The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #17. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff.
From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the players listed thus far, please click here. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.
Please check back Monday morning for #16.
#17 – Curt Simmons
115-110, 3.66 ERA, 1.332 WHIP in 1936.2 IP
Previous Rank: 27 (+10)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 6th among pitchers, 16th among Phillies
Signature Season: Returned to the Major Leagues for 1952 season after being called to active military service in September 1950 and had best statistical year of career (2.82 ERA, 1.192 WHIP, named an All-Star)
Three-time All-Star (1952-1953, 1957)
Oh, what might have been in 1950.
The pride of Egypt, PA, Curt Simmons, pitching for Whitehall High School at the time, struck out eleven Phillies in a 1947 exhibition game. Simmons had been on the Phillies radar after leading the Whitehall Zephyrs to three-straight league titles and the Coplay American Legion team to two state titles and was signed shortly after the game to a $65,000 signing bonus. By the end of 1947, the 18-year old Simmons was in a Phillies uniform, pitching the Phillies to a 3-1, complete game victory in his only start of the season.
Simmons was used as a swingman in 1948 and 1949 before finding his groove as a top-flight pitcher in 1950. Simmons went 17-8 with a 3.40 ERA, finishing 16th in the 1950 NL MVP voting, despite missing most of September after being called into active duty for the Korean War. The Whiz Kids would hang on and win the NL Pennant and Simmons would be granted a 10-day leave to join his teammates for the World Series. But rosters were finalized, Simmons had to watch from the stands, and one only wonders what may have been had the Fightins had Simmons in their rotation during a Fall Classic that featured three one-run games and, despite being a sweep, was decided by six total runs.
Simmons’ most memorable season, however, may have been 1952. Having missed the entirety of the 1951 season, Simmons posted career-lows in ERA and WHIP, going 14-8 in over 200 IP. Simmons ranks fifth all-time in Phillies history in victories and innings pitched, 16th in complete games, and seventh in shutouts. During his time with the Phillies, Simmons ranked ninth in the NL in wins, 30th in ERA, seventh in complete games, and tenth in shutouts.
Like all good stories, Simmons’ has a happy ending. Simmons would be released midseason by the Phillies in 1960 and would sign with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1964 with the Cardinals, Simmons would get his shot at the World Series. Starting Games 2 and 6, Simmons would leave Game 2 with a 1-1 tie in the ninth and would be on the losing end of Game 6. Ultimately, the Cardinals would win the 1964 World Series and Simmons would be rewarded with a World Series ring.
Somewhat surprisingly, there are few people who say Simmons release in 1960 contributed anything to the Phillies falling apart down the stretch in 1964 to the Cardinals. Hindsight being 20/20, it probably would have helped the 1964 Phillies if they had a pitcher that went 18-9 with a 3.43 ERA, including four wins in September, down the stretch. Simmons would finish his career in 1967 after spending time with the Cubs and Angels. Simmons was inducted on to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1993.