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Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Curt Simmons, member of 1950 ‘Whiz Kids,’ dies at 93

This was last week, but I didn’t see anything posted on it here.

Phillies Wall of Famer Curt Simmons died at his Ambler, Pa., home on Tuesday at 93 years of age. He was the last surviving member of the 1950 “Whiz Kids” team.

One of the greatest pitchers in franchise history, the lefty posted a record of 115-110 with 109 complete games, 18 shutouts and a 3.66 ERA in 325 games (263 starts) in 13 seasons with the club. Simmons tied for the major league lead with six shutouts in 1952 and logged a career-best 21 complete games in 1954. Among all pitchers in franchise history, he ranks fifth in wins and innings (1,939.2), sixth in games started, tied for sixth in shutouts and ninth in strikeouts (1,052). He was selected to three All-Star teams with the Phillies in 1952-53 and 1957, earning the starting nods in both the 1952 and 1957 Midsummer Classics.

Born Curtis Thomas Simmons on May 19, 1929, in Egypt, Pa., he was a graduate of Whitehall High School in Pennsylvania, leading the school club to three consecutive Lehigh Valley championships. He also won two state championships with the Coplay American Legion team, and in 1945 played in both the Pennsylvania American Legion All-Star Game at Shibe Park and East-West American Legion All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds, where he was managed by Babe Ruth.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 20, 2022 at 11:26 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: curt simmons, obituaries

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   1. John Reynard Posted: December 21, 2022 at 04:50 AM (#6110283)
Yeah, I live only a few miles from Egypt, PA and saw someone had a RIP banner out for Simmons about a week ago (perhaps a relative of some sort, or perhaps they own the place he was born...or are just old-time Phillies fans, who knows -- Egypt PA is kind of a really small town that's been blobbed around by neighboring places too, so, perhaps just local pride). I had no idea he was from the Lehigh Valley before that.
   2. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 21, 2022 at 07:33 AM (#6110290)
Curt Simmons started playing baseball a long time ago, with some team you've never heard of. His manager was some other guy you've never heard of, and he's long dead now. Something something George Wright.

Yeah, I'm too lazy to do one of these right now. Sorry.
   3. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 21, 2022 at 08:43 AM (#6110299)
OK, I'll do it.

Curt Simmons broke in with the 1947 Wilmington Blue Rocks, was brought up to the Phillies in late September and scattered five hits in a complete-game win over the Giants. Yeah. Simmons would stay in the majors for twenty years.
Meanwhile, the Blue Rocks were managed by Jack Saltzgaver...who I actually had heard of, because he played for the Yankees in the thirties, and you don't easily forget a guy with a name like "Saltzgaver". Anyway, Saltzgaver broke in with the 1925 Ottumwa Cardinals, a few years before "Radar" O'Reilly was born. His teammate/manager was Wally Mattick, who also debuted in Iowa, with the 1906 Oskaloosa Quakers. His manager/teammate was Ham Patterson, who broke into baseball just three years earlier (at age 25), with the 1903 Denver Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies were filled with former and future big leaguers, including Bob McHale, who broke in with the 1889 Sacramento Atlas, who also had a number of major leaguers. (How did all these guys make it back east, anyway?) The Atlas had five different managers in 1889, none of whom were 36-year-old John "Trick" McSorley, who debuted with the 1875 St. Louis Red Stockings of the National Association. (The Red Stox won exactly four of 19 games that season and did not become the modern St. Louis Cardinals.) The Red Stockings player/manager was Charlie Sweasy, famous second baseman/drunk for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

Ave atque vale.
   4. Perry Posted: December 21, 2022 at 10:56 AM (#6110334)
Obviously made his bones with the 50s Phillies and was a native of the area, but also was picked up by the Cardinals after everyone thought he was washed up and actually pitched better them than he had with Philly. He was one of their top starters in the early 60s, including winning 18 games for the 1964 world champions.
   5. Itchy Row Posted: December 21, 2022 at 11:06 AM (#6110338)
His debut was the last game of the 1947 season. The first hitter Simmons faced was Johnny Mize, who hit leadoff for the only time in his career. Mize and Ralph Kiner were tied for the NL HR lead, so the batting order change must have been to give Mize more chances to take the lead. Neither one hit a HR that day, and they ended up tied at 51.
   6. salvomania Posted: December 21, 2022 at 11:16 AM (#6110342)
Simmons was a member of the "Whiz Kids" but didn't pitch in the World Series that year---after his 17th and final win of the year in early September, with the US fighting in Korea, his National Guard unit was activated, and he missed the World Series. Can you imagine something like that happening today?

