Roberts taking part in Phillies fanfare

Roberts taking part in Phillies fanfare

Robin Roberts pitched against the New York Yankees in the World Series 59 years ago, losing Game 2 when Joe DiMaggio hit a 10th-inning, game-winning homer into the Shibe Park upper deck in left field for a 2-1 win. New York went on to sweep the Phillies.

During Roberts' early playing days, teams traveled by train. Monday, the current defending World Champions went to New York on an Amtrak chartered train for the Series against the Yankees. Roberts was included in the traveling party.

"This brings back memories," he said. "We had some great times on the train, we really bonded together. We'd have our own cars, usually a couple of sleepers and a dining car. Our cars were added on to the back of a train that was headed for New York or Chicago or St. Louis, wherever we traveled.

"We'd play cards and argue for hours. Wasn't much else to do."

The Phillies Hall of Fame right-hander has been in demand by the media this week. He addressed the Philly media in the interview room at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. He's also done over a dozen one-on-one interviews, some in person and others on the phone.

Today, he was a guest on the Today Show with Tino Martinez, former Yankee first baseman. Both reside in Tampa and know each other well.

The Show sent a limo for Roberts at 7:30 a.m. An hour later, he and Martinez were live in the NBC studio for three minutes. Upon arriving at the studio, Roberts was directed to the make-up room for a little facial work.

"We didn't do this 59 years ago," he chuckled.

From there he went to the green room, where all the guests and their guests huddled until air time. A half-dozen NBC employees stopped in for Tino's autograph. May be the only time a Hall of Famer wasn't asked.

Roberts is one of six Whiz Kids from the 1950 World Series roster still living. The others include pitcher Curt Simmons (suburban Philadelphia), catcher Stan Lopata (Mesa, Ariz.), pitcher Bob Miller (suburban Detroit), infielder Putsy Caballero (New Orleans) and outfielder Jack Mayo (Youngstown, Ohio). Each have had a few calls from the media. Maje McDonnell, a coach, still resides in Philadelphia.

"Can't believe they still want to talk to me," exclaimed Putsy, a utility infielder. "When the Phillies called to let me know the media would be calling, I figured the Phils were offering me a big, fat contract."

By winning the pennant for the first time since the 1915 Phillies, the Whiz Kids were heroes for generations of fans. Then, the 1980 Phillies took over by becoming the organization's first World Champions. That group took a back seat to last year's Phillies. Now, the 2009 Phillies are trying to repeat and raise the bar for more generations of fans.

Larry Shenk is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.