1. The movie The Natural was based on a member of the Phillies. First baseman Eddie Waitkus received a note when he returned to his hotel on June 14, 1949 from a woman who said she needed to see him. Being a ballplayer, he decided to go to the woman’s room. When he arrived, she grabbed a .22 and shot him in the stomach, saying, “If I can’t have you, nobody can.” Waitkus barely survived the shooting, but returned to the Phillies the next year, and helped the Whiz Kids win the 1950 pennant. His story was the inspiration for a Bernard Malamud novel that was later turned into a Robert Redford movie. (You can read the full story here.)
2. In their inaugural year, the Phillies had a player who still has the best nickname in team history. Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson played on the 1883 Phils. He got the nickname for his excellent glove. I think we should pass that nickname on to J-Roll. Who’s with me? (To see the 25 best nicknames in Phillies history, click here.)
3. In a span of two weeks in 1931, the Philadelphia A’s had three guys hit for the cycle (a single, double, triple and a home run in the same game). The Philadelphia Phillies have had a grand total of three guys hit for the cycle since 1933.
4. The band Yo La Tengo gets its name from former Phils legend Whitey Ashburn. After he got traded to the Mets in 1962, Ashburn played for one of the worst teams in baseball history. One problem the team had was the lack of communication between the center fielder Ashburn and the Venezuelan shortstop named Elio Chacon. Chacon didn’t speak English, so he didn’t know what “I got it” meant. So Whitey learned the Spanish version of “I got it” (“Yo la tengo”), and the next time a pop fly went into left center, Whitey shouted “Yo la tengo.” Chacon stopped in his tracks, Ashburn settled under the ball, and … got plowed over by (American) left fielder Frank Thomas, who had no idea what “Yo la tengo” meant. When they got up, Thomas shot a glare at Ashburn and shouted, “What the heck is a yellow tango?”
5. On June 13, 1971, Rick Wise played one of the greatest games in baseball history. Not only did he pitch a no-hitter against the Reds in Cincinnati, he also hit two home runs. He is the only player in MLB history to hit two homers while pitching a no-no. To read more about his incredible game, click here.
6. In 1894, Phillies outfielder Sam Thompson knocked in 61 runs in a single month. It’s a major league baseball record that’s never been broken.
7. In a game in 1957, Richie Ashburn hit a foul ball that hit a fan named Alice Roth in the face. Roth, the wife of Philadelphia Bulletin sports editor Earl Roth, had her nose broken by the ball and play was stopped as medical personnel attended to her. Finally she was placed on a stretcher and play resumed. On the next pitch, Ashburn fouled off another pitch—which hit Mrs. Roth as she was being carried off on a stretcher.
8. The Phillies played in both the first-ever game to be heard on the radio and the first night game in MLB history. Pittsburgh DJ Harold Arlin called a game on the air by speaking into a telephone. The game, which was played between the Phils and Pirates on August 25, 1921, was won by the Pirates 8-5. On May 24, 1935, the Phils played the Reds in Cincy in the first-ever night game. The Phillies lost, 2-1.
9. Cliff Lee finished his career on the Phillies with a .315 average and 33 home runs. You read that right. There was a Cliff Lee on the Phillies from 1921-1924. He played first base and catcher.
10. Only two Phillies pitchers have ever thrown an immaculate inning. What’s an immaculate inning? It’s a nine-pitch, three-strikeout half inning. It’s only happened 46 times in MLB history (five of them were against the Phillies). So what Phillies pitchers did it? Steve Carlton? Curt Schilling? Cliff Lee? Nope. The first to do it was Andy Ashby, in 1991. The second was just last year. Juan Perez, who pitched a grand total of five innings last year, made one of them count. In the 10th inning of a game against the Braves, he struck out three Braves on nine pitches. The Phils scored a run in the bottom of the 10th, giving Perez the win. It was his first career victory.
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