Leon Wagner

Leon Lamar Wagner (May 13, 1934 – January 3, 2004) was an American professional baseball left fielder who played Major League Baseball (MLB) for the San Francisco Giants (19581959, 1969), St. Louis Cardinals (1960), Los Angeles Angels (19611963), Cleveland Indians (19641968), and Chicago White Sox (1968). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.[1]

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Wagner graduated from Tuskegee University. He was affectionately known as "Daddy Wags" during his playing days. This was due to his distinctive left-handed batting style and his notable and unique body gesticulations, primarily below the waist, before going into his devastating stride. His outfield play did not match his stellar hitting. He was at least briefly in the clothing business, advertising his venture as "Get your glad rags from "Daddy Wags". He was also known as "Cheeky" for his high cheekbones (being of half Native American and half African-American descent).

Leon Wagner
Leon Wagner 1963
Left fielder
Born: May 13, 1934
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Died: January 3, 2004 (aged 69)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 22, 1958, for the San Francisco Giants
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 1969, for the San Francisco Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average.272
Home runs211
Runs batted in669
Career highlights and awards

MLB career

Wagner, over the course of his 12-season MLB career, hit .272, with 211 home runs, and 669 RBI, in 1352 games.

Wagner broke into the big leagues at age 24 for the San Francisco Giants in their first year in San Francisco on June 22, 1958. A solid line-drive hitter and colorful player, he compiled a .307 batting average with 13 home runs in 74 games as a rookie. Competing for playing time against a congested Giant outfield that included Willie Mays, Felipe Alou, Orlando Cepeda, and Bill White (all of whom were superior fielders), he was traded to the Cardinals after the 1959 season.

Wagner was relegated to a reserve role for St. Louis in 39 games and hit four home runs; one of them was notable as being the first homer ever hit in Candlestick Park, on April 12, 1960, accounting for the lone Cardinal run in a 3–1 loss to his former team.

Upon being traded to the American League (AL) expansion Angels in 1961 (their first season), Wagner found himself a regular for the first time. He took advantage of the opportunity, hitting .280, with 28 home runs, and 79 RBI, in 133 games. His most productive season came in 1962, when he blasted 37 homers (third highest in the AL), amassed 107 RBI, 96 runs, 164 hits, and 21 doubles (all career highs), while batting .268. Wagner played in both All-Star Games that season (two All-Star Games were held, each year from 1959 through 1962);[2] in the second contest, he went 3-for-4, including a two-run home run. Wagner was voted the second All-Star game's most valuable player and became the first AL player to receive the All-Star Game MVP Award that was first introduced that year and for both games. The first true slugger in Angel history, he hit 91 home runs with 276 RBI in 442 games for them. But in 1963, after his second All-Star selection, he was sent to the Cleveland Indians in the same trade that brought slugging first baseman Joe Adcock and pitcher Barry Latman to the Angels. (Leon Schwab, a drugstore owner in Hollywood, upon hearing that Wagner had been dealt to the Indians, remarked that his son-in-law had asked, "Is that all they got for Wagner?") [3]

Wagner had truly come to enjoy playing and living in Los Angeles, and resented the Angels for trading him … some folks close to him say, for the rest of his life.

As a Cleveland left fielder, Wagner hit 97 home runs from 1964 to 1967. His best year with the Indians was 1964, when he hit 31 homers, with 100 RBI, and 94 runs. In 1965 he hit .294 with 28 homers. Wagner also stole 26 bases in 30 attempts in 1964-65.

Wagner ended his career as a respected pinch-hitter, leading the AL in 1968 with 46 appearances in that role, while splitting the season between the Indians and the Chicago White Sox. Purchased by the Cincinnati Reds in December, 1968, he was returned to the White Sox on April 5, 1969, only to be released by them the same day. (Although his 1969 Topps baseball card depicted Wagner as a member of the Reds, he, in fact, never played a single regular-season game for them.)

Wagner then signed as a free agent with his first big league team, the Giants, and made his final appearance, as the Giants hosted the expansion San Diego Padres, October 2, 1969. Although he had begun his MLB career with the Giants in 1958 and ended his career with them eleven seasons later, Wagner’s Giants games played total amounted to only 172 of his MLB career 1152-game total.

Acting career

Following the end of his playing career, Wagner appeared in small acting roles, most prominently in John Cassavetes' 1974 film A Woman Under the Influence and as a member of a Depression-era barnstorming team in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976).


