Another year, another losing record. The Philadelphia Phillies ended the 20th century with 64 losing seasons since 1900.
Terry Francona worked his third season as Phillies manager. Francona saw his offense hit .275 (1,539-for-5,598) with 841 runs, 302 doubles, 44 triples, 161 home runs, 797 runs batted in, and 125 stolen bases. However, the pitching staff compiled a 4.92 Earned Run Average in 1,438 innings with two shutouts, 32 saves, 11 complete games, 1,494 hits, 627 bases on balls, and 1,030 strikeouts. Perhaps ineffective pitching cost the opportunity to compete for the National League East title, finishing in third place at 77-85 (26 games out of first).
Right-fielder Bobby Abreu led the Phillies in games (152), average (.335), runs (118), and triples (27). Abreu also produced 35 doubles, 20 homers, 109 walks. 93 RBIs, and 27 steals.
Doug Glanville certainly enjoyed his second season as Philadelphia’s center-fielder, batting .325 (204-628) with 101 runs, 38 doubles, six triples, 11 jacks, 73 RBIs, and 34 steals. Glanville became the first Phillie to collect 200-plus hits in one season since Pete Rose posted 208 in 1979.
First-string catcher Mike Lieberthal demonstrated his power and defensive capabilities to the next level. At the plate and on the base paths, Lieberthal batted .300 (153-for-510) with 84 runs, 33 doubles, a triple, 31 long-balls, and 96 RBIs (the 31 homers were the most for a Phillies catcher in team history, one more than Benito Santiago in 1996). While behind the plate, Lieberthal recorded 62 assists and set a franchise record for fielding percentage by a catcher at .997.
Rico Brogna became the first Phillies first baseman with back-to-back 100 RBI seasons. Brogna hit .278 with 90 runs, 29 doubles, four triples, 24 four-baggers, and 102 RBIs.
Left-fielder Ron Gant joined the Phillies and batted .260 (134-for-516) in 138 games with 107 runs, 27 doubles, five triples, 17 round-trippers, 77 RBIs, and 13 steals. Third baseman Scott Rolen touched them all 26 times with 74 runs and 77 RBIs in 112 games.
Shortstop Alex Arias hit .303 (105-for-347) in 118 games with 48 runs, 20 doubles, one triple, four homers, and 48 RBIs. Rookie second baseman Marlon Anderson batted .252 (114-for-452) with 48 runs, 26 doubles, four triples, five sayonaras, 54 RBIs, and 13 steals.
On April 28 against Cincinnati, Rolen, Brogna, and Gant hit consecutive homers. Rolen hit three doubles against Pittsburgh on June 24. Brogna recorded seven RBIs against San Diego on Aug. 25.
Ace starter Curt Schilling missed the final two months with a shoulder injury. While healthy, Schilling went 15-6 in 24 starts (180 innings) with one shutout, eight complete games, 159 hits, 44 walks, 152 strikeouts, and a 3.54 ERA.
Paul Byrd (15-11, 32 starts, 4.60 ERA) permitted 205 hits, walked 70, and struckout 106 in 200 innings. Chad Ogea (6-12, 5.63 ERA) started 28 of 36 games, walked 61, and fanned 77 in 168 innings. Carlton Loewer (2-6, 20 games, 13 starts, 5.12 ERA) completed two games in 90 innings.
Randy Wolf (6-9, 5.55 ERA) started 21 of his 22 games as a rookie and posted 116 strikeouts against 67 walks in 122 innings. Robert Person came in a May 5 trade from Toronto (for pitcher Paul Spiljaric) and went 10-5 with 70 walks, 127 strikeouts, and a 4.27 ERA in 137 innings (31 games, 22 starts).
Wayne Gomes (5-5, 73 games, 4.26 ERA) served as the closer by saving 19 games, walked 56, and fanned 58 in 74 innings. Steve Montgomery (1-5, 53 games, 3.34 ERA) notched three saves and struckout 55 in 65 innings. Amaury Telemauco (3-0, 5.55 ERA) tallied 41 strikeouts against 20 walks in 47 innings (44 games).
Jim Poole (1-1, 4.33 ERA) mostly entered for one batter per game as he pitched 35 innings in 51 games. Steve Schrenk (1-3, 50 innings, 4.29 ERA) came in relief for 30 of 32 games and posted one save. Yorkis Perez (3-1, 35 games, 3.94 ERA) permitted 29 hits and 15 walks while striking out 26 in 32 innings.
In a 12-3 home victory against Milwaukee, the Phillies played 11 runs in the bottom of the eighth. Regarding other feats, Rolen became the third player in Phillies history to hit inside-the-park and fence-clearing homers in the same game ( Dick Allen and Johnny Callison were the others).
On Aug. 6, the Phillies had a 61-48 record and third place in the NL East (five and one-half games behind first-place Atlanta). However, the Phillies were 67-64 by the end of Aug., including an 11-game losing streak and 18 losses in 19 games. The Phillies dropped 26 of their final 36 contests.
Defense kept the Phillies in games with a .983 fielding percentage (second-best in the NL ) after 100 errors and 144 double plays. On May 15 at Veterans Stadium, catcher Mike Piazza of the New York Mets grounded a ball to Arias (shortstop), then three it to Brogna (first base) for the 28th triple play turned by the Phillies in franchise history. Arias also began a triple play on Aug. 20, 1998 at San Francisco.
Byrd, Lieberthal, and Schilling (the NL’s starting pitcher) represented the Phillies in the 1999 All-Star Game; Schilling took the loss as the American League defeated the NL. Veterans Stadium attracted 1,825,337 spectators. The top minor leaguers in the Phillies’ farm system to receive the Paul Owens Award were pitcher Adam Eaton and first baseman/outfielder Pat Burrell.
WOGL-FM and flagship television stations Comcast SportsNet and WPSG-UPN broadcasted Phillies games. Calling the action were Harry Kalas, Andy Musser, Chris Wheeler, Larry Andersen, and Scott Graham.
*Information about the 1999 Phillies can be found in “The Phillies Encyclopedia (Third Edition)” by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.