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Bill Wambsganss

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Title: Bill Wambsganss  
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Subject: Cleveland Naps players, Nancy Warren (baseball), Otto Miller, Ruth Lessing, Kansas City Blues (American Association)
Collection: 1894 Births, 1985 Deaths, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Managers, Baseball Players from Ohio, Boston Red Sox Players, Burials in Calvary Cemetery (Cleveland, Ohio), Cedar Rapids Rabbits Players, Cleveland Indians Players, Cleveland Naps Players, Fort Wayne Chiefs Players, Kansas City Blues (Baseball) Players, Louisville Colonels (Minor League) Players, Major League Baseball Second Basemen, Minor League Baseball Managers, New Orleans Pelicans (Baseball) Players, Philadelphia Athletics Players, Sportspeople from Cleveland, Ohio, Springfield Senators Players
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Bill Wambsganss

Bill Wambsganss
Infielder / Second baseman
Born: (1894-03-19)March 19, 1894
Cleveland, Ohio
Died: December 8, 1985(1985-12-08) (aged 91)
Lakewood, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 4, 1914, for the Cleveland Naps
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1926, for the Philadelphia Athletics
MLB statistics
Batting average .259
Home runs 7
Runs batted in 520
Career highlights and awards

William Adolf Wambsganss (March 19, 1894 – December 8, 1985) was a second baseman in Major League Baseball. From 1914 through 1926, Wambsganss played for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Athletics. He is best remembered for making one of the most spectacular defensive plays in World Series history, an unassisted triple play.


  • Early life 1
  • Major League career 2
    • World Series triple play 2.1
  • Post-MLB career 3
  • Later life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Wambsganss was a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Concordia College and studied for the ministry before entering professional baseball.[1]

Major League career

In a 13-season career, Wambsganss posted a .259 batting average with seven home runs and 519 run batted in in 1492 games played. Due to his long surname, Wambsganss was often called "Wamby" by headline writers.

Wambsganss was the regular George Burns to the Indians.

In 1924 with Boston, Wambsganss hit .275 and collected career-highs in hits (174) and runs (93). After a sub-par season in 1925, he was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics. He finished his Major League career with the A's in 1926, batting .352 in 54 games.

World Series triple play

Bill Wambsganss, and his unassisted triple play victims: Pete Kilduff, Clarence Mitchell and Otto Miller. Photo by L. Van Oeyen, Library of Congress archives.

In game five of the 1920 World Series played at League Park, Wambsganss caught a fifth-inning line drive batted by Clarence Mitchell, stepped on second base to retire Pete Kilduff, and tagged Otto Miller coming from first base, to complete the first, and to date, only unassisted triple play in World Series history. Earlier in the game, Wambsganss' teammate Elmer Smith hit the first grand slam in World Series history off Brooklyn Robins pitcher Burleigh Grimes, in the first inning with none out. The historic blast scored Charlie Jamieson, Wambsganss, Tris Speaker, and Smith. Brooklyn fell to the Indians in an 8–1 loss. Cleveland winning pitcher Jim Bagby helped himself by hitting a three-run home run in the third. It was the first home run hit by a pitcher in modern World Series history.

After the World Series, Cleveland fans presented Wambsganss with a medal to commemorate the unassisted triple play. The medal was lost the following April while Wambsganss was traveling aboard a train.[2]

Post-MLB career

After his last year in the Major Leagues, Wambsganss played for Triple-A Kansas City of the American Association. After coaching New Orleans of the Southern League in 1930, he returned to the Kansas City club as manager in 1931.[3]

Additionally, he managed for four seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) for the Fort Wayne Daisies (1945–46) and the Muskegon Lassies (1947–48).[4] In November 1988, Wambsganss and the rest of the AAGPBL received recognition when the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York dedicated a permanent display to the entire league. The gymnasium at Concordia Theological Seminary is named in honor of him.

Later life

When interviewed in the 1960s by Lawrence Ritter for the classic oral history The Glory of Their Times, Wambsganss recalled: "Funny thing, I played in the big leagues for 13 years, 1914 through 1926, and the only thing that anybody seems to remember is that once I made an unassisted triple play in a World Series. Many don't even remember the team I was on, or the position I played, or anything. Just Wambsganss-unassisted triple play! You'd think I was born on the day before and died on the day after."

Wambsganss died of heart failure in Lakewood, Ohio on December 10, 1985. He was 91 years old. Wambsganss was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland.[5]


  1. ^ "Baseball Birthday Sketches: William Adolph Wambsganss". Reading Eagle. March 18, 1924. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Triple Play Medal is Lost on Train by Bill Wambsganss". The New York Times. April 7, 1921. Retrieved December 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Bill Wambsganss Named Manager". The Milwaukee Journal. December 28, 1930. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Profile: Bill Wambsganss". All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bill Wamby is Remembered". The Bryan Times. December 12, 1985. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 

External links

  • Bill Wambsganss at Find a Grave
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