Wayne Terwilliger’s winding baseball career provided him brushes with the game’s all-time greats, two World Series rings as a coach with the Minnesota Twins, two stints with the Texas Rangers and a place in history with the Fort Worth Cats.
All of his accomplishments in the national pastime came after he served in the Marines in the Pacific theater in World World II, including at Iwo Jima, and he said nothing in his 62 years in baseball was more important than two years in the military.
Plagued by dementia and advanced cancer of the bladder, Terwilliger’s spectacular journey ended early Wednesday morning when he passed away after a brief time in hospice care in Weatherford.
Twig, as he was affectionately known, was 95.
His wife, Linda, said a broken hip in 2017 and subsequent surgeries derailed his active life, which included bagging groceries at age 88 a Brookshire’s grocery store in Willow Park..
Terwilliger’s final act in baseball came as the manager and first-base coach of the independent Cats. When he reached 80 in 2005, he became one of two men in professional baseball to serve as a manager in his 80s.
The other was Connie Mack, the Hall of Fame manager of the Philadelphia Athletics. (Jack McKeon became the third in 2011 when he finished out the season with the Miami Marlins.)
Born on June 27, 1926, in Clare, Michigan, Williard Wayne Terwilliger first played in the major leagues in 1949 with the Chicago Cubs. He became their regular second baseman in 1950, when he posted career-highs in at-bats (480) and home runs (10).
He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, where he was teammates with Jackie Robinson among other Dodgers greats such as Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese. He played with the Washington Senators in 1953 and 1954, the New York Giants in 1955 and 1956 with Willie Mays, and didn’t play again in the majors until 1959 with the Kansas City Athletics.
Terwilliger retired as a player in 1960 after only two games with the A’s.
Coaching was around the corner, though, and his first of seven seasons as a minor-league manager with the Senators came in 1963. He became the Senators’ third-base coach in 1969, on the staff of manager Ted Williams.
The staff remained in tact in 1972 as the Senators became the Rangers, but they were all replaced after the season. After working as the manager of Double A Columbus in 1973 in the Cheap Houston Astros Jerseys organization, Terwilliger returned to the Rangers’ system in 1975 at Class A Lynchburg.
Four seasons at Class A Asheville followed before Terwilliger was bumped to Double A Tulsa as manager. He joined the big-league staff in 1980 under manager Don Zimmer and stayed with the Rangers through 1985 on the staffs of Darrell Johnson, Doug Rader and Bobby Valentine.
The Rangers send condolences to the family of Wayne Terwilliger, who passed away early today at age 95. “Twig” played in the majors from 1949-60 and was a Rangers big league coach in 1972 and from 1981-85. He also coached for the Minnesota Twins and managed the Fort Worth Cats.
— John Blake (@RangerBlake) February 3, 2021
In 1986, Terwilliger moved to the Twins as the first-base coach for manager Tom Kelly. The Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991, and Terwilliger stayed with the Twins until 1994.
He then dived into independent ball, first as manager of the St. Paul Saints from 1995-2002 before the Cats hired him for the 2003 season. He retired as manager after guiding them to the Central Baseball League title, but stayed on as first-base coach until 2010.
We have a Cheap Texas Rangers Jerseys rumor, as Mike Foltynewicz and the team are apparently close on a one year deal, per Kiley McDaniel. The free agent righthander became a free agent after the 2020 season, having previously been waived by the Atlanta Braves and outrighted.
Foltynewicz, 29, broke in with the Houston Astros in 2014, and then was traded after the 2014 season to the Atlanta Braves in the Evan Gattis deal. He was a guy who threw hard, had command issues, and struggled to make an impact until the 2018 season, when a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts and 183 IP for the Braves led to an All Star appearance and an 8th place finish in the Cy Young balloting.
He regressed in 2019, however, putting up a 4.54 ERA and a 4.97 FIP in 21 starts, and then an awful camp followed by one awful major league appearance in 2020 led to the Braves designating him for assignment. He did not return to the majors after he was outrighted.
McDaniel says Foltynewicz is getting a guaranteed major league deal from the Rangers, and says he will be in the mix for a spot in the starting rotation. He was, by all accounts, a mess in 2020, and had a big drop in his fastball velocity. While I have said I think the Rangers needed to add another starting pitching option, I’m not terribly enthusiastic about this addition, and I’m wondering to what extent he is possibly being viewed as a starting pitcher versus as a potential multi-inning reliever. We have discussed the possibility of the Rangers using a rotation spot or two to run guys out in 2-3 inning stints versus using a traditional starter, and he could, maybe, possibly, be considered for something like that.
The Rangers have a full 40 man roster, and will have to clear a roster spot to make room for Foltynewicz, so we may be seeing Cheap Adolis Garcia Jersey on the waiver wire shortly.
Also…Foltynewicz was a first round pick of the Astros in 2010, going #19 overall. I’ve mentioned before the numerous ties the Rangers have to 2010 first rounders…they had four picks in the 50 pick first round (including supplemental round), selecting Kellin Deglan, Jake Skole, Luke Jackson and Mike Olt. They also ended up signing the #6 pick, Barret Loux, after he was declared a free agent due to a failed medical that resulted in the Arizona Diamondbacks, who selected him at #6, not wanting to sign him.
The Rangers had previously selected the #5 overall pick, Drew Pomeranz, in the 2007 draft, but didn’t sign him. The Rangers also took Anthony Ranaudo in the 2007 draft — he went at #39 in the 2010 draft to the Boston Red Sox, and then was traded to the Rangers for Robbie Ross.
Oh, and speaking of Luke Jackson and the Atlanta Braves, Tyrell Jenkins was the 50th and final pick of the 2010 draft. He was traded to the Rangers by the Braves after the 2016 season, along with Brady Feigl, for Luke Jackson. The Rangers lost Jenkins on waivers two weeks later to the Cincinnati Reds.
Foltynewicz, incidentally, wasn’t the Astros’ first first round selection in 2010 — that was Delino DeShields, who went at #8 overall to Houston, and was selected by the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft several years later. The #10 overall pick was University of Texas at Arlington product Michael Choice, who was selected by the Oakland A’s, and traded to the Rangers along with Chris Bostick in the deal that sent Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom to Oakland.
As much as anything, the reason I thought the Rangers would end up signing Nick Castellanos (#44 overall in 2010) is because they seem intent on grabbing every 2010 first rounder at some point.
UPDATE — Ken Rosenthal says that the deal is one year, $2 million plus incentives. And as a side note, Foltynewicz would still be under team control for 2022, should he stick around all year and the Rangers be willing to go to arbitration with him after this season.