Philadelphia Athletics: Philly Shined Brighter than Yankees

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Philadelphia Athletics More Potent Than New York Yankees:  When you consider the halcyon days of the famed Athletics baseball team, the storied franchise that has boasted the likes of Jackson, Henderson, Canseco, McGwire, Rudi, Hunter and Fingers, which team stands out as the most impressive?  From 1972 until 1974 the A’s won three consecutive World Series titles under the guidance of zany owner Charles Finley.  Tony LaRussa’s A’s made it to three consecutive Series from 1988 to 1990, winning only one, however, taken to the task by Jose Rijo and Kirk Gibson in two series they were highly favored to win.  Both clubs, separated by a decade, had what in today’s terms could loosely defined as a “Dynasty.”  The A’s of the early 70’s won five division titles in a row, translating into the three World Series titles.  LaRussa’s A’s won the division four years out of five, despite falling victim to brash and circumstance. While these two Oakland clubs headlined both the American League and baseball as whole for more than half a decade, many would be surprised that the best teams put together by the Athletics originated not from Oakland, but from Philadelphia.


1927 was a banner year for baseball. The famed “Murderer’s Row” of the New York Yankees was born.  Babe Ruth hit his 60 home runs, a record that stood untouchable until the era of performance enhancing supplements.  He and teammate Lou Gehrig combined for 107 homers and 338 RBI and the Yankees won an astounding 110 games in a 154 game season.  They swept the Pirates in four games to win the World Series.  In 1928 they won “only” 101 and swept the rising St. Louis Cardinals in the Series again, starting what was sure to be a dynasty of epic proportions.  While the Yankees certainly were on their way to becoming arguably the most dominant franchise in the history of sports, they were stymied for the next three years, the prime era of their most storied players, by a team 90 miles south of New York. The Philadelphia Athletics under the management of Cornelius McGillicuddy thwarted both the Yankees and Major League baseball for the next three years, fielding a team commanding enough to challenge any in the game.


The 1929 Philadelphia A’s buried the fabled Yankees, winning the American pennant by an astonishing 18 games over the Bronx Bombers. Fueled by a “comfortable,” 57-16 home record, the A’s won 104 games, outscoring their opponents by almost two runs a game over the course of the season.  Rising star Jimmie Foxx hit .354 with 33 homers and 118 ribbies.  Al “Bucketfoot” Simmons batted .365 with 34 bombs and 157 RBI.  Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane hit .331 and aptly handled the league’s best pitching staff.  Lights out ace Lefty Grove, another HOF’er, won 20 games.  Third starter George Earnshaw posted 24.  Down 8-0 in the bottom the seventh inning against the formidable Chicago Cubs in a potentially series tying game, the A’s put ten across in the bottom of the inning and went on to win 10-8. Two days later they came back from a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to wrestle away the Yankees claim on baseball supremacy and defeat the Cubs, 4-1, for the World Series Title.   

The 1930 edition of the Athletics won 102, outpacing the Washington Senators by 8 games and again representing the American League in the Fall Classic.  Lefty Grove went 28-5 and sluggers Foxx and Simmons combined for 73 homers and 321 RBI.  The A’s defeated the Gashound Gang St. Louis Cardinals four games to two in the World Series to capture their second consecutive title. With stars Foxx (22), Cochrane (27), Simmons (28), and Grove (30) all coming into their prime the club seemed destined for great things in 1930.  They would not disappoint.



With a record of 107-45, the 1931 A’s set the club record for wins. Lefty Grove led a staff that included three 20 game winners with a mark of 31-4 while Mickey Cochrane led the offense batting .349, only slightly behind Simmons’ league leading mark of .390.  The A’s outdistanced the Yankees by 13.5 and met the Redbirds once again in the Series.  Standing again in the path of the A’s third consecutive World Series title were the St. Louis Cardinals. The fiery Cardinals usurped the A’s as Pepper Martin immortalized himself with a .500 average and daring baserunning.  At that time few thought it would take the A’s over 40 years to make it back to baseball’s grand stage.

In 1932 the Athletics would play second fiddle to the eventual champion Yankees.  Even 58 home runs by the “Beast,” Jimmie Foxx, could help the Philadelphians finish no better than second place, 13 games behind the Yanks, who swept the Cubs in the series famous for Babe Ruth’s alleged, “called shot.”  New York would go on the win the world title seven of the next twelve years while Connie Mack’s club descended into the second division. Burdened by financial difficulties, Mack was forced to sell off his top players to keep the franchise afloat.  In their final 22 years in Philadelphia the A’s would finish no higher than third.  After serving as a sort of Yankees farm system in Kansas City the club moved to Oakland in 1968.  Several years later the A’s were on their way to adding prestige to the once celebrated franchise.

The Philadelphia A’s of Connie Mack carried the torch of the American League proudly for several decades.  In a time before baseball had made it much west of the Mississippi and only two teams made the playoffs, the A’s added to the lure of the National Pastime.  The game is rich in history, and the Philadelphia A’s are part of that lineage.  Before McGwire, there was Simmons, before Canseco there was Foxx and before Hunter there was Grove.  Nostalgia is inherent in baseball perhaps more than any other sport. For this reason we should celebrate those often forgotten.


Contributing Author:  John O’Connor is your top choice for finding upcoming concerts near me, amazing things to do like art museums and nightclubs, and exciting sports like the Dodgers schedule and RedSox tickets

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