Egypt, Penn., is a small town about seven miles north of Allentown. Like every little town, spring and summer meant baseball, Whitehall High School, American Legion and the old Twilight League. Sixty-five years ago the town was infested with baseball scouts.
An 18-year-old, 175-pound left-handed pitcher named Curt Simmons pitched there and every baseball team and scout knew about him. High school and Legion ball were over meaning Curt could sign professionally.
"The scouts used to sit on the front porch because they didn't want to miss a thing," recalls Simmons, now 83. "I remember mom got so annoyed that she chased them off the porch.
"Cy Morgan was the Phillies scout. Dad finally told him, 'Why don't you bring your team here to play our team?' Cy carried the message back to the Phillies offices."
The Phillies were idle on Monday, June 2, 1947. Owner Bob Carpenter sent the team to Egypt Park for an exhibition game against Curt, who would pitch for the town team in the old Twilight League.
The day before the Phillies had lost to the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, at Shibe Park. Two Cubs pitchers combined to strike out 11 Phillies.
Facing Simmons, the Phillies wound up in a 4-4, nine-inning tie, a game called by darkness. Except for shortstop, the Phillies fielded the same starting lineup that faced the Cubs. Simmons held the Phillies to seven hits, walked three and struck out 11. An error led to an eighth-inning, game-tying run that kept the Phillies from losing.
"They dressed at the cement mill and had dinner at the fire hall. Don't think that would happen today," chuckled Simmons.
Next day, the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox scouts offered a $58,000 signing bonus to Curt. "That was a lot of money but dad had told the Phillies, they would have the last crack."
Morgan offered $60,000 plus a promise the Phillies would call him up in September and give him an additional $5,000. It was the biggest signing bonus in baseball.
Simmons wound up spending 20 years in the big leagues with the Phillies, Cardinals, Cubs and Angels (193-183, 3.54 ERA). The 1950 Phillies won the pennant but Simmons, a 17-game winner, couldn't participate in the World Series because his National Guard unit was activated in September.
Curt Simmons Day
The town is planning on honoring Curt this June 2, a Saturday. The day begins with a 10 a.m. parade down Main Street. Curt will be the Grand Marshall.
At 11:30 a.m., a ceremony will be held at the newly rebuilt field which will be named "Simmons Field." Curt will throw out the first ball at a Blue Mountain League game that begins at 1 p.m.
Participating in the parade and field dedication ceremonies will be Phillie Phanatic, Dallas Green, Bobby Shantz. Robin Roberts Jr. and Freddy Schmidt, the oldest living Phillies Alumnus at 96. Schmidt was on the Phillies team in 1947.
That evening, a musical group named The Aardvarks will perform from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Food and beverages will be available throughout the day and a baseball memorabilia display of Curt will be take place at the inside pavilion.
More information is available at www.egyptpark.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.