Del Wilber

From BR Bullpen

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Delbert Quentin Wilber
(Babe)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

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.

Sources[edit]

Baseball Players of the 1950s
BR Minors Page

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
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

Wilber also managed the Florida Instructional League teams for the Minnesota Twins (1960, 1962-1968) and Washington Senators (1969).

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rick Wilber: My Father's Game: Life, Death, Baseball, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008.

Related Sites[edit]