Luderus held many distinctions at first for Phils

Luderus held many distinctions at first for Phils

For 94-plus years, the Phillies' record for most games played at first base belonged to Fred Luderus. His last game at that position -- No. 1,298 -- was June 23, 1920. That mark was finally passed this season by Ryan Howard on May 1 in Miami.

Who was Luderus?

A left-handed-hitting and right-handed-throwing first baseman, Luderus made his Major League debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1909. The Phillies acquired him in a July 29, 1910 trade for left-hander Bill Foxen, who wound up pitching in only five games for the Cubs over parts of two seasons.

Luderus became the Phils' everyday first baseman starting in 1911, and he was the club's first baseman on Opening Day nine consecutive seasons -- a mark that hasn't been matched. To say it was a lopsided trade is putting it mildly.

While Luderus lost one record, he has several other distinctions:

• Luderus' 1,597 putouts in 1917 remain a Phillies single-season record at his position.

• On July 15, 1911, Luderus became the first Phils player to hit two over-the-fence home runs in a game. He finished with 16 homers, second in the National League.

• Luderus led the Phillies with a .438 average in their first World Series in 1915. That average was a World Series high for the Phils until Jayson Werth hit .444 in 2008. Luderus' home run in Game 5 was the franchise's first. He wound up with six of the team's nine RBIs.

• Prior to the start of that season, manager Pat Moran named Luderus captain. He finished second in the NL in hitting (.315) and doubles (36). Luderus' bat from that season is on display in the Hall of Fame Club, courtesy of Bob Warrington, a Philadelphia native baseball historian and author.

• On Aug. 3, 1919, Luderus played in his 479th consecutive game, breaking a Major League record set in 1918 by Eddie Collins of the Chicago White Sox. Between games of a Sept. 24, 1919, doubleheader at Baker Bowl, the Phillies honored Luderus with a gold watch and diamond stick pin in recognition of his record. His streak eventually ended at 533 games on Opening Day in 1920, when he was unable to play because of lumbago. The streak began June 2, 1916.

Luderus' consecutive game streak remained a Phils record until broken by Richie Ashburn, 730 games from July 7, 1950, to Opening Day in 1955.

Luderus finished his Phillies career with a .278 average, 83 home runs and 630 RBIs in 1,311 games. Including his time with the Cubs, he appeared in 1,346 games -- 1,326 at first base, the only position he ever played. In Luderus' short 35-game Cubs career, he hit one home run. It came in his rookie season and was against the Phils.

Following Luderus' big league career, he managed in the Minor Leagues for 10 seasons, including player-manager eight years. His final season was 1928.

Born in Milwaukee on Sept. 12, 1885, Luderus died in Three Lakes, Wis., from a heart attack in 1961 at age 75.

One other note about Luderus' final Phillies game in 1920: Batting third and playing right field was Casey Stengel.

(Sources: Phillies Encyclopedia, Phillies publications, baseball-reference.com, SABR BioProject by Joe Dittmar).

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.