Sad news out of Philadelphia as Curt Simmons has passed away at the age of 93. He pitched for the pennant winning 1950 team, the one affectionately known as the Whiz Kids.
Simmons was one of the more unheralded pitchers in the team’s history, overshadowed in 1950 by Robin Roberts and Jim Konstanty. One could say “deservedly so” since Roberts won 20 games for them that year and Konstanty won 16 and saved 22 (and was the dang MVP that year), but Simmons was just as integral to winning the pennant for the team that year as the other two. He started 31 games for them that season, but had to depart his final start on September 9 in the seventh inning, having given up two runs in 6 2⁄3 innings of work. The Phillies would win that day to hold their commanding 6 1⁄2 game lead in the National League.
It would be Simmons’ last game of the season and the last one he’d pitch in the big leagues until 1952.
No he wasn’t injured; he was called up to active duty in the Korean War.
They would go on a huge slide after that, almost blowing the lead in the league, only to be saved on the last day of the year by Roberts. They’d be swept by the Yankees in the World Series, but one has to wonder what it would have looked like had the team had Simmons and Roberts both against New York. The players knew what he meant to the team, Del Ennis calling him out specifically in a column he wrote in October:
It was pretty tough through this final month, but let me tell you - the Phillies never quit fighting. But the Army took Simmons, one of our top starting pitchers, and Bubba Church and Bob Miller were out of action, too. Could any other club in baseball lose three pitchers of that sort, and not feel it? You know they couldn’t!
He watched one of the games from the stands, being let out on leave, but could do nothing to help the club. He would get his chance at a title in St. Louis in a season that should sound very familiar to Phillies fans, 1964. As the Phillies were handing the lead of the division over to the Cardinals, Simmons was fashioning himself a very fine record of 18-9 in 34 starts, a 3.43 ERA over 244 innings nothing to sneeze at.
He was a good pitcher, one you may not hear much about in the team’s history, but one that stands up among all the greats this team has had over the years. He will be missed.
On to the links.
- Simmons was the last remaining member of the 1950 Whiz Kids who still walked among us. Rest in peace, Curt.
- I think I agree with Nathan here, but I’m just not certain that it would work for the horses of the rotation.
- The Giants continued their educated dice rolls on middling starters, grabbing Ross Stripling on a two-year deal.
- Speaking of the Giants, looks like they’re trying to make sure they get one of the big shortstops before they’re all gone.
- Mike Zunino will be bringing his huge power/low batting average/awesome framing skills to Cleveland on a one-year deal.
- I love these kinds of stories about how a team is thinking about preparing to make an offer to a free agent.