Wayne Terwilliger Dies at 95; Baseball Was His (Long) Life


He was a Rangers coach for five seasons in a second stint with the team in the 1980s, then was a coach for Manager Tom Kelly of the Twins, receiving championship rings when they won the World Series in 1987 and 1991.

Terwilliger was known mostly to baseball buffs, but he garnered cameo mentions in popular culture.

In his novel “Lake Wobegon Summer 1956” (2001), Garrison Keillor told of a radio broadcaster describing a batter for the Minneapolis Millers minor league team narrowly missing a home run, then telling listeners, “Now Wayne Terwilliger comes to the plate.”

“The crowd,” he added parenthetically, “goes back to sleep.”

In her memoir “An American Childhood” (1987), Annie Dillard told how her mother became intrigued by Terwilliger’s name when the radio broadcaster for a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Giants said, “Terwilliger bunts one.” In the years to come, her mother turned that phrase into a private joke.

“Testing a microphone, she repeated ‘Terwilliger bunts one,’” Ms. Dillard wrote. “Testing a pen or a typewriter, she wrote it.”

Terwilliger, a self-effacing sort, reprised the Keillor and Dillard vignettes in his 2006 memoir. Its title: “Terwilliger Bunts One.”

Willard Wayne Terwilliger was born on June 27, 1925, in Clare, Mich., a son of Ivan and Dorris Terwilliger. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Charlotte, Mich., where his father owned a bar. He served in combat with the Marines on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima in World War II, then played baseball for what is now Western Michigan University and signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1948.

He made his Cubs debut in August 1949, then hit .242 with 10 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 1950.

Terwilliger was traded to the Dodgers as part of a multiplayer deal in June 1951. One of his small triumphs came a month later, when he got a game-winning pinch-hit single against the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field. He long cherished a photograph that showed Jackie Robinson congratulating him on the field.



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Jonny Richards

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