The Phillies would start the 1890 season with a major problem. Before the season even starts, as they start to officially call themselves the Phillies, the club would lose several of its players to the teams of the Players’ League, including a new team that the rebellious league had set up in Philadelphia, the new Philadelphia Quakers. This new team would challenge not only the Phils but also the American Association’s Philadelphia franchise, the Philadelphia Athletics, to see which team would reign surpreme in the Philadelphia baseball world.
As the National League finds itself unable to destroy the upstart league through the courts, as New York Supreme Court Justice Morgan J. O’Brien rules on January 28 in favor of John Montgomery Ward, formerly a star pitcher for the New York Giants and now a Hall of Famer, in his reserve clause case against the league, they decide to destroy it on the playing field, despite losing half of the people who had played for National League teams the previous season before the start of the regular season. The league would set things up so that they would end up playing most of their games on the same day as would the teams of their Players’ League opponents, beginning with opening day, April 19.
The Phillies’ opponents for 1890 would include the two franchises that had joined the National League from the weakening American Association, after the previous season, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and the Cincinnati Reds, replacing the now defunct Washington Nationals and Indianapolis Hoosiers franchises, along with the Beaneaters, the Giants, the Alleghenys, the Spiders and the Chicago franchise, which has before the season changed its nickname from the White Stockings to the Colts. Every member of the league, except for Cincinnati, would face a challenge from a Players’ League franchise, while only Brooklyn and Philadelphia would also face teams from the more friendly American Association. The Phillies would continue to play their home games at the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds, while Harry Wright would begin his seventh season as the team’s manager, trying to see if he can finally pilot the team to a league pennant.
The Phillies would begin their season on the road in April, playing four games against the previous season’s champ, the Giants, and one game against the former American Association champ, the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would win the season opener behind Kid Gleason, defeating the Giants 4-0. They would then lose the next game, 5-3, before winning the four- games series, 3-1, by defeating New York by the scores of 7-3 and 3-1, and landing in a three-way tie for first place with the Beaneaters and the Alleghenys. The Phils would then lose their game with the Bridegrooms, 10-0, ending their road trip with a record of 3-2 and landing in third place, trailing the Beaneaters by a game. They would then go back home to begin an eleven-games home stand with their eastern rivals the Giants (3), the Beaneaters (4) and the Bridegrooms (4). The Phillies would end the month of April by splitting the first two of their three games with the Giants, ending the month with a record of 4-3 while in a three-way tie with the Bridegrooms and Beaneaters for second place, as they all trailed the now leading Colts by half-a-game.
With the start of May, the Phillies would conclude their series with the Giants, winning the final game, and thus winning the series, 3-1, as they would end up in a four-way tie for first place with the Beaneaters, the Colts and the Reds, all four teams a full game ahead of the Alleghenys and the Bridegrooms. The Phils would then sweep their series with the Beaneaters, putting themselves in first place, a game-and-a-half ahead of the second place Colts. The Phillies would then win their sixth game in a row as they would defeat the Bridegrooms in the first game of their four-games series, 6-1. The Phils would then lose their next two games with Brooklyn, before winning the last game of the home stand, and splitting the series 2-2, while winning their home stand, 8-3, still in first place, but now leading the Colts by two full games. The Phils then go to Boston for a one-game series, which they would lose, 14-7, before coming back home for a long twenty-four games series against all of their league opponents that would last the rest of May and the early part of June. The Phillies would begin the home stand by losing their three-games series with the Reds, 1-2, leaving them just a half-game ahead of the Colts, as their western rival come into Philadelphia for a four-games series. The Phils would win the series, 2-1-1, including a suspended final game which had the Colts leading 10-8, which would end up leaving the Phillies still in first place, a game-and-a-half ahead of the Colts, the Bridegrooms and the Giants. The Phils would next face the Alleghenys for four games. They would sweep the series, including a doubleheader sweep on May 28, winning the games by the scores of 12-10 and 7-2, which would leave them still a game-and-a-half ahead of Brooklyn. The Phils would then end the month playing four games with the Spiders, including their second doubleheader of the month, played on May 30. After winning the first game of the series, they would be swept in the doubleheader, losing the two games by the score of 8-4 and 4-1, before winning the final game of the series, thus ending up splitting their series with Cleveland, 2-2. The Phillies would end the month of May with a 17-8 record, and with an overall record of 21-11-1, a game-and-a-half ahead of both the Reds and the Bridegrooms.
