As most phans are aware, the Phillies will reach 10,000 franchise losses this year (unless they go 78-8 in their remaining 86 games). They are currently 9 games away from this unprecedented mark of futility. There's already been a good article in the New York Times about the franchise, and there are surely many more to come as the team eclipses the number.
An interesting one appeared in this week's Philadelphia Weekly (the free weekly in the yellow, not orange, newspaper box). It's here and worth reading.
A few highlights: I had no idea that the team's owners' stinginess goes back almost a century. Apparently, in the early 20s, the team was vigilant in trying to get fans to return foul balls (they cost $1.50 gosh darnnit!) and even had an 11-year-old boy imprisoned overnight for failing to return one. Here's an excerpt:
Cotter spent the night in jail. The following morning Judge Brown heard about the case and called an immediate hearing. He summed up the situation thusly: "Why, I would have done the same thing myself if I had been in this boy’s place."
Wood, the guard who initially caught Cotter, testified that teams had the right to force fans to return foul balls.
I didn't know the story of Charley Ferguson, apparently the first of a long line of incredible prospects who didn't pan out for one reason or another:
In Occasional Glory—a perfect title, as is the 1980 tome You Can’t Lose ’Em All—David Jordan writes: "There have been many ‘might-have-beens’ in Philadelphia’s baseball history—the names of Ryne Sandberg, Nellie Fox, Joe Jackson and Fergie Jenkins come quickly to mind—but none is as striking as Charley Ferguson, who might have been one of the best of them all."
And I'd forgotten Rudy Carpenter's wish following the 1980 championship. Maybe it should be re-cast from a "wish" to a "spell"?
Being a Phillies fan means waiting for that next championship and knowing that there’s a realistic chance Ruly’s wish won’t happen.
Not the best article ever about the franchise, but it's worth a read for nuggets like these.