Philadelphia Phillies General Manager John Quinn shipped away some of the fond memories from the 1950 National League championship team in 1959. By fond memories, Quinn meant players from the Whiz Kids, such as catcher Stan Lopata, infielder Granny Hamner, and third baseman Willie Jones.
During the offseason, Quinn traded away outfielders Chuck Essigian and Rip Repulski, Lopata, infielders Johnny O’Brien and Ted Kazanski, and pitchers Jim Golden, Gene Snyder, and 1957 Rookie of the Year Jack Sanford. In return, the Phillies acquired shortstop Ruben Amaro, Sr., catcher Valmy Thomas, second baseman Sparky Anderson, infielder Joe Koppe, infielder-outfielder Harry Hanebrink, and pitchers Ruben Gomez and Gene Conley.
Eighteen players stepped on the mound for the phillies, posting a combined 4.27 Earned Run Average in 1,354 innings with eight shutouts, 54 complete games, 1,357 hits, 474 bases on balls, and 769 strikeouts. The starting rotation involved Robin Roberts, Ray Semproch, Jim Owens, Gomez, Conley, and Don Cardwell. Relievers included Dick Farrell, Jack Meyer, Taylor Phillips, and Humberto Robinson.
Roberts (4.27 ERA) led the staff in wins (15), losses (17), starts (35), complete games (19), innings (257), hits allowed (267), and strikeouts (137). Conley, who also played for the Boston Celtics (1952-1953 and 1958-1961) of the National Basketball Association, went 12-7 in 25 games (22 starts) with three shutouts, 12 complete games, 159 hits, 65 walks, 102 strikeouts, and a 3.00 ERA in 180 innings. Owens (12-12, 30 starts, 221 innings, 3.22 ERA) struck out 135 and Cardwell (9-10, 22 starts, 153 innings, 4.06 ERA) fanned 106 batters
Conley and Owens both defeated all clubs in the eight-team NL. Outfielder Bob Bowman appeared in five games (six innings), going 0-1 with five hits, five walks, zero strikeouts, and a 6.00 ERA.
Philadelphia’s offense produced 1,237 hits in 5,109 at-bats (.242 batting average) with 599 runs, 196 doubles, 38 triples, 113 home runs, 560 runs batted in, and 39 steals. The starting lineup usually consisted of left-fielder Harry Anderson, second baseman Sparky Anderson, center-fielder Richie Ashburn, first baseman Ed Bouchee, third baseman Gene Freese, Koppe at shortstop, right-fielder Wally Post, and catcher Carl Swatski.
Ashburn, who won the NL batting title at .350 the previous season, dipped to .266 (150-for-564) with 86 runs. Bouchee batted .285 with 75 runs, 29 doubles, four triples, 15 homers, and 70 RBIs. Harry Anderson tallied 50 runs, 74 singles, 28 doubles, six triples, 14 long-balls, and 63 RBIs.
Post hit a home run in all eight NL stadium and 22 total to go along with 62 runs, 74 singles 17 doubles, six triples, and 94 RBIs. Freese, not to be confused with 2011 St. Louis postseason hero David Freese, sent three of his 23 homers for grand slams and five of those four-baggers came as a pinch-hitter. Philly extended his big-league consecutive pinch-hit record to nine as he posted 74 hits (15 as a pinch hitter) in 254 at-bats.
Jones left Philadelphia with 23 runs, 26 singles, nine doubles, one triple, seven sayonaras, and 24 RBIs in 47 games; he smacked 180 fence-clearers with the Phillies from 1947 until 1959. Swatski touched them all nine times in 74 games. Sparky Anderson’s lone season in Philadelphia produced 42 runs, 92 singles, nine doubles, three triples, six steals, and 34 RBIs.
Sparky Anderson stole home against Cincinnati on July 2.
The Phillies displayed the league’s worst defense (.973 fielding percentage) with 154 errors and 132 double plays. Bouchee made 95 assists at first base. Anderson recorded 17 assists in the outfield.
Manager Eddie Sawyer couldn’t get the Phillies out of the abyss, earning last place at 64-90-1 (23 games out of first). Connie Mack Stadium (formerly known as Shibe Park) entertained 802,815 spectators.
Conley was the lone Phillie to participate in the 1959 All-Star Game. None of Philadelphia’s minor league affiliates won championships.
You could listen to Phillies games on WIP. Flagship television station WFIL-TV 6 also broadcasted Phillies games. The announcers were Claude Haring, Gene Kelly, and Byrum Saam.
Ashburn would be traded to the Chicago Cubs on Jan. 11, 1960 for pitcher John Buzhardt and infielders Alvin Dark and Jim Woods. In 12 seasons (1,794 games) with the Phillies, Ashurn collected 2,217 hits (ranked third behind second-place Mile Schmidt and all-time Phillies hits leader Jimmy Rollins), 7,122 at-bats, 287 doubles, 97 triples, 2,764 total bases, 199 steals, and a .311 batting average. He returned to the Phillies in 1963 as a broadcaster and remained at the position until his death in 1997.
*Information about the 1959 Phillies can be found in “The Phillies Encyclopedia (Third Edition)” by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.