The Phillies would start June by winning their series with the Beaneaters, 2-1 and then with the Bridegrooms, also 2-1, before sweeping their three-games series with the Giants, ending the home stand with a winning record of 17-7, leaving them in first, but now only a-half-game ahead of the Reds. The Phillies would then go on the road for seven games with Boston (4) and Brooklyn (3). The Phils would lose the first game in their series with the Beaneaters, 8-5, having their four-games winning streak snapped, before losing the series overall, 1-3. They would then get swept by the Bridegrooms, becoming mired in a five-games losing streak, as they fall into third place, five-and-a-half games behind the Reds. The Phillies would then go back home for a four-games home stand with the Alleghenys. The Phils would win the short home stand 3-1, still in third, but now trailing by three-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go on an eleven-games road trip to Cleveland (4), Chicago (4) and Cincinnati (3) for the rest of the month and the start of July. The Phils would go to Cleveland, winning the series there, 3-1, as they now stood in second place, still three-and-a-half games behind the Reds. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where they would lose the first game of their series with the Colts, thus ending the month with a 13-11-1 record, and an overall record of 34-22-1, falling back into third place, but still three-and-a-half games behind the Reds.
The Phillies would start July off by winning two of their next three games with the Colts, ending the series with a split, before going on to Cincinnati for their first visit to the Queen City on the Ohio. The Phils would win their first road series against the Reds, 2-1, which would include a doubleheader split on July 4th, winning the first game 11-2, and then losing the ‘nightcap’, 7-1, thus ending the road trip with a record of 7-4, still trailing the Reds by three-and-a-half games, tied for second with the Bridegrooms. The Phils would then go back home for a fifteen-games home stand against the Reds, the Spiders, the Alleghenys, the Colts and the Alleghenys again, for five three-games series. The Phillies would start the home stand by winning their series with the Reds, 2-1, leaving them now just two-and-a-half games behind the Reds, while staying in third place. They would then sweep the other four series in their home stand, thus ending the home stand with a 14-1 record, returning to first place, now leading the second place Bridegrooms by two-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go back on the road, for nine games with the Spiders (2), the Colts (3) and the Reds (4). The Phils would begin the road trip by sweeping the Spiders, increasing their winning streak to fifteen games, while increasing their lead over the Bridegrooms to three games. The Phillies would then go to Chicago, where their winning streak would be snapped by the Colts, 12-4, before they ended the series losing it, 1-2, with their lead over Brooklyn shrinking down to two games. The Phillies would then go on to Cincinnati, where they promptly lost the first game of their four-games series to the Reds, ending the month with a 21-6 record and an overall record of 55-28-1, now leading the Bridegrooms by just a game-and-a-half.
The Phils would start the month of August by losing two of three to the Reds, thus losing the series, 1-3, and the road trip with a 4-5 record, now in second place and a game behind the Bridegrooms, as the pennant race starts to heat up. The Phillies would then go back home for a short three-games home stand against the Giants (2) and the Beaneaters (1). The Phils would split their short series with the Giants, 1-1, before losing their game with Boston, ending the homestand, 1-2 and now three games behind Brooklyn, as they remain in second place. The Phillies then go back onto the road for nine games with Boston (2), New York (3) and Brooklyn (4). The Phillies go into Boston, where they are swept by the Beaneaters, dropping them into third, still three games behind Brooklyn. The Phils then go to New York, where they would lose the series to the Giants, 1-2, leaving them four games behind the Bridegrooms, before going into Brooklyn. The Phillies would then fall further behind Brooklyn, as they would lose three of their four games with the Bridegrooms, including a doubleheader lost on the 20, by the lopsided scores of 13-2 and 12-7, ending the road trip with a 2-7 record, now six games behind the first place Bridegrooms, as they fall into fourth place. The Phillies would then return home for a long nineteen-games home stand against all of their opponents for four straight three-games series (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago and Cincinnati), two straight two-games series (Boston and New York) and then a final three-games series with Brooklyn. The Phils would start the home stand by redeeming themselves as they would proceed to sweep first the Alleghenys and then the Spiders, putting them back into third place, now three games behind Brooklyn. They then had a setback as they got swept in turn by the Colts, ending August with a losing record of 10-14, and an overall mark of 65-42-1, in a technical tie for third place with the Reds, six games behind the league leading Bridegrooms.
