Philadelphia Phillies, A’s: 1914-19, 1929, 1941, 2020

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Girardi before the virus-interrupted spring training put the Phillies season in doubt. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

Troubling times are here again for Phillies and A’s baseball, but World War I, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II preceded the current pandemic to their supporter’s dismay from 1914 through 1945.


Uncertainty everywhere:   

While Philadelphia Phillies fans wait, the lords of baseball are considering Arizona, Florida and Texas as possible sites for an abbreviated season, and those state governors are making virus-related decisions. Unfortunately, those executives could limit the locations available to the MLB. Where are the baseball gods?


“But it is possible that, in the days ahead, these years we have lived through may eventually be thought of simply as a period of disturbance and regression.” – Hjalmar Branting

Like the elements affecting play on the diamond, doing things mostly right during a pandemic can determine the campaign’s length or no baseball this summer. Therefore, science and politics are the X factors for less than a full 162 and its location. But if the virus is seasonal, that will be a dynamics-changer.

In 1914, World War I had begun, and drafted stars affected the standings plus the sport’s bottom line. And some owners decided to move top-tier –albeit aging– talent due to uncertainty. Yes, the Fightins and the Athletics faced this challenge.

Even though war was nearing its end, the Spanish Flu was overlapping it. And it affected the baseball schedule, the World Series, and some unforgettable stars of that era as well. In fact, one even survived it twice!

To complete the “hat trick” of disasters, the stock market crashed. Well, the A’s under Connie Mack had experienced these detours before, plus attendance dropped 64.6 percent from 1929 to 1933. And that financial beating led to Mack’s second selloff.

In ’41, World War II meant drafted players including the game’s brightest stars. It also featured regulars who couldn’t serve in the military, but their playing days were just a limited opportunity. However, one pitcher did stand out on the red pinstripes because of his “Hall of Fame” credentials.

Though the current pandemic has stopped this campaign cold, previous major disruptions had led to financial difficulties for many organizations. So, the end result was either selling or trading stars to keep those franchises afloat, but it was especially painful for successful Philly clubs. But the present Fightins are okay.

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