WHEN ROBIN ROBERTS died a little over 2 weeks ago, people naturally wondered how many of the Whiz Kids are still with us.
The answer: Six (pitchers Curt Simmons, Paul Stuffel and Bob Miller, catcher Stan Lopata, infielder Putsy Caballero and outfielder Jackie Mayo).
But how many people know the number of Philadelphia A's players who are still alive?
The answer: At least one, Ted Taylor, who said that 48 Philadelphia A's are still around.
When it comes to the old Athletics, Taylor is the man.
Daily News readers may remember that Taylor wrote a baseball memorabilia column for the People Paper for 12 years. Now, he's written "The Ultimate Philadelphia Athletics Reference Book 1901-1954," a labor of love that has Father's Day gift written all over it.
The book even has a father-son anecdote, recalling that when A's manager Connie Mack stepped down in 1950 it was expected his son Earle, who had been his longtime assistant, would take over.
"But Connie said his son was too old and he named Jimmie Dykes the manager instead," Taylor said with a laugh.
At the time, Connie was 87, Earle was 60.
The book lists the bios of every player, coach and manager of the Athletics, more than 12,000 in all. Included is Taylor's idol, Hank Majeski.
"He was my favorite player because my real name is Henry, and when you're 8 or 9 years old you root for a player with the same name as you. So I liked Majeski, followed by Ferris Fain and Bobby Shantz."
Among the stories are some real gems.
The most unusual?
"Earle Mack once made a pitching change," said Taylor. "He looked over in the bullpen and saw Les McCrabb throwing so he put him in the game. The only problem was that McCrabb was a coach - really just a guy who threw batting practice. He hadn't pitched since 1942 and he wasn't even on the roster. They did stuff like that back in those days."
The book is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and several area locations, including the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society at 6 North York Road in Hatboro.
- Tom Mahon