In the Phillies’ 128-year history as a member of the National League, they have spent most of that time being either a cellar dweller or as a member of the second division. But, the team has spent some time in the first division, winning two World Series Championship, seven National League pennants, with two in consecutive seasons (2008-2009) and ten National League Eastern Division flags, including winning the last four (2007-2010). The team has also finished in second place in either the National League (1883-1968) or in the National League Eastern Division (1969 to the present) a grand total of thirteen time.
The first time they would end up in second place would be in 1887, the fifth year of the team’s existence, as they would finish the season behind the first place Detroit Wolverines with a record of 75-48 for a winning percentage of .610, finishing 3.5 games behind the Wolverines in a league of eight teams, before the expansion to twelve teams in 1892. For the Phils, who were also called the Quakers at the time, this would be their only second place finish in the 19th Century. The next time the Phils would finish in second place, and the first time in the 20th Century, would occur in 1901, as they fell behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were at the beginning of winning three straight NL pennants (1901-1903), as they finish the season with a record of 83-57, with a .593 winning percentage, finishing 7.5 games behind the Bucos. The next time that the Phils would end up in second place would occur in 1913, as they finished behind the New York Giants, who had won their third straight NL pennant (1911-1913), ending the year with a record of 88-63 for a winning percentage of .583, ending up 12.5 games behind the Giants. The Phils would then finished second for the two seasons after they had won their first NL pennant in 1915. The first time, for the fourth time overall, would occur in 1916, when they would finish behind the Brooklyn Robins, now Dodgers, with a 91-62 record, winning one game more than they did the year that they won the pennant, with a winning percentage of .595, finishing 2.5 games behind the Robins. The following season, 1917, they would finish in second place again, this time behind the Giants, with a record of 87-65, with a .572 winning percentage, trailing the Giants by 10 games. The Phils would then spend most of the next 47 years in the second division before once again finishing second. The Phils would then end up tied for second place with the Cincinnati Reds in 1964, after collapsing in September, finishing behind the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 92-70, with a winning percentage of .568, a game out of first. This would be the sixth and final time that they would finish in second place in the National League before the two major leagues split into divisions in 1969, with the Phils becoming a member of the NL East. The first time the Phils would end up in second place in the NL East would occur in 1975, when they finished second to the Pirates, finishing the year with a record of 86-76, with a .531 winning percentage, finishing 6.5 games before the Pirates. The second time they would end up in second place in the NL East would happen in 1982, as they trail the Cardinals, ending up with a record of 89-73, with a winning percentage of .549, finishing 3 games behind the redbirds. The third time they would finish second in the NL East would be in 1986, as they finished behind the New York Mets with a record of 86-75, with a .534 winning percentage, trailing by 21.5 games. The fourth time they would finish the season in second place in the NL East would not occur until 2001, when they finished behind the Atlanta Braves with an 86-76 record, a winning percentage of .531, ending up 2 games out of first. The Phils will then end up in second place in the East, missing being the wild card winner each season, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, finishing behind the Braves in 2004 and 2005 and then behind the Mets in 2006. In 2004, they finished the season with an 86-76 record, a .531 winning percentage, as they finished 10 games behind the Braves. In 2005, they finished the year with a record of 88-74, with a winning percentage of .543, 2 games behind the Braves. In 2006, they would end the baseball season with a record of 85-77, a winning percentage of .525, 12 games in back of the Mets.
Of their thirteen finishes in second place, six occurred as a member of the NL, and the other seven as a member of the NL East. They would finish in second place once in the 19th Century, eight times in the 20th Century (5 (NL), 3 (NL East)), and four, so far, in the 21st Century as a member of the NL East. Their best record in second place was when they finished second in 1964, when they finished with a record of 91-70. Their worst second place finish was in 1887, the first time they would finish second, as they had a record of 75-48. Their highest winning percentage would be the .610 of 1887, while the worst would be the .525 of 2006. Their best game behind finish was when they ended a game behind (with the Reds) in 1964, while their worst was when they fell 21.5 games behind (the Mets in the East) in 1986.
