Athlete. World War II era residents of the Elkhorn Valley within Madison County were fortunate to witness the early years of this legendary athlete who graduated from Tilden High School in 1944. He was an all state caliber member of the Tigers basketball team which made it to the state tournament in 1944 in Class C. His specialty developed in baseball as an outfielder, eventually playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. He was honored for those major league talents by being inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1995. Often a National League batting champion challenger, his best year came in 1958 when he hit .350. Not just a speed merchant, but blessed with a great throwing arm, Richie Ashburn helped the Philadelphia Phillies win a rare National League pennant in 1950 (Whiz Kids). In the off season during his playing days, Ashburn returned to Tilden and refereed high school games and worked out with the Tilden high school teams during the winter. He’d bring cases of Wheaties for families in Tilden because of his endorsement of the product. Deceased.
Richie Ashburn was a durable, hustling leadoff hitter and clutch performer with superb knowledge of the strike zone. A fan favorite, “Whitey” batted .308 with nine .300-plus seasons and 2,574 hits in 15 years, winning batting championships in 1955 and 1958. A core player for the 1950 Whiz Kids, the center fielder established major league records for most times leading the league in chances (nine), most years with 500 or more putouts (four) and most seasons with 400 or more putouts (nine). Ashburn spent 35 years broadcasting Phillies games after his playing days.
Donald Richard Ashburn
- Born: March 19, 1927, Tilden, Nebraska
- Died: September 9, 1997, New York, New York
- Batted: left
- Threw: right
- Played for: Phillies, Cubs, Mets
- Elected to Hall of Fame by Committee on Baseball Veterans: 1995
- Career Batting Record
- Did you know … that Richie Ashburn was the only rookie elected to the 1948 All-Star Game?
Following from: Leo Harvill, commenting by email on Ashburn’s death.
“I grew up in Tilden, NE. Richie and his family lived one block away from my family. His children played with my younger brother and sister. I would babysit with his kids. He and his family were friends of our family. He was my boyhood hero and idol but he was also my friend even though he was 14 years older. I didn’t think it was unusual to have a major league baseball star living next to me. I guess I thought everyone did.
I can remember Rich bringing cases of Wheaties over for our family (I have three brothers and a sister). He was given cases of them because of his endorsement of the product but he told us that he and his family didn’t eat them.
I can remember Rich working out with our high school basketball team so he could keep in shape in the off season. He could drive around anyone on our team; his speed on the basketball court was amazing! I was particularly slow and could not believe anyone could be that fast.
My wife, youngest son, and I had the opportunity to visit Rich in 1993 and attend several Phillies games (when Ashburn was an announcer). My wife and I were also able to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1995. It was a special time for me to see a friend inducted into the HOF. I never saw Rich play in a major league baseball game but I followed his career very closely.”