Don Richard Ashburn

  • Nickname:  Whitey
  • Born:  March 19, 1927, Tilden, Nebraska
  • Died:  September 9, 1997, New York, New York
  • Played 1948-1962 (1948-1959 for Phillies)
  • Six-time All-Star (1948, 1951, 1953, 1958 and twice in 1962)
  • Rookie of the Year, 1948
  • 500 or more putouts in a season 4 times, a major league record
  • Won Batting Title in 1955 (.338) and 1958 (.350)
  • Led league in hits 3 times (1951, 1953, 1958)
  • Led league in stolen bases in 1948 (32)
  • Elected into Hall of Fame in 1995 by the Veterans Committee


From Youtube - Footage from Ashburn Tribute

Richie Ashburn - In Memoriam

Richie Ashburn – In Memoriam

By Richard J. Summers – Site Webmaster 9/9/1997


"I'm flattered that so many baseball people think I'm a Hall of Famer. But what's hard to believe is how one-hundred and fifty plus people have changed their minds about me since I became eligible, because I haven't had a base hit since then. "- Richie Ashburn


I never had the pleasure of watching Richie Ashburn patrol center field for the Phillies, being born about a decade too late. That being said, from what I’ve read and heard about him gives credence to the notion that he was indeed one of the best centerfielders in baseball history, with the unfortunate luck to have played in the same era with Mantle, Mays, and Snider. Never powerful, Ashburn could run like the wind and field like few before him or since.


A perennial .300 hitter, he was the last man to lead the league in hitting in a Phillies uniform. He was a part of the Whiz Kids of 1950, the second pennant winner in team history.  He was by far the best player on by far the worst team in modern baseball history, the 1962 Mets, winning the MVP award for the team, and retiring to broadcast for the Phillies, which he did up until the day he died. He was finally chosen to enter the Hall of Fame, decades too late in my opinion, along with the best player from my generation, Mike Schmidt, in 1995.


Even more than the player, though, is Ashburn the man. Although I never met him, he was like a grandfather to me over the years I heard him on the TV.  He always carried himself with dignity and class. He had a wealth of baseball knowledge that he shared with thousands of young Phillies fans like myself. He was always a Phillie at heart, and he wasn’t afraid to show it. He celebrated his team both in the greatest of victories, and the most humiliating of defeats. He brought humor to the game with some of his quips, and also helped you understand some of the details and strategies of the game.


One of the striking things about the 1980 win, as I rewatch as an adult, is the absolute joy that was on Whitey’s face during the celebration in the locker room.  Nearly a hundred years of history were whitewashed in that victory, and Richie Ashburn seemed to be just as excited to be a part of that team as he would have been if he were still playing. 


That’s what Richie Ashburn brought to each and every broadcast:  a simple, almost child-like love of the game of baseball.  From his bemoaning, “Hard to believe, Harry,” whenever something bad happened to the Phils, to his calling a player “hitterish” or “runnerish,” and nearly always being right as the player in question got the big base hit or stole the base.  Ashburn was a professor of baseball that was able to bring it to us in a way that we could all understand.


All in all, Ashburn lived his life the same way he played the game: with grace, dignity and class. He will be sorely missed both by this town and by a now-grown man who has just lost a part of his childhood. God bless, Whitey. We will miss you.