With the way the Phils are presently structured, they could remain as either a first or a second place team in the NL East for several more seasons.
Okay, first here’s the question again: Name the last National League team among the classic eight (teams that were members of the NL since 1900) to win its first NL pennant and name the last of the classic eight to represent the National League in the World Series, also for the first time?
And the answer is: The St. Louis Cardinals. They won their first NL pennant in 1926, thus becoming the last of the classic eight to win a pennant, and thus, at the same time, becoming the last of the classic eight to represent the NL in the World Series.
Only one person made an attempt to answer the question, Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts, even if she got the question wrong, by being off by just one team.
Anyway, the other seven NL teams of the classic eight went like this: The Cubs (then the White Stockings) won the very first NL pennant in 1876, and made their first World Series appearance in 1906. The Braves (then the Boston Red Caps) won their first pennant in 1877 and made their first World Series appearance in 1914. The Giants first championship was in 1888 and their first Series appearance was in 1905 (technically it was in 1904, but manager John J. McGraw refused to play against the Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) of the American League, so no Series that year). The Dodgers (then the Bridgegrooms) won their first pennant in 1890 (a year after winning the American Association pennant) and made their first Series appearance in 1916. The Pirates won their first pennant in 1901 and was involved in the first modern World Series of 1903. The Phillies won their first pennant in 1915, and went on to represent the NL in the World Series that same year. The Reds would become the next to last of the classic eight to win the pennant, and thus reach the World Series, in 1919.
During the club’s 126 years of existance, the team has won only nine batting titles. The nine titles have been secured by seven men, two of whom have won it twice: Hall of Famer Billy Hamilton in 1891 and 1893 and Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn in 1955 and 1958. One of the seven, Harry ‘the Hat’ Walker, would win the title in 1947, after being traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Phils early in the season. Ed Delanhanty’s 410 average would be the highest batting average among Phils’ title winners. The Phil with the lowest batting average to secure the title would be Sherry Magee with his .331 average. Of the seven, four are now members of the Baseball Hall of Fame: Hamilton, Delahanty, Chuck Klein and Ashburn, while a fifth, Magee, was on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committe’s pre-1943 Hall of Fame Ballot for 2009. The last Phil to secure the batting title was Ashburn, who did it in 1958.
The first Phillie to win the batting title would be Billy Hamilton, who would win it in 1891 with a .340 batting average, beating out Bug Holliday of the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton would then win a second batting crown as a Phil, doing it in 1893, with a .380 batting average, as he beat out fellow Phils Sam Thompson and Ed Delahanty. The second Phil to win the honors would be Delahanty, who would win the title in 1899 with a .410 average, beating out Jesse Burkett of the St. Louis Perfectos. The next Phil batter to win the batting title would be Sherry Magee, winning the crown in 1910 with a .331 average, as he beat out Vin Campbell of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The fourth Phil to capture the batting crown would be Lefty O’Doul, doing it in 1929 with an average of .398, beating Babe Herman of the Brooklyn Robins. Chuck Klein would be the fifth Phil to win the batting title, doing it in 1933, the year that he won the triple crown, hitting .368, to go along with his league leading 28 home runs and 120 RBIs, beating out fellow Phil Spud Davis. The sixth Phillie batting champ would be Harry Walker, who would win the title with a .363 batting average, beating out Bob Elliott of the Boston Braves, after being traded to the Phillies by the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, May 3, 1947, along with Freddy Schmidt, in exchange for Ron Northey. The last Phil who would win the batting title would be Richie Ashburn in 1955, as he beat out Willie Mays of the New York Giants, with a .338 average. Ashburn would then win his second and last batting title in 1958, batting .350, as he once again beat out Mays, this time in a tighter race. No Phil has won the batting title since.
Could another Phillie batter win the batting crown? To be honest, I don’t know.
Sources: Wikipedia, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet.org