The 1943 season was a peculiar one for Phillies
With World War II having depleted MLB rosters, clubs had to adapt to unique time
This is the latest in a series of seasons in Phillies history that end with the No. 3.
Despite finishing in seventh place with a 64-90 record, the 1943 Phillies posted their best record since '35, which really isn't saying much. The records show the Phils lost 100 or more games six of the previous seven seasons. At the gate 70 years ago, they drew the most fans (466,975) since '16.
It turned out to be a calendar year in which the Phillies had three owners and two managers and not many good players. A total of 18 Phils were in the military in 1943 -- a loss of talent all teams experienced during World War II.
The financially troubled Phillies under owner Gerry Nugent were forced by the National League to sell before the season began. The club was purchased by a 30-man syndicate, headed by New York businessman William Cox.
Cox, then 33, officially assumed control as Spring Training began on March 15. He was known to put on the uniform and work out with the team in Spring Training and interfere throughout the season. He fired manager Bucky Harris after 95 games (40-53-2). A bitter Harris let it be known that Cox had bet on Phils games. Following a lengthy investigation by MLB, Cox was banned from baseball.
The Carpenter family of Wilmington, Del., purchased the Phillies that November, ending a revolving door of ownership. Between 1883 and when the Carpenters took over, there were 10 owners.
Because of World War II travel restrictions, the Phils' Spring Training camp switched to Hershey, Pa., from Miami. Harris greeted only 11 players on the first day of Spring Training. Two days later, six more players showed up.
Those same travel restrictions had a bearing on the regular-season schedule. The Phillies played split doubleheaders -- 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. -- to accommodate war workers on swing shifts. They wound up playing a club-record 43 doubleheaders, fitting for 1943, a bizarre year.
Right fielder Ron Northey led the club with 16 homers and 68 RBIs. Babe Dahlgren -- primarily a first baseman, who also played third, short and caught one game -- was the leading hitter (.287). Left-hander Schoolboy Rowe was the ace of the staff, going 14-8 with a 2.94 ERA. He was the Phils' first starter in eight seasons to win more games than he lost. The staff as a whole walked more batters (451) than they struck out (431).
Rookie left-hander Gerheauser, 23, who was acquired from the Yankees late in Spring Training, finished 10-19 -- a club record for most losses by a rookie that still stands.