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The Whiz Kids: The 1950 Philadelphia Phillies

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Some of my readers may have guessed I am a baseball nut. I played lots of baseball as a kid. I was also an avid baseball fan. Early on I developed an understanding of the beauty of the game.

Unlike politics and political maneuvering, baseball was an honest sport. Each baseball game has a beginning, middle and an end. The official baseball rule book provides a level playing field for all the stakeholders.

This is in total contrast to the healthcare system. President Obama’s proposed healthcare plan is going to destroy the delivery of medical care..

I grew up 14 blocks from the Yankee Stadium on the corner of Mt. Eden Avenue and Topping Avenue across the street from Claremont Park. I had a special rock in the stone wall that I used to climb into the park to play ball every day. image

I went to a lot of Yankee and New York Giant games in the summers of the late 40’s and early 50’s for free as described in an earlier blog.

Kids on our baseball team always rooted for the Yankees. We also picked a National League team to root for at the beginning of each season. Most of my teammates picked the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie Robinson was everyone’s hero.

In 1950 I decided to root for the Philadelphia Phillies. My personal scouting report indicated they were going to win the National League title. I thought they had a great chance to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I also knew all my friends would be rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I was 11 years old growing up in the Bronx. At that age we were all interested in arguing about everything with one another.

The Phillies changed their uniforms to Red Pinstripes with a P on the front just like the Yankees blue pinstripes. Previously their uniforms were dumpy and ordinary like the Brooklyn Dodgers uniforms. This excited me.

The Phillies were a young team (average age 26) and became the youngest team ever to play in a World Series. People started calling them the Whiz Kids in July of 1950 when they started to win.

Two games separated the top four teams (Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers and Boston Braves) on July 1. Suddenly the Whiz Kids began to win. In July the Phillies were 21-13 and in August they were 20-8. At the beginning of September the Whiz Kids were seven games ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers. It looked like they were in.

Richie Ashburn was 22 years old and caught everyone’s fancy. Curt Simmons was an early bonus baby at 21 who was a fantastic pitcher. Robin Roberts age 22 had a great sounding name, a tremendous pitching arm and a wonderful personality.

Jim Konstanty was unhittable with a palm ball. He was a great relief pitcher. He was named MVP in 1950. The Yankees traded for him in his later years as a closer. He did a great job for the Yanks.

Dick Sisler was a star hitter and outfielder. Del Ennis was their best hitter and outfielder. He batted .311 with a slugging average of .551.

I loved Andy Seminick, the catcher. He batted only .288 but had a .524 slugging average which was great for a catcher in those days.

Completing my list of hero’s were Granny Hammer at short, Eddie Waitkus at first and “Pudd’n Head” Jones at third.

I was in heaven because of the Whiz Kids great play on the field. I was the talk of the neighborhood kids for picking the Phillies. I had a marvelous time following the Phillies and Yankees. Suddenly, in September, the Phillies hit the wall with a streak of bad luck.

Curt Simmons’ (17-8, 3.40 ERA) National Guard Group was called to active duty for the Korean conflict on September 10. Bubba Church (8-6, 2.73 ERA) was struck in the face by a wicked line drive. Bob Miller (11-6, 3.57 ERA) injured his arm during a pitching duel.after hurting his back two weeks earlier. The Phillies lost three starting pitchers.

The Whiz Kids lost 12 out of 16 games in September. The Dodger won 11 of 13 and forced a two game playoff. Eddie Waitkus then singled to put runners on first and second. Richie Ashburn, a great bunter, bunted into a force play for the first out.

That brought up Dick Sisler (13 Hr, 83 RBI, .296 avg.) who belted a three run homer. Robin Roberts then got out the next three Dodger batters to win the pennant for the Phillies for the first time in 35 years.

Naturally I was rooting for the Yankees in the World Series. I would have been beaten up by one of the gangs in the neighborhood if I didn’t root for the Yankees. The Yankees won the World Series in four close games.

I hope the Yankee do as well against the Phillies this year.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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