Leading by 7 1/2 games on Sept. 20, the Phillies, known as the "Whiz Kids", saw their lead shrink to one game over the second-place Dodgers with one game left, Sunday, Oct. 1 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A Brooklyn win would force a best-of-three playoff series starting the next day.
"We lost Curt [Simmons] to the service, [Bob] Miller and [Bubba] Church were injured so our pitching was thin," said manager Eddie Sawyer. "Our hitters weren't hitting and we couldn't score runs. Fortunately, we had a lead big enough to coast a little bit."
Sawyer chose Robin Roberts to start the season's final game. It was Roberts fourth start in the last nine games. Tied, 1-1, after nine innings, the Phillies took a three-run lead when left fielder Dick Sisler, a left-handed hitter, homered into the left-field seats, the most dramatic home run in club history. Roberts retired the Dodgers in order in the 10th and the Phillies were headed for the World Series for the first time since 1915.
Dubbed the Whiz Kids because of their youth, Sawyer's club was led by center fielder Richie Ashburn (23), right fielder Del Ennis (24), third baseman Willie Jones (24), shortstop Granny Hamner (22), second baseman Mike Goliat (24), catcher Stan Lopata (24), right-handed pitcher Bubba Church (24), right-handed pitcher Bob Miller (23), infielder Putsy Caballero (22), outfielder Jack Mayo (23), left-handed pitcher Curt Simmons (20) and right-handed pitcher Roberts (23). All came up through the farm system.
Other regulars included catcher Andy Seminick, first baseman Eddie Waitkus and Sisler, each 29 years of age.
Veteran reliever Jim Konstanty (33) appeared in a club-record 74 games, won 16, saved 22 and was named the NL MVP. Roberts won 20 games, the start of six straight 20-win seasons.
Ennis led the club with a .311 average and topped the NL with 126 RBIs. Ashburn hit .303 and led the NL with 14 triples.
A 3.50 staff ERA ranked lowest in the National League.
Simmons was second to Roberts with a 17-8 record in 31 games. His National Guard unit was activated, causing him to miss the last two weeks of the regular season and the World Series.
Phillies-Yankees World Series
Game 1: Oct. 4
Because Roberts had started so many times in the final week, manager Eddie Sawyer surprised everyone by naming reliever Jim Konstanty the starter. Konstanty allowed one run over eight innings but Vic Raschi blanked the Phillies on two singles in the series opener at Shibe Park, a 1-0 New York win.
Game 2: Oct. 5
Roberts started the second game and worked all 10 innings of a 2-1 loss when Joe DiMaggio homered into the upper deck in left field in the 10th inning. Richie Ashburn drove in the Phillies' lone run with a fifth-inning fly ball.
Game 3: Oct. 6
Trailing 2-1, the Yankees won another one-run game with single runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Jerry Coleman, who drove in the winning run in Game 1, singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for the game-winner.
Game 4: Oct. 7
Rookie sensation Whitey Ford blanked the Phillies for eight innings as the Yankees swept the series with a 5-2 decision. It was the Yankees' 13th World Championship. The Yankees hit for a .222 average in the World Series. The Phillies hit for .203 average in the World Series.
Whiz Kids Today
Six players from the World Series roster are still living: Roberts (Tampa, Fla.), Simmons (Ambler, Pa.), Miller (Commerce Township, Mich.), Lopata (Mesa, Ariz.), Caballero (New Orleans, La.) and Mayo (Youngstown, Ohio). They are joined by coach Maje McDonnell (Philadelphia, Pa.).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.