Tough, aggressive Roy Harney came into the Philly front office after terms with the lowly Pirates and the lofty Yanks. His manager, Mayo Smith, had a brief major league career as an outfielder but was a distinguished minor league manager in the Yankee chain. Last season's catcher, Andy Seminick, coaches at first, Wally Moses at third, Whit Wyatt the pitchers. Maje McDonnell is the batting practice pitcher. Fat, jovial Benny Bengough, best-liked man in baseball, handles bullpen chores.
ANALYSIS OF THIS YEAR'S PHILLIES
Phillies have three good starting pitchers. Robin Roberts had a truly miserable season last year, and yet won 19 games. Curt Simmons (15-10) made courageous comeback at time when the Philly management said flatly that it was not counting on him to win a game. Little Harvey Haddix (13-8) is still one of better left-handers around today. Then there is Catcher Stan Lopata, who spent long, long apprenticeship before developing at 30 into one of best ballplayers in league. Lopata is good catcher and strong hitter, despite curious crouch he uses while batting. He means a lot to Phils and was their most valuable player last season. Center Fielder Richie Ashburn has batted over .300 in six of past seven seasons and, despite presence in league of such great outfielders as Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Billy Bruton and Gus Bell, has caught more fly balls than anybody else in seven of past eight seasons, a remarkable record. Rival National League clubs, irritated by the Phils' reluctance to trade Ashburn, may ponder these figures. For the rest, fans can expect dependable if not spectacular performances from such as Third Baseman Willie Jones, Left Fielder Rip Repulski and Second Baseman Ted Kazanski.
There is a terrible situation at shortstop, where Phils once were solid because of Granny Hamner. But Hamner is semicrippled by arm injury that keeps him from swinging bat properly; he can no longer play short and is trying comeback as pitcher. Ted Kazanski can play shortstop, but Mayo Smith wisely prefers to keep Kazanski at key second base spot, which used to be as irritating a problem as short is now. Veteran Bobby Morgan just can't play shortstop. Veteran Solly Hemus can, but he depends more on spirit and intelligence than pure skill, and it doesn't always work. Veteran Roy Smalley should be able to do it, but Roy is an erratic, inconsistent ballplayer. By default job may end up in hands of Rookie John Kennedy, whom Phils obtained from Kansas City Monarchs and who could become first Negro to play major league ball with Phils. There are weak spots, too, in right field (where four or five candidates took turns in training) and at first base (though Rookie Ed Bouchee is being counted on heavily). Phils' weakest points, however, are bench reserves and, oddly enough, pitching behind the three big starters (the secondary starters and relievers are, most of them, pretty bad).
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Several good-looking young minor league pitchers received careful appraisal in spring training, and one or more may move on to roster. But rookies being definitely counted on are Shortstop Kennedy and First Baseman Bouchee. Kennedy is agile fielder and sharp right-handed hitter, who appears to be at his best when he's under pressure. The left-handed Bouchee is beefy and slow moving, but he can hit a baseball several miles. Unhappily, he is not a real pull hitter and a lot of his long drives will be caught in distant right center field. Repulski, who came from Cardinals in exchange for Del Ennis, is a streaky hitter; the Phils hope he'll avoid slumps this year and streak all season. Jim Hearn, purchased from Giants, is counted on to deepen pitching.
THE BIG IFS
Rookie Bouchee must come through at first base and Rookie Kennedy at short, if Phils are to make progress this" season. Repulski has to prove to a lot of doubting Thomases that he is a better ballplayer than the departed Ennis. Robin Roberts has to regain the perfection of his pre-1956 form, and second-line and bullpen pitching must improve.
Most of the clubs in the National League this year are maturing, improving, looking to their young players to develop steadily into stars who will carry the club into the first division or to the top and a pennant. The Phils, on the other hand, are fighting desperately to stay even, to hold onto their respectable but slightly run-down place in the standings, through the efforts of veteran players. Perhaps in the near future the Philadelphia front office will harvest another crop of Whiz Kids, but it almost certainly won't happen in 1957.
Double-decked stands and bleachers enclose three-fourths of field. Except for boxes, most seats have at least minor obstructions between you and the game. Management recognizes this, however, and reserved seats especially bad in this respect are held back, except on sellouts when buyer is told it's a "poor visibility seat." Only sun seats in Connie Mack Stadium are in left field bleachers.
Park is clean, brightly painted (box seats red, others pale pink). Tipping ushers is "optional." Rest rooms are clean and modern, but not enough of them for big crowds. Plenty of drinking fountains, good vendor service, easily accessible refreshment counters (specialty is box lunch with fried chicken). No beer is sold. Lack of beer in park prompts some Philly fans to bring their own in, and they usually bring plenty. Last season this resulted in at least one near-riot when irate spectators (for some strange reason, sedate Philadelphia has the rowdiest clientele in major leagues, as any rabbit-eared player will testify) started to pitch empty bottles down on field.
Avoid driving, since the available parking space is very limited. Best idea is to cab out from downtown; or take the subway to Broad and Lehigh, then bus or walk the seven remaining blocks to park. North Philly Station of Pennsylvania Railroad is close by, too.
FRONT OFFICE: Roy Hamey
MANAGER: Mayo Smith
CONNIE MACK STADIUM
Ticket information: BAIdwin 9-9200