As the 20th century dawned, the Phillies had become one of the stronger teams in the National League, with good reason. The team had three future Hall of Famers in the lineup with Ed Delahanty at first base, Nap Lajoie (photo at right) at second and Elmer Flick in right field. In 1900, Flick led the league in RBI and was second in batting average with a .367 mark.
Hopes of the team's first pennant, however, were soon dashed when the American League was formed in 1901. Within two years, the new league had signed not only the Phillies' three star players but a handful of others, most of them going to the rival Philadelphia Athletics. In a cruel touch of irony, the first five American League batting champions would all be former Phillies with Lajoie winning three titles and Delahanty and Flick each one.
After placing second in 1901, their highest finish since 1887, the Phils slipped in the standings. To make matters worse, in 1903, a balcony at Philadelphia Park collapsed, sending 12 people to their deaths and injuring 232 others. Soon afterward, popular owner Al Reach and his partner John Rogers sold the team.
There were plenty of bright spots, though. Chick Fraser (photo at left) in 1903 and John Lush in 1906 pitched no-hitters. There would not be another Phillies no-hitter for 58 years. Sherry Magee (photo below) led the league in RBI in 1907 while hitting a lofty .328. Togie Pittinger won 23 games in 1905, Tully Sparks won 22 in 1907 and George McQuillan won 23 with a 1.52 ERA in 1908. That same year, rookie lefthander Harry Coveleskie earned the nickname "Giant Killer" by beating the New York Giants late in the season three times in six days to knock John McGraw's team out of the pennant.
The first City Series games between the Phillies and the A's were played in 1903. The series would be a popular attraction for Philadelphia baseball fans for more than 50 years.
As usual, the Phillies had their share of interesting personalities. Ponderous manager Billy Shettsline was a colorful figure who was in the midst of working his way from ticket-taker to club president. His arm gone bad, Kid Gleason had left the mound to become the team's second baseman. Norristown's Roy Thomas was a stellar outfielder and leadoff hitter, whistling catcher Red Dooin was a superb backstop and Kitty Bransfield was a solid player at first base. Toward the end of the decade, the Phillies' third baseman was a man named Eddie Grant. Some years later, having been traded to the New York Giants, Grant would become the first major league player killed in World War I.
By the end of the decade, the Phillies were starting to climb back up in the National League standings. Slowly, the team that would soon win the club's first pennant was being put together.