Wagner struggled with alcohol and drug issues, having had numerous financial difficulties after his baseball career ended. He lived in an abandoned electrical shed next to a dumpster in Los Angeles, which is where his lifeless body was found on January 3, 2004. The coroner ruled that Wagner had died of natural causes.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Berman, Jay. "Leon Wagner". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  2. ^ Sportsdata: Midsummer Classics: Celebrating MLB's All-Star Game, 1959–1962, "all players who were named to the AL or NL roster were credited one appearance per season." Retrieved March 25, 2015
  3. ^ Baseball Digest
  4. ^ Leon Wagner dies of natural causes

External links

1960 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1960 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 79th season in St. Louis, Missouri and its 69th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 86–68 during the season, a fifteen-game improvement over the previous season, and finished third in the National League, nine games behind the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

1961 Los Angeles Angels season

The 1961 Los Angeles Angels season ended with the Angels finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 70–91, 38½ games behind the World Champion New York Yankees. It was the Angels' first season in franchise history, and their only season at Wrigley Field. Gene Autry owned the franchise, which was created as a rival to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who played that year at the Coliseum before moving to nearby Dodger Stadium in 1962.

1962 Los Angeles Angels season

The 1962 Los Angeles Angels season involved the Angels finishing 3rd in the American League with a record of 86 wins and 76 losses, ten games behind the World Series Champion New York Yankees. The 1962 Angels are one of only two teams to achieve a winning record in its second season of existence in the history of Major League Baseball (the other would be the 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League, who finished as NL West Champions at 100–62). The 1962 Angels was the first Angels team to reside at Dodger Stadium, called Chavez Ravine by the team.

1962 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (first game)

The first 1962 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 32nd playing of Major League Baseball's annual midsummer exhibition game between the American League and National League. President John F. Kennedy was the second president to attend the event and threw out the first pitch. A highlight of the game was the first presentation of the Arch Ward Trophy. It was first presented in 1962 as a tribute to the man who helped found the All-Star Game in 1933. That first presentation went to Leon Wagner of the Los Angeles Angels (second game MVP) and to Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers (first game MVP), because two Midsummer Classics were played.The spotlight on this game belonged to Maury Wills. Entering the lineup in the sixth inning to pinch-run for Stan Musial, he stole second then scored the first run of the game off a Dick Groat single. In the eighth inning, Wills reached base by a single. He rounded second on a short single hit by Jim Davenport to left field. Wills reached third base safely and scored on a foul out to right field moments later. This performance earned him the first All-Star Most Valuable Player Award. Roberto Clemente was a key contributor with three hits in the game.

1962 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (second game)

The second 1962 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 33rd playing of Major League Baseball's annual midsummer exhibition game. The game took place at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, home of the National League's Chicago Cubs. The American League emerged triumphant as they finally broke out of a five-game slump with nine runs. The nine runs equaled their total for the previous five games. The AL also racked up ten hits. Their victory kept the National League from tying the All-Star series at 16–16. The AL also had home runs by Pete Runnels, Leon Wagner and Rocky Colavito. A highlight of the game was the first presentation of the Arch Ward Trophy to the MVPs of each All-Star Game. It was first presented in 1962 as a tribute to Arch Ward, the man who founded the All-Star Game in 1933. That first presentation went to Leon Wagner of the Los Angeles Angels (second game MVP) and to Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers (first game MVP), because two Midsummer Classics were played.

1962 in baseball

The following are the baseball events of the year 1962 throughout the world.

1963 Los Angeles Angels season

The 1963 Los Angeles Angels season involved the Angels finishing 9th in the American League with a record of 70 wins and 91 losses.

1963 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1963 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 34th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 9, 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio, at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, home of the American League's Cleveland Indians. The game was won by the National League 5–3.

From 1959 to 1962, baseball experimented with a pair of All-Star Games per year. That ended with this 1963 game, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the inaugural All-Star Game played in Chicago in 1933.

1964 Cleveland Indians season

The 1964 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished in a tie for sixth place in the American League with the Minnesota Twins, while winning 79 and losing 83, 20 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

1968 Chicago White Sox season

The 1968 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 68th season in the major leagues, and its 69th season overall. They finished with a record 67–95, good enough for eighth place in the American League, 36 games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers.

1969 San Francisco Giants season

The 1969 San Francisco Giants season was the Giants' 87th year in Major League Baseball, their twelfth year in San Francisco since their move from New York following the 1957 season, and their tenth at Candlestick Park. The team finished second in the newly established National League West with a record of 90–72, 3 games behind the Atlanta Braves, their fifth consecutive season of finishing second. The Giants set a Major League record which still stands for the most double plays grounded into by a team in a single game, with 7 against the Houston Astros on May 4.

Danville Leafs

The Danville Leafs were a professional minor league baseball team that played in the city of Danville, Virginia.

Professional baseball first made its appearance in Danville in 1905 when the town fielded a team, the Tobacconists, in the short-lived Virginia-North Carolina League. Several other professional teams came and went in the town and it wasn't until 1925 that the name "Leafs" was first used. The name refers to the famous tobacco leaf markets of the town. The Leafs, who played in the Piedmont League, relocated during the 1926 season, again leaving Danville without professional baseball.