After the Phillies released him 10 years later, in May 1960, the Cardinals picked him up, and he ended up having a nice run for St. Louis, for whom he pitched into 1966. He ultimately accumulated 18.9 bWAR in 191 starts with an ERA+ of 122 with the Cardinals after 24.3 bWAR and an ERA+ of 108 in 263 starts with the Phillies.

His best season (by bWAR) was in 1963, and he followed that up with an 18-win campaign for the 1964 World Series champion Cardinals. [EDIT: Coke to Perry]

In his World Series debut, he started Game 3 vs. the Yankees and allowed just one run on four hits over 8 innings, but left with a no decision in a game won on a walk-off homer by Mickey Mantle leading off the 9th against reliever Barney Schultz. Simmons started Game 6 with a chance to clinch, but left in the 7th down 3-1 after having allowed back-to-back homers to Maris and Mantle in the 6th. The Cardinals would eventually lose that game 8-3, but won Game 7 behind Bob Gibson's second complete-game win in four days.
   7. sanny manguillen Posted: December 21, 2022 at 12:29 PM (#6110368)
in May 1960, the Cardinals picked him up, and he ended up having a nice run for St. Louis,


Simmons joined the Cards on May 20. On the 28th, they sent Wilmer Mizell to the Pirates for Julian Javier and another player. Simmons went 7-4, 2.66 in 152 innings with the Cards. Mizell 13-5, 3.12 in 155 innings with the Pirates. Javier was the Cards' second baseman for 12 years.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 21, 2022 at 12:45 PM (#6110372)

Simmons was a member of the "Whiz Kids" but didn't pitch in the World Series that year---after his 17th and final win of the year in early September, with the US fighting in Korea, his National Guard unit was activated, and he missed the World Series. Can you imagine something like that happening today?

Obviously not the same thing, but last year Elkanah Kibet, a Lt. in the US Army, finished in 4th place in the NYC Marathon and was the top American runner. This year, he was planning to compete again, but was deployed overseas a month before the race and had to withdraw.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: December 21, 2022 at 01:16 PM (#6110377)

Simmons was a member of the "Whiz Kids" but didn't pitch in the World Series that year---after his 17th and final win of the year in early September, with the US fighting in Korea, his National Guard unit was activated, and he missed the World Series. Can you imagine something like that happening today?


The National Guard deployed to So Korea? Yeah that seems quite possible.
   10. salvomania Posted: December 21, 2022 at 01:21 PM (#6110378)
Simmons was teammates with both Rollie Hemsley, who played in the 1932 "Called Shot" World Series for the Cubs, and Joe Niekro, who pitched in the 1987 World Series for the Twins.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 21, 2022 at 01:52 PM (#6110398)
Simmons had the added distinction of being the only player I know of to lose a toe to a lawn mower.
   12. salvomania Posted: December 21, 2022 at 02:01 PM (#6110402)
Wasn't it SS Roger Metzger ('70s Giants/Astros) who sawed off the tops of several fingers?

From Wikipedia:
On November 29, 1979, Metzger lost the tips of four fingers on his right hand (index to pinky) in an electric table-saw accident. He had been building a wooden playhouse for his children as a Christmas present[1] Metzger attempted a comeback for the 1980 season, but was released by the San Francisco Giants on August 10, 1980, after only hitting .074 in 28 games. Immediately after being released, he was re-signed by the Giants as a coach for the remainder of the season.[2]

So parents, please be careful this holiday season!
   13. Itchy Row Posted: December 21, 2022 at 02:26 PM (#6110407)
Simmons had the added distinction of being the only player I know of to lose a toe to a lawn mower.
That might be true, but Howard Johnson's two-year-old grandson lost five toes to a mower last year. NoToeJo, I guess.
   14. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 21, 2022 at 03:53 PM (#6110428)
His debut was the last game of the 1947 season.


