Billy Werber (above, left), who as a Cincinnati Red in 1939, became the first baseball player to bat on television, passed away today at the age of 100. Cincinnati Reds played the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in the first televised game, May 1, 1939.
Werber was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1961 and at the time of his death, he was the oldest living major league ballplayer and the last living teammate of Babe Ruth.
Nice little stock-pile of triva, huh? It goes on too. More on his wikipedia page.
There is a great quote from him on why he stopped watching baseball at the age of 98. Apparently, he was not a fan of some of the fashionable grooming choices of some modern ballplayers…
“I don’t like the appearance of a lot of the players. The hair’s too long. Their beards are too evident. They’re a grubby-looking bunch of caterwaulers.”
More on Billy Werber:
• Oldest big-leaguer Werber turns 100 (USA TODAY)
• Ex-Big Leaguer Werber Has Many Stories to Choose From (Washington Post)
• Career Stats
Former Reds pitcher, Frank Williams passed away last Friday, ending an extremely tragic life that left him on the streets in the end. In a story that reads like a Hollywood script, Williams grew up an orphan, bouncing round from home to home in Seattle. He obviously found his great talent and made it all the way to the bigs, pitching for the San Francisco Giants. He came to the Reds 1987 and pitched with them through ’88. In 1989 he suited up for the Detroit Tigers, but a car crash that year ended his major league career. Life seemed to spiral after that. You can read more of the story right here.
Since Williams’ was a Red, this story would have caught my eye no matter what, but a project I am working on made it hit just a touch harder. I’m attempting to collect a complete autographed set of 1987 Topps Reds cards. hiss rookie card is in the traded set from that season, so at one point I attempted to track him down to hopefully send him a card via the mail. I never did find much information and I certainly didn’t see anything about how his life had taken a turn for the worse years ago. This was totally out of the blue, as I’m sure it was for most baseball fans. He joins Bo Diaz as another player from that 1987 Reds squad that has passed away. Very sad. Obviously, I’m really not worried about the autograph… but it did just make me pause for a little long today when I saw that headline in my RSS reader.
• Story on Williams’ from 2007
• Frank Williams’ career stats