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Phillies' 'golden' 1933 season began rough stretch

What kind of season was 1933 for the Phillies? Not a good one.

After a fourth-place finish in 1932 (78-76), the Phillies fell to seventh, 60-92. Attendance plummeted from 268,914 to 156,421, a figure never matched since.

Three regulars hit over .300, but the pitching was poor. The staff had five pitchers with 10 or more losses. They allowed the most hits in the league (1,563). Another indication of a bad staff, the Phillies walked 410 batters, but only struck out 342.

Right fielder Chuck Klein won the Triple Crown (.368, 28 homers, 120 RBIs) after being the MVP the previous season. He also led the National League in hits (223) and doubles (44). The season capped an unbelievable five-year run in which Klein hit 180 homers, drove in 693 and hit .359.

The first All-Star Game was played that summer. Klein and shortstop Dick Bartell started for the NL team.

Klein, indeed, was the face of the franchise. 

But new owner Gerry Nugent, citing financial difficulties, traded Klein, a future Hall of Famer, to the Chicago Cubs for three players and $65,000 after the season. Early in the 1936 season, Nugent got Klein back in a trade plus $50,000. In his first two seasons as owner, he traded away, in addition to Klein, a starting center fielder, catcher, third baseman and a pitcher who won 27 games over the previous two seasons.

The Phillies celebrated their Golden Anniversary that season. As part of the festivities, the club held an Old-Timers Game, the first in franchise history, on May 1, exactly 50 years after their debut. Former players played the current team in a two-inning game. Following that game, the Phillies lost, 10-0, to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Attendance was estimated at 10,000.

The 1933 season started a string of 13 consecutive seasons in which the Phillies finished seventh or eighth, losing over 100 games seven times. Seven different men managed the team in those 13 seasons. Golden era, it was not.

One more note about 1933: Jimmie Foxx of the Philadelphia Athletics won the Triple Crown (48-163-.356), the only time two players from the same city accomplished that feat.

Larry Shenk is a contributor to
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