It seems that several things had occurred as far as the Phils are concerned.
First, on December 2, the Phils tendered contracts to outfielder Ben Francisco and pitcher Kyle Kendrick to keep them from becoming free agents. Kyle Kendrick will likely be fighting with Vance Worley for the fifth starter’s spot during spring training, while Francisco will be involved in a platoon situation with Dom Brown, as…
on the following Sunday, December 5, it was announced that Jayson Werth had signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals. Although he was expected to leave, Jayson’s signing with another team within the NL East came as a complete surprise to everyone, including Phils manager Charlie Manuel, as everyone had expected him to sign with an AL team, like the Red Sox or the Tigers. Well, Jayson, congrats on the money, but be prepared for a lot of boos, after being given some respectful cheers the first time you come to town in a Nat uniform. (The Nats? I hope you know what you’re doing Jayson.) As for the Phils’ compensation in draft picks, they will get a player in the draft between the first and second rounds, and then a player from the second round, as the Nats’ first round pick did not fall among the first 15 players of the draft.
The next day, December 6, the Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee announced that it had elected ex-Phil General Manager Pat Gillick (2005-2008) to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Gillick, who was also the GM for the Blue Jays, who won World Series Championships in 1992-1993, to go along with the Phils’ 2008 World Series Championship, as well as being the GM for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners, in 27 years as a GM, had 11 teams enter the post-season.
The next day, December 7, it was announced that journalist Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News (also formerly on the Philadelphia Bulletin) will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the BBWAA, for 50 years of meritorious contributions to baseball writing. He will be given the award during the induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, NY, on July 25, 2011.
Then, on December 8, the Phils announced that they had signed former Cardinal relief pitcher Dennys Reyes to a one year deal for $1.1 million, with a $1.35 million option for 2012. Reyes, who has pitched in the major leagues for fourteen seasons out of the bullpen, will be joining his eleventh team when he joins the Phils, as he finished 2010 with a 3-1 record with an ERA of 3.55, as he pitched in 59 games, with a save, as he struck out 25 batters, while walking 21. The Phils will likely be using him as their left handed specialist out of the bullpen, to compliment Antonio Bastardo.
On the 9th, the Phils took three players in the Rule 5 Draft, with the first one, Michael Martinez, an infielder, coming from the Nats organization, via their Syracuse Triple-A affiliate. Phils’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. jokingly commented that picking him up was the Phils way of getting back at the Nats for taking Jayson. (I just hope the last laugh ain’t on the Phils with this one.) The Phils would also pick up Chris Frey from the Rockies organization and Justin Friend from the A’s in the minor league part of the Rule 5 Draft. I guess it’ll be a while before we see if any of these guys pan out with the Phils.
Also during the week, the Phils brought Dom Brown back from the Dominican League, as they did not think that he was getting the seasoning that they thought he would need to be ready for spring training. Instead, they plan to do it during spring training itself, to get him ready for the regular season.
Lastly, the Phils had announced on Saturday that shortstop Jimmy Rollins had on Thursday undergone minor surgery on his left wrist. They also announced that he should be able to participate in spring training next year.
I’m sure that most Phillies fans have probably never even heard of Charlie Ferguson, or if they have, know very little about him. Well, to be rather frank, I was among those who have never even heard of him, until I’d started doing my year-by-year look at our loveable losers and discovered him for the very first time, while also discovering that before his untimely death in 1888, at a very young age, from typhoid fever, he was developing into the team’s first true pitching star, way before the more well known Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Ferguson was born on April 17, 1863, in Charlotteville, Virigina, the home of American Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, and located near the strategic Shenandoah Valley, an area that during his youth would be constantly fought over by Northern and Southern troops during the country’s Civil War, while the city would itself be spared. Going to the University of Pennsylvania for his college education, where he would learn to play baseball, Ferguson would come back home after graduation and proceed to play for the Virginia member of the Eastern (now International) League in 1883. His team would win the Eastern League pennant that year, while his pitching would catch the eyes of the Philadelphia Quakers (now Phillies), who were preparing for their second year as a member of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or the NL. After signing a contract, he would make his Major League debut on May 1, 1884, pitching against the Detroit Wolverine in Philadelphia at Recreation Park. He would be the game’s winning pitcher, as the Phillies would trounce the Wolverines 13-2. During his rookie season, he would pitch in 50 games, starting in 47 of them, and completing all but one of his starts, while finishing up three more. His record would be 21-25, thus becoming the franchise’s first twenty-game winner, as well as saving one other game, and throwing two shut outs, as he ended the season with an ERA of 3.54. Ferguson would pitch in 416.7 innings that year, giving up 297 runs, 164 of which would be earned, on 443 hits, as he struck out 194 batters while walking only 93 and giving up 13 home runs. In his rookie season he would be among the NL leaders in games (6), games started (6), complete games (6), games finished (3), wins (7), loses (2), saves (2), shut outs (10), innings pitched (6), strikeouts (7), hits allowed (6), walks (7), earned runs allowed (1), home runs allowed (7) and walks (7).
