Baseball and America
The National League
1950 Final National League Standing
Philadelphia Phillies 91-63 0
Brooklyn Dodgers 89-65 2
New York Giants 86-68 5
Boston Braves 83-71 8
St Louis Cardinals 78-75 12 ½
Cincinnati Reds 66-87 24 ½
Chicago Cubs 64-89 26 ½
Pittsburgh Pirates 57-96 33 ½
The first thing that pops into the memory of baseball fans regarding 1950 is the Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids”. The National League pennant race went down to the last game of the season with the Phillies and Robin Roberts (HOF) defeating the second place and preseason favorite Dodgers and Don Newcombe 4-1 in ten innings. Both pitchers went the distance until Dick Sisler (son of HOF George Sisler) blasted a three run home run in the tenth to move the Phils on to the World Series. It should never have gotten to this point as the Phillies held a 7 ½ game lead over the Boston Braves and a 9 game lead over the Dodgers on September 20. But what a dive they took as the lead dropped to 4 games over the Dodgers going into the last week of the season. They then managed to lose back to back doubleheaders to the Giants allowing the Dodgers to pull within one game for this end of season contest.
# 1 The ”Whiz Kids” (91-63) The roster was filled with young players. It included two 23 year old future Hall of Famers pitcher Robin Roberts, (20-11, 3.04 era, 40 games, 304 innings) and 23 year old centerfielder Richie Ashburn who batted .303. But there were others: Home runs and RBIs came from 3B Willie “ Puddin Head “ Jones ( 25, 82), catcher Andy Seminick (24, 88 ) and outfielder Del Ennis ( 31, 126). Supporting Roberts were pitchers Curt Simmons (17-8), and Jim Konstanty ( 16-7, 22 saves). Konstanty was a surprise choice as the NL MVP (the Cy Young Award for best league pitcher was not awarded until 1956). Robin Robert’s 20 win season was the first of six consecutive 20 win seasons. Ennis who hit 31 homeruns in 1950 went on to a very successful, but often overlooked, thirteen year career with 288 homeruns, 1284 RBIs and a lifetime batting average of .284.
#2 Brooklyn Dodgers (89-65) Many very familiar names in baseball lore were playing in Brooklyn by 1950. The four future Hall of Famers 2B Jackie Robinson ( .328,12, 81 ), shortstop Peewee Reese (.260,11,62 ), outfielder Duke Snider ( .321,21,127 ) and catcher Roy Campanella ( .281,31,105) teamed up with 1B Gil Hodges’s 32 homeruns and OF Carl Furillo’s .305 batting average to provide the offense. Pitchers Don Newcombe and Preacher Roe had identical 19-11 won lost seasons.
#3 New York Giants (86-68) The Giants rallied late in the season to close within 5 games under the leadership of (HOF) manager). Leo Durocher. Third baseman Hank Thompson, outfielders Bobby Thomson and catcher Wes Westrum all hit more than 20 homeruns. Second baseman Eddie Stanky batted .305 and led the team in runs scored with 115. Pitchers Larry Jansen (19-13) and the “Barber” Sal Maglie (18-4,) led the pitching staff. The gritty Maglie earned his Barber nickname for his ability to throw tight and inside to the hitter.
#4 Boston Braves (83-71) sputtered in the stretch run. What success they achieved this season came from the pitching of ” Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”. (HOF) Lefthander Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain combined for 41 wins. Vern Bickford also contributed with 19 wins including a no hitter. First baseman Earl Torgenson and 3B Bob Elliott hit over 20 homeruns while rookie outfielder Sam “the Jet” Jethroe was the surprise of the year hitting 18 homeruns and stealing a league leading 35 bases. Jethroe was named the NL Rookie of the Year. He had been recruited from the Negro League at the age of 28 and was the first black player for the Boston Braves. Due to age and injuries Sam only played four seasons of major league baseball.
The Bottom Feeders
# 5 St Louis Cardinals ( 78-75) despite the presence of two future HOF outfielders Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter plus HOF 2B Red Schoendienst the Cards barely played .500 baseball. Musial had an outstanding season batting .346, 28 homeruns and 109 RBIs. With the exception of Howie Pollett’s 14 wins the team had little in the way of pitching.
#6 Cincinnati Reds (68-87) had little to offer outside of young slugger Ted Kluzewski who batted .307 with 25 homeruns and 111 RBIs, and future Yankee World Series pitcher Ewell Blackwell (17-15,2.97 ) . Rookie OF Joe Adcock showed some promise.
#7 Chicago Cubs (64-89). Not much you can say for a team whose only standouts were outfielders Andy Pafko and veteran Hank Sauer who both hit over 30 homeruns. Their leading pitcher won 13 games but lost 20. No wonder Manager (HOF) Frankie Frisch was on the hot seat and lost his job midway through the next season.
#8 Pittsburgh Pirates (57-96) The second year of a disastrous era for Pittsburgh fans. (HOf) Ralph Kiner led the league with 47 homeruns and 118 RBIs and young outfielder Gus Bell batted .292 in his major league debut but that was pretty much it at the plate. There were no pitchers on the staff that won more games than they lost. Twenty year old hurler Vern Law showed some promise. Second baseman Danny Murtaugh would someday manage the Pirates in better times.