Deacon Phillippe

From BR Bullpen


Charles Louis Phillippe
born Charles Louis Phillippi

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 180 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

"It is a cold day when I get three balls on a man." - Deacon Phillippe, talking about how seldom he let a batter get much ahead in the count

Deacon Phillippe was an excellent pitcher who possibly had the best control of any pitcher ever to pitch in the big leagues.

He was born in Rural Retreat, VA, where several generations of his family had lived. As a young child, he and his family moved to the Dakota Territory, where he would grow up and play semi-pro ball for years in what became South Dakota.

In the minors, he played for a team in Mankato in 1896, and for two years at Minneapolis of the Western League in 1897-1898.

In 1899, he came to the major leagues, with the Louisville Colonels of the National League. Although it finished ninth in the league, the team had some substantial players, such as Honus Wagner, player/manager Fred Clarke, Chief Zimmer, Tommy Leach and Dummy Hoy. A young Rube Waddell, at age 22, pitched a few games for the team. Phillippe led the team in victories with 22, and threw a no-hitter in his first season in the majors.

He earned the nickname "Deacon" because he was reserved, humble, and lived a quiet life. His friends called him "Charlie".

The National League contracted from 12 to 8 teams after the 1899 season; Louisville was one of the teams that disappeared. The Louisville owner, Barney Dreyfuss, also owned part of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he moved his best players, including Phillippe, over there, creating a juggernaut.

Phillippe won 20+ games in each of his first four seasons with the Pirates. That is not, perhaps, as large an accomplishment as it might seem, since teammate Jack Chesbro was to go to the New York Highlanders in 1904 to win 41 games. Still, Phillippe was in the top three pitchers in the league in wins in 1900, 1901, and 1903. And his ERA was in the top 5 in the league all four years.

His control was truly exemplary. In the years from 1900-1907, he was always #1 or #2 in the league for fewest walks per nine innings pitched. He led the league in that category five times in that period.

In 1902, he had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the National League since 1885.

He went 25-9 in 1903, and pitched two of the six shutouts that Pirate pitchers pitched in a row at one point.

In the 1903 World Series, he pitched 5 complete games, going 3-2. He won all three of the team's victories, but the Pirates lost to the Boston Americans. He is the only pitcher ever to win three games for the losing team in a World Series; it helped that the series was a best-of-nine affair that year, but he was also pressed into pitching more than would have been normal because two of the Pirates' starters, Ed Doheny and Sam Leever, were either ineffective or unavailable.

Other than in 1905, when he again won 20 games, Phillippe wasn't to be so dominant again. He continued to pitch for Pittsburgh from 1904 through 1911, and never once had a losing record, but with somewhat fewer victories.

He had an illness that affected his eye in 1904, but recovered for 1905. However, he began to have arm troubles. And in 1908, a line drive broke his finger. In 1909, he pitched 6 innings in the 1909 World Series which the Pirates won against Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers. In 1910, at the age of 38, he went 14-2, which was the best winning percentage in the league. He also hit an inside-the-park grand slam home run, one of the last pitchers to do so.

After major league baseball, he managed a Pittsburgh team in the United States League in 1911, and also another Pittsburgh team in the nascent Federal League in 1913. He had umpired on National League game in 1903.

He worked for the Pirates as a scout for a while, held down a variety of other jobs, and for a long time served as a bailiff.

The most similar player to Deacon Phillippe was his teammate and friend Sam Leever. Phillippe went 189-109 in his career, while Leever went 194-100.

"Babe Ruth was the biggest drawback to smart baseball the game has ever known." - Deacon Phillippe

". . . the way he cuts loose with the benders is a caution . . . " - Fred Clarke, about Phillippe's performance in the 1903 World Series

He was the winner of the first game of the first World Series in 1903 against Cy Young. Deacon set ironman marks in the 1903 World Series by pitching 44 innings of the eight-game series and completing five games. Twice, he started consecutive games.

Incredibly, Deacon never had a losing season in his 13 years of major league baseball. In 1969, Pittsburgh Pirates fans voted Deacon Pittsburgh's all-time right handed pitcher.

He made his first Baseball Card appearance in the rare 1903 E107 Breisch Williams set.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL Winning Percentage Leader (1910)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 7 (1899-1903, 1905 & 1906)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 6 (1899-1903 & 1905)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 8 (1899-1903 & 1905-1907)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1899)
  • Won a World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909

Related Sites[edit]