7/24/2020 : Phillies Minor League History - A Couple Interstate stops
Time Period - 1941 to 1943
Venues : see below
Cities : Allentown, PA & Trenton, NJ
Franchise Histories :
The Interstate League was the name of five different minor leagues from 1896 through 1952. The longest tenured version of the Interstate League played from 1939 thru 1952. It was one of the few mid-level minor leagues to operate continuously during the World War II period. The Phillies had three franchise agreements in that league ; Allentown, PA ( 1941 ), Trenton, NJ ( 1942 to 1943 ) and Wilmington, DE ( 1944 to 1952 ). I wrote about the Wilmington club in a separate article.
Allentown Wings :
Professional baseball in Allentown dates back to 1884 with various teams and leagues since then. The Interstate League came to the city in 1939 when the Boston Braves established a club ... the Allentown Dukes. A new ballpark was built on the city's South Side, Fairview Field. The next year the league was upgraded from Class C to B, and the team became the Allentown Fleetwings, a St Louis Cardinals franchise. The Phillies took over in 1941, playing a season as the Allentown Wings, but the franchise reverted to St. Louis the next year.
The Interstate League folded at the end of the 1952 season ... the Phillies would return to Allentown in 2008 when the Lehigh Iron Pigs took the field for the first time ... we’ll write about them separately.
Trenton Packers :
The Trenton franchise that played in the Interstate League was originally the York White Roses ... that club was a member of the New York Penn League and moved to Trenton from York, PA mid season in 1936. In 1939 the Trenton franchise joined the Interstate League as a non affiliated club. The organization later established affiliations with three MLB teams during their 11 year tenure in the league ... the Phillies ( 1942-1943 ), Brooklyn Dodgers ( 1944-1945 ) and NY Giants ( 1946-1950 ).
The Stadiums the Phillies teams played in :
Fairview Field 1939-1947 - Allentown, PA :
Location: S. Howard, W. Cumberland, & Lehigh Streets.
Capacity: 8,000 (1931); 10,000 (1936); 4,000 (1940)
Dimensions (Left, Center, Right): 299-418-310 (1939)
The ballpark opened in 1939 as Fairview Field, home to the Allentown Dukes. The field was used till the 1947 season. Fairview Field was renovated in the mid-1970s and re-opened as Bicentennial Park in 1976.
Today the Allentown Railers of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League use the ballpark as home field. They began playing in 2012.
Dunn Field - Trenton, NJ :
Location: Brunswick Circle (US 206) at Strawberry Street (US 1).
Capacity: 3,500 (1939); 5,500 (1940); 3,000 (1950)
Dimensions (Left, Center, Right): 385-421-370 (1939); 350-385-345 (1948)
Dunn Field was originally the Trenton Cathedral High School athletic field. The site was later a supermarket, and now houses the New Jersey Lottery Building. - StatsCrew.com
Hall of Famer Willie Mays played on the field in 1950 when the NY Giants were affiliated with Trenton.
The Seasons :
1941 - Allentown :
Interstate League ( C ) ... Managers : Cy Morgan & Jimmy DeShong ... 48-77, 6th place ... Attendance : ?
22 year old 1B/3B Eddie Murphy led the league in home runs ( 23 ) and was second in Total Bases ( 259 ) while posting a .308 batting average in 464 AB’s ... he also had 19 doubles and 14 triples ... Mr Murphy would play in 13 games with the 1942 Phillies ... the extent of his big league time ... like many others he missed the 1943 to 1945 seasons due to serving in the military during WWII
1942 - Trenton :
Interstate League ( C ) ... Managers : Richard Lloyd, John Casey & Tony Rensa ... 56-82, 6th place ... Attendance : ?
Murphy was back an led the league in triples ( 13 ) while finishing third in home runs ( 12 ) and Total Bases ( 223 )
1943 - Trenton :
Interstate League ( C ) ... Manager : George Ferrell ... 64-73 , 5th place ... Attendance : ?
18 year old Outfielder Del Ennis made his pro debut & played his only season in the minor leagues and led the league in Total Bases ( 320 ) while hitting .346 in 570 AB’s ... he had 37 doubles, 16 triples and 18 home runs ... Mr Ennis missed the 1944 & 1945 seasons due to military service ( WWII ) but returned in 1946 to make his major league debut with the Phillies ... he hit .313 ( 540 AB’s ) and posted 17 home runs as a rookie ... he played 14 seasons in the majors with the Phillies ( 11 years ), Cardinals, White Sox and Reds ... and became a Phillies legend ... he hit 31 home runs and drove in 126 runs with a .311 batting average for the 1950 Whiz Kids ... the product of Olney High School in Philadelphia finished with 2,063 hits, 358 doubles, 288 home runs and a .284 career batting average in 7,254 AB’s 😳
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️