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  • Philadelphia-An American League town?

    I've recently been re-reading Calvin-Baseball's Last Dinosaur by John Kerr, about Calvin Griffith, former owner of the Washington Senators. In the chapter titled "Calvin Joins The Senators", there is a discussion of the shifting of American League franchises, first the Browns to Baltimore, then the subject of the Philadelphia Athletics. From the book:

    As acting Senators representative at league meetings, Calvin was on the losing end of another franchise shift dispute in 1955. The Philadelphia Athletics, still officially owned by Connie Mack, were in the midst of an economic and family crisis greater than the Griffith's as they contemplated a sale to several Kansas City bidders, including one named Charles O. Finley.

    "Connie Mack at that time was senile", says Calvin, matter-of-factly. "One son wanted to move and one wanted to stay. The mother stepped in and she ruled the roost. She talked to Connie and had a speech prepared by her. Everybody, including Clark Griffith respected Connie so much that they finally let them out of Philadelphia, which turned out to be one of the worst things in baseball, because Philadelphia was an American League town. The A.L. regretted that they ever let them leave town."

    As one who was a little too young to have remembered this first hand (born in 1953) what are your thoughts and comments? Obviously the A's still have a good following in Philadelphia, proven by the Philadelphia A's website, historical society and recent breakfast. Was Philadelphia REALLY an American League town? Were there rumors of the Phillies moving in the 1950's when baseball started eyeing the west?
    Last edited by Aa3rt; 10-30-2004, 04:51 AM. Reason: corrected spelling error
    "For the Washington Senators, the worst time of the year is the baseball season." Roger Kahn

    "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." Rogers Hornsby.

  • #2
    Unfortunately, there were never rumors of the Phillies moving anywhere. (Or have I forgotten them?) If any franchise deserved to be moved and should have been moved, it was the Phillies. The Athletics should have stayed. The Phillies should have been relocated to Los Angeles. The worst franchise in the history of professional sports was tailor made for the deadest and least knowledgeable fans in the history of major league baseball. The Phillies would have continued to stink up the league, the LA fans would have continued to follow them in the same way that vampires follow blood, the Philadelphia fans would have been relieved of the horror of being in the vicinity of the Phillies, and the Athletics would have eventually thrived in Philly. Ed Wade belongs in LA. Billy Beane would have been fully appreciated in Philly. Things rarely work out.

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    • #3
      Philadelphia was an American League town from 1901 to 1950. The Athletics were an immediate success when the new league started. When the A's were good, the Phillies were bad. When the A's were bad, the Phillies were still bad. Both teams started getting better in the late 1940's.

      1950 was a disaster for the Athletics. While the older A's players crashed, the young Phillies players (Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, etc.) took the Phillies to the World Series. The Phillies remained good for the next few years and the A's never recovered. By 1954, rumors of the A's leaving town and a last place finish deadened Philadelphia fan's interest. Not enough people came to the ballpark in 1954 to save the team. The fans who did come were very surley and many of the A's players were more than happy to find a new home in Kansas City. By 1959 the Phillies returned to being the doormat team they always had been.

      While there was a last minute interest by Philadelphia businessmen to save the A's, the New York Yankees backed Arnold Johnson's purchase bid (who was in their back pocket) and the team moved to Kansas City. The Kansas City Athletics were essentailly a Yankee's farm team until Johnson died in 1960 and Charlie Finley bought the club and eventually built it into the 1972 to 1974 World Champions. Unfortunately, this was in Oakland, not Philadelphia.

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      • #4
        The Athletics were owned by the Mack family, who were in financial trouble; running the A's was their business, they had no other source of income. The Phils, on the other hand, were owned by Bob Carpenter, a seriously wealthy guy for whom owning a Major League ballclub was really just a hobby.

        Never really any question which team was going to move.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by westsidegrounds
          The Athletics were owned by the Mack family, who were in financial trouble; running the A's was their business, they had no other source of income. The Phils, on the other hand, were owned by Bob Carpenter, a seriously wealthy guy for whom owning a Major League ballclub was really just a hobby.

          Never really any question which team was going to move.
          Sad but true.

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          • #6
            1950 was a disaster for Philadelphia baseball in retrospect. If the Phillies don't win the pennant, thus winning most of the baseball hearts in Philly, I believe there is a distinct possibility that the Phillies would have moved and the A's would have stayed.
            Despite not winning anything since 1931, the A's were considered the main baseball team in Philly,while the Phils were considered the weak sister until 1950. It was the A's that had the tradition with Foxx, Grove, Cochrane and Mack, while the Phillies had a tradition of losing and selling of their best players, like Eppa Rixey, Grover Alexander, Bucky Walters and Chuck Klein for cash by owners like William Baker and Gerry Nugent. Then, luck struck the Phillies through one of their owners getting banned for gambling, William Cox, thus allowing Bob Carpenter to buy the team in 1943. Then 7 years later, the Whiz Kids came along and the rest is history.
            If Cox did not get banned,the losing would have continued into the 1950's as Cox did not demonstrate that he had the slightest clue on how to run a baseball team. No doubt he would have moved the Phils, perhaps to Milwaukee, in the early 1950's. With the Phils gone, local businessmen or maybe Carpenter himself would have stepped up to buy the A's, thus keeping the team in Philadelphia.
            And today, Philadelphia fans would be screaming about how the A's are chokers for losing three consecutive game 5's, trading Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, discussing why Billy Beane is overrated as a GM and how he must must go and being depressed about not being able to overcome their divisional foes the Red Sox and Yankees. But at least those the fans could look back on the days of Reggie, Catfish, Rudi, Fingers, Blue, etc., and the 1970's dynasty, BillyBall, the 1989 World Series win, Tony LaRussa, and probably the most villified player in Philadelphia sports history, Rickey Henderson. Nice dream Can we trade the Phillies to Oakland and bring the A's back home?

