The Obit For Andy Seminick

The New York Times

Published: February 24, 2004

Andy Seminick, a major league catcher for 15 seasons who was the last surviving lineup regular for the Whiz Kids, the Philadelphia Phillies' 1950 pennant winners, died Sunday in Melbourne, Fla. He was 83.

The cause was cancer, his son, Andy Jr., said.

When the Phillies won the 1950 National League pennant, their first title in 35 years, they did it with a largely youthful team, as their nickname suggested. But Seminick, their No. 1 catcher, was in his eighth season, a hard-nosed player guiding a pitching staff that featured the future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, the outstanding left-hander Curt Simmons and the ace reliever Jim Konstanty.

"I took charge and moved our fielders around, and the pitchers listened to me," Seminick told Danny Peary in "We Played the Game."

"If you had to pick a guy in the clubhouse who was our leader that year, it was Andy," Roberts told The Philadelphia Inquirer after Seminick's death.

In 1950, Seminick hit .288 with 24 homers and 68 runs batted in a lineup that included infielders Eddie Waitkus, Mike Goliat, Granny Hamner and Willie Jones, and outfielders Del Ennis, the Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn and Dick Sisler. The manager was Eddie Sawyer.

A native of Pierce, W.Va., Seminick grew up in Muse, Pa., the youngest of seven children, and spent three years as a coal miner before signing with the Phillies' system in 1940.

Seminick played for the Phillies from 1943 to 1951, then was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, but returned to Philadelphia during the 1955 season. He retired after the 1957 season with a career batting average of .243 and with 164 home runs, but remained a member of the Phillies' organization, as a coach, a minor league manager and a scout. He was active until last year, tutoring the Phillies' minor league catchers during spring and fall instructional sessions.

While working with young catchers during the spring of 2002 at the Phillies' complex in Clearwater, Fla., Seminick the former coal miner who was sometimes a meatcutter and bulldozer operator in the off-season reflected on the current generation of young ballplayers.

"They think they've got it made already," he told The St. Petersburg Times. "They got to realize that nothing comes easy, especially in baseball."

In addition to Andy Jr., of Melbourne, Seminick is survived by two sisters, Helen Moscheck, of Detroit, and Mary Torsky, of Cedarville, Mich., and a granddaughter. His wife, Augusta, died in 1991.

Seminick displayed his toughness late in the 1950 season.

In a game against the visiting New York Giants on Aug. 12, he was angered by an arm-waving display from second baseman Eddie Stanky that was aimed at distracting him while he was at bat. While running the basepaths, Seminick knocked Giants third baseman Hank Thompson unconscious with a jolt. Later in the game, after Stanky was ejected, Seminick barreled into Bill Rigney, his replacement, in a play at second base, touching off a brawl.

In the season's final week, the Giants' Monte Irvin slid into Seminick with a game-winning run, severely injuring Seminick's left ankle. But he remained in the lineup during the pennant-clinching series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Seminick was lifted for a pinch-runner on the final Sunday at Ebbets Field, so it was his replacement, Stan Lopata, who put the tag on the Dodgers' Cal Abrams when he was thrown out at the plate by Ashburn in the ninth inning on a long-remembered play. Sisler hit a three-run homer in the 10th inning, giving the Phillies a pennant-winning 4-1 victory.

Despite his injury, Seminick, aided by numerous novocaine shots, played in all four games of the World Series, in which the Yankees swept the Phillies.

When the series was over, an examination showed that he had a separated bone in his ankle.

Afterward, the stoic Seminick told The Associated Press, "I thought it was just a sprain."

Andy Seminick, 83, passed away Sunday, February 22, 2004. Mr. Seminick was born in Pierce, W. Va. He came to Brevard County in 1961 from Elzabethton, Tenn. He was with the Philadelphia Phillies organization for 42 years, as a player, manager, scout and as a coach. Mr. Seminick was a member of St. Simeon Eastern Orthodox Church in Titusville. He played with the Philadel phia Phillies for 11-1/2 years and was a scout, minor league manager and coach for 27 more years. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds for 3-1/2 years. He spent a total of 18 years in the Big Leagues. Mr. Seminick is survived by his son, Andrew W. Seminick, Jr. of Melbourne; a granddaugh ter, Andi Kay Seminick of Mel bourne; and two sisters, Helen Moscheck of Detroit, Mich., and Mary Torsky of Cedarville, Mich. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Febru ary 25th, at the Brownlie-Max well Funeral Home. Services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, February 26th, in the funeral home chapel. Anyone planning expressions of sympathy is asked to consid er donations to the St. Simeons Eastern Orthodox Church, 3175 Satterfield Road, Titusville, Fla. Brownlie-Maxwell Funeral Home in Melbourne is serving the family, (321) 723-2345.