Richie Ashburn is the most notable Phillies legend who donned the Mets pinstripes, like the other men in this story, just for one season. That year would be both the Mets inaugural 1962 season and Ashburn’s final year in his Hall of Fame career.
What more is there to say about Richie Ashburn that hasn’t already been written thousands of times before? He’s one of the greatest players and broadcasters in Phillies history, one of the greatest outfielders in baseball history.
Before the 1945 season the Phillies signed Ashburn out of Tilden High School in Nebraska, long before the days of advanced high school scouting, tournaments, and rankings. Three years later he came up to the big leagues and launched a legendary career.
Ashburn never had fewer than 150 hits in his 12 seasons with the Phillies. Twice he led the league in hitting with a .338 average in 1955 and a .350 average in 1958. That 1958 season is the best batting average by a Phillies player with 500 plate appearances since 1950, and one of the best in the franchise’s live-ball era.
Whitey remains the franchise’s all-time singles leader with 1,811.
Before the 1960 season the Phillies traded Ashburn to the Chicago Cubs for three players: John Buzhardt, Al Dark and Jim Woods. Ashburn was only turning 33 going into that season, but it’d be one of the final years of his career.
That final year would come as a Met when the expansion team from New York purchased Ashburn from the Cubs after the 1961 season.
Ashburn would put up a .305 batting average in New York, his highest since the 1958 season. He retired after the Mets won just 40 of their 160 games.
In 1995 Ashburn was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee and later had his number 1 retired by the Phillies.