1950 World Series: Still thrill of a lifetime

THERE ARE ONLY a handful of living former Whiz Kids and just five who appeared in the 1950 World Series against the Yankees: righthanders Robin Roberts and Bob Miller, outfielder Jackie Mayo, infielder Putsy Caballero and catcher Stan Lopata. The other survivors are lefthander Curt Simmons (who missed the postseason after being called into the military), righthander Paul Stuffel (who made just three relief appearances during the regular season and was not on the World Series roster) and coach Maje McDonnell. Here are the recollections of the other four players whose names appeared in the Fall Classic box scores:

Bob Miller

Was a 24-year-old rookie in 1950 who went 11-6 with a 3.57 earned run average during the regular season despite missing time with a sore back. Started Game 4 but lasted just one-third of an inning. Gene Woodling led off by reaching on an error and, with one out, Yogi Berra singled and Joe DiMaggio doubled, ending his outing. Spent 10 years in the big leagues, all with the Phillies. Currently lives in Michigan.

"Before the fourth game I was getting dressed and [manager] Eddie Sawyer came up to me. And he just said, 'Go get 'em, kid.' It's funny now but it was kind of nerve-racking at the time.

"Of course, they couldn't afford to leave me in too long because we were already down three games to none. I had missed about a month-and-a-half with a bad back and then I came back too soon and hurt my shoulder. But I'm glad to have been a part of it."

"What I remember most is the closeness of all the games. I wish we could have hit a little better against the Yankees. We were kind of out of gas at the time. But it was the thrill of a lifetime, especially when you think of all the great players who have been in the World Series. And it was something to play the Yankees because you look at how much they were winning at the time."

Putsy Caballero

Is still the youngest player ever to appear at third base in the major leagues. He was 16 when he was signed out of high school in 1944 and made his debut shortly after, but didn't get significant playing time until 1948. At age 22, appeared in three games of the 1950 World Series, twice as a pinch-runner and once as a pinch-hitter. Spent 8 years in the big leagues, all with the Phillies. Currently living in New Orleans.

"We played them well. They were all really good games. We had hit our stride earlier in the season and then the last 2 or 3 weeks, we couldn't get it going. It was such a strain just getting to the World Series that by the time we got there, we just couldn't get that extra hit when we needed it, couldn't get that extra run."

Jackie Mayo

Was 24 years old and in his third year as a reserve outfielder in 1950. He appeared in three games of the World Series, once as a pinch-hitter, once as a defensive replacement and once as a pinch-runner. Spent 6 seasons in big leagues, all with the Phillies. Currently living in Youngstown, Ohio.

"I just remember that it was a great series. We lost all four games, but every one was close. A hit here or there would have changed things. I pinch-hit [for Robin Roberts in the bottom of the 10th in Game 2 after Joe DiMaggio's leadoff home run put the Yankees ahead]. They got me over to second but nobody could get me in. There's no question we could have won it. It wasn't a runaway.

"I don't think we were in awe of the Yankees. We thought we could beat them. Unfortunately we didn't. But we had a good team.

"It was nice back then. We did a lot of traveling by railroad. The fans came out in droves. They were all in an uproar.

"I think the Phillies will take care of the Yankees this year. They're so powerful. We didn't hit that many home runs. I hope they win because of Steinbrenner paying out all that money."

Stan Lopata

Was the backup to regular catcher Andy Seminick. Had two pinch-hit appearances in the World Series. Spent 11 years in the big leagues, the last two with the Milwaukee Braves. Currently lives in Mesa, Ariz.

"Playing the Yankees was like an anticlimax. The big thing was winning the pennant. We had such a big lead and then we started losing a lot of games. We went out and had to win our last game at Brooklyn. If they beat us, it's a tie. I remember that Mr. [Dick] Sisler came up with two guys on. He hit a home run and we won the pennant.

"After we won that game, we took a train back to Philadelphia. We were going to a party afterward. We stopped at the North Philly station to drop off a few guys who were going to meet their wives or whatever and it was jammed. Unbelievable. Then we came into 30th Street Station and it had to be like it was after World War II. It was jammed. It was really great.

"It was great to be in the Series, playing the Yankees, but like I said, it was a little bit of an anticlimax." *