Phillies' most dramatic HR belongs to Sisler

Phillies' most dramatic HR belongs to Sisler

A number of Phillies sluggers have led the league in home runs: Gavvy Cravath, Cy Williams, Chuck Klein, Mike Schmidt, Jim Thome and Ryan Howard. But the single most dramatic home run in club history was by a 29-year-old left-handed-hitting left fielder who finished with 39 homers in 508 career games with the Phils.

"One ball, two strikes. Now Newcombe's set, in the stretch, delivering, swinging. … A fly ball, very, very deep to left field, moving back Adams, way, way back. … He can't get it. … It's a home run -- WOW! A home run for Dick Sisler, the Phillies lead, 4-1."

Those were the words of radio broadcaster Gene Kelly as he described Sisler's National League pennant-winning home run against the Dodgers in Brooklyn on Oct. 1, 1950.

"He threw me a fastball on the outside and then came in a little," said Sisler years later. "I was fortunate enough that it carried. I didn't know it was going all the way until after I had rounded first base."

His Hall of Fame dad, George Sisler, was the director of Minor Leagues for the Dodgers and looked on from the third-base side of the park.

The big blast put the Phils in the World Series for only the second time in the club's history. The "Whiz Kids," drained from a tough pennant race, were no match for the New York Yankees, losing the World Series in four straight.

Sisler's home run was a welcome sight for the ballclub. They took first place on July 25 and led by five games with only seven games remaining. But Curt Simmons (17-8) was drafted in the Army in early September and two other starters, Bob Miller (11-6) and Bubba Church (8-6), were injured. Manager Eddie Sawyer, knowing a loss on Oct. 1 would force a one-game tiebreaker with Brooklyn for the NL pennant the following day, decided to go with his ace, Robin Roberts, in the big Sunday afternoon game at Ebbets Field. For Roberts, it was his fourth start in the last nine games and a bid for his 20th win.

Two-out singles by Sisler, right fielder Del Ennis and third baseman Willie Jones staked Roberts to a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the same inning, shortstop Pee Wee Reese sent a two-out drive deep to right field. Ennis retreated, the ball hit a screen above the fence and dropped down to a one-foot coping. To the Phillies' disgust, the ball stayed there and Reese circled the bases to tie the game.

Roberts and the Phils appeared to be on the brink of disaster in the last of the ninth inning. Cal Abrams walked to start the inning and Reese singled him to second. Duke Snider followed with another hit to center. Richie Ashburn made the throw of his life, as described by Kelly:

"A line-drive single to center. … Ashburn races in with the ball and here comes the throw. … He is ... OUT!"

In a twist of fate, Brooklyn's third-base coach, Milt Stock, who sent Abrams, was an infielder with the Phillies' 1915 pennant winners.

Despite the great throw by Ashburn, Roberts remained in a huge jam. The talented Dodgers had a runner on first base and the winning run on third base with one out. Roberts walked Jackie Robinson intentionally to load the bases. He then retired Carl Furillo on a foul to first base and Gil Hodges on a routine fly ball to Ennis, sending the game to extra innings.

Roberts remained in the game and singled to start the 10th off Don Newcombe. Eddie Waitkus' single moved Roberts to second. Ashburn laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Roberts was thrown out at third, Newcombe to third baseman Billy Cox. Sisler followed with his pennant-winning home run on a 1-2 pitch. Roberts retired three straight in the 10th, setting off celebrations in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

The Whiz Kids were so popular, one of their longtime fans, Deborah Arden Stern, wrote a song about the team:

The Fight, Fight, Fight-in-Phils!
It's a tough, tough team to beat.
They're out to win, win ev-'ry day.
Every victory is sweet.

Watch 'em hit that ball a mile; play a game that's packed with thrills.
Get Pa to bring your Mother, Sister, and your Brother
Come out to see the Fight-in' Phils.
The fight, fight, fight-'in Phils!

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.