Billy Werber - OMGreds.com
On this day in Reds history, the last surviving member of the Reds' Jungle Cat Infield passed away.
On this day in 1959, former Red Ken Williams died in Grants Pass, OR at age 68. Williams is best known as baseball's first 30-30 man. He accomplished the feat with 39 home runs and 37 stolen bases for the St. Louis Browns in 1922. His 39 home runs led the league as Babe Ruth missed considerable time that season.
On this day in 1963, former Red Jeff Treadway was born in Columbus, GA. Primarily a second baseman, Treadway played for Cincinnati in 1987 and 1988 before the Reds sold him to the Braves in the spring of 1989.
On this day in 2005, the Reds signed Rich Aurilia.
On this day in 2007, the Reds signed Mark Bellhorn.
On this day in 2009, Reds Hall of Fame third baseman Billy Werber died in Charlotte, NC at the age of 100. Werber first came up with the Yankees in 1930, but played in only four games that season. He did not return to the majors until 1933. Once again, the Yankees only played him in a couple of games, but New York sold him to the Red Sox early in the season. Werber was a regular in Boston for four years, and he played well, leading the American League in stolen bases twice in that stretch. However, the Red Sox traded him to the Philadelphia Athletics after the 1936 season. He remained productive, but Connie Mack sold him to the Reds in the spring of 1939.
While in Cincinnati, Werber was a good leadoff hitter due to his speed on the bases and his willingness to walk. Werber led the league in runs in 1939 and became the "Tiger" in Cincinnati's Jungle Cat Infield. He also played pretty good defense, which probably explains why Bill McKechnie took a liking to him. The Giants purchased Werber after the 1941 season, and he played one season in New York before retiring.
Werber was a man of firsts and lasts. He played basketball at Duke and became the school's first All-American in 1930. While with the Reds in 1939, he became the first player to bat on television when he led off against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field on August 26, 1939. Werber was also the last living teammate of Babe Ruth as well as the last living opponent of the Bambino.
In his later days, Werber said he no longer watched baseball, because he did not care for the long hair and beards of players such as Johnny Damon. Werber went so far as to write a letter of complaint to Bud Selig on the issue (Edes, Boston.com). At the time of his death, he was the oldest living major league player.
On this day in 2010, the Reds signed Jose Arredondo.
There are still points available from the last trivia question.
1) Who was college basketball's national player of the year at Duke that later won a league MVP award in baseball? This player also set the NCAA single season scoring record during his award-winning season at Duke. The record has since been broken.