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January 09 , 2011

Memories of a Ballplayer

Bill Werber and Baseball in the 1930s


Rich in anecdotes and humor, Bill Werber's Memories of a Ballplayer is a clear-eyed memoir of the world of big-league baseball in the 1930s. Originally published by SABR in hardcover in 2000 and in paperback in 2001, the book is still in print, but now also available as an ebook.

Bill Werber's claim to fame is unique: he was the last living person to have a direct connection to the 1927 Yankees, "Murderers' Row," a team hailed by many as the best of all time. Signed by the Yankees while still a freshman at Duke University, Werber spent two weeks that summer of '27 on the Yankee bench to "gain experience"—and was miserable and lonely, ignored by everyone. After graduating in 1930, Werber was back with the Yankees, but he was soon sent to the minors for seasoning (including a stretch with Casey Stengel). He returned to the big leagues in 1933 and was promptly traded to the Red Sox. A fleet-footed third baseman, Werber also played for the Athletics, Reds, and Giants, leading the league three times in stolen bases and once in runs scored. He was with the Reds when they won the pennant in 1939 and 1940. Werber played with or against some of the most productive hitters of all time, including Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio.

Bill Werber played major-league baseball from 1930 to 1942. He then had a successful career as an insurance executive and passed away in 2009 at the age of 100, then the oldest living former major-leaguer. C. Paul Rogers III is a professor at the Southern Methodist University School of Law and a SABR member since 1990.

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