Manuscripts & Archives: Philadelphia Phillies Records at Hagley

Friday, April 11, 2014

As the winter weather thaws and the snow that filled our streets becomes a distant memory, many of us are itching to get out in the warm weather and embrace those traditional pastimes that inspire summer. The bitter cold made for a long winter, even on our TV stations as we tuned into more sights of snow in Sochi for the winter Olympics. We welcomed the news of MLB spring training with pitchers and catchers reporting to Florida to kick off pre-season. A beacon of hope, baseball shows a symbol of warmer weather. This spring as we tune in to our favorite baseball game and make the trip to the ballpark, most fans in the Hagley region will focus in on the Philadelphia Phillies. What many do not realize is that a piece of Phillies franchise history lies right in their backyard, in Hagley’s Manuscript & Archives Department.

In 1883, Alfred J. Reach purchased the Worcester Ruby Legs, a disbanded ball team and moved the team to Philadelphia, giving them their current name (which incidentally is the oldest one name, one city franchise in baseball history). During World War II, the team was sold to DuPont Company executive, R.R.M. Carpenter, Sr., who then charged his son, R.R.M. (Bob) Carpenter, Jr., with operation of the team. In 1950, the team and its “Whiz Kids” went on to win the National League title. However, success was not long lasting. The 1950s and 1960s were not a particularly successful period for the team, mainly due to failures to invest in player development. In 1972, the team was turned over to R.R.M. Carpenter III, known as “Ruly”, who had previously worked in both the Phillies front office as well as in the Accounting Department, and the minor leagues before being promoted to Secretary and Assistant Treasurer and finally to President. He undertook the role of rebuilding the team and establishing it as a winner. The Phillies would go on to win the National League East in 1977 and 1978, and in 1980 the team won the World Series. Following the 1981 season, the Carpenter family sold the team to William Giles.

Hagley’s collection, the Philadelphia National League Club records (Accession 1752), contains financial records, scouting reports, public relations files, as well as correspondence regarding player development and stadium leases spanning the period of 1950 to 1970. In addition to the team records, there are also records from both the National and Major Leagues. Records from the National League include meeting minutes, president and treasurer’s reports from 1946 through 1970 as well as copies of the league constitution and finally records relating to broadcasting and owner/player negotiations. Files from the Major League portion of the collection include items with regard to the pension fund and benefits, minutes of the Joint Meeting of the Major Leagues (1961-1970), materials related to the Curt Flood case (challenging the free agent clause), statements relating to antitrust exemptions, and finally files on the Major League Agreement from 1952.

One notable item found by this archivist was a report prepared by National League in 1968 showing attendance numbers for teams in the league from the early 1960s through the end of the decade for consideration of the scheduling committee. This was all in preparation for the 1969 expansion of the Major League which paved the way for more games each season, as well as the addition of franchises in Kansas City, Montreal, Seattle, and San Diego. With this expansion came the system of splitting both the National and American Leagues into divisions of East and West.

Although few items from the collection reach into the 1980s, the 1981 Organization Sketch Book kept by the organization lists front office staff, minor league coaches, managers, and players, as well as major league coaches, managers, and players. Pages for each player include a short biographical sketch as well as individual statistics.

As you tune in to the Phillies this season or enjoy a hot dog on Dollar Dog Night at Citizen’s Bank Park, remember that the history and traditions of major league baseball have a home close to your own. Let’s hope this brings luck to our Phillies and they make history with a successful 2014 season!

Andrew Engel is an archival specialist in Hagley’s Manuscripts & Archives Department.