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Smarty’s 2023 Winter Solstice post

For some, today is the best day of the year.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies
Welcome to the shortest day of the year
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve made it, people. Today is December 21, which marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. That means today is the “shortest” day of the year, which sounds bad until you remember that means that every day for the next six months will be longer than the last. It’s all downhill from here, folks!

To celebrate the occasion, I’ll take a look at the shortest games in Phillies’ history.

Extremely long-time Phillies fans may recall the shortest nine inning game in team history, played on September 29, 1919. It was part of a doubleheader against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. They managed to get things wrapped up in a brisk 51 minutes.

The pitch clock helped reduce game times in 2023, but it’s still hard to fathom how they played a full nine-inning game in under an hour. It was the first game of a doubleheader scheduled on the last day of the season between two non-playoff teams. I suppose that both squads likely had a “Let’s get this over with” attitude about the affair.

Not having to worry about such concerns as television commercials between innings assuredly helped speed things along, but even then, the players must have been sprinting on and off the field after the third out was recorded.

As far as game action, the Phillies took a first inning lead thanks to an unearned run by the Giants. But Phillies starter Lee Meadows couldn’t hold that lead, allowing them to tie it in the second, and then take a commanding 3-1 lead in the third. The Giants would later tack on an insurance run, but it didn’t matter because the Phillies managed to get three runners aboard the rest of the game. (You didn’t expect a 51 minute game to have a lot of scoring, did you?)

The Phillies leadoff hitter on the day was Bevo LeBourveau, and the cleanup hitter was Emil “Irish” Meusel. Despite those Hall of Fame names, neither man has ever warranted much consideration to be placed on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame. The most notable player on the roster was outfielder Cy Williams who would lead the National League in home runs in three different seasons later in his career.

The Phillies would play an even shorter game four years later on October 6, 1923. Once again, the non-contending Phillies had a doubleheader scheduled on the final day of the season. The Phillies’ roster included luminaries such as Heinie Sand and Cotton Tierney. Cliff Lee was also on that team, but simple math would indicate that it was not the same guy as the pitcher from the 2009 team.

This game went about as poorly as most Phillies games did that season. The Phillies were trailing the Boston Braves 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning when rain began to fall. The game - and the Phillies’ dreadful season - was mercifully ended after just 45 minutes.

With that, I hope you all have a happy solstice, and please make good use of the ever-increasing sunlight over the next six months!