Friday, June 20, 2014

The Interesting Life Of Ex-Sox 3B Billy Werber

Werber (left) With Joe Cronin
We like to think we know a lot about the Boston Red Sox. After all, some of us have been attending games at Fenway since the mid-1950s. But once in a while, we run across a player we don't know much about. One of those is Billy Werber—who would have turned 105 years old today. Werber played third base for The Carmine Hose from 1933-1936—purchased from the Yankees for $100,000 (does that ring a bell?). The conventional wisdom is that the Red Sox have never been a team that values "speed". Believe it or not, while with Boston, Werber led the American League is stolen bases in both 1934 and 1935. Who knew? Batting lead-off in 1934, he hit .321—collecting 200 hits in 714 plate appearances (the latter leading the league). He even clouted 38 HRs in his four years here. But the really interesting stuff about Werber is the trivia. For instance, while with the Reds, he became the first player ever to bat in a televised game (August 26, 1939). For Cincinnati in the 1940 World Series, he led his team to victory—batting .370. And, he is still the only player to hit four consecutive doubles in both leagues (with the Red Sox and Reds). In another Red Sox connection, he stopped watching baseball at age 96—mostly because of Johnny Damon. Said Werber, "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." But perhaps best of all, before he passed away at the age of 100 in 2009, he was the last surviving teammate of Babe Ruth. What a life!