At a Glance
--Year by Year
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A Brief Twig Baseball Biography
In 2005, Wayne Terwilliger completed his 57th season in professional baseball, managed the Fort Worth Cats to the championship of the independent Central League, was named Manager of the Year, and celebrated by getting an earring. At 80, he was the oldest active manager in baseball and the only man besides Connie Mack to manage after turning 80. He considered retiring, but stayed in the game as first-base coach five more seasons, finally leaving baseball after the 2010 season. He had been in uniform for more than 7,000 professional games as a player, coach, and manager in the major and minor leagues.
Player...Twig played on a championship team with the Marines in Saipan, was a star at Western Michigan, and played semi-pro ball with the House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan. His professional playing career began when he was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1948; he played at Des Moines in 1948 and with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1949 before being called up to the big league club in August 1949. Despite his limited professional experience, he immediately became the starting second baseman for the Chicago Cubs, where he remained until June 1951 when he was part of an eight-player trade with the Brooklyn Dodgers, who were in Chicago to begin a series. He and the other surprised players cleaned out their lockers and walked to the opposing team's clubhouse for the afternoon game.
Twig served as backup to Jackie Robinson at second base; his other Brooklyn teammates included PeeWee Reese, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe and many more Dodger greats. In a post-season playoff game, they watched in shock as the New York Giants' Bobby Thomson sent a Ralph Branca pitch out of the park - "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" - to send the Giants, instead of the Dodgers, to the 1951 World Series. Twig spent the 1952 season with the Dodgers' AAA team, the St. Paul Saints.
Twig played with the Washington Senators in 1953 (his best year in the majors) and 1954, drawing positive notices from baseball fans including President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also played with the New York Giants and Kansas City Athletics, and with the AAA Minneapolis Millers (in the Giants organization), Charleston Senators (Detroit Tigers, despite the name), and Richmond Virginians (Yankees). He ended his major league playing career in 1960 with a .240 batting average in 666 games. He gained a solid reputation as a quick, aggressive second baseman in the style of his childhood hero Charlie Gehringer, and he excelled at anticipating the ball as it came off the bat. In his rookie season he became one of only four players to get a hit in eight successive at-bats (Ted Williams was one of the others to do so), and he hit 10 home runs that season.
Manager...Twig began his managing career in 1961 in Greensboro in the Carolina League with the Yankees organization, then switched to the Washington Senators (and later Texas Rangers) organization. Among his best seasons were 1962 at Pensacola in the old Alabama-Florida League (79-38), 1964 at Geneva in the New York-Pennsylvania League (79-51), and 1977 at Asheville in the Western Carolinas League (81-58). He also managed in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; Burlington, N.C.; Hawaii; Buffalo, N.Y.; Columbus, Ga.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Tulsa, Okla. After coaching for 22 years, he returned to managing in 2002, spending three years as skipper of the Ft. Worth Cats. Overall, Twig compiled a managing record of 1,224 wins and 1,089 losses.
Coach...Twig's coaching career began in 1969. As manager of Washington's AAA team at Buffalo, Twig went to spring training with the 1969 Senators to help new Manager Ted Williams with some of the players who were moving up. Williams picked Twig to be the Senators' third-base coach, a job he held all four years that Williams managed. That took them to Texas in 1972, when owner Bob Short moved the franchise and the Senators became the new Texas Rangers. Ted and Twig became friends and they stayed in touch until just before Ted died in summer 2002. Twig's book includes many stories about Ted.
In 1981, following another period of managing in the minor leagues, Twig rejoined the Texas Rangers as a coach, working under managers Don Zimmer, Doug Rader, and Bobby Valentine. In 1986 he moved back north, serving as first-base coach of the Minnesota Twins for nine seasons including two World Series Championships (1987 and 1991). He was first-base coach for the independent minor league St. Paul Saints from 1995 through 2002; the Saints retired his number at their final season game on Labor Day 2002, which was declared Wayne Terwilliger Day in St. Paul.
Twig's move back to Texas in 2002 returned him to the area where he coached for years, where he met his wife, Lin, in 1972, and where some family members live. In 2003 he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.