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Willis Wyman

From BR Bullpen

Willis C. Wyman

  • Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown

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Biographical Information[edit]

Willis Wyman played 30 games for the Kansas City Cowboys of the Union Association in 1884; he also played two games with the Chicago/Pittsburgh team later that year. He was long listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia as Frank Wyman, as he was confused with a contemporary minor league player who played for the Lynn, MA team in 1884. It was a logical deduction, as at least two other players from that team, Dick Blaisdell and Jim Donnelly also ended up in Kansas City, so theer was obviously a connection between the two clubs. Alas, it could not have been Frank Wyman playing for the Cowboys, as on June 14th, he is was listed in the line-up for games played both by Kansas City and by Lynn, at different ends of the country.

The mystery was solved in 2018 by SABR researcher Justin McKinney, who identified the major league player as Willis C. Wyman. He was a traveling salesman from Maine who spent a lot of time in Kansas, particularly in Atchison, KS and played for a local club there in 1883. He was a teammate of future major leaguer Turk Burke there, and was recruited by the Cowboys in June, staying with the club until the end of July. His last two games were with the Chicago team on August 7th and 9th, when they were playing in Kansas City, MO and were presumably short of players. That was just before the team moved to Pittsburgh, so it's likely that financial difficulties contributed to their being unable to travel with a full contingent of players. He played for local teams both before and after but not during the time the mysterious Wyman was in the Union Association in 1884, confirming that the two were one and the same person.

As of 2006, he was the only player in Major League history with a last name that starts with "Wym". There are currently no players in the minor leagues that have a chance of "threatening" this title any time soon, although a couple retired minor leaguers had surnames that began with "Wym": Richie Wyman and Spencer Wyman.

Further Reading[edit]

  • "Willis Wyman", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, January/February 2018, pp. 1-2.

Related Sites[edit]