Power Behind the Throne

Wayne Terwilliger drove in 162 runs in a career spanning 9 seasons, but it was his first professional RBI that was the most memorable. “Twig” pulled a Homer Simpson when he was hit in the head by a wayward bases-loaded pitch in a 1948 minor league appearance. The rest of his on-field performance wasn’t as productive.

Terwilliger went on to a fine coaching career, eventually calling it a day at the age of 85 in 2010. Perhaps the most interesting part is that he may be responsible for Ted Williams winning the 1969 Manager of the Year Award. Williams was signed as the manager of the Washington Senators and led the team to its best record in more than two decades. However, he primarily acted as a batting instructor and delegated other responsibilities to his staff. Chief among these was Terwilliger who helped turn the team around. After Williams left in 1972 he took turns with other clubs, winning championships with the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991.

An Amazing Photo on a Terwilliger Card

I wanted to find a Ted Williams manager card showing Terwilliger lurking in the background. While there are a few with pictures of Williams snapped near a batting cage, none seem to have Twig in them.

This isn’t a loss, because in looking through his cardboard career I came across the fantastic action photo on his 1956 Topps card. He is shown making an airborne approach towards a close play at the plate. He didn’t score any runs in 1956, making the photo a bit optimistic for those pulling the card fresh from packs at the time.

1952 Topps

Terwilliger is portrayed as a new member of the Brookly Dodgers in the 1952 Topps set, having appeared in 37 games with the team the prior year. He didn’t appear in any games in 1952 and was sent to the Senators before the 1953 season could begin. The biographical text (or what’s left of it on the back of this example) mentions his participation in some of the most intense fighting of WW2.