Hey there, Georgie Boy,
Moulderin’ in the grave so quietly,
If you were only alive and well today
Your team could use you.
Hey there, Georgie Boy,
You’ve been dead for so long now,
Is it worse that watching your Phillies play?
Or is this impossible to say?
Poor George McQuillan lost his tenuous grip on history Sunday when Oakland Athletics reliever Brad Ziegler broke the major league record that he had held for 101 years.
McQuillan began his career in 1907 with the Phillies by throwing 25 scoreless innings. The following season he showed himself to be an innings eater of glorious magnitude, and, unlike Jowly Joe Blanton, a helluva pitcher. McQuillan, who turned 23 that May, went 23-17 with a 1.53 ERA, starting 42 games and throwing 359 innings.
One hundred years hence, the Phillies could sure use the 175-pound right-hander to shore up their tissue-paper pitching staff. Back then, they called him the “Giant Killer.” Apparently he got fat on the National League team from New York. Yes, they could use him now.
Not that there’s not precedent for such a move. On Aug. 20, 1915, the Phillies, who had traded McQuillan away five years previously, picked him up off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates for what nowadays is called the stretch run. He went 4-3 with a 2.12 ERA, and the Phillies won the pennant and appeared in their first World Series. McQuillan didn’t pitch in the series, and the Phillies lost to the Red Sox in five games.
Unfortunately, he’s been dead for 68 years.
All that’s ancient history, right? Ziegler, the new record holder with 27 shutout innings at the dawn of his career, was born 94 years after McQuillan came to life in the booming city of Brooklyn in 1885 – two years after the building of the namesake bridge.
Well, I know you Internet-savvy kids think 94 years is a long, long time, roughly equivalent to an ice age. But it’s fleeting. Gather ye rosebuds.
A blink of the geological eye, 94 years. Nothing. Four score and 14 years before McQuillan was born, well, it was 1791, George Washington was President of the United States, King George III was still getting mad props in England, and baseball was alive and kicking in the former colonies. That year in Pittsfield, Mass., an ordinance was passed banning the playing of the game within 80 yards of the new meeting house, apparently aimed at “the Preservation of the Windows.” That’s the earliest known reference to the national pastime, if the Google Thucydides can be trusted.
In another 94 years, it’ll be 2102, and the Phillies, if Philadelphia is not a nuclear moonscape, will be torturing their still-suffering fans.
Come back, Georgie Boy. Come back.