The year that Jackie Robinson debuted. Does anyone here know whether there any living players left who played before integration? If so who? If not, who was the last one to die? From what I can tell, George Elder is the oldest living player and he played in 1949 but was already 28 years old at that time, leaving the possibility of somebody who was 24 or younger in 1946.
   15. Itchy Row Posted: December 21, 2022 at 04:20 PM (#6110433)
Chris Haughey pitched in one game in 1943 and he’s still alive. Eddie Robinson died a year ago. He might have been the last pre-integration player who also played post-integration.
   16. sanny manguillen Posted: December 21, 2022 at 04:52 PM (#6110437)
Tommy Brown? Just turned 95, debuted in 1944 before his 17th birthday, played in the majors through 1953.
   17. Itchy Row Posted: December 21, 2022 at 05:09 PM (#6110442)
I was looking at Baseball Almanac's list of oldest living ex-players and missed Tommy Brown. It does look like Brown and Haughey are the last two who played before 1947. Simmons would have been the 30th oldest. George Elder fell off the list in July.

Tony Perez just moved into the top 500.
   18. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: December 21, 2022 at 07:05 PM (#6110455)
thanks guys
   19. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: December 22, 2022 at 12:31 PM (#6110541)
Re 16: Brown actually 16, the youngest MLB position player ever. He could hit (batted .303 and .291 in part-time duty in '49 and '50), but there was no way he was cracking that Dodgers outfield, so he went to the Phils and then the Cubs, but could never quite nail down a full-time job. He spent nine years in the majors (the last at age 25!) and six more in the PCL and the Southern League.

And, yes, he turned 95 just a few weeks ago, on December 6. (Can you name the three HOFers who were born in 1927?)
   20. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 22, 2022 at 12:52 PM (#6110542)
Three related trivia questions, two relatively easy and one that's almost brutal.

1. Who is the currently oldest player to have played in a World Series, and in which World Series was it?

2. What was the earliest World Series that any player currently alive today played in? And who is the player?

And a much harder question:

3. Who is the oldest living player to have been on a World Series roster? Double bonus if you can also name the year and the team.
   21. It's Spelled With a CFBF, But Not Where You Think Posted: December 22, 2022 at 01:36 PM (#6110548)
3. Who is the oldest living player to have been on a World Series roster?


Pujols.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 22, 2022 at 03:39 PM (#6110572)
I'd have to see the long form birth certificate for that one.
   23. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2022 at 05:47 PM (#6110592)
Mays played in the 1951 Series, but I'm not sure that's the answer. Mays also played in the 1948 NgLe WS, which could be the answer if you count that.
   24. Snowboy Posted: December 22, 2022 at 06:18 PM (#6110597)
3. Who is the oldest living player to have been on a World Series roster? Double bonus if you can also name the year and the team.

Hard questions.

I'll stab in the dark, and take the ridicules: Bobby Shantz was born in 1925, so he's been doing it for 97 years.
He pitched for the Yankees in the 1957 WS.

I like Mefisto's answer for #2
   25. Snowboy Posted: December 22, 2022 at 06:27 PM (#6110599)
Wait, no, Carl Erskine played in the 1949 WS for Brooklyn and is still living it, so scratch my support for Mefisto. (Just this once, ok?)
(Repeat: hard questions.)
   26. Mefisto Posted: December 22, 2022 at 09:10 PM (#6110613)
Shantz has to be right. Erskine is a good guess; I didn't know he came up in '49.
   27. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 22, 2022 at 09:59 PM (#6110624)
1. Bobby Shantz, pitched in both the 1957 and 1960 WS for the Yankees. He was also on their WS roster in 1958, but never appeared in a game.

2. Carl Erskine, pitched in the 1949 WS, Willie Mays played in the 1948 NeL WS. Either answer would be acceptable.

3. Art Schallock, currently the oldest living player. Was on the Yankees WS roster in 1951 but never got in a game.

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