Vic Wertz

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Vic Wertz
Vic Wertz 1953.jpg
Wertz with the St. Louis Browns in 1953
Right fielder / First baseman
Born: (1925-02-09)February 9, 1925
York, Pennsylvania
Died: July 7, 1983(1983-07-07) (aged 58)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1947, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 19, 1963, for the Minnesota Twins
MLB statistics
Batting average .277
Home runs 266
Runs batted in 1,178
Career highlights and awards

Victor Woodrow Wertz (February 9, 1925 – July 7, 1983) was a Major League Baseball first baseman and outfielder. He had a seventeen-year career from 1947 to 1963. He played for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins; all teams within the American League.


Wertz was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers in 1942, and played in their minor league system until making his major league debut in 1947. He hit for the cycle on September 14, 1947, while in his rookie season with Detroit.[1]

Wertz finished in the Top 15 in MVP voting five times: 1949 (10th), 1950 (10th), 1956 (9th), 1957 (6th), and 1960 (14th).

Wertz was among the Top 10 in the American League in home runs in 1949 (20), 1950 (27), 1951 (27), 1952 (23), 1953 (19), 1956 (32), and 1957 (28). His 1956 total of 32 home runs was 2nd best in the AL. For his career, he hit 266 home runs and 1,178 RBIs with a .469 career slugging average and a .364 career on-base percentage.

He was elected to the American League All-Star team four times (1949, 1951, 1952 and 1957). He missed part of the 1955 season when stricken with a nonparalytic form of polio but returned in 1956.

1954 World Series[edit]

Wertz hit the long fly ball that Willie Mays caught in the 1954 World Series, known as "The Catch". It went over 400 feet to dead center of the Polo Grounds in New York,[2] and a sportswriter said, "It would have been a home run in any other park, including Yellowstone."[3]

After he retired from playing, Wertz kept a photo of “The Catch” in his office at his beer distribution company and explained he had no negative feelings about being remembered for hitting a deep fly out.

"I'm very proud that I'm associated with it," Wertz told UPI in 1979. "I look at it this way: If that ball Willie caught had been a home run or a triple, how many people would've remembered me? Not many. This way, everybody who meets me for the first time always identifies me with Willie's catch, and that makes me feel good." [4]

Vic Wertz Field at the Berks County Youth Recreation Facility in Pennsylvania is named in his honor. The field was dedicated on April 19, 2013. [5]

Personal life[edit]

Wertz was a World War II veteran, worked in the Detroit area beer distribution business during and after his baseball career, was known for his baldness, and was very well liked by fans because of his winning personality.

When he retired to Mount Clemens, Michigan, he formed "Wertz Warriors", a group of sportsmen who raised millions for the Special Olympics Winter Games. He was the founder of a 800-mile snowmobile endurance ride, run annually in Michigan starting in 1982 to benefit the Special Olympics.[6] Wertz also was a major contributor to the Easter Seals, March of Dimes, and Boys and Girls Clubs, to name just a few.

Wertz died during heart surgery at Detroit's Harper Hospital on the morning of July 7, 1983. Surgeons were performing a coronary bypass and replacing a valve in his heart after he had suffered a heart attack the previous day.[7] He is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Detroit Tigers 16, Washington Senators 6 (1)". Retrosheet. September 14, 1947. 
  2. ^ Deane, Bill (October 2005). "Catching up with Vic Wertz's 1954 World Series Drive". Baseball Digest. Retrieved May 9, 2017 – via The Glory of Baseball. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Foster, Terry (January 31, 1985). "They'll snowmobile 800 miles for Special Olympics". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved November 17, 2017 – via 
  7. ^ "Former major leaguer Wertz, 58, dies during heart surgery". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California. AP. July 8, 1983. Retrieved November 17, 2017 – via 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bobby Doerr
Hitting for the cycle
September 14, 1947
Succeeded by
Joe DiMaggio