Baseball Legends Revealed #31

This is the thirty-first in a series of examinations of baseball-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous baseball legends.

Let’s begin!

BASEBALL LEGEND: The Worcester professional baseball team moved to Philadelphia to become the Philadelphia Phillies.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

Let’s say that you own a franchise of a company that only gives out limited amounts of franchises. You open your franchise in Cleveland. It fails.

The company then decides to give your spot to me, and I open a franchise in Duluth (where Bob Dylan was born).

Did I purchase your franchise and move it from Cleveland to Duluth? Or is the only connection between the two of us the fact that your franchise going under made an opportunity for me to get a franchise?

That’s the question that is at the heart of the great “Are the Philadelphia Phillies descended from the Worcester baseball team?” debate.

On the Phillies’ own website it reads in their history:

The original Phillies began when the Worcester Ruby Legs were disbanded and the franchise was moved by the National League to Philadelphia. Al Reach, who in 1866 had become the first professional baseball player and was later a successful sporting goods dealer, became the Phillies first owner along with attorney John Rogers. Reach named the team the Phillies, a take-off on the team’s geographic roots, “Philly.”

The Worcester Ruby Legs (or Brown Stockings, or just plain ol’ Worcesters) were a short-lived team that had at least one notable moment in their three year history.

In their first season, 1880, pitcher Lee Richmond pitched the first perfect game in Major League history…

But by 1882, they realized something that would likely be even more evident today – you can’t get enough attendance to keep a Major League baseball team playing in Worcester, MA.

So the team folded.

THEN Al Reach and John Rogers were offered a NEW franchise.

We know this is a new franchise because NO ONE from the Worcester team was involved with the Philadelphia team of the next season. NO ONE.

That sure doesn’t sound like a team that was moved from Worcester to Philadelphia, now does it?

And it’s not like the above quote from the Phillies’ website isn’t wrong on OTHER stuff, too. The Philadelphia baseball team was known as the QUAKERS for the first seven years of the team existence until the Phillies name came around in 1890 (here they are in 1888)…

And yet their site doesn’t mention the Quakers at all.

I think it is pretty evident (and pretty much all baseball historians agree) that the Worcester team was not purchased and moved to Philadelphia – their spot was merely taken in the National League.

BASEBALL LEGEND: A Major League owner effectively tried to fire one of his players during the middle of the World Series!

STATUS: True

Mike Andrews was an All-Star second baseman for the Red Sox and started for the 1967 American League champion Sox, but by 1973, he was on the tail end of his career. He made it to another World Series, though, this time as a member of the Oakland Athletics.

Andrews was used primarily as a pinch-hitter and utility infielder.

In the bottom of 8th inning of Game 2 of the World Series (with the Athletics holding a 1-0 lead on the New York Mets but trailing 6-4 in the game), Andrews came in to pinch-hit for Ted Kubiak (who had come in to play second base after the starting second baseman Dick Green had been pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 6th).

Andrews grounded out. He then played second base for the rest of the game. The game went into extra innings after the Athletics scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.

In the top of the twelfth, however, the Mets scored a run and had the bases loaded with two outs when a ground ball was hit to Andrews at second. He booted the ball and two runs scored. On the next at-bat, the ball again was hit to Andrews and he promptly threw the ball wide to first base, allowing ANOTHER run to score! And when the Athletics went on to score a run in the bottom of the 12th before losing 10-7, well, suffice to say that Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley was not at all pleased with Andrews.

However, HOW angry Finley was is still surprising. He had Andrews sign a false affidavit claiming that he was injured, so Finley could therefore rule him ineligible for the rest of the World Series. In effect, he wanted to fire Andrews in the middle of the World Series!

Commissioner Bowie Kuhn would not let that happen, and Andrews was re-instated and pinch-hit in Game 4 (to great applause from the New York crowd, who, along with pretty much everyone else in the country, supported Andrews in the squabble).

The Athletics went on to win the World Series in 7 games, but Andrews never had another at-bat, and he never played in the Majors again. Dick Williams, the Hall of Fame manager of the Athletics (who had managed Andrews in the minor leagues, in Boston AND in Oakland) quit after the season, fed up with Finley’s antics. Williams would cite the Andrews incident as one of the reasons he quit.

After he retired from baseball, Andrews worked in insurance. However, harkening back to his days on the Red Sox when he was involved with the Jimmy Fund (the cancer charity), Andrews was lured into getting more involved with the charity and eventually he began to work full-time for the Fund.

He has been the chairman of the Jimmy Fund for the last 31 years now!

BASEBALL LEGEND: A batter once hit a triple with the ball barely traveling 60 feet into FOUL territory!

STATUS: True

Baseball rules, once written, have a tendency to stick around for a very long time, whether they make sense or not.

In the case of one rule, umpires in the National League actually decided amongst themselves to ignore one aspect of the rule. However, American League umpires did not make such an agreement, and in 1947, that decision would result in one of the strangest triples ever.

Official rule Rule 7.05(c) provides that a runner is given “Three bases if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril.”

On July 27, 1947, in the first game of a doubleheader between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Red Sox first baseman Jake Jones was facing Yankees pitcher Fred Sanford…

Oh wait, my bad, let’s try that again…

Okay, that’s better.

So with two outs in the sixth inning and no one on base, Jones hits a groundball into foul territory. However, the ball looked like it MIGHT break back towards fair territory, so in a moment of temporary madness, Sanford decided to throw his glove at the ball to make sure it stayed foul.

Umpire Cal Hubbard (who is in the Hall of Fame as an umpire – he was also a great football player in his younger days!) determined that while in the National League, umpires decided to not invoke this rule on foul balls, HE would – so Jones was awarded a TRIPLE!

A triple on a ball that barely traveled 60 feet…in FOUL territory!

In 1954, the rule was re-written to its current form (emphasis added):

Three bases if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril.

Thanks to the great Richard Marazzi for this awesome story!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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4 Responses to “Baseball Legends Revealed #31”

  1. “The original Phillies began when the Worcester Ruby Legs were disbanded and the franchise was moved by the National League to Philadelphia.”

    “Moving” franchises has a different meaning than actually moving the actual team “holding” the franchise. It means that the right to hold the franchise for that area, or that slot in the company, was transferred by the Franchising authority, not from the old franchise holder selling to the new one.

    I know of several instances were “franchises were moved” in non-sports businesses, locally, where it meant that the other franchise holder in the region was shut down, and the new franchise holder opened up unrelated stores (where the former employees of the old franchise had no advantage over new applicants).

    It is confusing, yes, but mainly because of the vaguaries of how business law use of English doesn’t quite square with standard interpretation. This is much like how “Better” and “Best” inter-relate in ad speak (“Best” can be used if yours and 10 other people’s products are identically superior in the same category, despite the connotation usually associated with the word (so all 11 could claim to be the “best” in ads), while “Better” means that you have to show appreciable superiority over the compared product).

    Did the team move? No. But, that’s not what the Philly blurb stated, in legalese (though it’s really easy to misinterpret it that way). In fact, I wouldn’t put it past the Phillies ownership to state it that way to imply the misinterpretation.

    Here’s a baseball legend I’d like to hear the full story of…

    At one point in the early 70s, the Padres almost moved to Washington, DC – and half their baseball cards were printed as the team being “Washington National League” as a result. What was going on with that aborted move, and what kind of pressures were on Topps to print cards like that?

  2. [...] Sayonara Slam: On September 10, 1881 (that’s 129 years ago yesterday), the Troy Trojans beat the Worcester Brown Stockings (or Ruby Legs, as they were also known) by a score of 8-7. The teams (let alone the game) remain [...]

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