After helping lead the team to a 6th place finish in 1884, he would lead them to a third place finish in 1885, as he would have his second straight twenty-win season, as he would go 26-20 that year, with an ERA of 2.22. Ferguson would this time pitch in only 48 games, starting and completing 45 of them, of which five were shut outs, while finishing three other games. He would pitch in 405 innings, giving up just 197 runs, only 100 of which would be earned, on just 345 hits, as he would rung up 197 strike outs while walking just 81 batters and giving up only 5 home runs. On August 29, 1885, in Philadelphia, he would pitch the first Phillies’ No-Hitter, as he would blank the Providence Grays, 1-0. In his second season as a Phil, he would be among the league leaders in games (8), games started (9), complete games (8), games finished (1), wins (5), win/lost percentage (8), ERA (7), shut outs (6), innings pitched (7), strikeouts (6), hits allowed (10) and walks (10). He would also hit .306 for that year, in which he would play 15 games in the outfield for a grand total of 61 games.
1886 would be his breakout season, as he would become the Phillies’ first thirty-game winner as he would go 30-9, with a 1.98 ERA, in 48 games pitched, of which 45 would be starts, completing 43. He would also pitch four shut outs that year, while he would finish two other games, and collect two saves. In 395.7 innings of work, he would give up just 145 runs, of which 87 would be earned, on only 317 hits, while striking out 212 batters and walking only 69, while giving up 11 home runs. In his junior year as a Phil, he would be among the leaders in games (7), games started (9), complete games (7), games finished (7), wins (6), win/lost percentage (2), saves (1), ERA (2), shut outs (2), innings pitched (7), strikeouts (8), and home runs allowed (6). Although his efforts would help to improve the team’s overall record, the Phillies would end the year in fourth place in the National League.
In 1887, his pitching record would drop as he would end the season going only 22-10 with an ERA of 3.00, in just 37 games, of which 33 would be starts, he would complete 31 of them, with 2 of them being shut outs, while he would finish four out other games, collecting a save. In only 297.3 innings of work, he would give up 154 runs, of which 99 would be earned, on 297 hits, while he would strike out 125 batters, while walking only 47 and giving up 13 home runs. In his fourth season as a Phil, he would be among the league leaders in only games finished (2), wins (8), win/lost percentage (3), saves (1), ERA (3), shut outs (5) and strikeouts (5).
The main reason for his pitching drop was because the Phillies’ manager, future Hall of Famer Harry Wright, an early strategist of the game, had decided to place Ferguson’s strong bat into the Phils’ regular lineup for the pennant run, as Ferguson would end up playing six games in the outfield, five games at third base, and twenty-seven ballgames at second base, playing that position for the final eight weeks of the season, as he would replace the bats of a couple of second baseman who were hitting a combine total of only .214. In 72 games, Ferguson would hit .337, going to the plate 264 times, knocking in 85 runs on 89 hits, while scoring 67 runs, Ferguson would hit 14 doubles, 6 triples and 3 home runs, while stealing 13 bases. He would walk 34 times while striking out only 19. He would miss out being the team’s leading batter for that year, because he would not have enough plate appearances. He would, though, end up leading the team in RBIs. Ferguson’s strong bat would help the Phillies end up a strong second to the Detroit Wolverines.
The Phillies’ strong finish at the end of the 1887 season, going 16-0-1 in their last seventeen games, would make the team confident of being able to challenge for their first NL pennant when the team entered spring training in 1888. Sadly, it was not to be as they would be struck an early blow in camp as Charlie Ferguson would be struck down by typhoid fever, dying to the dreaded disease on April 29, at the young age of 25. Ferguson would be sent back home to Charlotteville, Virginia, where he would be buried in Maplewood Cementery. During the 1888 season, in which the Phillies would drop to third place in the standings, the Phillies, the Giants, the Beaneaters and the Washington Nationals would all commemorate his passing by wearing a black crepe on their left shoulders of their team uniforms.
