For many players, Philadelphia becomes merely a second home. What we aim to do with the “Philadelphia Baseball Ghosts” series is take a look at those who are born within Philadelphia city limits before they set off on their grand baseball adventure somewhere else in the vast, horrible world.
DOB: November 7, 1906
What was happening in Philadelphia at the time:
MLB career: 1934-35 St. Louis Browns, 1935 Washington Senators, 1940-42 St. Louis Browns; (.223/.304/.282, 1 HR, 109 BB, 54 SO in 947 AB)
Bio: It was the second game of a double header against the White Sox in 1934, and the Rogers Hornsby-managed St. Louis Browns were 23.5 games out of first place in early September. Not exactly the environment in which heroes are born. The Browns had taken the first game, 5-4, and 27-year-old Philadelphian Alan Strange, had helped with a pair of hits, including a triple. A triple! These were borderline illegal at the time, like growing turnips out of season, or a woman not wearing a hat in church.
Still, though, Strange’s banner offensive day was going to continue in ways it never had as the teams dragged themselves onto the field for game two. Strange stepped up to the plate, body on fire with offensive prowess, and cracked the first home run of his career off Phil Gallivan. With the help of the .305-slugging Strange, the Browns went on to win the second game, putting the eventual 53-99 White Sox in their place.
Brimming with piss and vinegar, Strange was likely thrilled to have hit that first home run and looked forward to a career full of them. This was as misplaced as baseball delusions go, unfortunately, and Strange, though he was playing baseball until 1942, would actually never do it again. Ever.
Strange was called “Inky” by his teammates due to his working at an ink press in the offseason. Strange was less playful in his assignment of nicknames, calling Browns teammate Harlond Clift “Darkie” because he had thought his first name was “Harlem.” Alan Strange was not a good man.
Strange wound up being traded to the Senators in 1935, as Phase II of Washington’s plan to replace their former shortstop, Joe Cronin. Their first attempt was “Broadway Lyn” Lary, who was terrible, and their second attempt was Strange, who was even terribler, hitting .185 with a .501 OPS in his entire Senators career.
How the generation of Harlond Clift’s nickname came about
ALAN STRANGE: Hey, how you doing, I’m the new shortstop.
HARLOND CLIFT: Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Harlond.
CLIFT: No, “Harlond.”
STRANGE: That’s what I said.
CLIFT: No it isn’t.
STRANGE: “Harlem,” huh? Well, have I ever get a clever nickname to start calling you, based on what I know about the New York neighborhood of the same name. What a good era this is to make jokes in.
How some development meeting at Nickelodeon in 1996 might have gone
BOSS OF ‘90s NICKELODEON: So what amazing piece of television do you want to create next? Keep in mind anyone who doesn’t come up with something wildly entertaining and cool will be fired and killed. Thomas?
THOMAS W. LYNCH: uh [mind races furiously, suddenly recalls name of old timey baseball player he heard once]