The Phillies played their first game on May 1, 1883, losing to the Providence Grays, 4-3, at Recreation Park, located at 24th and Columbia Avenues. The crowd was an estimated 1,200. Time of game: 1:30.
The Grays scored four in the eighth to win. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer game story of May 2, "The fielding was good on both sides, but the batting was weak." Each team had six hits. The Grays had five errors, the Phillies three.
Left fielder William "Blondie" Purcell got the Phillies' first hit and scored the first run. He singled to left-center in the first inning and scored on a groundout.
In their initial season, the Phillies were 17-81 plus one tie, finishing in eighth place, 46 games out. They were outscored, 887-437, hitting three home runs, while batting .240.
John Coleman, a 5-foot-9 right-hander out of Syracuse University, was the team's Opening Day starter and the leading pitcher, going 12-48 with a 4.87 ERA for 65 games (61 starts) and 538 innings. He set Major League records that still stand for losses and hits allowed (772). He also played in 32 games as an outfielder and second baseman, hitting for a .234 average.
Purcell, who also pitched (2-6) and played third base, replaced Bob Ferguson (manager-second baseman-pitcher) as manager after 17 games (4-13). Purcell's record as manager was 13-68.
Attendance at Recreation Park for the first season was 55,993.
Larry Shenk is the vice president of Alumni Relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.