April 5, 2018 marks the home opener for the Phillies (They’re playing the Miami Marlins at 3:05 pm), and that means this is the perfect opportunity to talk some more about Laurel Hill’s connections with the team.
Visitors to the cemetery today consider the gravesite of Harry Kalas a must-see, but did you know there are also some former players buried here?
The “Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia,” or “Philadelphia Athletics” is the team which eventually became the Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, Philadelphia holds the distinction of being the city with the longest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in all of professional sports. Here’s a team timeline to give you a better idea of how long they’ve been around.
Appropriately, as we honor the first home game of the season, we have two other important “firsts” to share…
Weston Dickson “Wes” Fisler
Credited with scoring the first run in Major League Baseball history on April 22, 1876.
Wes played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1871 to 1876 and was a right-handed infielder/outfielder. In his rookie year, he appeared in 28 games, driving in 16 runs and stealing 6 bases. In 1872, he recorded 48 RBI and had a batting average of .350. He hit his first career home run in 1873.
When he retired, he had 414 career hits, 2 career home runs, and 189 RBIs over the course of 273 games. He lived to be 81.
On Nov. 18, 2017 a headstone in Section 16, Lot 251 was dedicated to Wes Fisler. His grave was previously unmarked.
Alonzo “Lon” Knight
Credited with throwing the first pitch in the first National League game on April 22, 1876.
A teammate of Wes Fisler, Lon was a right handed pitcher and right fielder. Lon was a graduate of Girard College (another Laurel Hill connection!), and he played for the Athletics before moving on to other teams including the Worcester Ruby Legs, and the Detroit Wolverines.
There’s a great story about both Lon as a player, and the infancy of baseball…
He was playing a game at Riverside Park in Albany when a ball sailed over the fence and landed in the river. At the time, the park had no rules about what happened if a ball went over the fence, so it wasn’t counted an automatic home run. Lon, ever the determined player, got into a boat and paddled out into the river, still chasing the ball!
Eventually, he had to give up, but we’re still immensely impressed.
Alonzo Knight is buried in Section H, Lot 63-34. His grave is unmarked.
If you’re on your way to the game, stop in and say “hello” to these players who helped put Philadelphia sports on the map.