Three ex-Phillies are still 'Whiz Kids' at heart

Three ex-Phillies are still 'Whiz Kids' at heart

Thirty-five years after winning the 1915 National League pennant, the Phillies won another championship on the last day of the season in Brooklyn. Dick Sisler hit a dramatic three-run homer in the 10th inning that day to beat the Dodgers, 4-1, and reach the World Series. It was the most dramatic home run in the history of the franchise.

Three members of the 1950 "Whiz Kids" remain, 87-year-old infielder Ralph (Putsy) Caballero, pitcher Bob Miller, 89, and pitcher Curt Simmons, 86.

Putsy Caballero

Born in New Orleans, LA, Putsy still resides there, living with his son. He was signed by the Phillies as a 16-year-old on September 9, 1944. Five days later he became the youngest to ever play third base in the Major Leagues when he entered the game in the seventh inning against the Giants at the Polo Grounds. The Polo Grounds was also the place where he got his first hit, April 26, 1948 and his last hit, September 27, 1952. That hit came in his last at-bat, a two-run single. 

A utility infielder, pinch-runner and pinch-hitter, he only played for the Phillies in the majors, 1944-45; 1947-52 plus seven seasons in their minor league system. He hit .228 in his Phillies career, one home run, 40 RBI, 41 walks and 34 strikeouts in 322 games. In the World Series, hitless in one at-bat.

One of his prize possessions was a baseball signed by Babe Ruth. "The Babe came to spring training in Clearwater in 1948 and I got him to sign a baseball. He died later that summer. When hurricane Katrina flattened my house in 2005, I lost everything, including the ball."

He's retired from the pest control business. Health? "Pretty good. Fell earlier this year and hurt my shoulder. Can't make the throw to first," he laughed.

Bob Miller

He was signed by the Phillies out of Detroit, MI, just prior to the 1948 season. Made his big league debut on September 16, 1949, as a 23-year-old. At 32, his final game came on August 10, 1958.

Miller got off to a sensational start in 1950, his rookie season, winning his first eight decisions. His first victory was a complete game and he followed that with a pair of shutouts. Then he hurt his back. Even though he had a 10-year career, he never recaptured that early magic. He's one of four who spent their entire career with the Phillies, joined by Mike Schmidt (18), Larry Christenson (11) and Terry Harman (10).

During his career, he sold cars for a while and then got into the insurance business. Following baseball, he was the head baseball coach at the University of Detroit Mercy from 1965-2000. He won more than 900 games.

Health? "Hobbling on one knee. Had one replaced and should have the same on the other but I don't know." Still loves and follows the game. "Hate the pitch count."

Curt Simmons

A high school star in Egypt, PA, Simmons signed in 1947 after graduation. He received a $60,000 bonus plus $5,000 when added to the big league roster in September. He made his debut on the 28th of that month at age 18. His last game in the majors, October 1, 1967, at age 38.

He spent 17 seasons with the Phillies, 115-110 record, 3.66 ERA and also pitched for the Cardinals (69-58), Cubs (7-14) and Angels (2-1).

During the 1950 pennant-winning season, he was 17-8 before his National Guard unit was activated during the Korean conflict. Simmons started the second game of a Wednesday, September 6, double-header against the Dodgers at Shibe Park. Brooklyn won both games to cut the Phillies lead to 5.5 games. The next day Simmons was wearing an Army uniform. Simmons was at Camp Atterbury in Indiana when Sisler hit the pennant-winning home run on Oct. 1. "I didn't know until that evening," Curt recalled. "Called the guys that night from the barracks."

Simmons spent all of 1951 in the military service and missed all of spring training in 1952. Joined the club in Chicago on April 29 and threw a complete game win over the Cubs. Simmons finished 14-8 and started the All-Star Game for the National League.

Simmons is the last Phillies pitcher to hit an inside-the-park home run, May 22, of the same season. He drove in three runs in shutting out the Pirates, 6-0, on three hits. "Bobby Del Greco was their centerfielder and I hit the ball over his head. Shibe
Park had a deep centerfield. I could run and scored standing up," recalled Curt.

Health? Laughing, "Well, I can't run anymore. Need a walker to get around. Left hip replaced three times, right one, once. Right knee also was replaced. Go to therapy every week."

During the mid-1960s, he and Robin Roberts became partners in the Limkiln Golf Club. Curt built a house on the property and still lives there.

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.