Billy Werber

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William Murray Werber

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Biographical Information[edit]

Known for his good defensive range, third baseman Bill Werber had an eleven-year career in the major leagues, leading the league in stolen bases three times.

Werber attended Duke University, where he was an All-American basketball player, and he was the second big league ballplayer to come out of the school (the first was Wade Lefler). Among major leaguers who came out of Duke, he had the most at-bats until Dick Groat came along.

After college, Werber was signed by the New York Yankees and spent spring training with the would-be Murderers' Row team in 1927 but did not make the squad. He did play for the Yankees briefly in both 1930 and 1933 and was the last living teammate of Babe Ruth.

While with the Cincinnati Reds, Werber became the first player to bat in the first televised major-league game, a contest against the Brooklyn Dodgers on August 26, 1939. The next year he batted leadoff for the Reds and hit .370 in the 1940 World Series.

At the end of his career, he also played with the New York Giants in 1942, which featured Mel Ott and Johnny Mize. In the middle, he was with the Boston Red Sox of Jimmie Foxx, the Cincinnati Reds of Ernie Lombardi, and the Philadelphia Athletics when Nick Etten was a rookie.

Werber's lifetime major league batting average was .271. Based on the similarity scores method, the most similar player is Red Rolfe. He is a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Werber's older brother Fritz Werber, set a minor league record with 7 stolen bases in 1 game in 1927. His son Billy Werber Jr. also starred at Duke, but only spent one year in pro ball.

Following his baseball career, Werber worked for many years as an insurance salesman. He also self-published two books: "Circling The Bases," publication date not stated, and "Hunting Is For The Birds," 1981, and collaborated with C. Paul Rogers III on the Society For American Baseball Research/University of Nebraska Press book "Memories Of A Ballplayer: Bill Werber and Baseball in the 1930s," 2001.

Werber became the Oldest Living MLB Player on July 22, 2007, with the death of Rollie Stiles, and celebrated his 100th birthday on June 20, 2008. Werber died on January 22, 2009 at an assisted living home in Charlotte.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1939)
  • 3-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1934, 1935 & 1937)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1934, 1939 & 1940)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1934)
  • Won a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1940

Records Held[edit]

  • Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, May 13, 1940

Further Reading[edit]

  • Bill Werber and C. Paul Rogers III: Memories of a Ballplayer: Bill Werber and Baseball in the 1930s, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2001.

Related Sites[edit]