During his four years as a Phil, Charlie Ferguson would pitch in 183 games, starting in 170 and completing 165, while finishing 12 others. He would have a winning record of 99-64, with a winning percentage of .607, having 13 shut outs and four saves. In 1514.2 innings pitched, he would give up only 793 runs, 450 of which would be earned, on 1402 hits. He would strike out 728 batters while only walking 290, while giving up only 42 home runs. His career ERA would be 2.67. His career batting average would be .288 in 257 total games played, getting 191 hits in 963 at-bats, knocking in 157 runs while scoring 191. He would have a career total of 37 doubles, 13 triples and 6 home runs, while stealing 22 bases. Ferguson would walk 113 times while striking out 119. His 99 wins would land him in 8th place on the all-time Phillies’ win lists, trailing the likes of Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Robert Roberts and Alexander, as well as Chris Short and possible future Hall of Famer Curt Schilling, while his 64 losses would have him tied for 24th place on that list. His ERA would place him 6th. Ferguson would also be 17th in games started, 4th in complete games, 11th in innings pitched and strikeouts and tied for 14th in shut outs, as well as be among the top 50 in several other pitching categories.
With Ferguson’s death, the Phillies would lose a chance to win a NL pennant before the turn of the century. Although the team would remain a member of the first division, except during the period 1895-97, they would not reach second place again until 1901. His early death would also deny Ferguson a place among baseball immortals at the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., as it would be more than likely he would have won enough games, based on his winning 99 games in just four years with a then good Phillies team, to get the nod via the Veterans Committee, if not for his being stricken down by typhoid.
Main sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Ferguson_%281880s_pitcher%29 – Wikipedia page
http://www.19cbaseball.com/players-charlie-ferguson.html – Biography at Baseball History: 19th Century Baseball.com
http://www.baseball-reference.com//f/ferguch01.shtml – Stats at Baseball-reference.com
http://www.thedeadballera.com/Obits/Obits_F/Ferguson.Charles01.Obit.html – Charlie Ferguson’s Philadelphia Inquirer obit – TheDeadballEra.com
Other sources: Wikipedia, Baseball Almanac.com, Baseball-reference.com, Phillies.com: Team History, Baseball History: 19th Century Baseball.com
World Series artifacts heading to Hall
Hamels’ jersey, Upton’s spikes to be featured in Cooperstown
Fittingly, it is being commemorated for generations of fans to come at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. Many artifacts that were used in this Fall Classic were donated by humbled players after the Phillies’ 4-3 clinching victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Those items will go on display at the Hall of Fame in mid-November. They include:
• Cole Hamels’ No. 35 home pinstriped jersey that he wore in Game 5: Hamels was 4-0 in the postseason and was named World Series MVP.
“That’s something I never expected,” he said, wearing the jersey underneath two layers of shirts during the clubhouse celebration. “It’s a tremendous experience and an honor for them to want to take something from me. This whole fifth game will be a trivia question for the next 100 years, and I get to be a part of it.”
• Jayson Werth’s spikes: His single in the bottom of the sixth, right after play resumed, drove in pinch-hitter Geoff Jenkins to give Philadelphia a temporary 3-2 lead. He also stole three bags in the series, including one in Game 5.
“Gosh, what an honor,” Werth said on the Citizens Bank Park field, as players celebrated there with family, friends and fellow Phillies personnel. “I mean, really, step back and think about that. I come from a long line of baseball players, and I’m thankful to them. My grandfather was a ballplayer. My stepdad [Dennis Werth] played in the big leagues. We’re just baseball players, not Hall of Famers. For me to have something go there to Cooperstown, that’s unbelievable.”
• Joe Blanton’s bat that he used to hit the fabled home run in Game 4: It marked the first time since Ken Holtzman of Oakland in 1974 that a pitcher homered in the World Series.
“As a pitcher, it’s not what you expect,” Blanton said. “Very possibly the last thing you expect. But just to have a piece of your playing equipment go to the Hall of Fame is so special. Not every player can say he has something there.”
Blanton said he has not been to Cooperstown, and this will nudge him in that direction.
“Now, I have another good reason,” he said. “One of those things I’ve never been able to do for whatever reason. But I grew up in a baseball family and definitely will go now.”
• Ryan Howard’s bat used in Game 5: The 2008 National League MVP candidate busted out just in time during this postseason, hitting two homers in Game 4 to give him three long balls in the World Series.
“That would be cool,” he said with a big grin, shortly after Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson received his permission to take the lumber back to Cooperstown.
• Eric Bruntlett’s cap: He broke up a Game 2 shutout with a solo homer off rookie David Price in the eighth inning at Tropicana Field during the Rays’ 4-2 victory. But his most memorable moment in this Fall Classic came when he scored the winning run on Carlos Ruiz’s 30-foot walk-off chopper in Game 3, giving Philly the World Series lead for keeps. Bruntlett also scored the go-ahead run on Pedro Feliz’s RBI single in the clincher on Wednesday.
