RBI men are a boon to their club. A team may have a stellar leadoff man – like a Smilin’ Stan Hack or Rickey Henderson – but if there isn’t a solid RBI man hitting after him, he dies on the bases. The Phillies of the late 1940s and 1950s had a sensational leadoff man in Richie Ashburn who had a terrific RBI man hitting behind him… Del Ennis.
A Philly boy, Del Ennis made his debut with the hometown team in 1946 – the year of the mass return of the stars from the military. The returning of stars didn’t faze the rookie, as Del led NL left fielders in batting (.313), slugging (.485), doubles (30) and base hits (169). He was an All-Star his rookie campaign and garnered 18% of the MVP vote. He suffered through a minor bout of the Sophomore Jinx – but he still drove in 81 runs – before his breakout year of 1948.
In 1948, Del hit 40 doubles, 30 homers, drove in 95 runs, while hitting .290 with a .525 slugging average. He had his first 100 RBI season in ’49 – driving in 110 mates – while leading left fielders with 39 doubles. He was instrumental in leading The Whiz Kids to the 1950 World Series. Ennis paced the senior circuit with 126 RBI. He slugged .551 during the season, but like most Phillies, he was a no show in the World Series. The Phillies were hit hard just before the Fall Classic when they lost lefty ace Curt Simmons to the military. Simmons was the first player drafted into the military during the Korean War.
Del had his third 100 RBI season in 1952 and his fourth in 1953 when he led all left fielders with 125 runs batted in. 1952 began a four year string of 100+ RBI seasons for Del, who led all left fielders with 119 RBI in ’54 and 120 in 1955. He was head and shoulders above his peers in ’55, pacing all left fielders in runs batted in, batting (.296) and homeruns. Although he didn’t notch 100 RBI in 1956, his 95 were tops among left fielders.
He was traded to the Cardinals in ’57 and enjoyed his seventh and final 100 RBI campaign. He mysteriously lost his power in 1958, swatting three homeruns in 106 games and retired after the 1959 season. Ennis leaves behind quite a record of driving in runs. The three-time All-Star received MVP votes in eight separate seasons and finished in the Top Ten in homeruns eight times and the Top Ten in RBIs and astounding ten times.
Del Ennis’ career stats: G ,1903/R 985/H 2,063/2B 358/HR 288/RBI 1,284/BA .284/SA .472