A new Leafs team was formed in 1934 as a member of the Class D Bi-State League. The team remained a part of that league, which included teams from towns along both sides of the North Carolina-Virginia border, for five seasons. The Leafs won pennants in 1934 and '35.

In 1945, another incarnation of the Danville Leafs took the field as members of the newly formed Carolina League. They were a member of the New York Giants (San Francisco Giants) farm system. The team existed through the 1958 season. In 1945, Danville pitcher Art Fowler led the league with 23 wins. He went on to have a long major league career as both a player and coach. In 1953, Leafs' pitcher Ramon Monzant (23-6, 232 strikeouts) won the Carolina League MVP award. He went on to spend a few seasons with the Giants. Willie McCovey played first base for the 1956 Danville Leafs. He hit .310 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs. One of his teammates that season, outfielder Leon Wagner (.330, 51 home runs, 166 RBIs), also had an outstanding big league career.

The team was the first in the Carolina League to become racially integrated when Percy Miller Jr. joined the team in 1951.

Professional baseball returned to Danville in 1993 when the Pulaski Braves of the rookie level Appalachian League relocated to Danville as the Danville Braves. A farm team of the Atlanta Braves, the team has been the starting point for many players who have gone on to the major leagues.

Deaths in January 2004

The following is a list of notable deaths in January 2004.

Entries for each day are listed alphabetically by surname. A typical entry lists information in the following sequence:

Name, age, country of citizenship at birth, subsequent country of citizenship (if applicable), reason for notability, cause of death (if known), and reference.

Ken McBride

Kenneth Faye McBride (born August 12, 1935) is an American former professional baseball player and coach. The right-handed pitcher worked in 151 games, 122 as a starter, in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox (1959–1960) and Los Angeles Angels (1961–1965). Born in Huntsville, Alabama, but raised in Cleveland, Ohio, McBride was listed as 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and 195 pounds (88 kg).

McBride was signed by the Boston Red Sox after he graduated from West High School. In 1954, his first pro season, he won 18 of 26 decisions in the Class D Appalachian League, and was named to the loop's All-Star team. He moved up through the Red Sox organization but got no further than the Double-A level. Finally, in 1959, the White Sox purchased his contract. On August 4, 1959, McBride made his major league debut, starting against the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium. In 7​1⁄3 innings pitched, he gave up three runs (one earned) and was the losing pitcher in the 3–2 game. He gave up five hits, struck out three, and walked seven. Overall, he appeared in 16 games for Chicago during trials in both 1959 and 1960, but was winless in two decisions and then left exposed in the 1960 Major League Baseball expansion draft in mid-December. He was the Angels' seventh selection (13th overall) in the lottery.

Expansion proved to be a huge boon for McBride's career. He became a mainstay of the Angels' starting pitching staff from 1961 through 1963, reaching double figures in games won in all three years, throwing 28 complete games, and exceeding 240 innings pitched in both 1961 and 1963. During those three years, he made 95 starts, had a 36–32 record, seven shutouts, and a 3.46 earned run average. He finished in the league's top ten twice for games started, complete games, and innings pitched, and once for winning percentage, strikeouts, shutouts, and WHIP. He gave up Roger Maris' 50th home run of 1961, but still won the game, 4–3.McBride was named to the 1961, 1962 and 1963 American League All-Star teams, and was the starting pitcher for the Junior Circuit in the 1963 midsummer classic, played in his home city of Cleveland. He went three innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits, but exited with the game tied at three. Allowed to bat in the second inning of the contest, McBride delivered an RBI single to score Angel teammate Leon Wagner and tie the game, 1–1. The National League went on to defeat McBride's squad 5–3, with future United States Senator Jim Bunning, then a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, taking the loss in relief.McBride began 1964 in the Angel rotation, but injured his arm in his second starting assignment. The injury proved disastrous. He appeared in 37 games for the Angels in 1964–1965, but posted a poor 4–16 record with an earned run average of 5.40, and his career came to an abrupt end. However, he remained in the game as a minor and major league pitching coach. He served as the mound tutor on Del Crandall's Milwaukee Brewers coaching staff for part of 1974 and all of 1975.

During his seven-year MLB pitching career, McBride compiled a ledger that included 40 wins, 50 losses, 503 strikeouts, and an earned run average of 3.79. In 807​2⁄3 innings pitched, he allowed 717 hits and 363 walks. Twice in his career he led the American League in hit batsmen (14 in 1963 and 16 in 1964). He hit 49 batters in his career, an average of almost one per every 16​2⁄3 innings pitched.

Larry Brown (infielder)

Larry Leslie Brown (born March 1, 1940) is an American former professional baseball infielder, who played for the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball (MLB). His brother, Dick Brown, also played in Major League Baseball.

