|In 1949, The Philadelphia Phillies finished in 3rd place in the National League. They acquired the nickname 'the Whiz Kids' because of the number of fine young players arriving from college on their roster. |
The Brooklyn Dodgers, who won the pennant in 1949, were heavy favorites to repeat in 1950. In the first half of the season the Dodgers and Phillies took turns leading the league but the Phillies began pulling away in late July. On July 25, the 'Whiz Kids' moved into 1st place by winning double shutouts against the Chicago Cubs. In the opener of the double-header, Emory 'Bubba' Church shut down the Cubs 7-0. In the 2nd game, future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts won 1-0. Two days later, the Phillies' right-fielder Del Ennis drove in seven runs in a 13-3 win over the Cubs. Ennis hit a three run double in the 7th inning and crashed a base-loaded homer in the 8th.
All season long baseball fans were treated to viewing one of the greatest pennant races in history. Every day there appeared to be a different Phillies' hero.
At the beginning of September, young left-handed Curt Simmons, a 17 game winner already, was called into military service. 'Bubba' Church developed a sore arm and a few other pitchers came down with various ailments.
With only 11 days left in the season the Phillies enjoyed a seemingly safe 7 1/2 game lead over the Brooklyn Dodgers. But from then on the young 'Whiz Kids' seemed to fall apart. With only a 3-game lead on Sept 27, Jim Konstanty came out of the bullpen for his 71st relief appearance- a new major league record. He halted a Boston Brave rally and the Phillies won 8-7.
Philadelphia, with a 2-game lead, met the Dodgers for the final 2-games of the season. The Phillies still needed one more win to clinch the NL's pennant. The Dodgers won the first game and the Phillies' fighting spirit appeared to be broken. Both teams then sent their main men to the mound for the final game, big Don Newcombe for the Dodgers and Robin Roberts for the Phillies. Each had won 19 games so far this year and Roberts would be starting for the third time in the last five days.
In the season finale - 'Pee Wee' Reese hit a home run in the 6th inning to tie the score at 1-1. Both Newcombe and Roberts were still pitching and the game was still tied 1-1 in the last of the ninth. Roberts walked the leadoff batter, a base hit followed, with runners on 1st and 2nd, Duke Snider singled but the Dodgers failed to score when center-fielder Richie Ashburn's throw nailed Cal Abrams trying to score from 2nd. Roberts then proceeded to set down the last two batters and the 9th inning was over.
In the top of the 10th, with Newcombe still pitching, Phillies' left-fielder Dick Sisler, the son of Hall of Famer George Sisler, hit a 3-run homer putting the Phillies up 4-1. Robin Roberts pitched a scoreless 10th inning. The victory enabled the Phillies to win their first pennant in 35 years and Roberts became the team's first 20-game winner since 1917.
Although the New York Yankees swept the four game World Series, all of the games were close. The Phillies started their ace reliever in the first game. It was Konstanty's first start after 133 consecutive relief appearances. Konstanty hurled a 5-hitter but Vic Rashi shutout the 'Whiz Kids' with the Yankees winning 1-0.
In Game 2, Robin Roberts started and took a 1-1 tie into the 10th inning, when Joe DiMaggio belted a game winning home run. Allie Reynolds pitched the entire game and earned the win. The Yankees then proceeded to win the next two games, 3-2 and 5-2. The Yankees' pitching staff held the Phillies' batters at bay all during the Series and ended with a 0.73 World Series' ERA.
Jim Konstanty won the regular season's Most Valuable Player Award. Robin Roberts began a streak of six straight 20-win seasons, 1950-55. In 1952, Roberts finished at 28-7, still the most victories in a single year for NL pitchers. For 1950, Roberts was voted the "Sporting News" Player of the Year and won the honor again in 1955, going 23-14
1950 Season - Recap:
The Phillies manager was Eddie Sawyer, who had the task of pulling the young college 'bonus babies' into pennant shape. Veteran left-fielder Dick Sisler hit .293 and knocked in 93 runs. Center-fielder, Richie Ashburn, an outstanding fielder and future 'Hall of Famer', won the NL 'Rookie of the Year Award'. Power-hitting right-fielder, Del Ennis crashed 31 home runs with 126 RBIs. All-Star Willie 'Puddin Head' Jones anchored 3rd base and slugged 25 home runs. 23-year-old shortstop Granny Hamner was a aggressive base runner and team leader. PLaying 2nd base was Mike Goliat, a top fielder, base runner and hit-and-run man. At 1st base was Eddie Waitkus who batted .284.
The 'Whiz Kids' catcher was the tough veteran Andy Seminick. Andy's handling of the Phillies young pitching core was splendid. Pitcher Bob Miller won his first eight decisions, Bubba Church won key games and Ken Johnson's relief work was right on the money.
Dick Sisler - As an important part of the 'Whiz Kids', Sisler's clutch-hitting helped the Phils win the NL pennant. In early May, he rapped out eight consecutive hits over a two day span. His excellent fielding in left prevented opposing base runners from taking extra bases and his ability with the bat played an important role in the early part of the season. Sisler pounded a three run homer in the 10th inning of the final game of the regular season to propell the Phillies to the World Series.
Del Ennis - His long ball power provided many game winning runs in 1950 and throughout the decade. In 1950, Del Ennis hit 31 homers and knocked in 126 runs for the pennant winning Phillies. This All-Star right-fielder with his tremendous power was always feared by National League pitchers. "Del Ennis was the one hitter who could terrorize any pitcher during the '50's". Baseballhistorian.com
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