Delbert Quentin Wilber
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 200 lb.
- High School William Raupp School, St. Henry's Catholic School
- Debut April 21, 1946
- Final Game September 19, 1954
- Born February 24, 1919 in Lincoln Park, MI USA
- Died July 18, 2002 in St. Petersburg, FL USA
Nineteen-year-old Del Wilber played his first two seasons in professional baseball as an unattached free agent. In 1938, he was with the Findlay Browns, leading the Ohio State League in RBIs with 83 and busting 14 round-trippers while hitting .304; he was named the All-Star catcher. In 1939 Del was still in the Ohio State League, this time with the Findlay Oilers. Wilber helped his team to the league championship, leading the league for the second straight year in RBIs with 145 while hitting .332 with 16 homers. In October of that year, Wilber was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the minor league draft.
Wilber spent two more comparable seasons in the minors (1940 and 1941). He then entered the United States Army Air Force on February 4, 1942, spending four years during World War II, mustering out in February of 1946. Del became a backup receiver with the St. Louis Cardinals (from 1946 to 1950), the Philadelphia Phillies in 1951 and the Boston Red Sox (from 1952 to 1954). At the age of 30 in 1949 he was the player-manager for the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League.
Del had his most active and best year with the Phillies in 1951, when he hit .278 in 84 games. On August 24th of that season he hit three of his season's total eight home runs, all off Ken Raffensberger of the Cincinnati Reds and all solo shots in a 3-0 victory. It came on the day his newborn daughter Cynthia was brought home from the hospital. Regular catcher Andy Seminick pretended to be sick so that Wilber could start the next day and have a chance at hitting a fourth straight homer, but he flied out deep to left field in his first at-bat. Also, while with the Red Sox in 1953 he homered in three straight pinch-hitting appearances. Del wound up his eight years of major league playing with the Red Sox in 1954 with a career .242 average. Del had also spent eight active seasons in the minors and finished in 1958, catching 758 minor league contests, hitting 71 homers and ending with an even .300 career batting average.
After his active playing days Del became a coach for the Chicago White Sox, managed in the minor leagues and returned to the big leagues as a coach for the Washington Senators and the Texas Rangers. He also scouted. In 1973 he managed the Spokane Indians, leading them to the West standings leadership and winning the Pacific Coast League playoff title, then managing the Texas Rangers to a victory as a one-game major league manager following the firing of Whitey Herzog and before Billy Martin took over the job the next day. He remains one of the majors' only "undefeated" managers. Del Wilber died July 18, 2002, at the age of 83 in St. Petersburg, FL.
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1949||Houston Buffaloes||Texas League||60-91||7th||St. Louis Cardinals|
|1958||Louisville Colonels||American Association||56-95||8th||Baltimore Orioles|
|1959||Houston Buffs||American Association||39-63||10th||none||replaced Rube Walker (29-41) on June 21|
|1960||Charleston Senators||American Association||65-88||6th||Washington Senators|
|1971||Denver Bears||American Association||73-67||2nd||Washington Senators||League Champs|
|1972||Denver Bears||American Association||61-79||6th (t)||Washington Senators|
|1973||Spokane Indians||Pacific Coast League||81-63||2nd||Texas Rangers||League Champs|
|Texas Rangers||American League||1-0||--||Texas Rangers||interim between Whitey Herzog (47-91) and Billy Martin on September 7|
|1974||Spokane Indians||Pacific Coast League||78-64||1st||Texas Rangers||League Champs|
|1975||Spokane Indians||Pacific Coast League||64-78||7th||Texas Rangers|
- Rick Wilber: My Father's Game: Life, Death, Baseball, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008.