had 91 complete games (2nd) with 8 other games finished by another pitcher, only 3 (8th) of which would be shut outs. In 864 innings pitched (5th), the team’s pitchers would give up 1267 hits (8th), allow 887 runs (8th) to score of which 513 were earned, give up 20 HRs (6th) and walk 125 batters (5th) and strike out only 253 (8th).
Individually, the team batting leader was Purcell with a .268 batting average, while Jack Manning would lead the team in slugging percentage with .364 and in on-base percentage with .300. Purcell would also lead the team with 425 at-bats, 70 runs scored, 114 hits and 88 singles, while Manning would also lead the team in total at-bats with about 470, 153 total bases, 31 doubles, and 37 RBIs. Other team batting leaders were: Sid Farrar in games played (99); John Coleman and Farrar in triples (8 each); Purcell, Bil McClellan and Emil Gross in home runs (1 each); Bill Harbridge in walks (24) and Coleman in strikeouts (39). In pitching, Coleman would also be the team leader in ERA (4.87), wins (12), loses (48), games pitched (65), innings pitched (538.3), strikeouts (159), games started (61), complete games (59), and shut outs (3).
After the season, Purcell would be replaced as the team’s manager with Harry Wright, another former professional ballplayer, and former manager of the second place Grays, and before that, the manager of the Beaneaters, leading that franchise to NL pennants in 1877 and 1878. It was hoped by both Reach and Rogers that he would turn the team’s fortune around.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com and Baseball-Reference.com