Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday...Bill Wambsganss

When I do the Baseball Birthday's I always try and find that one special ballplayer to write about.

Today's birthday's consist of former  Philles Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, current Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw, and former Tigers OF Gee Walker, just to name a few.

Any of those would be a terrific subject to write about today, however, as I scrolled down the birthday list at Baseball Reference.com I came across a name I hadn't heard of in a while.

Today we celebrate the birthday of the only big league ballplayer to record an unassisted triple play in World Series history.

Bill Wambsganns was born on March 19th, 1894, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The shorthstop/second baseman made his debut in the big leagues on August 4th, 1914, for the Cleveland Naps(later the Indians).

In 13 seasons Wambsganns batted .259,  7 home runs, and 520 RBI.

The best hitting stat for the former Tribe star may be that he had 323 career sacrifice hits, leading the American League in both 1921 and 1922.

In the 1920 World Series our birthday big leaguer turned that famous triple play in Game 5 vs. the Brooklyn Robins (later Dodgers).

As he caught a line drive (out #1), Wambsganns stepped on 2nd base, forcing the runner moving from 2nd base (out #2), then tagged the runner coming from 1st base (out #3).

Wambsganns is quoted as saying this about the famous play...
“Just before I tagged him, he said, ‘Where’d you get that ball?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve got it and you’re out number three.’” (quote courtesy of BillyBall.com)

 Game 5 of the 1920 World Series is also remarkable in that the first ever WS Grand Slam was hit, by the Naps Elmer Smith in the first inning, and that Naps pitcher Jim Bagby, the winning pitcher, hit a 3-run HR, the first pitcher to ever hit a HR in a WS game.

That's gotta be one of the great World Series games ever, regardless of the lopsided 8-1 Naps win.

Wambsganns post big league days included managing the Muskegon Lassies of the AAGPBL.

Happy Birthday Bill...Play Ball!!

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