Scrappy Whiz Kid Mike Goliat dies
The second baseman played 145 games for the fabled 1950 team that won the pennant.
Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted on Thu, Jan. 15, 2004
The Phillies yesterday announced the death of another member of their extended family.
Mike Goliat, the starting second baseman on the Whiz Kids' 1950 National League championship team, died from heart failure at his Ohio home Tuesday night. His age was listed as 82, though baseball reference books list him as 78.
It was the third death in the Phillies' family since Dec. 26, when Paul Owens, who spent 48 years working in the organization, died after a battle with emphysema. Former reliever Tug McGraw, who helped lead the Phillies to the World Series championship in 1980, died of brain cancer Jan. 5.
After breaking in with the Phillies in 1949, Mr. Goliat played in 145 games for the '50 Whiz Kids and batted .234 with 13 homers and 64 RBIs. Mr. Goliat had played third base and first base in the minors.
"He was really a third baseman, but he played second for us to fill a need," Robin Roberts, the Phils' Hall-of-Fame pitcher, said from his home outside of Tampa, Fla., yesterday "He really had a strong arm."
Mr. Goliat, a coal miner during and after his high school days, was known as a scrappy player. "He was a battler who gave everything he had," Roberts said. "And he had a lot of big hits off [Brooklyn Dodgers ace] Don Newcombe the year we won the pennant."
With Mr. Goliat's death, catcher Andy Seminick is the only living member of the eight starting position players from the 1950 team. The others were first baseman Eddie Waitkus, shortstop Granny Hamner, third baseman Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones, and outfielders Dick Sisler, Richie Ashburn and Del Ennis.
Like Roberts, Seminick said that when Goliat's name is mentioned, he immediately thinks about his success against Newcombe.
"He treated Newcombe like a cousin; he hit him like he owned him," Seminick said from his home in Melbourne, Fla. "Don't ask me to explain it, but he hit line drives off Newcombe all the time."
As if to set the tone for 1950, the Phillies opened the season with a 9-1 win over Brooklyn. Roberts defeated Newcombe, and Goliat had four hits in the game.
"We had a good man at every position" in 1950, said Maje McDonnell, a Phils coach in 1950 and now a member of the club's community-relations department. "We needed a second baseman, and he stepped in and played an important part on that team. He drove in a lot of important runs."
The next season, however, Mr. Goliat "came to spring training about 30 pounds heavier and it set him back," McDonnell said.
Mr. Goliat started the 1951 season with the Phils - he homered off Newcombe in the opener - but in June he was sent to their farm club in Baltimore. He was sold to the St. Louis Browns late in the season, and his major-league career ended after three games with the Browns in 1952. Mr. Goliat then played in the minors and was player-coach for Spokane, a Pacific Coast League team, before retiring from baseball in 1961.
An outstanding high school and sandlot player in western Pennsylvania, Mr. Goliat joined the Army in 1945.
Mr. Goliat figured baseball would be his ticket out of the coal mines. After being discharged from the Army in 1946, Goliat went to a Phillies tryout and earned a spot on one of their minor-league teams.
Mr. Goliat, whom McDonnell said was a quiet, well-liked man who never returned to Whiz Kids reunions, is survived by his wife, Eleanor; two sons, Mike Jr. and Steven; and three grandchildren.
A viewing will be held Friday at the Busch Funeral Home in Parma, Ohio; his funeral will be Saturday.