Philadelphia Magazine just released a list of it’s all time beloved sports figures in the city’s history, and sitting atop that list was the great Phillie player and announcer and ICON, Richie Ashburn, who was a central figure in the lives of several generations of this city’s proud sports history…But one of the great travesties that followed “Whitey” was despite an amazing career both on the field and in the booth, he had been passed over for Cooperstown (The Baseball Hall Of Fame) because he played in a generation where names like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle roamed his position of Center Field for other teams and were power hitters who launched home runs on a regular basis, where Ashburn was a singles hitter which was far less glamorous. Because of this Richie had become disenchanted with the Hall Of Fame whom he felt snubbed him, until a young man named Jim Donahue met Richie for 45 seconds when he was 8 years old at Connie Mack Stadium for an autograph, and in Jim’s words here’s the rest of the story:
“Thirty-four years lapsed since that day at the long-gone ballpark. Rich Ashburn was now the revered announcer for the Phillies. I was married with three kids, and twenty years into a career with a financial printing company. By an odd twist of fate, Richie was at an autograph show, and I went there to get his signature. After hearing fan after fan say to Rich how unfair it was, that he would never get into the Hall of Fame, my only question was “why not?” That day, the “Richie Ashburn….why the hall not?” campaign was born. Over the next three and a half years, my campaign was featured on local and national TV and radio, and newspaper and magazine articles across the country. The Phillies gave me a space at Veterans Stadium to attract fan interest and gather signatures, that would hopefully overturn a rule, that essentially prevented Whitey from ever being eligible for the Hall of Fame. Three and a half years, and 180,000 plus signatures later, the Hall rescinded the roadblock, and in 1995 Richie Ashburn was elected to the Hall of Fame along with Mike Schmidt.”
Here “The King Of Kamelot” sits down with the bestselling author of the book “Richie Ashburn: Why The Hall Not?”, Bruce Mowday (Award winning author and journalist who also wrote “Jailing The Johnston Gang”), who co-wrote the story with Jim Donahue, to talk about the book that describes the story of getting Philadelphia’s most beloved athlete into the Hall Of Fame, the chance encounter that led to the “Grass Roots” campaign, “Whitey’s” resentment over not getting in for so many years, what his reaction was when he finally stood at the podium giving his speech, and sooo much more! Enjoy Kade Nation!!