SI Vault
 
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
April 14, 1958
Philadelphians have known dark days. Between the two wars, the Phillies finished in last place 16 times. Then in 1950, after 35 years of ridicule, the Phillies won a pennant. Happy days, it seemed, had come at last. But they have not come close since, and fans are wondering if they must wait another 35 years
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 14, 1958

Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphians have known dark days. Between the two wars, the Phillies finished in last place 16 times. Then in 1950, after 35 years of ridicule, the Phillies won a pennant. Happy days, it seemed, had come at last. But they have not come close since, and fans are wondering if they must wait another 35 years

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

BASIC ROSTER

no.

player

position

1957 record

1

Richie Ashburn

CF

.297

2

Granny Hamner

2B

.227

4

Solly Hemus

IF

.185

6

Willie Jones

3B

.218

7

Ted Kazanski

2B

.265

9

Harry Anderson

OF

.268

14

Rip Repulski

OF

.260

17

Roy Smalley

IF

.161

26

Wally Post

OF

.244

29

Stan Lopata

C

.237

35

Joe Lonnett

C

.169

45

Chico Fernandez

SS

.262

16

Roman Semproch

P

minors

22

Jim Hearn

P

5-1

28

Curt Simmons

P

12-11

36

Robin Roberts

P

10-22

39

Jack Sanford

P

19-8

43

Dick Farrell

P

10-2

46

Don Cardwell

P

4-8

49

Warren Hacker

P

7-6

THE MANAGER
Mayo Smith is not one to discourage easily. He spent 12 years in the minors before getting a chance with the Philadelphia Athletics. A year later he was back in the minors to stay. Smith was undaunted. He began managing in 1949 in the Canadian-American League, then moved up to Norfolk and Birmingham. He became manager of the Phillies in 1955, and although he has finished in fourth once and fifth twice it is generally conceded that he has made the most of his limited resources. His coaches are Bennie Bengough (11), Wally Moses (32), Andy Seminick (21), who was the Phillie catcher in their pennant-winning year of 1950, and Bill Posedel (31), the pitching coach.

ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S PHILLIES

STRONG POINTS: Philadelphia is smarting under the lash of two straight second-division finishes, and to repair that state of affairs the club looks first to its wealth of pitchers. Out of the minor leagues last year popped three young men, all right-handers, all impressive. Best of the lot was Jack Sanford, who won 19 games and the rookie-of-the-year award. Sanford, who struck out 188 batters, throws a fast ball that looks about half the size of other men's fast balls. Rookie two was Dick Farrell. Farrell also throws a good fast ball that sinks. His 10-2 record established him as Philadelphia's finest reliever since Jim Konstanty. Don Cardwell looked a lot better than his record (4-8) and is figured to improve this year. Curt Simmons is still a highly respected left-hander. Three veteran righthanders, Robin Roberts, Warren Hacker and Jim Hearn, have seen better days, but perhaps they will see them again. The Phils have some men who can field and some who can hit. Richie Ashburn can do both. Yearly he catches enough fly balls for three outfielders, and his lifetime batting average is .312. Granted his hits are singles, but he'll get on base for Wally Post, Stan Lopata and Harry Anderson. Post came from Cincinnati during the winter for Pitcher Harvey Haddix. He has averaged 32 home runs a season for the last three years and, assuming he brought his bat with him, he will give the team needed power. Lopata was hurt most of last year. When well, he is a top-rate catcher. Harry Anderson, another of last year's rookie brigade, hit 17 home runs. He may double that figure this season. Chico Fernandez and Ted Kazanski are a slick fielding short-second combination and hit well enough to stay in business.

WEAK SPOTS: The removal of Ed Bouchee from baseball for the foreseeable future has of course created a first-base problem. Harry Anderson has tried the position and looks just like a right fielder trying to play first base. The Phils bought Joe Collins from the Yankees, but Collins retired. A rookie, Frank Herrera, can field the position nicely but must prove he can hit in the majors. The 6-foot-3,210-pound Herrera has already proved he can hit in the minors. He was .306 with Miami last season. Remnants of the Whiz Kids still graze in the infield. Granny Hamner begins his 15th season at age 31. He will try to play second base. Willie Jones is 33, and he will try it at third. Neither hit .230 last season, and each has slowed down in the field. Three oldtimers, Roy Smalley, Solly Hemus and Dave Philley (average age: 35), give the bench a splintered look.

ROOKIES AND NEW FACES: The new face Manager Smith is happiest to see is home-run hitter Post. But there are others who may please him as much. If Herrera can hit, first base is his. Roman Semproch, a right-handed pitcher, had the lowest ERA in the International League last year, 2.64. He was 12-4. He has a mean sinker. Don Landrum reminds everybody of Richie Ashburn. He fields in major league style and last season hit .294 at Miami. If the Phils trade Ashburn for an infielder, and they may have to, it will be partly because they feel Landrum can do the job in center.

THE BIG IFS: A big year for Robin Roberts would do wonders for the Phils. Roberts won 20 games for 6 years in a row. Now, in the last two seasons, he has lost 40. His fast ball is gone, they say, but perhaps this former star can come back anyway. Stan Lopata must stay healthy, and Hamner and Jones must prove they are not Was Kids. It is almost too much to hope that Herrera can come through in the same fashion Bouchee did last year. But if he can do well enough to permit Harry Anderson to play the outfield, that is all Mayo Smith will ask.

THE VOICES
Byrum Saam (43, calm) owes his start as a broadcaster to a ruptured appendix—his own. It kept him out of college for a year, and while recuperating he busied himself as public address announcer at high school football games. When a local Texas station offered him a job, Saam was on his way. The trail led to Minneapolis and, in 1937, to Philadelphia and major league baseball. Saam's delivery is relaxed, almost singsong, which is in direct contrast to his TV-radio partner, GENE KELLY (39, partisan), who tends to be loud and shrill. "Don't set the table, Mabel, we'll be here for extra innings" can wear, but the home-town folks like him in spite of it. Kelly is the tallest broadcaster in the majors—6 feet 7. He did his growing in West Virginia, where he attended Marshall College. After trying professional baseball as a player (arm trouble forced his retirement after two years), he made it as an announcer via four-year stint in Midwest. He joined the Phillies in 1950, the year they won the pennant.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

1