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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

WAMBSGANSS, WILLIAM (BILL WAMBY)

WAMBSGANSS, WILLIAM (BILL WAMBY)

WAMBSGANSS, WILLIAM (BILL WAMBY) (19 Mar. 1894-8 Dec. 1985) played second base for the CLEVELAND INDIANS (1914-23) and enjoyed lifelong fame for making an unassisted triple play in the 1920s World Series. Wambsganss was born in what is now GARFIELD HEIGHTS, OH, but grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, son of Philip and Carrie (Shellman) Wambsganss. He graduated from Concordia College (IN) and attended a Lutheran seminary in St. Louis but soon signed with a Class B baseball team in Cedar Rapids. Cleveland Indians scouts recruited him in 1914. Called Wamby in Cleveland (to fit on the LEAGUE PARK scoreboard and program), Wambsganss was known as a strong fielder, a steady hitter and a fine bunter.

Wambsganss's triple play moment came in the 5th game of the 1920 World Series. Brooklyn batters Otto Miller and Pete Kilduff singled to begin the 5th inning, with the Indians leading 7-0. With Miller on first and Kilduff on second, the next batter, Clarence Mitchell, lined a ball toward right field. Wambsganss made a brilliant catch for one out, touched second base for the second out, and tagged Miller, for the third out. In 1923 Wambsganss was traded to Boston; he finished his career in Philadelphia in 1926 with a .259 batting average. He managed minor-league teams Springfield, IL, and Fort Wayne, and professional women's teams in Muskegon, MI, and Fort Wayne until 1931. Wamby returned to Cleveland to manage the Class A teams of Lyon Tailors and Fisher Foods. In 1948 he took a sales position with the Tru-Fit Screw Products Corp. and managed its ball team. He lived in LAKEWOOD the remainder of his life.

On 30 June 1917 Wambsganss married Effie L. Mulholland (d. 1977); they had 3 children, Mary Brandes, Lois Hauer, and Bill Wamby, Jr.

Asdrubal Cabrera was the next Cleveland Indians player to turn an unassisted triple play. He accomplished this feat on 12 May 2008 in the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field in Cleveland. With Marco Scutaro on first base and Kevin Mench on second, Lyle Overbay lined out to Cabrera, who then stepped on second base and tagged Scutaro. Cabrera's unassisted triple play was only the fourteenth in Major League history.