The Philadelphia Phillies are often overlooked in the American sports landscape. However, they are the oldest, continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional sports.
After the Worcester Ruby Legs disbanded, probably due to their name, the National League relocated what was left of the team to Philadelphia. The franchise’s first baseball game was held on May 1st, 1883 and needless to say highlights were not shown on SportsCenter. The team’s first owners were attorney John Rogers and Al Reach, who was the very first professional baseball player. It was Reach who nicknamed the ballclub the “Phillies.”
It would take over 30 years for the team to win its first pennant. That 1915 team was lead by pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander and slugger Gavvy Cravath who set a major league record for home runs with 24.
Unfortunately the team wasn’t able to build on their World Series appearance. With a new American League team in town, the Philadelphia Athletics, gobbling up players and poor business management the Phillies would post just one winning season between 1918 and 1948.
In the late 1940’s the team was rejuvenated by a group of players developed within the Phillies’ farm system. These young players, affectionately known as the Whiz Kids, won the 1950 National League Pennant and lead the Phillies back to the World Series. That team featured future Hall of Famers Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts.
For the next 30 years the Philadelphia Phillies would once again find themselves accumulating more loses than wins. This period of futility was punctuated by the infamous "Phold of '64," in which the team squandered a six-and-a-half game lead by losing the last ten games of the season.
The team’s fortunes changed for the better in the late 1970’s thanks to players like pitcher Steve Carlton and infielders Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose and Larry Bowa. In 1980, after winning three straight division titles (1976 through 1978), the team recaptured the National League Pennant. In the first World Series played entirely on artificial turf, the Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals in six games to claim the first world championship in franchise history.
The team would win another pennant in 1983 but lose “The I-95” series to the Baltimore Orioles in five games. A decade later the team found themselves back in the World Series but in Game 6 relief pitcher Mitch Williams give up a walk-off, series-clinching home run to Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Phillies returned to the Fall Classic in 2008. In a World Series plagued by bad weather, the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in five games to secure the franchise’s second world championship in 126 years. That team was lead by pitcher and World Series MVP Cole Hamels, slugger Ryan Howard and infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.
The Phillies are currently aligned in the East Division of the National League. They play their games at Citizens Bank Park, the team’s fifth stadium. Historically, the team’s main rival has been the New York Mets who also a part of the National League East.
The aforementioned Mike Schmidt won three MVP awards while playing his entire career for the Phillies. He’s highly regarded as one of the greatest third basemen of all-time. His teammate, pitcher Steve Carlton, won four Cy Young Awards. Both men are considered the two best players in franchise history.