Phillies Brotherly Love
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies have seen nine different brother combinations play for the team in their 133-season history.
Of those nine combinations, a half-dozen actually were teammates, donning a Phillies uniform together at the same time. However, the last of those combos took the field together a half-century ago, and most were early in the 20th century.
The first brother combination to play for the Phils were Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty and his brother Tom Delahanty, who played together in the 1894 season with the Phillies. Tom appeared in just one game, going 1-4. He would appear in just 19 big league games, with four different organizations, the last appearance with Louisville in 1897.
Ed appeared in parts of 16 big league seasons, including his first two in 1888-89 with the Phils. After a year in Cleveland, Ed returned to the Phillies, staying for more than a decade from 1891-1901. He accumulated 2,597 big league hits, and is one of just a dozen Phillies to amass over 1,500 hits with the club. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.
In 1902, perhaps the most anonymous brother combination in baseball history wore a Phillies uniform. 23-year old Frank Mahar had just one plate appearance in his lone game, going 0-1. His brother Tom Maher also went 0-1, though he appeared in two games. There are resources that spell their last name differently, but the Phillies official records show them as brothers.
Also that same season of 1902, the Phillies gave 18 plate appearances to Bill Thomas, who produced two hits. He also had a walk and scored a run for the club. Bill was the younger brother of Roy Thomas, who had a lengthy 13-year career in the big leagues, a dozen of those with the Phillies from 1899-1908, and then 1910-11. Roy had 1,537 career hits and scored 1,011 runs over his 13 seasons, and played with our next brother combo.
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During the 1906 season, 22-year old righthander Charlie Roy went 0-1 over seven pitching appearances, including one start. He allowed 24 hits in 18.1 innings, and had a 6/5 K:BB ratio in what was his only big league season. Two decades later, his kid brother Luther would pitch in parts of four seasons, going 3-7 with the 1929 Phillies. Luther was shelled for 137 hits in 88.2 innings for the Phils, with an atrocious 16/37 K:BB ratio. Ouch.
In 1933, George Knothe and Fritz Knothe both appeared with the team. Fritz hit just .150 over 120 plate appearances in what was the last of a brief two season career in the big leagues. George’s career was even more brief, lasting just 12 plate appearances during the 1932 season, meaning that the Knothe boys missed playing together by one season. George lashed just one hit, a double, during his time with the Phillies.
Dino Chiozza received two plate appearances and played in four innings at shortstop for the 1935 Phillies. Though he didn’t record a hit, he did score a run in a July 15th game at Wrigley Field, one of just two games in which he appeared. In both that game and on the previous day at Sportsman’s Park in Saint Louis, Dino came in for defensive purposes, and finished each game as part of a Keystone Combo with his 2nd base brother Lou.
Dino’s brother Lou Chiozza had a much more substantive career, appearing in parts of six seasons. In his first three seasons from 1934-36, Lou was a Phils’ regular. In 1934 and 1935 he was the team’s primary 2nd baseman, and in 1936 he appeared all over the diamond defensively. He finished with a career slash line of .277/.324/.361 over 2,482 big league plate appearances, and had 14 home runs, including four with the Phillies.
Just after World War II, Wally Westlake had a nice 10-year career in the big leagues as a right-handed hitting outfielder, including a 1951 NL All-Star season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his final season of 1956, Westlake received his final five plate appearances as a Phillies pinch-hitter early in the season, going 0-4. The season prior, his kid brother Jim Westlake struck out at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants in what would prove to be his only big league appearance.
Most Phillies fans know the name Granny Hamner, who was the starting shortstop for the 1950 NL pennant-winning ‘Whiz Kids’, and who had a 16-year career with the Phils from 1944-59. He was a 3x NL All-Star, and received NL MVP votes on a half-dozen occasions.
Granny’s older brother Garvin Hamner appeared in 32 games with the 1945 Phillies in what was his only big league season. He hit just .198 in 109 plate appearances, playing mostly at 2nd base. He opened that season as part of the starting middle infield combo with Granny at short, but neither player was able to hold the role beyond early May. Granny would return, Garvin…not.
As the ill-fated 1964 Phillies were building their early season lead in the National League, an 18-year old pitcher named Dave Bennett took the mound for one inning on June 12th at Connie Mack Stadium against the New York Mets. He would mop-up what was an 11-3 blowout win for the Mets, allowing two hits and uncorking a wild pitch that allowed a final run to be scored by the visitors.
The significance of that outing? For one, it was his only big league appearance ever. Another? It was the final time to this point in Phillies franchise history that a brother combination would take the field for the team.
But still one more item of significance that day? The Phils’ starter had been his brother, Dennis Bennett, who pitched in parts of seven big league seasons, including 1962-64 with the Phillies. In fact, Dennis went 12-14 and received 32 starts with the Phils club that blew the 1964 pennant with an unforgettable late season collapse.
Those were the nine brother combinations to wear a Phillies uniform over the course of the franchise history. Too bad J.D. Drew never signed with the team. Perhaps the Phillies could have brought on his brother Stephen Drew to make a 10th pairing. The Drew boys never did play together. Will the Phillies ever have another brother combination?