The Philadelphia Athletics may have left the city in 1954, but that does not stop people in the area from remembering them fondly.
Ted Taylor, a professor at Chestnut Hill College, released his third book on the Philadelphia A’s, called “The Duke of Milwaukee -The Life and Times of Al Simmons Baseball’s Forgotten Superstar,” last week.
The book chronicles the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Al Simmons. Simmons was a star of the Philadelphia Athletics in the late 1920s and early ’30s. This period included an amazing three-year run from 1929 to 1931 where the A’s managed to play in three World Series, winning two of them.
Simmons was a critical part of this team. He was a clutch hitter, winning batting titles in 1930 and 1931, and he was the MVP of what some people call the best team ever assembled.
Unfortunately, Simmons was overshadowed by some of the larger-than-life stars of the time, such as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
At the time Simmons was on the A’s, the Athletics were the team that the city was proud of; the Phillies were performing worse than they had been just prior to moving out of Veterans Stadium in the early 2000s.
Taylor has been a Philadelphia A’s fan since childhood, as his father was an A’s fan. Back when Philadelphia was a two-team town, you would either be a fan of the Phillies or the A’s.
According to Taylor, oddly enough, this tended to run along political lines, as Republicans would more often be A’s fans, while Democrats would root for the Phillies.
Sadly for Taylor, his team left for Kansas City when he was just 13 years old. He has never stopped collecting baseball cards and other memorabilia, though. He even helped form the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society, which has been in existence for about 15 years and is located at 6 N. York Road in Hatboro. Taylor also served as the society’s first president.
Though Taylor said he believes the wrong team left Philadelphia — because it was an American League town — he supports the Phillies and said he thinks the city could support two teams. He does not think, however, that the Phillies would ever allow another team in the city.
Taylor had already written two books about the Philadelphia A’s — “Philadelphia Athletics by the Numbers” and “The Ultimate Philly Athletics Reference Book” — when he was approached by Father Jerome Romanowski, known as the “Baseball Padre,” who told him that no book was ever written about Al Simmons.
Taylor said he was shocked and looked into it; to his surprise, only a short pamphlet about Simmons was written and is currently out of print.
Taylor managed to get in touch with Simmons’ grandchildren, who helped give him unique insights into the the life of the baseball star. He then compiled his research and interviews for his book.
Taylor is still an A’s fan, and he has tickets for June 24, when the team comes to Philadelphia to play the Phillies. He said he expects that the game will be sold out and well attended.
“It makes me feel good that even though the A’s have been gone, they are still recognized in Philadelphia,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s book, “The Duke of Milwaukee - The Life and Times of Al Simmons - Baseball’s Forgotten Superstar,” may be purchased at amazon.com by clicking here