Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oldest ex-major leaguer Bill Werber, teammate of Babe Ruth, dies at 100

January 22, 2009

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bill Werber, who was the oldest living ex-major leaguer and a teammate of Babe Ruth, died Thursday. He was 100. Werber, a career .271 hitter who led the American League in stolen bases three times, played with Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove in stints with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

He hit .370 as the third baseman on the 1940 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds.Until recently, Werber would vividly tell stories of his days playing in baseball's golden era. But Werber had been in deteriorating health for the past month and recently moved into an assisted-care facility in Charlotte, where his daughter, Patricia, lives.

As a collegian, Werber traveled briefly with the storied 1927 New York Yankees. He played for Hall of Fame managers Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, Joe Cronin and Bucky Harris, and locked horns in a contract dispute with Connie Mack.

Werber was also the leadoff hitter in the first televised game in 1939.Werber, who would forget dates and times late in life, had no trouble remembering his days as a player — including his first major league plate appearance in 1930 with the Yankees. "Babe Ruth hit a home run and I wanted to show them how fast I could run," Werber said in an interview in June. "So I get into the dugout, and — finally — Babe got into the dugout. He patted me on the head and said, 'Son, you don't have to run like that when the Babe hits one.'"

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