Baseball's Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus

By John Theodore | Go to book overview
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17
The Pleasure of Your Own

They stood in small groups throughout the ballroom in Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. They held their drinks and laughed and told stories about the good old days. It was June 1963, and the Whiz Kids reminisced about their 1950 National League championship. Eddie Sawyer, who the aging players still called “Skip, smoked a big cigar and held court at the bar; Richie Ashburn, who had become a Phillies radio broadcaster, amused a group in another area; and an animated Eddie Waitkus pounded his fists and told a gathering, “I tell you, this team won the pennant on guts and desire.

The Phillies management turned the reunion into a first-class event. Sawyer and his men were honored with a parade, and the Whiz Kids faced the current Phillies team in an exhibition contest before a night game at Connie Mack Stadium. Jim Konstanty, the Magician, stole the show during the pregame ceremonies when he arrived in a helicopter that dropped him off at home plate.

Waitkus was living in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his sister, Stella, when the Whiz Kids reunited; he was selling sporting goods at the Grover Cronin department store. As always, he wanted to present a good appearance to his old teammates, and this meant attending with his family. “It was all very exciting, and dad was very insistent we went as a family, said Ronni. “He was pretty nervous. I think his nervousness was because people there didn't know he and mom were separated.

“Eddie didn't seem sure of himself at first, a little on edge, recalled Maje McDonnell, the Whiz Kids' batting practice pitcher. “But when he saw

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