This week's topic will not be about a collectable, but rather about the Phillies Wall of Fame. How many people voted - I did - but who I voted for did not muster enough votes to count. It seems that the only players that are getting any recognition for this particular honor are the ones that played in the 70's to present. This leaves a lot of players out that deserve to be there, or at least be considered. These are the forgotten players who played prior to 1950. From the turn of the century and up to 1920, the Phillies were a perennial contender with very good players, if not stars. I will go over a few of them, and then give you one of my favorite players that will never make it to the Wall.
Kid Gleason, a Hall of Famer, who went on to be manager of the Chicago Black Sox, started his career as a Phillie pitcher even though he made it into the Hall on his hard nose play at second base. But he pitched four seasons, from 1888-1891, including 1890 when he won an incredible 38 games. He followed that up by winning 24 the next season. He then came back to the Phils from 1903-1908 as a second baseman and shortstop. Altogether he played for 22 seasons, ten of which were spent in Philadelphia, and finished his career with a lifetime batting average of .261.
Next, we have Jack Clements, who is an oddity in that he was a left-handed catcher, third baseman and shortstop, but spent most of his time as a catcher. In his time, Clements was one of the best defensive catchers to play the game. He spent from 1884-1897 with the Phils, 17 years, batting .280.
Some of the other, forgotten Phillies include Fred Luderas, a power-hitting first baseman, played for the Phils from 1910-1920. He spent 12 years in the majors batting a robust .277. Roy Thomas, a hitting machine, led the league in on-base percentage, steals and doubles for many years and played for the Phils from 1899 to 1908 and again from 1910 to 1911. A centerfielder, with speed to burn, Thomas played 13 seasons and had a career .290 average. Jimmie Wilson, a catcher and all-star for the Phillies, played from 1923 to 1928 and again from 1934 to 1938. During his 18 year career, Wilson hit .284.
Pinky Whitney was on this year's ballot; who is that? Whitney was a great third baseman who played in Philadelphia from 1928 to 1933 and then returned from 1936 to 1939. A high average infielder with power, Whitney was the kind of player that all teams could use. He spent 12 years in the majors with a lifetime average of .295.
Andy Seminick. Probably everyone knows the name, but few knew what he accomplished or even what position he played. Seminick was a catcher for 15 years before becoming a coach. He caught for the Phils from 1943 to 1951 then returned from 1955 to 1957. He was your typical power-hitting, slow running catcher and did not beat out any infield hits, finishing with a lifetime average of .243.
This next one spent the shortest amount of time in Philadelphia, but accomplished a lot. A great power-hitter, he was in the top ten of homers each year of his Phillies' career; Don Hurst. Hurst was an all-star, power-hitting first baseman who played for the Phillies from 1928 to 1934 and played just seven seasons in the majors, with a lifetime average of .298.
Now, to my favorite player. Tony Gonzalez played for the Phillies from 1960 to 1969 as the team's centerfielder. He finished his 12 year major league career with an average of .286.He was and will always be one of the great centerfielders of my lifetime and I personally saw him make diving catches, over the shoulder catches and basket catches; If he could reach it, the ball was caught. While not a great power-hitter and just an average offensive player, Gonzalez would do the little things like moving runners, lay down a bunt, steal a base and even hit an occasional home run. But his play in center was sensational. He is my favorite for the choice for the Phillies' Wall of Fame.
I know there are others that I missed. Next year I would like to see one of the older player make it before some of the present players who are given consideration. Let's keep our fingers crossed. If you have any questions on this or any other articles, you can always e-mail me at RRSports@ptd.net.