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Today in Phillies History: November 24th

Jim Eisenreich, David Bell, and the parallel lives of George Burns's.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Source for the dates and events: Broad and Pattison

1964: Johnny Callison finishes second in the MVP voting to Cards third baseman Ken Boyer, but finishes ahead of Bill White, Frank Robinson, and Joe Torre.

1971: Willie Montanez finishes second in the rookie-of-the-year balloting to Braves catcher Earl Williams, 18 votes to 6.

1979: For the second year in a row, the Phillies have four gold glove winners: Mike Schmidt, Garry Maddox, Manny Trillo, and Bob Boone

1993: Released Kyle Abbott
[Abbott had been the Angels' first round pick (9th overall) of 1989. The Phillies acquired him in 1991, along Ruben Amaro Jr., in exchange for Von Hayes. Hayes retired after one season with the Angels. Abbott went 1-14 with a 5.13 ERA (4.45 FIP) in 1992 before spending all of 1993 in AAA.]

1993: Signed free agent Jim Eisenreich
[Eisenreich had already spent 1993 with the Phils' NL champions on a one-year deal, and he would remain in Philadelphia for three more years, hitting a combined .324/.381/.453 (.833 OPS, 120 OPS+) in his four years as the long platoon in the outfield.]

2002: Signed free agent David Bell
[Bell had a pretty good year in 2004 (.821 OPS, 107 OPS+), but overall in four years here compiled a lowly 84 OPS+]

The only Phillie born on this date was George Burns (born 1889), who wrapped up a pretty good career by playing for the Phillies in his final season in 1925.

The funny thing about Burns though, is there have only been two major leaguers by that name, and they had oddly parallel careers:

One was the former Phillie, George Joseph Burns, and the other was George Henry Burns, born in 1893. We'll call them by their middle names here. (by the way neither should be confused with another contemporary, the comedian born in 1896 whose real name wasn't even George Burns)

They were different sorts of players: Joseph was a 5'7" 160 lb. speedy outfielder who stole 383 bases. Henry was a 6'1" 180 lb. first baseman with less speed and more power, including 64 doubles in 1926, the second highest single-season total in history. And yet their similarities were striking:

Both had Philadelphia connections: Joseph played a season for the Phillies. Henry not only spent parts of four seasons with the Philadelphia A's, he also attended Central High School in the city briefly before dropping out at 16 to pursue a baseball career.

Both of their major league careers were during the 1910s and 1920s: Joseph from 1911 to 1925, and Henry from 1914 to 1929.

Yet they never crossed paths during the regular season, and while they appeared in a combined five World Series, never in the same year:
- Joseph spent 15 years in the majors, all of them in the National League; Henry spent 16 years in the majors, all in the American League.
- Joseph was in the World Series in 1913, 1917, and 1921, Henry in 1920 and 1929.
- They also weren't in Philadelphia at the same time: Joseph in 1925, Henry in 1918-20 and 1929.

And then there are their career stats:
- Joseph played in 1853 games, Henry in 1866
- Joseph had 2077 hits, Henry 2018
- Joseph had 2778 total bases, Henry 2822
- Joseph finished with an OPS+ of 114. Henry, 113

Joseph, from his SABR biography:

Not to be confused with the American League first baseman or the cigar-wielding comedian of the same name, who were roughly his contemporaries, George Burns of the National League was the most consistent hitter in major-league history, batting .287 for his 15-year career, but never higher than .303 nor lower than .272 in a full season. Though Burns is hardly remembered today, John McGraw described him as "one of the most valuable ball players that ever wore the uniform of the Giants." He consistently ranked among the NL leaders in hits, runs, walks, and stolen bases. George was tremendously strong even though he stood just 5'7" and weighed only 160 lbs.; an excellent boxer and wrestler, he was one of the Giants who couldn't resist challenging the much larger Jim Thorpe to wrestling matches before McGraw forbade the practice. He also demonstrated his strength by wielding a 42", 52-oz. bat, which was a tree trunk even by Deadball Era standards.

And from Henry's bio:

Although he hit .296 in 1919, Burns found out that Philly fans could be very fickle and boisterous, whether you were a hometown product or not. He suffered through a slow start at the plate, posting a .255 average for May and June. The hecklers rode him, and his defense suffered. Mack thought that a change of position might benefit Burns. He was tried in the outfield, but Burns was too slow afoot, and despised playing there.

Finally, in the Phillies' future:

99 days from today: the Phillies face their first major league opponent, hosting the Yankees at Bright House Field. Spring Training Schedule.