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Robin Roberts was the last man standing from the 1950 Whiz Kids when Curt Simmons was released on May 17, two days short of his 31st birthday. Hang on there Quinn! Thirty one-year-old lefties with Simmons’ pedigree become prize possessions for Major League baseball teams that are serious about building winners. Simmons was picked up by the St.Louis Cardinals, went 7-4 in 1960, and won 69 games for them, including 16 shutouts, over the next seven years. Rich Ashburn had been dealt in January to the Chicago Cubs for Alvin Dark, Jim Woods, and right handed pitcher John Buzhardt. Thanks a lot, Cubs; Buzhardt was 5-16 for the 1960 Phillies. Dark hung around for 55 games, hitting .242, before being sent back to his old Milwaukee team on June 23rd for two cases of beer.
Quinn was preparing a textbook of how to build a bad ballclub, and it didn’t take long to show how bad they were; two innings into the season to be precise. On opening day, April 12th in Cincinnati it was Robin Roberts for the Phils against Jim Brosnan of the Reds, speaking of bad pitchers (too bad for him that he couldn’t pitch better than he could write – his book, BALL FOUR, was a complete game shutout). The 67 pound-weakling Phillies were all over him for a four to nothing lead after two innings. In the bottom of the second, Roberts escaped serious injury from line drives but prepared one of his patented gopher balls for Reds’ shortstop Roy McMillan whose three-run shot gave the Reds a 5-4 lead . Robby gave up 31 homeruns on the season, posting a 12-16 record with a 4.02 ERA and two shutouts. On April 17, he gave up a milestone homerun to Milwaukee’s Eddie Mathews, his 300th. It was going to be a bad year; last place (59-95), 36 games behind the winning Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was going to be a bad year, and Eddie Sawyer wanted nothing to do with it; after the painful opening day loss, he said, “I quit. I’m forty nine years-old and I’d like to live to be fifty.” Thirty five year-old Gene Mauch, who seemed a perfectly sane man at the time, took over.
In fairness to John Quinn, he did do some good things: (1) signed Dick Allen(18) to a free agent contract, (2) obtained Tony Taylor (25) in a trade with the Cubs, (3) obtained Tony Gonzalez (24) in a trade with Cincinnati, (4) he had Johnny Callison (21), Chris Short, (23), and Art Mahaffey (22) in the lineup. The new Whiz Kids?
At times it seemed the league was picking on the already-down Phillies : July 19 – Giants’ right handed pitcher Juan Marichal made his Major League debut in San Francisco with a one-hit, 12 strikeout, complete game shutout of the Phillies; August 18 – Milwaukee’s Lew Burdette faced the minimum 27 batters in a no hit, no-run game against the Phillies. Tony Gonzalez reached first when hit by a pitch but was erased on a double play; September 16 – 39 year-old Warren Spahn of the Braves no-hits the Phils for his 11th 20 or more wins season.
When 4,847 die-hard fans filed into Connie Mack Stadium on the night of September 15, 1960, they expected to see some big time hitting from the powerful San Francisco Giants lineup, but how could they have guessed that Willie Mays would have five hits, including three triples (doubles for most mortals), or that the Phillies’ part-time secondbaseman, Bobby Malkmus, would hit his one homerun of the year, with the bases loaded in the 6th inning, to tie the game at six, only to have Mays’ third triple win it for the Giants in the 11th inning. These were the kind of things that kept the fans coming back. The Phillies were a losing ballclub, but they could still be entertaining.