The Phillies would start September off by spliting a doubleheader with the Reds on the 1, winning the first game, 2-1 and then losing the ‘nightcap’, 8-5, before winning the third game of the series to win the series, 2-1. They would then split their two-games series with the Giants, which was a doubleheader split on the 3, losing the first game, 9-6, then winning the ‘nightcap’, 9-5, leaving them in third place, eight games behind the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would then be swept by the Beaneaters in their two-games series, leaving them now eight and a half games behind Brooklyn, still in third place, as the Bridegrooms come to Philadelphia for three-games, giving the Phils one last chance to make up ground on first place Brooklyn. The Phils would proceed to sweep the Bridegrooms, winning the three games by scores of 4-3, 13-6 and 9-3, ending the home stand with a record of 12-7, now trailing the Bridegrooms by five-and-a-half games. The Phillies would then go on the road for the final time, to play fifteen games in Boston (3), Cincinnati (4), Chicago (2), Pittsburgh (2) and Cleveland (4), for the rest of September and the start of October. The Phillies would start the road trip off by taking two of three from the Beaneaters, leaving them still five-and-a-half games behind Brooklyn and now a game behind the second place Beaneaters. The Philles would then lose three of four to the Reds, watching them stay in third place, six-and-a-half games behind Brooklyn, with only an outside chance to win the pennant. The Phils would then go to Chicago, where they would sweep the Colts, seeing them move up into second place over the Colts, six games behind the Bridegrooms. The Phillies would then go to Pittsburgh, where they would split the two-games series with the Alleghenys, losing the second game by the score of 10-1, thus ending the month with a record of 12-9 and an overall record of 77-51-1, now in third place, seven-and-a-half games behind the Bridegrooms, as Brooklyn clinches the pennant on that same day, September 30, by defeating the Spiders, 4-3 while the second place Colts would lose to the Beaneaters, 6-4.
The Phillies would end the season playing four games in October with the Spiders. After tying the first game, 2-2, they would win the next game, 5-4, before ending the season by being swept in an October 4 doubleheader, losing by the scores of 5-1 and 7-3, ending the month with a record of 1-2-1, the road trip with a record of 7-7-1, and ending the season with a record of 78-53-2, two-and-a-half games behind the second place Colts and nine games behind the league champ, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, so far the only Major League franchise to win a championship two years in a row in two difference leagues (AA 1889, NL 1890).
The Phillies would spend most of the year without their manager as Harry Wright would become blind on May 22. He would not be able to distinguish light from dark for ten days and would not return to manage the Phils until August 6. As Wright recovers, the Phillies would originally replace him with catcher Jack Clements, thus making him the fourth manager in Phillies’ history and the team’s second player-manager. Clements would be at the helm for only nineteen games, compling a record of 12-6-1 for a winning percentage of .667. Phillies co-owner, Al Reach, would replace him as the team’s fifth manager, leading the team for eleven games, compling a losing record of 4-7 for a winning percentage of .364. Reach then replaces himself as the team’s manager with shortstop Bob Allen, making him the team’s sixth manager and the third player-manager in franchise’s history. Allen would remain the team’s leader until Wright’s return, compling a record of 25-10 in thirty-five games, for a winning percentage of .714. Wright would return on August 6, leading the team during the final two-plus months of the pennant race, leading the Phils to its third third place finish, as he compiled a record of 36-31-1 in sixty-eight games, for a winning percentage of .537.
