Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn Remembered By Phillies Pitcher Pat Combs

Combs signature
swirls like a
tight curve ball!

When do you know you’ve made it? When do you feel like you belong?

I asked Philadelphia pitcher Pat Combs what his four-hitter versus the Cardinals during his 1989 rookie season meant. (Thanks http://www.retrosheet.org/ for the memories!) Combs wrote:

“The Cards game was great! What I most remember is that it proved to me how good my ‘stuff’ was. It showed me that good pitchers get hitters out. The key is to make good pitches.

My wife was in the stands that day.”

Combs should get extra credit for his final-month victories in 1989 and ’90. I pointed out that pitchers are facing September call-ups, guys without substantial scouting reports. By contrast, word spreads fast about how pitchers are pitching. Combs added:

“When I arrived in ’89, I had the same type of finish. I seemed to get stronger as the year progressed. The only attribution I could come up with is that my fitness level was extremely high. I would stay in great shape throughout the season, and simply outworked most of my peers.”

Two reasons that Combs remains memorable to Phillies fans are announcers Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. What does the former pitcher cherish from these beloved voices?

“Harry K and Richie (Whitey) were great men. They so much enjoyed the game and the players. We could sit and talk for hours with them. Both were very kind and gentle men.”

After reading about Combs’ Christianity, I decided to end my letter with my favorite Biblical passage. Combs replied:

“Tom, yes, James 2:14-17 are great verses. We must always practice what we preach, and walk in the ways of our Lord Jesus. He showed us the Way!

Pat”

Coming Monday: writing to baseball family members.

Jim Woods, the Pre-Santo Cubs 3rd Baseman

Baseball begins at birth.

Chicago native Jim Woods appeared in just two games for the 1957 Cubs. Still, that’s better than no games for the millions of Chicago fans who dreamed of even one day appearing in uniform at Wrigley Field.

“Yes, I felt great being a Chicago boy and signing with the Cubs.

You see, they TRADED ME a few years later and WHAT do you think a Chicago boy felt?

But they had a Ron Santo there? Ha Ha.”

Woods didn’t note that he was an extra temptation added to the package sent to Philadelphia to acquire Phils legend Richie Ashburn.

Seeing that Woods hit three career homers, it’s impressive to note that he collected two off Pittsburgh’s Bob Friend. He noted:

“I DO NOT remember homer #2 off Bob Friend, why, I do not know. But #1, I HAVE THE BALL, since 9/20/60.”

Lastly, here’s a question I’ll be asking more often: Who was your roommate, and what was the most fun the two of you ever had on the road? From Woods, the query brought a heart-warming reply:

“Chris Short, a left-handed pitcher, was my roommate and I fixed him up with my sister on one visit to Chicago and visited my dad’s bar. He was a bartender, great days.

P.S. – I DO NOT DRINK

Thanks, Tom

Jim Woods”

Tomorrow: Surprising insights from Red Sox manager “The Other” Joe Morgan

Harry Kalas Wrote Of Richie Ashburn: "As Good A Friend As A Man Could Have"

A Worthwhile Book!

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream. FoxSports is serving it for the NLCS broadcast. I tried ESPN radio, too.

I yearn for something more distinctive: a broadcaster who thrives on baseball. I’ve been thinking about Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. I never heard the pair together. But I heard Harry The K recall his long-time broadcast cohort. Before accepting the Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award in 2002, Kalas talked about his Phillies memories.

I sent a note of congratulations that year, asking him to keep talking about Ashburn. Kalas replied:

“Thanks for your kind letter. The Cooperstown weekend is something I will never forget.

Richie was as good a friend as a man could have. Not a game goes by that something will happen on the field that reminds me of ‘His Whitness’ and it’s always with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

My best wishes,
Harry Kalas”

Not to slight Giants fans…but Phillies followers might want to follow this Harry Kalas Facebook page.

Harry Kalas Wrote Of Richie Ashburn: “As Good A Friend As A Man Could Have”

A Worthwhile Book!

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream. FoxSports is serving it for the NLCS broadcast. I tried ESPN radio, too.

I yearn for something more distinctive: a broadcaster who thrives on baseball. I’ve been thinking about Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. I never heard the pair together. But I heard Harry The K recall his long-time broadcast cohort. Before accepting the Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award in 2002, Kalas talked about his Phillies memories.

I sent a note of congratulations that year, asking him to keep talking about Ashburn. Kalas replied:

“Thanks for your kind letter. The Cooperstown weekend is something I will never forget.

Richie was as good a friend as a man could have. Not a game goes by that something will happen on the field that reminds me of ‘His Whitness’ and it’s always with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

My best wishes,
Harry Kalas”

Not to slight Giants fans…but Phillies followers might want to follow this Harry Kalas Facebook page.

Ralph "Putsy" Caballero, Proud "Whiz Kid"


Ralph “Putsy” Caballero became the National League’s youngest third baseman ever when he debuted with the 1944 Phillies at age 16. Through 1952, he provided Philadelphia with utility infielder skills and one winning personality. Teammates marveled at his card-playing ability. In retirement, Caballero joked he may have won more money at cards than he made in baseball.

Caballero’s major league challenges pale to what he faced in 2005. The Louisiana resident lost his home and memorabilia from his Philadelphia days to Hurricane Katrina. He salvaged a Phillies uniform and autographed team picture from his 1950 “Whiz Kids” teammates. The World Series ring seems to have remained on his finger since 1950.

The baseball memories may have been the secret to his success. He wrote:

“Richie Ashburn was my teammate.

My home run (in 1951, the only one in 322 career games) was a thrill. Off George Spencer, the Giants ace relief pitcher.

(Our) batboys were 12 years old then. Not much older than me.

P.S. – I named my first son after Richie Ashburn”

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