He was originally signed by the Indians in 1958, and on July 6, 1963, against the New York Yankees, he made his big league debut at the age of 23. Pinch-hitting for Tito Francona, he struck out in his first at-bat, but he collected a single in his second plate appearance.

As a starter for Cleveland between 1964 and 1969, his batting averages were consistently low – his highest batting average during that span was .253, while his lowest was .227.

On May 4, 1966, Brown was seriously injured after running into Indian's teammate Leon Wagner while playing the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Brown suffered a skull fracture and facial injuries and was admitted to the Lenox Hill Hospital. He was on the disabled list for six weeks, returning to the active roster on June 17. He struck out in one plate appearance as a pinch hitter and played second base for two innings late in the game as Cleveland lost to the Yankees in New York.In 1970, he lost his starting job to a young Jack Heidemann, and on April 24, 1971, he was sold to the Athletics for an estimated $50,000.

He'd end up hitting below .200 during his time with the Athletics, and in 1973 he was signed by the Orioles. He played only 17 games with them that season, batting .250. He finished his career with the Rangers in 1974. He played his final game on September 29 of that year.

Overall, he hit .233 with 47 career home runs and 254 RBI. Brown ranked in the top 5 in sacrifice hits (1965 and 1967). He also ranked in the top ten in intentional walks in 1968, and because of his good eye at the plate, he ranked in the top ten for best at-bats per strikeout ratio twice (1968 and 1969). His fielding percentage stood at .966.

Major League Baseball All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award which is presented to the most outstanding player in each year's MLB All-Star Game. Awarded each season since 1962 (two games were held and an award was presented to each game winner in 1962), it was originally called the "Arch Ward Memorial Award" in honor of Arch Ward, the man who conceived of the All-Star Game in 1933. The award's name was changed to the "Commissioner's Trophy" in 1970 (two National League (NL) players were presented the award in 1975), but this name change was reversed in 1985 when the World Series Trophy was renamed the Commissioner's Trophy. Finally, the trophy was renamed the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award in 2002, in honor of former Boston Red Sox player Ted Williams, who had died earlier that year. No award was presented for the 2002 All-Star Game, which ended in a tie. Thus, the Anaheim Angels' Garret Anderson was the first recipient of the newly named Ted Williams Award in 2003. The All-Star Game Most Valuable Player also receives a Chevrolet vehicle, choosing between two cars.As of 2018, NL players have won the award 27 times (including one award shared by two players), and American League (AL) players have won 30 times. Baltimore Orioles players have won the most awards for a single franchise (with six); players from the Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are tied for the most in the NL with five each. Five players have won the award twice: Willie Mays (1963, 1968), Steve Garvey (1974, 1978), Gary Carter (1981, 1984), Cal Ripken, Jr. (1991, 2001), and Mike Trout (2014, 2015, becoming the only player to win the award in back-to-back years). The award has been shared by multiple players once; Bill Madlock and Jon Matlack shared the award in 1975. Two players have won the award for a game in which their league lost: Brooks Robinson in 1966 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970. One pair of awardees were father and son (Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.), and another were brothers (Roberto Alomar and Sandy Alomar, Jr.). Three players have won the MVP award at a game played in their home ballpark (Sandy Alomar, Jr. in 1997, Pedro Martínez in 1999, and Shane Bieber in 2019).

Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians is the most recent MLB All-Star Game MVP, winning the award in 2019. Only six players have won the MVP award in their only All-Star Game appearance; LaMarr Hoyt, Bo Jackson, J. D. Drew, Melky Cabrera, Eric Hosmer, and Bieber.

Ray Culp

Raymond Leonard Culp (born August 6, 1941) is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Philadelphia Phillies (1963–1966), Chicago Cubs (1967), and Boston Red Sox (1968–1973).

Vern Holtgrave

Lavern George Holtgrave (born October 18, 1942) is an American former professional baseball player, a right-handed pitcher who played for six pro seasons (1961–1966) and appeared in one Major League Baseball game for the 1965 Detroit Tigers. Holtgrave stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 183 pounds (83 kg).

Holtgrave was in his fifth season in the Detroit organization when he was recalled at the close of the 1965 season. He had appeared in 49 games in minor league baseball that season, all but one as a relief pitcher, and posted a 2.06 earned run average in 77 innings pitched. In his lone Major League appearance, on September 26, 1965, against the Cleveland Indians, he relieved Phil Regan with Detroit trailing 5–0. He held the Indians off the scoreboard in the fourth and fifth innings but in his third frame, he gave up two earned runs on RBI hits by pitcher Tom Kelley and Leon Wagner. All told, in three MLB innings, Holtgrave surrendered four hits, two runs and two bases on balls, with two strikeouts. He retired after the 1966 season.


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