'Whiz Kid' Mike Goliat Passes Away at Age 78

They say things happen in threes. Unfortunately, the Phillies family has suffered a third loss this offseason with news of the passing of former infielder Mike Goliat. The major league career of Mike Goliat was short-lived, but he was the starting second baseman on the Phillies popular 1950 team that went to the World Series. Goliat passed away January 13th at the age of 78. His passing follows the losses of Paul Owens and Tug McGraw.

Mike Goliat was a big-time prospect in the Phillies organization when he arrived in the majors in 1949. Goliat was athletic and was known for having a strong arm that helped him defensively.

Goliat's career got started after he left the Army in 1946. He simply asked for a tryout with the Phillies minor league team in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania and was immediately signed to a deal. Goliat hit .370 in his first minor league season and followed that with a promotion and a .315 average the following season. In 1949, Goliat was playing primarily at first and third base for the Phillies AAA team in Toronto, but had been learning to play second when he got the call to come to Philly where he was put at second base.

When Goliat arrived in Philadelphia, his career was almost derailed before it even began. In his final game with Toronto, Goliat was involved in a collision and his knee was swollen and sore when he reported to the majors. The Phillies were concerned about the injury, but Goliat refused to have it examined and the Phillies inserted their injured, but promising young prospect into the lineup. The results were less than impressive. A late season hitting surge pulled Goliat's average up to .212, but there were definitely a few questions about him coming into 1950.

The 1950 team was known for getting contributions from various players throughout the season. Mike Goliat was no different. While the youngster was known for chasing bad pitches, he was also known for beating up on the Brooklyn Dodgers. In Philadelphia, that made you a hero and Goliat's popularity rose with every game against Brooklyn. Perhaps, getting married somehow made Goliat a better player, because the day after his wedding, he beat St.Louis with a two-run homerun. Two days later, he helped beat the Cubs with three hits and then chipped in with three more hits in a 6-5 win over the Dodgers. In the World Series, Goliat hit just .214 (3-14) but scored the Phillies first run of the series on a Richie Ashburn sacrifice fly.

As spring training arrived in 1951, Goliat seemed to be a somewhat different person. The Phillies even went so far as to fine him for breaking team rules during training camp and as he struggled at the plate, the Phillies soon sent him back to AAA. Goliat's stroke returned and he hit .282 in the minors in '51 only to be recalled and sold to the St.Louis Browns. Some thought that a new setting would revitalize Goliat's career, but it didn't. He finished the '51 season with St.Louis and started the '52 season before being released. Goliat never returned to the majors and finished his career with a .225 batting average, playing in 249 games with the Phillies and Browns.

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