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            • #7
              I always thought that the Phillies were the one that stayed, but it was the A's with the storied history.

              Bah......... Life ain't fair.

              Comment


              • #8
                Can we trade the Phillies for the A's? Is there anything in this universe you could trade the Phillies for? Is there on the face of this earth anybody stupid enough to acquire an organization that included an Ed Wade or revealed his influence? You could not even place the Phillies in a rocket and shoot the thing into space: if the rocket were to explode, you would have an atmosphere so polluted it would no longer support life. You might be able to sink the Phillies into the bowels of the earth, but then you would run the risk of the remains leaching into the water supply. For giving up the A's, Philadelphia seems to have been sentenced to keeping the Phillies.

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                • #9
                  So, if I read this right, the root cause of the crap organization we call the Phillies is the Whiz Kids, and Richie Ashburn! Long live Cornelius McGillicuddy!

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                  • #10
                    i often wondered, since the moved to Baltimore and KC weren't too far apart, why the A's just didn't move to Baltimore and the Browns move to KC. (The Baltimore A's and the KC Blues?)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ACrank
                      i often wondered, since the moved to Baltimore and KC weren't too far apart, why the A's just didn't move to Baltimore and the Browns move to KC. (The Baltimore A's and the KC Blues?)
                      Well, the A's didn't really move, per se, they were sold.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by johncap
                        Well, the A's didn't really move, per se, they were sold.
                        Right, and I also think that the Browns were sold to someone before leaving St. Louis.
                        MLB fan of the golden age: 1900-1950.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jeannie
                          Right, and I also think that the Browns were sold to someone before leaving St. Louis.
                          The St. Louis Browns played their last game on Sept. 27, 1953. Two days later (9/29/53) the Browns were sold to a Baltimore syndicate headed by Baltimore mayor Tom D'Alesandro for $ 2.475 million dollars. The American League approved the sale and the move-without Bill Veeck.

                          For more information, check out Bill Mc Curdy's wonderful "This Date In Browns History" thread in the St. Louis Browns forum.

                          Scroll down to Sept. 27th in each of the links provided.

                          St. Louis Browns history

                          St. Louis Browns history#2
                          "For the Washington Senators, the worst time of the year is the baseball season." Roger Kahn

                          "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." Rogers Hornsby.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Steve Jeltz View Post
                            1950 was a disaster for Philadelphia baseball in retrospect. If the Phillies don't win the pennant, thus winning most of the baseball hearts in Philly, I believe there is a distinct possibility that the Phillies would have moved and the A's would have stayed.
                            Despite not winning anything since 1931, the A's were considered the main baseball team in Philly,while the Phils were considered the weak sister until 1950. It was the A's that had the tradition with Foxx, Grove, Cochrane and Mack, while the Phillies had a tradition of losing and selling of their best players, like Eppa Rixey, Grover Alexander, Bucky Walters and Chuck Klein for cash by owners like William Baker and Gerry Nugent. Then, luck struck the Phillies through one of their owners getting banned for gambling, William Cox, thus allowing Bob Carpenter to buy the team in 1943. Then 7 years later, the Whiz Kids came along and the rest is history.
                            If Cox did not get banned,the losing would have continued into the 1950's as Cox did not demonstrate that he had the slightest clue on how to run a baseball team. No doubt he would have moved the Phils, perhaps to Milwaukee, in the early 1950's. With the Phils gone, local businessmen or maybe Carpenter himself would have stepped up to buy the A's, thus keeping the team in Philadelphia.
                            And today, Philadelphia fans would be screaming about how the A's are chokers for losing three consecutive game 5's, trading Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, discussing why Billy Beane is overrated as a GM and how he must must go and being depressed about not being able to overcome their divisional foes the Red Sox and Yankees. But at least those the fans could look back on the days of Reggie, Catfish, Rudi, Fingers, Blue, etc., and the 1970's dynasty, BillyBall, the 1989 World Series win, Tony LaRussa, and probably the most villified player in Philadelphia sports history, Rickey Henderson. Nice dream Can we trade the Phillies to Oakland and bring the A's back home?
                            The problem here is that if Arnold Johnson does NOT buy the A's... or if Carpenter made a huge offer to MACK rather than Cox in 1943, & it was accepted; is that the whole timeline changes. If Finley doesnt buy the team and put his managers, scouts, players in place... the whole 1971-75 run never happens... Perhaps Carpenter would have made all the same moves he made with the Phillies, but thats not likely as his influences would have been the men he first met in the A's front office upon taking over. Maybe the "Save The A's" committee (If THEY get the team in 1954-5) hires a totally different batch of scouts and front office people and managers (team building staff)... we'll never really know how it would have gone, but to count on having the Philadelphia A's having done all that has been accomplished on the field by the Oakland A's isnt realistic. And if Finley had bought the club from the Macks, with no Arnold Johnson as a bridge, they sure wouldnt have stayed in a 2 team town. Finley would have either decided to run the Phillies off (something I can see him trying, Carpenter or no. It seems to me he had that kind of ego) or else moving away. Finley always seemed to like Dallas, perhaps thats where they would have gone.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Aa3rt View Post
                              The St. Louis Browns played their last game on Sept. 27, 1953. Two days later (9/29/53) the Browns were sold to a Baltimore syndicate headed by Baltimore mayor Tom D'Alesandro for $ 2.475 million dollars. The American League approved the sale and the move-without Bill Veeck.[/URL]

                              Political footnote: Tom D'Alesandro was the father of House speaker Nancy Pelosi:

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_D'Alesandro,_Jr.

                              Comment

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