Red Wilson

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For the college football coach, see Shirley Wilson.
Red Wilson
Born: (1929-03-07) March 7, 1929 (age 85)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 22, 1951 for the Chicago White Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 24, 1960 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average .258
Home runs 24
Runs batted in 189

Robert James "Red" Wilson (born March 7, 1929) is a former professional baseball and college football player. He played 10 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox (1951–1954), Detroit Tigers (1954–1960), and Cleveland Indians (1960), primarily as a catcher.

University of Wisconsin[edit]

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,[1] Wilson attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he was a star football player for the Badgers. Wilson won Most Valuable Player honor as the center for the Badgers in 1947 and 1948. He was also an all-conference center in 1947. In his senior year, 1949, Wilson was the team captain and won the Big Ten Most Valuable Player award as an end. Wilson also led the Badgers baseball team in batting with batting averages of .342 and .426 in 1948 and 1949. He led the Badgers to a 17–7 record and a spot in the 1950 College World Series. Wilson graduated from Wisconsin in 1951 as an insurance major.

Major League Baseball[edit]

Wilson was drafted in the 4th round of the 1950 NFL draft (52nd pick overall) by the Cleveland Browns under Paul Brown,[2] but opted for a baseball career after leaving Wisconsin. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free ageint in 1950, playing 85 games for the White Sox from 1951 to 1953. In May 1954, Wilson was traded by the White Sox to the Tigers for Matt Batts. Wilson played for the Tigers for 7 years from 1954 to 1960. Wilson ended his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1960.[1]

Wilson was the primary catcher for Tigers pitcher Frank Lary, who was known as "'The Yankee Killer" because of his 16–3 record against the Yankees with Wilson catching. Wilson batted .354 in the 21 games where he was paired with Lary against the Yankees - 96 points above Wilson's career average.[3]

Wilson's best season was 1958 when he played in career-high 103 games, hit for a .299 batting average and a .373 on-base percentage. He also stole 10 bases, 8th best in the American League.[1] Wilson also had an excellent year as a catcher in 1958, with a Range factor of 5.93 -- 0.59 points ahead of the league average for catchers. On July 20 of that year, he caught Jim Bunning's no-hitter.[4] The following year (1959), Wilson had a career-high Range factor of 6.23 -- 0.92 points above the league average.


In 602 Major League Baseball games (580 as a catcher), Wilson hit for a .258 batting average and a .338 on-base percentage.[1] On December 14, 1960, Wilson was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the 1960 Major League Baseball expansion draft, but he retired rather than continue his playing career. (Pitcher Ted Bowsfield was sent by Cleveland to the Angels in Wilson's stead.)[5]

Wilson's 1958 baseball card, Topps No. 213, showed him in a truly bizarre pose. The company painted out the natural background of the pictures that year and, in a photo showing Wilson swinging his bat, painted the bat out of the picture too--showing Wilson looking as if his right arm had been amputated a few inches below the shoulder.[6]

Later life[edit]

After his playing career, Wilson was a founder and President of the Westgate Bank in Madison, Wisconsin. He was also President of the Wisconsin Alumni Association from 1971 to 1972. Wilson was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Red Wilson profile". baseball-reference-com. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  2. ^ "1950 NFL Player Draft". 
  3. ^ "Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame". Wisconsin Sports Development Corporation. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  4. ^ "Detroit Tigers 3, Boston Red Sox 0 (1): Game Played on Sunday, July 20, 1958 (D) at Fenway Park". Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  5. ^ "Angels In Order" Blog
  6. ^ View Wilson's Card 213
  7. ^ Thomas H. Murphy (February 1972). "Red Wilson visited". Wisconsin Alumnus. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 

External links[edit]