All-Time Best Phillies: Ed Delahanty, Left Field

April 20, 2017 11:19 pm0 commentsViews: 214
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Ed Delahanty, the best left fielder in Phillies history, was on his way to becoming the 2nd member of the exclusive 3000 hit club until a mysteriously tragic summer night in 1903. (Cap Anson, who played a record 27 seasons, was the first.)

“Big Ed” Delahanty was not only a prolific hitter but a powerful thumper. In the dead ball era of the 1890s he managed over a hundred home runs, including 19 in one season. Opposing pitchers feared him, as made clear by hurler Crazy Schmit of the Orioles. “When you pitch to Delahanty you just want to shut your eyes, say a prayer and chuck the ball. The Lord knows what will happen after that.”

He led the league in hitting and home runs twice. Three times he led the league in RBI and one time in steals. He hit over .400 three times, and is still the only player to lead both leagues in batting. He has the 5th highest batting average in MLB history. (Who are the four ahead of him? Scroll down past this article to find out.)

“Big Ed” spent 13 of his 16 major league years as a Phillie. Later on he became a “jumper,” jumping from the Phillies in the National League for a more lucrative contract with the Washington Senators in the new American League. He spent a year and a half with that team. Then, on July 2, 1903, in the middle of a series with the Tigers in Detroit, he took his 2,596 career hits and abruptly left the team without notice. He boarded a train in Detroit bound for New York, possibly to offer his services to the Giants in the National League.

After downing five shots of whiskey, according to the conductor on that train, Big Ed started threatening passengers. Brandishing a knife, he grabbed a female by her ankles and dragged her out of her sleeping car. The conductor kicked him off the train on the north side of the International bridge in Canada. Ed decided to walk across the bridge although the night watchmen tried to stop him. The two got into fisticuffs there above the river and Delehanty broke free and in the darkness of night proceeded with his walk.

His body was found at the bottom of Niagara Falls a week later.  To this day no one knows if he fell, or jumped, or was pushed. ■

—George Porgeman / Yardley

This article is the third in a series of All-Time Best Phillies at every position.

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Ty Cobb .366, Rogers Hornsby .358, Shoeless Joe Jackson .355, Lefty O’Doul .349.  Big Ed Delahanty hit .345 over his career.

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