He’s no Richie Ashburn

Last week, when Joe Biden proclaimed himself “the most experienced vice president since anybody,” it reminded me of something Richie Ashburn once said. Ashburn had a Hall of Fame career with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1950s, and went on to broadcast Phillies game on the radio.

While calling a game in the mid-1970s, Ashburn was heard to say: “Dave Cash will lead things off. He’s the best lead-off batter the Phillies have had since. . .since me.”

Ashburn always struck me as a modest man, and his boast can be distinguished from Biden’s on two grounds. First, it was not premeditated; second, it was true.

UPDATE: Ashburn was one of the great lead-off batters of all time. He led the National League in batting average twice, in walks four times, and in stolen bases once.

In 1958, Ashburn led the league in batting average (.350) and walks (97), and was second in stolen bases (30), one behind Willie Mays. That year, he also led the league in total fielding chances per game for a center fielder (in other words, fielding range), as he usually did during his prime.

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