Phillies Time Machine: 1957

The Phillies tried their hardest to hang onto the remnants of 1950 by keeping key players of that wonderful, Whiz Kids team around. Slowly, they realized that the formula they were trying wasn't working and needed to be scrapped. A controversial offseason trade got the process going and the 1957 season officially ushered in a new era of Phillies baseball highlighted by youth.

For 11 seasons, Del Ennis was not only one of the better players on the Phillies teams, he was one of the most popular figures on the team as well. That's why the deal that sent Ennis to St.Louis for outfielder Rip Repulski wasn't exactly received with open arms by Phillies faithful. The move was one of various deals that brought new faces to Philadelphia. In Chico Fernandez, the Phillies finally had the shortstop that they often dreamt of having. Fernandez was also the first black player to be in the Phillies regular starting lineup. Pitcher Jim Hearn also came to the Phillies as part of a deal.

The real renaissance though was in the young players that the Phillies graduated to the majors for the 1957 season. Pitchers Jack Sanford, Don Cardwell, Dick Farrell and Seth Morehead all received promotions. First baseman Ed Bouchee and outfielder Harry Anderson took over starting jobs, while Bob Bowman came off the bench to play in 99 games for the '57 Phils.

All started well. By early July, the Phillies moved into a short-lived stay in first place. Just as quickly as they arrived at the top of the standings, they were swept by the Milwaukee Braves and tumbled. The Phillies continued to play well in July and were one of many teams moving up and down at the top of the standings.

As the heat of August set in, the Phillies wilted. They were ten games under .500 for the month of August and fell quickly from any hope that they had of finishing at the top of the standings. When all was said and done, the young Phillies team finished at 77-77 and was in fifth place.

You can't really fault the young players for the tumble. Bouchee hit .293 and slugged 17 homeruns with 76 RBI on his way to winning Rookie of the Year honors. Anderson hit .268 and also hit 17 homeruns. Bowman was a frequent player off the bench and hit .266, but his most impressive attribute was the gun that he had for an arm. As for the pitchers, Sanford was one of the best around and finished his rookie campaign with a 19-8 record and a 3.08 ERA. He also led the league in strikeouts with 188 and was named The Sporting News Rookie Pitcher of the Year giving the Phillies a sweep in the rookie honors. Farrell gave support out of the bullpen, winning 10 of 12 decisions and finishing with a 2.39 ERA.

Still, while youth was well served, the "old guys" generally had good seasons too. Repulski, who had always hammered Phillies pitching, showed that he could hit other teams pitchers too, and finished with a team leading 20 homeruns. Reliable Richie Ashburn finished with a .297 average, below where he normally was, but still respectable. Fernandez led the team with 18 stolen bases and anchored the shortstop position.

Not all was good news though. Veterans Willie Jones, Granny Hamner and Stan Lopata all hit less than .240 in 1957. Robin Roberts, who the Phillies counted on to lead the rotation, finished with just 10 wins to his credit and an astounding 22 losses. Curt Simmons fell to a 12-11 record with a 3.80 ERA and Harvey Haddix could record just 10 wins. Don Cardwell struggled as a starter and finished the year in the bullpen, which was still better than reliever Jack Meyer, who wound up being demoted to the minors. Meyer was one of the real disappointments of the mid 50s as he never achieved what many baseball scouts thought that he could.

Even with the shortcomings, there was optimism. After all, the '57 version of the Phillies finished six games better than the '56 team and now, there were a bunch of hungry, young players ready to contribute. Things appeared headed in the right direction, although that outlook would change quickly.

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