Baseball pitcher Charles Louis (“Deacon”) Phillippi, of Rural Retreat VA, was drafted into the National League by Louisville in 1898, and began his baseball career with that team on April 21, 1899. On May 29, 1899 he pitched a no-hitter against the Giants in only his seventh major league game. In 1900, he moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent the rest of his baseball career, through his final game on August 13, 1911.
His claim to fame is that he won the first game of the first World Series in 1903 against Boston’s Cy Young. Deacon is considered one of the greatest control artists of all times, averaging just 1.25 walks per inning per nine innings over his career. This record that has stood for over a century, despite the likes of Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Walter Johnson.
Phillippi was born on May 23, 1872, a son of Andrew Jackson & Margaret Jane (Hackler) Phillippi. Sometime around March 1875, the family left Wythe County and moved to Spink County, SD, near the town of Athol, where young Charles grew to manhood. His friends called him Charlie, but he got the “Deacon” nickname due to his humility and easy demeanor.
In 1896, he headed to Minnesota to play semi-pro ball for a team in Mankato. The next year he hooked up with Minneapolis of the Western League, where he pitched for two seasons, in the second of which he posted a record of 21-19. Then he got his chance in 1898 when he was drafted by Louisville. Deacon left his wife Ella and 3 children right around this time. Ella claimed she threw him out when he informed her he was going to become a Pro baseball player, which in those days was akin to joining the circus.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Phillippi was 186-108 lifetime with a 2.88 ERA. He had five seasons with 20 or more wins. He completed 242 of the 288 games he started over his career, while triking out 929. He had his best ERA year in 1902 when he posted a 2.05 mark and a 20-9 record. Over a 4 year period (1900-1903), he pitched 1136.1 innings. He is near the top of the team’s ALL-TIME pitching list in Innings Pitched, Wins, Strikeouts, Shutouts, and Completed Games.
BEST YEAR: In 1903, he was 24-7 with a 2.43 ERA. He struck out 123, only walked 29, and gave up just 265 hits in 289 innings.
The World Series, as we know it today, was first played on October 1, 1903 between the National League Pittsburgh Pirates and the American League Boston Pilgrims at the old Huntington Avenue Ballpark in Boston. It was a 9 game series, which Boston won 5 games to 3. Star players in the series included Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner and Deacon Phillippi and Boston’s Cy Young.
Phillippi pitched in five of Pittsburgh’s eight World Series games against the Boston Pilgrims. He beat Cy Young in the first and third games. He beat Bill Dinneen in the fourth game. He lost to Bill Dinneen in the eight game, 3-0. Each player on the winning Boston Team received $ 1, 182.00. Because the Pirates owner willingly gave up his gate receipts, each player for the Pirates received $ 1,316.25. The price of a ticket was $ 1.50, and there were 16, 242 in attendance for the first game.
After the 1903 World Series, Deacon not only received his salary of $ 1,316.25, but he also received ten shares in the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the old Federal League during 1912 & 1913, Deacon managed the Pittsburgh Team named the “Filipinos”, named so after the Deacon himself. But the poorly organized and financed league collapsed, mainly because of the failure of the NY franchise to attract fans.