The Phillies would end up playing a total of 133 games, with a home/road split of 54-21-1 at home and 24-32-1 on the road, as 148,366 fans would come to watch them play at home. They would face the Spiders, the Reds and the Beaneaters twenty times each, the Colts and the Allghenys nineteen times, the Bridegrooms eighteen times and the Giants only seventeen times. The Phillies had winning records against four of their opponents, with their best record being against the Alleghenys, as they would go 17-2, followed by the Spiders at 14-5-1. They would have losing records with three teams, with their worst record being against the Bridegrooms, as they went 8-10, followed by both the Beaneaters and the Reds at 9-11. The Phillies would be 9-3 in shut outs, 17-9 in 1-run games and 30-17 in blowouts.
During the season, the Phillies would be either at the top, or near the top, in most offensive categories. The team would be first in doubles (220), batting average (.269) and on-base percentage (.342), second in hits (1267), walks (522), slugging percentage (.364) and stolen bases (335), third in run scored (823) and triples (78), fifth in at-bats (4707), sixth in home runs (23) and strikeouts (403), while also knocking in 631 RBIs, while 64 batters would be hit by the pitch. Meanwhile, the pitchers would also be near the top in most categories. They would be second in saves (2), shut outs (9), innings pitched (1194), home runs allowed (22) and strikeouts (507), fifth in complete games (122), and sixth in ERA (3.32), hits allowed (1210), runs allowed (707), and walks (486), as well as start 133 games, complete eleven games, allowed 440 earned runs, throw 45 wild pitches and commit two balks.
Team offensive leaders for the season would include Billy Hamilton in batting average (.325), on-base percentage (.430), runs scored (133), stolen bases (102), also leading the league in that category, and singles (137), being tied for the league lead with Cliff Carroll of the Chicago Colts. Clements would lead the team in slugging percentage (.472) and home runs (7). Allen would lead in games played (133), walks (87) and strikeouts (54), while being tied with Eddie Burke for triples with 11 each. Sam Thompson would be the team leader in at-bats (549), total plate appearances (599), hits (172), tied for the league lead with Jack Glasscock of the New York Giants, total bases (243), doubles (41), being the league leader, RBIs (102) and extra-base hits (54). Al Myers would lead in hit by the bat by being plunked 10 times.
Pitching wise, 1890 would be the coming out year for Kid Gleason, as he would be the team leader in most pitching categories. He would have the lowest ERA (2.63), win the most games (38, which is still the team’s single season record), highest win-lost percentage (.691), game played (60), saves (2), tied for the lead in that category with Dave Foutz of the Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Bill Hutchison of the Chicago Colts, innings pitched (506), strikeouts (222), games started (55), complete games (54), games finished (5), shutouts (6), hits allowed (479), earned runs allowed (148), while being tied with Tom Vickery for the team lead in home runs allowed (6). Vickery would also lead the team in walks (184), losses (22) and wild pitches (23). The Phils would only have two pitchers who would win twenty or more games, Gleason, setting a club record 38 wins and Vickery with 24.
As the Phillies continue to try to claim their first pennant, the National League Champ, the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, would face the American Association Champ, the Louisville Colonels in a seven-games post-season series, that would end up as a 3-3-1 tie between the two teams. Meanwhile, the Players’ League folds, as the league’s idea of having a revenue sharing-pool between the players would backfire, as the owners of the league’s eight teams are unable to make enough of a profit to stay in business. This would force the owners to sell the interest of their teams to the owners of the National League, who would in the process regain many of the players that they had lost to the revolt, such as the Phillies regaining Ed Delahanty from the Cleveland Infants. Meanwhile, as the Players’ League dies, the American Association would kick the Athletics out of the fold, for violating the league’s constitution. The Athletics would then be replaced in the AA by the Quakers of the Players’ League, leaving the Phillies with a rival. Noone, however, would have any idea how damaging the players’ revolt would be to the AA until 1891.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.org, Retrosheet.org