Bill Wambsganns enjoyed a 13-year major-league career and will always be remembered for one rare play in the 1920 World Series.
Bill Wambsganns played in the major leagues for 13 years, but he has become known for only one thing.
Wambsganns became a baseball legend during the 1920 World Series, when as a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians he completed an unassisted triple play against the Brooklyn Dodgers. During the fifth inning of Game 5 with baserunners on first and second, a sharp liner was hit to Wambsganns who caught it, stepped on second and then tagged the runner coming from first. It's the only unassisted triple play in World Series history.
"The only thing anybody seems to remember is that once I made an unassisted triple play in a World Series," Wambsganns once wrote. "Many don't even remember the team I was on, or the position I played, or anything. Just Wambsganns -- unassisted triple play. You'd think I was born the day before and died the day after."
Wambsganns was a great defensive player but also a pretty fair hitter with a career .259 average. In his best year, 1926 with the Philadelphia Athletics, he hit .325 in 54 games. His best season during 10 years with Cleveland was .295 in 1918.
Though he was born in Cleveland, Wambsganns grew up in Fort Wayne when his Lutheran minister father was transferred. He started to follow in his father's footsteps at the Concordia College but decided to become a baseball player instead.
He dropped to the minors after 1926 and retired as a player in 1932. Wambsganns later came back to Fort Wayne to manage the Fort Wayne Daisies. He died Dec. 8, 1985, in Lakewood, Ohio, at age 91.
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