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Butts Wagner

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Albert Wagner ("Butts")

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.

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"He is a fine player . . . and was the best fielding and batting second baseman in the Oil and Iron League last year." - from Sporting Life of February 22, 1896 about Al Wagner
"Al Wagner . . . was touted as the star shortstop of the Eastern League by Frank Bowerman" - from Sporting Life of July 30, 1898
"A long debate ensued over Al Wagner, who was claimed by Syracuse, Rochester and Providence. The latter got him ..." - from an article about the Eastern League spring meeting in The New York Clipper, April 13, 1901

Brother of Honus Wagner, Al "Butts" Wagner was older but came up to the majors later. In his only major league year, 1898, he played in 74 games and had 261 at-bats. Primarily a third baseman, neither his fielding percentage nor his range was very impressive.

He played in the minors from 1894 to 1906, primarily in the Eastern League. For five years he was a minor league teammate of Jim Connor, also a former major leaguer from the 1890s. In 1899 famous manager Frank Selee spoke highly of Al Wagner. As of 1910 it was reported that he was still in fine shape and interested in playing ball.

The Sporting Life issue of April 23, 1904 stated that the Pirates were impressed with Al's performance with Providence when that team joined the Pirates in 1904 for spring training, and that they were interested in signing him. However, Al never appeared in the majors with the Pirates; Sporting Life in 1905 reported that the Pirates made "a good offer" to Montreal for him, but that it was unlikely Montreal's owner would be willing to accept.

He was usually called Al Wagner by the press, and is generally credited with teaching his younger brother Honus how to play ball as a youngster. The two were close as children and Al may have helped to get Honus his first pro contract. Their brother Luke was also a capable ballplayer.

Al had a reputation as an athlete who never achieved his true potential.

The book Honus: The Life and Times of a Baseball Hero says that Al had a number of business involvements. For a number of years, during the off-seasons, Honus and Al would field baseball teams. There was briefly talk of forming a circus. Later in life, Al ran a pool hall and at the time of his death was working as a hotel clerk. The book states that Al had bladder ailments and other ailments, partly caused by years of drinking.

"The infield with Ben Beaumont, Fred Roat, Al Wagner and 'Jud' Smith is undoubtedly of National League calibre, and are about the swiftest quartette doing business in any minor league outfit." - Sporting Life, June 17, 1899, about the Toronto team

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