- March 2, 1917
- 6' 1"
- 202 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 6-18-1944 with CIN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1950 MVP, 1950 TSN
Bespectacled Jim Konstanty won the 1950 National League Most Valuable Player Award, pitching in 74 games, winning 16 games, and saving 22 more, as he helped the Phillies to their first pennant in 35 years. The tall reliever, who relied on a wicked slider, never duplicated that season again, but he did have a solid career out of the bullpen.
Best Season: 1950
There's a good list of unlikely MVP Award winners, and Konstanty certainly deserves to be on that roster. Prior to his MVP season, he had won just 16 games, appearing in relief in all but 12 of his 89 major league contests. He was regarded as a tough pitcher, especially on right-handed batters, but some with the Phillies didn't think he had the stamina to be a key part of the staff. That changed, of course, under Eddie Sawyer in 1950. Other unlikely MVP winners: Zoilo Versalles, Jeff Burroughs, and Kevin Mitchell.
The Pitches He Threw
After touring Japan with a major league all-star team in the 1950 off-season, Konstanty reported to spring training in 1951 with a secret new pitch in his reportoire.
"I haven't named it yet," Konstanty told The Sporting News, "but it's a sidearm slider that breaks like lightning for about four inches. I think it's unhittable if I can control it."
In 1951, Konstanty's control was still very good, but his ERA soared from 2.66 to 4.05, and batters hit 25 points higher against him than they had the previous season.
Philadelphia manager Eddie Sawyer's use of Konstanty in the 1950 World Series, was both bizarre, and at times effective. Surprisingly, Sawyer started his ace reliever in Game One against the Yankees. Konstanty pitched into the ninth before leaving on the wrong side of a 1-0 loss. He had allowed five hits. Two days later, in Yankee Stadium for Game Three, Sawyer summoned Konstanty from the pen in the 8th inning, clinging to a 2-1 lead. The bases were loaded and Konstanty coaxed Bobby Brown into a grounder that should have ended the threat. But Granny Hamner booted it, and the tying run scored. Konstanty got Johnny Mize to pop out to end the inning. He was removed for a pinch-hitter, and the Phils lost the game, 3-2, when their bullpen surrendered the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The next day, after starter Bob Miller faced just four batters in the first, Sawyer rushed Konstanty into the game to stem a Yankee rally. Despite pitching in his third game in four days, Jim responded nicely, getting two quick grounders to end the inning. The Yanks had already scored two runs, however. Konstanty was gritty, pitching through the 7th inning before he was pulled for a pinch-hitter. He had allowed three runs in the sixth, one on a homer by Yogi Berra. The Phils lost, 5-2, and were swept away by the Bombers.
Konstanty had pitched nearly half of the Phillies' innings in the Series, posting a 2.40 ERA. Sawyer had relied on him heavily, but the Yankees were just too good.
- Jim Konstanty