Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher said in 1948 that Richie Ashburn was the fastest man he'd ever seen getting to first base.
"Anybody who's faster than Ashburn isn't running," Durocher said. "He’s flying."
Although "The Tilden Flash" was sometimes overlooked by fans in the era of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, the speedy Ashburn was a beloved sports fixture in Philadelphia.
Each year, the Phillies, who retired his No. 1 jersey, present the Richie Ashburn Special Achievement Award to "a member of the organization who has demonstrated loyalty, dedication and passion for the game."
Ashburn had a 15-year major league career, playing for the Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. In 1963, he began a 35-year career on the Phillies broadcast team.
Ashburn, a center fielder, led the National League in hitting twice, finished second three times and led the league in walks four times. In the field, he has seven of the top 19 single-season putout totals ever for outfielders.
Ashburn's best season was 1958, when he hit a career-high .350 and also led the league in hits (215), triples (13) walks (97) and on-base percentage (.440) while stealing 30 bases.
A five-time All-Star, Ashburn finished with 2,574 hits — all but 346 of them singles or triples. He had only 29 career homers.
"Anybody who saw him play loves him because he was a bust-tail ballplayer who hated to lose," Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas said.
Well-respected for his ability to foul pitches off, Ashburn actually hit the same spectator twice in a 1957 at-bat — connecting a second time as she was being taken off on a stretcher.
His best moment as an athlete was probably helping the Phillies "Whiz Kids" clinch the 1950 National League pennant.
Ashburn threw out Brooklyn’s Cal Abrams at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to keep the final game of the regular season tied, and then Dick Sisler's 10th-inning homer led to a 4-1 win — and the Phillies' first pennant since Grover Cleveland Alexander's 1915 team.
After being on just 2.1 percent of the Hall of Fame ballots in 1968, his first year of eligibility, he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1995. The story of his trip to the hall is in the book "Richie Ashburn: Why the Hall Not."
He died in 1997 in New York while traveling as a Phillies broadcaster.
Played for: Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Johnny Hopp of Hastings, playing for Pittsburgh, hit .278 and finished second in the National League in triples in 1948, when Ashburn was a rookie and was second in the NL with a .333 average for Philadelphia. Omaha's Jackie Brandt hit .270 with 12 homers and won a Gold Glove as San Francisco's left fielder in 1959.
Best moment as an athlete: Probably helping the Phillies "Whiz Kids" clinch the 1950 National League pennant. Ashburn, playing center field, threw out Brooklyn's Cal Abrams at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to keep the game tied, and then Dick Sisler's 10th-inning homer led to a 4-1 win — and the Phillies' first pennant since Grover Cleveland Alexander's 1915 team.
Ashburn was No. 7 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »