Card: 1975 TCMA 1950 Phillies (Autographed)
The “Putsy” moniker was given to Caballero at a young age. He once told an interviewer: “Everybody down here in N’Awlins has a nickname. My brother Monroe is ‘Money.’ My brother Raymond is ‘Rainbow.’ There’s no special reason for any of those nicknames. There’s none for mine, either. People just always called me Putsy."
His nickname also caused some confusion. Initially, the Phillies broadcasters shortened it to “Putz.” “I didn’t think anything of it ’til one day they came up to me with a stack of letters they received,” he later related. “Turns out ‘Putz’ means a whole different thing in Yiddish. It meant something they shouldn’t have been saying on the air. Some listeners were offended, so they stopped calling me Putz right quick after that."
Ralph Joseph "Putsy" Caballero (b. November 5, 1927 in New Orleans, LA – d. December 8, 2016 in Lakeview, LA) was an infielder who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) in parts of eight seasons (1944-1945, 1947-1952), all for the Philadelphia Phillies, during the Whiz Kids era. He holds the record as the youngest person in MLB history to appear at third base.
Putsy's debut at age 16 also makes him the youngest player to ever appear in a game for the Philadelphia Phillies. For much of his eight-year career, he was one of the youngest players in the league. Even in his last year, 1952, he was only 24. His whole major league career was spent with the Phillies.
He was a schoolboy star in New Orleans when signed in 1944. He became the regular third baseman in 1948, showing good range and a good fielding percentage, and hit .245 on a team that hit .259. Both Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn were 21-year-old rookies on the team, while Putsy was 20 but already in his fourth year.
Ralph was part of the 1950 Whiz Kids team, and appeared in 3 games in the World Series against the New York Yankees. In 1951, he was the regular second baseman of sorts, appearing in 84 games at various positions as a host of players appeared at second base. On August 11th that year, he hit his lone big league homer, a solo shot off George Spencer of the New York Giants, in the 9th inning of a 4-0 Phillies victory.
During his playing career, he attended Loyola University New Orleans in the off-seasons. In 2005, his Louisiana home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He had retired after running a pest-control business. He was forced by the hurricane to seek aid from the Red Cross and to go on food stamps for the first time ever. His Phillies uniform was salvaged from the flood. Putsy died in December 2016 at the age of 89.
Putsy is part of the Philadelphia Phillies Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
“Putsy” is part of the Great Italian American Player Nicknames Tour – Go to the Next Stop
See all Putsy’s baseball cards at TCDB
Visit a random Italian American MLB player: