Amazingly, Mack rebuilt his club and won pennants in 1929-30-31 behind the slugging of Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane plus the pitching of Rube Walberg, Lefty Grove and George Earnshaw. Then, though he had promised after 1915 that he would never do it again, Mack had to break up his team because of a whopping payroll, declining attendance and the Depression. First to go in the white-elephant sale this time were Mule Haas, Jimmy Dykes and Al Simmons. Simmons had had some extraordinary seasons, hitting .351, .365, .381, .386, .390 and .392. But no matter, he and the two others went to the White Sox for $150,000. Cochrane was sold to the Tigers for $100,000. Then Grove, Walberg and Max Bishop were shipped to the Red Sox for $125,000. Last of all, Mack peddled Foxx for $150,000. From 1934 until the team was transferred to Kansas City in 1954 the Athletics were in the first division only twice.
Meanwhile the Phillies had somehow absorbed so much of the tranquil Philadelphia atmosphere that their very name was held to be a cause of their lackluster play. Horace Fogel, a former sportswriter, became president of the club after the 1909 season, and his first act was to change the name. The word Phillies, he said, "has come to mean a comfortable lackadaisicalness." His new name was the Live Wires. Fogel went so far as to order thousands of watch fobs decorated with a replica of an eagle clutching wires that threw off sparks. Within three years, however, Fogel himself had thrown off enough sparks to be found guilty of impugning the integrity of the game, and in the first scandal in the club since the telegraph wire affair of 1898, was officially "barred forever from the councils of the National League."
In 1910 the Phillies acquired Grover Cleveland Alexander for $750, and for the next seven years, with Alex winning at least 20 games each season (and a total of 191), the team only twice dropped out of the first division, winning the pennant in 1915. But when Alexander got his preliminary draft notice in 1917, Owner Bill Baker thought it would be a shrewd move to unload him and let another club fret about getting him back from the war in one piece. So he traded him to the Cub and Alexander went on to win another 183 games in his career.
After the hapless Phillies had finished no higher than seventh for a decade the National League took over the club, and in February 1943 finally found a buyer-William D. Cox. When the team assembled for spring training, there were only 16 men on hand to play for the Blue Jays, as Cox wanted to rename his squad. Cox even worked out as a pitcher. Some time later the owner was persuaded by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to resign from the club presidency because of alleged gambling.
It was not until 1950 that the Phillies won their second pennant, this one on a final-game homer by Dick Sisler. In the meantime, however, the Eagles won the first official pro football championship for the city. ( Connie Mack claimed the pro football championship of the U.S. in 1902 when his team, with Rube Waddell playing, beat Pittsburgh, with Christy Mathewson.) Three years in a row. starting in 1947, the Eagles made it to the championship game, first losing to the Cardinals 28-21, then beating them 7-0 in a blizzard in Philadelphia and retaining the title by bumping off the Rams 14-0.
Such achievements scarcely changed the Philadelphia fans' habits of booing. Or their paradoxical response to defeat. After the Phillies won the pennant in 1950 the miraculous Whiz Kids turned almost overnight into the Whiff Kids. Under Manager Eddie Sawyer the Phillies finished last in 1959. When they lost their first game in 1960 by 9-4, Sawyer quit. "I'm 49 years old," he explained, "and I'd like to live to be 50."
Gene Mauch, who managed the Phillies throughout most of the '60s, became famous for his spectacular temper tantrums. Once Mauch smashed in his office door with a fungo bat. Another lime he ripped a phone off the clubhouse wall. After one particularly galling ninth-inning defeat he hurled spareribs, chicken, potato salad, watermelon and cantaloupe around the locker room. Nowadays, looking back on the past, Mauch says reflectively, "Those days I lived in hope—in the hope that the other teams would get worse." They didn't. But even Mauch could be startled by the unpredictable reactions of Philadelphia fans. In 1961, having set a modern record by losing 23 games in a row. the Phillies re—turned home to be greeted by a wildly enthusiastic crowd. "I thought everybody loved a winner," Mauch said, "but I guess they love a loser more."
And what about 1972? Things got so bad for the Phillies this summer that after losing 18 of 19 games a Turn It Around Night was held. Everything was turned around: stadium employees wore ID badges on their backs, the lineup was announced in reverse order, the scoreboard began with the ninth inning and worked back to the first, TV showed players running backward and, before the game started, the organist played Goodnight, Sweetheart. It was to no avail; the Phillies lost 4-3.
The Phillies finished the season in last place, the Eagles will probably do likewise and the 76ers seem capable of living up to their name—in the loss column, which would be quite a feat in an 82-game season. In early November four Eagle rooters filed a class-action suit against the team on behalf of 60.000 fans, demanding a refund for the final four home games on the grounds that the Eagles were "inept, amateurish, lacking in effort and far below the level of pro football performances expected of an NFL team." That was even more of a slap in the face than the remark by Cornell All-America Ed Marinaro last winter when he was asked about his football plans and said, "I'd like to play for the Eagles for a year and then go on to the pros."
The only hope for a winning team appears to rest with the Flyers of the National Hockey League, who could earn a playoff berth. There remains, though, the traumatic recollection of last winter, when the Flyers needed only a tie in their final game to make it to the playoffs. The score was 2-2—until their opponents knocked in a goal from the blue line to win with four seconds left in the season. Despite dire predictions that they wouldn't draw, the fixers have done exceptionally well, and this season are virtually sold out. As for the Blazers of the World Hockey Association, it didn't take them long to fit into the local sports scene; their first home game was postponed because the ice was cracking.