Sunday, February 27, 2005


February 27th, 1949

John Wockenfuss Born

John Wockenfuss was a catcher, first baseman and occasional outfielder for the Tigers and Phillies in a relatively undistinguished twelve year career. Wockenfuss did have the misfortune of being traded to the Phillies the season after their 1983 World Series appearance from the Tigers the season before their 1984 World Series victory. The most interesting moment of Wockenfuss' life (to this point anyway, he's still alive so far as I know) came on May 11th, 1989. On that day, Wockenfuss was manager of the Tigers' Triple-A club, the Toledo Mud Hens. The Tigers, who were 10-21 to that point and would finish the season 59-103, came to Toledo for an exhibition game.

The Tigers started the game taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Matt Nokes (my favorite player when I was growing up) doubled home Chris Brown. Wockenfuss' Mud Hens responded immediately, scoring two in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead. The score would remain that way into the fifth inning when the Mud Hens brought in a new pitcher...John Wockenfuss. The forty year-old had never pitched in a game before but managed to shut out his former teammates (who, to be fair, probably were not going at him one hundred percent) for five innings, allowing just three hits and one walk. The Mud Hens scored another run to make the score 3-1 and Wockenfuss was awarded the victory.

"Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, who pitched for the Giants in the beginning of the century, is thought to have earned upwards of two hundred thirty victories pitching in the minor leagues after his Major League career was over. This may be true, but I doubt any of his two hundred wins were as memorable as Wockenfuss' one.

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