May 18, 2012
I bought a bunch of old Philly Almanacs last weekend, and they formed the basis of my column in the Post this week. Of course, they also contained a few sports goodies which I’m excited to share with you on here. Let’s start with the 1887 Phillies (aka the Quakers, as they were also known), who got quite a little write-up in the 1888 Almanac. Lalli actually wrote about this team last year. A few things I particularly enjoy: the writer complaining about the Detroit team’s payroll, and the fact that people apparently hated the Baker Bowl even in its inaugural year. Here is the 1888 Almanac piece verbatim:
The salary list of baseball players for the season of 1887 amounted to over $1,000,000. There were about a dozen professional organizations, the majority of which were composed of eight clubs each, with an average of twelve men per club. The two leading organizations are the National League and the American Association, in each of which Philadelphia has a representative club. These two clubs are great rivals, and each has a host of followers and admirers.
The Philadelphia Club, which is a member of the National League, made the splendid record during the season of winning 75 games and losing but 48, giving it a percentage in victories of .609. Only one club did better-the Detroit, which won the champion pennant with 79 victories to 45 defeats, giving it a percentage of .637. The Detroit Club of 1887 had the highest-priced team ever put upon a ball field, and yet the margin by which it won the pennant was narrow.
The season opened very disastrously for the local club, which was obliged to begin at home on newly graded grounds that were not fit to play upon. Several players were injured, all became intimidated, and there was more or less dissipation among the men, which had to be corrected, and it was well toward the middle of the season before the club began to play in good form. From that time on the club improved its position steadily, climbing from fifth to second position. The Boston, New York, and Chicago Clubs repeatedly went down before its steady play, and the Detroit Club was beaten twice in succession on its own grounds. The Philadelphia Club closed the seventeen last games of the season with sixteen victories and one tie.
Remember, in Senior year of high school, how you had two photos: your casual and your formal? Apparently they used to do that same thing in baseball. Here is the same team from above, this time in their evening attire. (Larger version of photo can be seen here)
And finally, here is a really nice photo of the squad that has apparently been touched up (larger version here). Man, that team was just hounded by the paparazzi!