Wayne Terwilliger has died at 95. Remembered here mostly as Twins coach, Twig played w/ St. Paul Saints (1952) as Brooklyn Dodgers farmhand & for Mpls Millers (1955-56-57) as NY Giants farmhand. Meaning, he had Lexington, Nicollet & the Met as home parks playing here.— Reusse (@Patrick_Reusse) February 3, 2021
Wayne Terwilliger, who most of you have probably never heard of, signed a contract with the Cubs before the 1948 season. He made his major-league debut late in 1949 and played the rest of that season, all of 1950 and part of 1951 with the Cubs. He was included in the ill-fated Andy Pafko trade with the Dodgers in June 1951, one of the worst trades in the history of the Cubs franchise.
He later also played for the Washington Senators, New York Giants and Kansas City Athletics,
As a Cub he hit .232/.314/.327 in 219 games. Overall in 666 (!) MLB games and 2,396 plate appearances in the big leagues, Terwilliger hit .240/.323/.325 with 22 home runs. He was primarily a second baseman. It was a totally unremarkable major-league career.
It was what Terwilliger did after his playing days that’s worth remembering, as shown in the photo at the top of this post, which was taken when he was with the St. Paul Saints. He managed in the minor leagues, was a big-league coach with the Senators (under Ted Williams) through 1972, then, as noted in the tweet, became a Twins coach from 1987-94, winning two World Series rings. He had a nice retirement send-off the day before the ‘94 strike began. He was 69 years old.
That retirement didn’t last long, per his SABR bio:
Terwilliger was not long retired because in November St. Paul Saints owner Mike Veeck hired him to coach first base under manager Marty Scott. The Saints had been re-established in 1993 and played in the independent Northern League. Terwilliger spent the next eight years coaching for the Saints, who were a perennial pennant-winner or contender in their league. During his years there, the Saints had many former major leaguers, including Jack Morris, Darryl Strawberry, Glenn Davis, Dan Peltier, and Matt Nokes. J.D. Drew, the first pick in the draft in 1997, played for the Saints that season when he could not come to terms with the Phillies, who had drafted him.
Late in the 2002 season Terwilliger announced that he would not return to the Saints. He was moving back to Texas with his wife, Lin, because her father was ailing. On Labor Day of that last season, the Saints held a day for Twig and officially retired the number 5 that he had worn for the organization.
But even that “retirement,” at age 77, didn’t last long. He was hired to manage the indy league Ft. Worth Cats in 2003 and managed them for three years. At the time he was hired, he became the oldest manager in minor-league history. The new Cats manager, Stan Hough, persuaded Terwilliger to stay with the team as third-base coach, which he did through 2010. All told, Terwilliger spent 62 years in professional baseball in one capacity or another.
At the time of his passing, Terwilliger was the oldest living former Cub and eighth-oldest living former MLB player. He was one of just a handful of players left who had played major-league baseball in the 1940s.
The oldest living former Cub is now Bobby Shantz, a longtime MLB pitcher with seven teams who pitched in 20 games for the Cubs in 1964. Shantz is 95 years old.