“We had a lot of good fortune that inning,” Bruntlett said that night. “It’s one of those deals where it feels like it’s in slow motion. I feel like I should be moving faster, but can’t. You want to get there so quickly. It feels like a long 90 feet.”
• Ruiz’s helmet: It’s what he was wearing when he mashed that ball into the ground to put the perfect ending to Game 3 for Phillies faithful. This was the World Series when a lot of baseball fans got to know more about the catcher from Panama.
“We were so hungry for this, we wanted this title,” Ruiz said. “I want to thank Panama for supporting me and the Phillies all year long. I want all of Panama to enjoy this with me. This was a great season and a great organization. This is for all of us.”
• The cap Brad Lidge wore in Game 5 when he saved the Series-clinching win for the Phillies.
• B.J. Upton’s spikes and Joe Maddon’s flap-cap: Upton had four steals in the World Series, including the one on the mud going into second base just before the Game 5 suspension on Monday, and the Rays wound up with a postseason-record 25 steals. Maddon managed the Rays from a 2007 last-place finish into a World Series team, and that flap-cap became a much-discussed piece of headwear in this cold, final week of the 2008 baseball season. Consider this a Cooperstown tip of the cap.
“I thought we presented ourselves really well,” Maddon said. “And I think all this country now knows who we are, as well as the world, the baseball world.” (H/T baseballhalloffame.org)
Interesting choices of some of the equipment that they plan to put on display. I wonder how many of the players will later be joining as members? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Correction: The writer of the article, Mr. Newman, has just informed me in the comments section that the bat that Howard gave to the Hall should be listed as from Game 4, not 5.
The 20th annual event, co-sponsored by the Hall of Fame and the State University of New York-Oneonta, will run from Tuesday through Friday with more than 60 participants discussing topics ranging from commissioners, umpires and player agents to issues regarding integration, ethnicity, gender and the handicapped.
Presentations will include observations on the careers of baseball figures as diverse as Ty Cobb, Frank Robinson, Jim Brosnan, Jim Bouton, Gene Baker, Effa Manley and Bobby Murcer.
“The goal of the program is to allow for an academic exchange of discussions about how baseball is perceived in American culture,” Hall of Fame librarian Jim Gates said. “We don’t look at baseball in the field in this program. That’s for the SABR [Society of American Baseball Research] people. This is about baseball’s connection to art, poetry, literature, architecture, theater, music and other cultural areas.”
Participants do get to experience baseball in the field at one point. An old-fashioned Town Hall Game is scheduled late Thursday afternoon at Cooper Park where the rules from the earliest form of baseball are in effect, such as one out per inning, stakes for bases and outs being achieved either by catching the ball or throwing it at a runner.
After the game, participants will be treated to a barbecue chicken dinner in the Hall’s gallery with entertainment provided by Tim Wiles, the Hall’s director of research and co-author of “Baseball Greatest Hit: The Story of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Former New York Times sports columnist Ira Berkow, author of 17 books that include profiles of Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Casey Stengel, will deliver the keynote address Wednesday in the Grandstand Theater of the Hall. Berkow follows in a tradition of distinguished keynote speakers that includes authors George Plimpton, Isaac Asimov, W.S. Kinsella and Roger Kahn and players’ union leaders Marvin Miller and Don Fehr.
Panel discussions in the Bullpen Theater will center on themes such as the fierceness of competitors, African-American pioneers, power of commissioners, minority issues and baseball’s relationship to business, law, music, broadcasting and photography.
A featured session Wednesday night will be “Baseball and Freedom: Umpires and the Roots of Order and Freedom,” featuring commentary from Judge George Nicholson of the State of California Court of Appeals, Judge William Shubb of the United District Court, Eastern District, California, and Pacific Coast League president Branch Rickey III, among others.
“It’s a mixture,” Gates said of the participants. “There is old faculty, tenured faculty, new faculty, under-graduate and graduate students. We want to encourage the involvement of the next generation of scholars. The atmosphere is laid back with a lot of interaction. In the past, we’ve had meetings among students that have often led to the subjects of their dissertations.”
The registration fee for the full session is $165, $150 for Friends of the Hall of Fame Members and $50 for graduate and undergraduate students (with student identification cards). The fee includes continental breakfast each day, a catered picnic Thursday, refreshments, and a three-day pass to the Hall of Fame. Per diem rates are available for those unable to attend the entire symposium. (H/T MLB.com)
They have an symposium on baseball’s interaction with American culture? Who knew?