Losses for Phillies family
The passing of loved ones is always difficult, no matter the time of the year. The Phillies family has lost four men in the last couple of months. A couple wore the uniform a long, long time ago and a couple didn’t wear a baseball uniform but they were part of the game and the fans’ experience.
Eddie Ferenz didn’t wear a uniform, yet he had impact on Phillies fans. He first began working for the Phillies in 1967 as the PA announcer at Connie Mack Stadium. Three years later, he became the traveling secretary, a position he held full time until he retired in 1999.
The traveling secretary job is a stressful one. Moving 40-50 people around the country to meet the baseball schedule isn’t easy. He did it well and with class.
We knew him as “Fast Eddie”, “Eddie Spaghetti”, the “Great One” and the “Fast One.” Not sure how he got those nicknames. To some, he was the “Pope of Clearwater.” Eddie loved Clearwater. An army of friends, including “Eddie’s Girls”, his fan club, gathered at the Beachcomber Restaurant on Monday night for a toast to their friend. Burial was at 12 noon on Monday in South Jersey.
Until the Phillies placed a minor league team in Clearwater, Eddie ran the ticket office during spring training. It wasn’t as big business as it is today but it was a job that required no days off for six-seven weeks.
Then, there was Seymour “Pops” Steinberg. Many may not know his name but if you bought a hot dog, ice cream, soda or cotton candy, chances are you got it from him. Pops was a little guy with a sharp voice who was a vendor for Phillies games, plodding up and down the aisles of three stadiums over four decades.
Yep, he worked at Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium and even Citizens Bank Park. Unable to get around any more, he sold cotton candy from a booth on the 300 level at the Phillies’ newest home.
He actually began vending in 1954 working games for the Philadelphia Athletics. His record that year: 77 A’s game and 77 Phillies games. In other words, he didn’t miss a game.
The late Jim Barniak, an Evening Bulletin columnist, once called Seymour, the “Babe Ruth of vendors.”
Pops saw his first game at Baker Bowl in 1936 as an eight-year-old.
That leads to the two uniformed members of the Phillies family who have left us. The first was pitcher Tommy Reis. The 95-year-old died in early November. He’s the last Phillies player who performed in Baker Bowl during the 1938 season. That was his only big league season.
Christmas eve, outfielder Stan Benjamin, who played for the Phillies in 1939 until 1942, died, also at the age of 95.
96-year-old first baseman Art Mahan (1940) is the oldest living Phillie. Outfielder Alex Pitko, who turned 95 on November 22, is now second to Mahan.
Ferenz, Steinberg, Reis and Benjamin were part of the Phillies family, one way or the other.