Friday, October 14, 2005

80 Year-Old Manager Terwilliger Retires

Associated Press
Courtesy of FOX Sports

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Wayne Terwilliger, the 80-year-old manager who was once Jackie Robinson's backup as a player, retired Tuesday after 57 seasons in professional baseball.

Terwilliger this season coached the independent Fort Worth Cats to the Central Baseball League championship. When the Cats won at Shreveport on June 27, his 80th birthday, the manager known as "Twig" joined Connie Mack as the only octogenarian managers in baseball history.
Winning the CBL title, which the Cats did with decisive Game 5 victories after falling behind in both of their playoff series, made Terwilliger's decision easier.

"If we hadn't won the whole thing, I think I would have come back. I know I would have," said Terwilliger, the Cats' manager the past three seasons. "It was a lot easier than I thought maybe."

Fort Worth was the 16th team Twig coached and his 12th minor league managerial job (1,224-1,089 record over 18 seasons). He has been out of baseball only one year since signing with the Chicago Cubs organization in 1948.

Twig got two World Series rings as first base coach for the Minnesota Twins (1986-94), and he was on Ted Williams' staffs with the Washington Senators (1969-71) and Texas Rangers (1972). He is the only person to wear the uniforms of the Senators and the two teams they spawned - the Rangers and Twins.

In 1951, Terwilliger was Robinson's backup for the Brooklyn Dodgers and on the opposing bench for Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run, the "Shot Heard 'Round The World."

During nine major league seasons, Terwilliger played in 666 games for five teams. He hit .240 with 22 home runs, one coming at Yankee Stadium off Hall of Famer Whitey Ford.

"A Hall of Famer that never hung a slider in his life except one pitch to me," Terwilliger said, a huge smile on his face. "Every time I see or hear about Whitey Ford, I think 'I got you."'
Terwilliger also had a game-winning single off Satchel Paige before he started coaching in 1961, the year after playing his last game.

"I still laugh about all the good things that have happened to me," he said. "I've been on championship teams as a player, manager and a coach. I played against the greatest, I coached for Ted Williams. It couldn't be any better."

Twig stepped aside as the Cats manager for one game in August, allowing 87-year-old Bobby Bragan to lead the team. That allowed Bragan to become the third octogenarian manager and surpass Mack as the oldest ever in a pro baseball game.

When Terwilliger first told his wife, Lin, late in the season that he was thinking about letting somebody else take over for good, she thought he was kidding.

"I know she's worried. I'm kind of one of those guys that has to be going," he said. "If I haven't got something to do, I get up and move around. She gets nervous."

So come next spring, don't be surprised to see Twig still involved with the Cats, without having to endure 12-hour bus rides to games.

"I'd like to be helping out at home games, spring training," Terwilliger said. "Even working the ground crew."

Courtesy of Fox Sports

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