One of the ultimate leadoff hitters in baseball history, Richie Ashburn was a model of consistency from the day his career began until the day it ended. Hitting exclusively at the top of the order for fifteen seasons, this consummate singles hitter won batting titles, excelled in getting on base, fielded flawlessly, starred in All-Star Games, and was a core member of the 1950 National League pennant winning Philadelphia Phillie "Whiz Kids".
Ashburn's success was immediate and he was instantly a fan favorite. He was an All-Star his rookie season of 1948, batting .333, and was named Sporting News Rookie of the Year. He showed a good eye at the plate and exceptional speed beating out many infield hits and stealing thirty-two bases. One sportswriter complimented him on his speed and hustle by saying "He's no .300 hitter. He hits .100 and runs .200." Ashburn's batting average slipped to .284 the following season, but he bounced back to hit.303 in the Phillies pennant winning year of 1950 and finished second in the batting race in 1951 with a .344 mark, topping the two-hundred hit mark for the first time with a league leading two-hundred twenty-one. Ashburn led the league in on base percentage and walks (a career high one-hundred twenty-five) in 1954, and again in on base percentage in 1955 while also wining his first bating title that season with a .338 average. He again topped the National League (NL) in walks in 1957 and did so once more in 1958 while capturing another bating crown (.350).
Ashburn slumped in 1959 and was then dealt by the Phillies to the Cubs. He rebounded in 1960 to hit .291 in his inaugural season in Chicago, and once again led the NL in walks with one-hundred sixteen. After one more season with the Cubs, Ashburn finished his career with the horrible expansion 1962 New York Mets. He rose above the team record setting one-hundred twenty losses by batting .306 and making the All-Star team. Frustrated by the Mets ineptness, Ashburn called it quits after the 1962 season and is one of few players to end his career with a .300 batting average in his final campaign.
Richie Ashburn batted .300 or better nine times and rapped out two-thousand five-hundred seventy-four hits with 86% of them being singles. He won two batting titles, led the National League in hits three times, and on base percentage and walks four times. Ashburn once singled eight times in a 1951 doubleheader. In five All-Star games, he went six for ten and scored four runs. As a centerfielder Ashburn set major league career records for most seasons leading the league in chances and putouts (nine). After his playing days he became a Phillie's broadcaster, eventually teaming up with the great Harry Kalas, and for a long time wrote a sports column for a Philadelphia newspaper. Richie Ashburn was elected to the Hall of Fame by The Committee on Baseball Veterans in 1995.