SI Vault
The Beautiful Losers: An Oral History of the Philadelphia Phillies
July 02, 2007
The existentialist Samuel Beckett exhorted, "Fail better." And no professional sports team has ever failed better or with greater frequency than the Philadelphia Phillies. Failure has become synonymous with a franchise whose players have borne such nicknames as Losing Pitcher (Hugh Mulcahy) and What's the Use? (Pearce Chiles). If luck is on the Phils' side--and over 125 seasons it rarely has been--one day before the end of July they will record their 10,000th defeat, a milestone never before reached by any franchise in any sport. Through Sunday the tragic number stood at 9,991; the next most prolific losers, the Braves, are at 9,677.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 02, 2007

The Beautiful Losers: An Oral History Of The Philadelphia Phillies

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Loss number 7,124, June 26, 1971

"We were losing by [seven runs to the Pirates] when a flaky rookie named Roger Freed led off an inning with a hit. When Roger came around to score, he figured he was done for the day. But we nearly batted around in the inning, and Roger was nowhere to be found. Eventually, one of the coaches discovered him in the sauna, where he was trying to lose weight by doing sit-ups as he ate fried chicken."

-- Larry Bowa, shortstop and future Philadelphia manager

Loss number 7,206, June 6, 1972

"We had lost 18 of 19 games when the club vice president Bill Giles tried to break the hex by staging Turn It Around Night at Veterans Stadium. Just about everything was backward: Starting lineups were introduced in reverse order, the seventh-inning stretch was held in the third inning, and the national anthem was played after the game [against the Houston Astros] ended. Plus, hex signs were handed out to the first 10,000 fans. Ballplayers abhor being mocked, but this promotion was so whimsical that we embraced it. Our players were horse----, but Turn It Around Night was a blast."

-- Tim McCarver, catcher

Loss number 7,226, July 9, 1972

"Nobody's gonna make a scrapgoat out of me."

-- Frank Lucchesi, manager, after a 26-50 start led to his firing

Losses number 7,619 and 7,620, July�10, 1977

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8