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Phillies fans like me should have a great flashback of summer nights spent listening to or watching their favorite team just by reading the name of the man affectionately called "Whitey" by his legion of fans.
Ashburn, the Hall-of-Famer who paired with Harry Kalas in the Phils broadcast booth for over 25 years, holds a permanent place in my mind as the voice of baseball. To me, no other broadcaster even compares.
A gentleman named Dan Stephenson has completed a labor of love: "Richie Ashburn: A Baseball Life."
This film celebrates the life and career of one of the most beloved men to wear a Phillies uniform. From Ashburn's own 8-milimeter films to material gathered by Stephenson, this sounds like a can't-miss item for Phillies phaithful.
His excellence as a player is underscored by his winning two batting titles between 1948-1959, despite the presence of great hitters such as Willie Mays, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron. No surprise Phillies fans are voting in droves for Ashburn the player in an All-Time Phillies poll.
Ashburn was also an excellent broadcaster, bringing a steady, familiar and welcome voice to the often moribund Phils. He was often known to see a bad swing or a booted grounder and say something along the lines of "That wasn't a Spalding Guide swing."
If I am remembering the story correctly, Kalas once asked Ashburn what he meant by the "Spalding Guide swing" remarks, and Ashburn said that the Spalding Company had issued a baseball guide book with instructions on how to properly hit, field, run, etc.
Another one of my favorite Ashburnisms was when a runner was in a position to steal a base, Ashburn would say that he "looked runnerish."
The film is scheduled to debut Monday at 7 PM EST, April 14th, at the 17th Philadelphia Film Festival at the Prince Music Theater.
I won't be at this debut, but I will certainly look to get myself a copy when it is released for purchase on April 22nd.
Just for fun, here are a few trivia questions from the "Richie Ashburn's Phillies trivia" book:
1) Which teams opposed each other in the first National League game ever played? (hint: it was in 1876)
2) Starting in 1947, the Phillies have conducted spring training in Clearwater, Florida. In how many other cities have the Phillies trained?
3) What pitcher surrendered Mike Schmidt's first major-league homer?
4) Who is the youngest player ever to play for the Phillies?
5) How many Phillies pitchers have won 30 games in a season?
If you're curious, I'll give the answers in comments in a few days time.
Source: This article on mlb.com.