We Remember Richie!

(Richie at 1950 World Series)

Richie "Whitey" Ashburn
Phillies Centerfielder 1948-1959
Phillies Broadcaster 1963-1997

Year Team AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO Avg.
1948 Philadelphia 463 154 17 4 2 60 22 .333
1949 Philadelphia 662 188 18 11 1 58 38 .284
1950 Philadelphia 594 180 25 14 2 63 32 .303
1951 Philadelphia 643 221 31 5 4 50 37 .344
1952 Philadelphia 613 173 31 6 1 75 30 .282
1953 Philadelphia 622 205 25 9 2 61 35 .330
1954 Philadelphia 559 175 16 8 1 125 46 .313
1955 Philadelphia 533 180 32 9 3 105 36 .338
1956 Philadelphia 628 190 26 8 3 79 45 .303
1957 Philadelphia 626 186 26 8 0 94 44 .297
1958 Philadelphia 615 215 24 13 2 97 48 .350
1959 Philadelphia 564 150 16 2 1 79 42 .266
1960 Chicago (NL) 547 159 16 5 0 116 50 .291
1961 Chicago (NL) 307 79 7 4 0 55 27 .257
1962 New York (NL) 389 119 7 3 7 81 39 .306

(Ashburn (sitting, second from right) with '51 Phils teammates)

On July 31, 1995, my two young sons and I, along with about 60 other police officers from Philadelphia, embarked on a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, New York, for the Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions of Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn, two legendary Philly players. We were joined at the Hall by over 200 buses and 30,000 Philadelphia fans who came to honor the inductees. It was the largest crowd ever to descend on Cooperstown. We came to cheer for Schmidt, who was undoubtedly the greatest third baseman ever. The Hall of Fame President remarked in his opening speech, that he knew how Moses felt when he parted the waters of the Red Sea, as he gazed upon the thousands of fans with Philly hats and shirts. Schmidt received a tremendous ovation when he was introduced, but it was immediately obvious that the hearts of the thousands of fans were there for Richie, a Philadelphia Icon since 1948. For fifteen years he had been a star center fielder for the Phillies, and for thirty five years he had broadcast the Phillies games on both television and radio. His appearance at the podium prompted an ovation which seemed like it would never end. Ashburn was overwhelmed and spoke with tears in his eyes. No Philadelphian, who ever heard or watched a ball game, will ever forget "Whitey" and his humor, class, love of the fans, and love of the game. In a city well known for its cynical and unforgiving fans, a city who bombed Santa with snow balls at Eagles games and has driven athletes to desperation, Ashburn had become the most well known and loved Philadelphian. Originally from Tilden, Nebraska, he made Philadelphia his home and for 50 years was central in the lives of baseball fans. Who can forget his stories of being beaned in the on-deck circle by Sal "the barber" Maglie for timing his pitches, and on another occasion how he hit a foul ball which struck a female fan, and struck her with another foul while she was being carried out on a stretcher. Overshadowed during his playing career by Mays, Williams, Mantle, Snider and DiMaggio, Philadelphians knew what they had and showed their appreciation over and over. To the shock of the baseball world, Ashburn passed away on September 10, 1997, only hours after finishing his radio broadcast. Over 20,000 fans attended his viewing in Memorial Hall a few days later. Goodbye Whitey! The game will never be the same.

Whitey Enjoying the Ride to Cooperstown

Whitey at the Hall

You couldn't spend any substantial amount of time as a sports fan in Philadelphia without having a favorite "Whitey" memory. Mine involves a game in the late 80's. The Phillies had recently obtained Von Hayes from the Indians, and he was having a great year. He had become a favorite of local kids. My son, seven or eight at the time, was standing along the railing at the third base line in Veterans Stadium. Hayes and several other players were signing autographs. There was a large crowd of fans, but a seven year old boy is usually not deterred. He stood 50 yards away from Hayes holding out a ball for Hayes to sign. He was leaning over the railing. Ashburn, who had just concluded a pre-game on-field interview, walked by and saw him. He walked over to sign the ball, thinking it was his autograph he wanted. He pulled the ball back from Richie. Ashburn again tried to take the ball to sign it. He again pulled it back and pointed to Hayes, shaking his head NO! when Ashburn offered to sign it. By this time, Richie was amused, and so were the fans sitting along the field. After repeated attempts Ashburn smiled, threw his arms up in frustration, and walked away shaking his head. I am sure that was the only time in Richie's memory, that a fan had refused to accept his autograph!

With Manager Eddie Sawyer
and the Utica Blue Sox, 1945
Ashburn was a catcher!

Whitey in the Hall

September 10, 1997

Ashburn and Schmidt
Cooperstown Induction
July 31, 1995

Richie Makes the Hall

The Voice That Ran Through Our Lives

The Most Loved Philadelphian

(Ashburn and Andy Seminick
arrive at 30th St. Station
after World Series loss to Yanks in 1950)

A City Says Goodbye

Goodbye Whitey

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