Phil Masi Left Behind a Confession

Phil Masi appears in the 1952 Topps set in his final card as a player. His stats show a solidly average major-leaguer and he carried a reputation as an excellent catcher and battery mate. Unusually fast for a catcher, he was used on occasion as a pinch runner. I imagine young Indians fans cursing under their breath as they pulled a Masi card from a pack while Braves fans smirked under similar circumstances. Why would the card of the White Sox backstop engender such a reaction?

Simple. Masi had been at the epicenter of a World Series pickoff attempt that had the potential to change the outcome of the entire Series. Bob Feller threw a bullet to second base in Game 1, apparently catching Masi off guard. Masi dove back to the bag and was called safe. Both sides would argue the play for years, complete with allegations that camera footage of the play was edited to obscure the result. Masi later scored in the inning for the game’s only run, putting the Braves up by one game to start the series.

After his playing career ended Masi ran a screen-printing business outside Chicago. SABR has a wonderful write-up in its biography project that includes an anecdote about Masi engaging in ice cream eating contests against a dog. The same article includes one more interesting tidbit: Masi left behind a last will and testament that admitted he should have been called out in the 1948 World Series.

The purple background is a nice departure from other cards in the set. Cards #251-310 are a tiny bit tougher to find than the earlier series.