|Birth Day:||February 24, 1874|
|Death Date:||Dec 6, 1955 (age 81)|
|Birth Place:||Chartiers, United States|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Honus Wagner died on Dec 6, 1955 (age 81).
He was born one of nine children to Peter and Katheryn Wagner, a pair of German immigrants, in a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Honus' brother Albert "Butts" Wagner was considered the ballplayer of the family. Albert suggested Honus in 1895 when his Inter-State League team was in need of help. Wagner would play for five teams in that first year, in three different leagues over the course of 80 games.
In 1896 Edward Barrow, from the Wheeling, West Virginia, team that Wagner was playing on, decided to take Honus with him to his next team, the Paterson Silk Sox (Atlantic League). Barrow proved to be a good talent scout, as Wagner could play wherever he was needed, including all three bases and the outfield. Wagner would hit .313 for Paterson in 1896 and .375 in 74 games in 1897.
Recognizing that Wagner should be playing at the highest level, Barrow contacted the Louisville Colonels, who had finished last in the National League in 1896 with a record of 38-93. They were doing better in 1897 when Barrow persuaded club president Barney Dreyfuss, club secretary Harry Pulliam, and outfielder-manager Fred Clarke to go to Paterson to see Wagner play. Dreyfuss and Clarke were not impressed with the awkward-looking man, not surprising, as Wagner was oddly built: he was 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) tall, weighed 200 pounds (91 kg), and had a barrel chest, massive shoulders, heavily muscled arms, huge hands, and incredibly bowed legs that deprived him of any grace and several inches of height. Pulliam, though, persuaded Dreyfuss and Clarke to take a chance on him. Wagner debuted with Louisville on July 19, and hit .338 in 61 games.
Tommy Leach recounted his impressions of joining the Louisville club in 1898 with hopes of winning the starting job at third base:
In 1898, Wagner won a distance contest in Louisville by throwing a baseball more than 403 feet (123 m). In August 1899, he became the first player credited with stealing second base, third, and home in succession under the new rule differentiating between advanced bases and stolen bases. He repeated the feat in 1902, 1907, and 1909. Wagner retired with the National League record for most steals of home (27), which was broken by Greasy Neale in 1922.
The move to the Pittsburgh Pirates signified Wagner's emergence as a premier hitter. In 1900, Wagner won his first batting championship with a .381 mark and also led the league in doubles (45), triples (22), and slugging percentage (.573), all of which were career highs. For the next nine seasons, Wagner's average did not fall below .330.
In 1901, the American League began to sign National League players, creating a bidding war, which depleted the league of many talented players. Wagner was offered a $20,000 contract by the Chicago White Sox, but turned it down and continued to play with the Pirates.
In 1903, the Pirates played the Boston Americans in Major League Baseball's inaugural World Series. Wagner, by this point, was an established star and much was expected of him, especially since the Pirates' starting rotation was decimated by injury. Wagner himself was not at full strength and hit only .222 for the series. The Americans, meanwhile, had some fans, called the "Royal Rooters" who, whenever Wagner came to bat, sang "Honus, Honus, why do you hit so badly?" to the tune of "Tessie", a popular song of the day. The Rooters, led by Boston bartender Michael "Nuf Ced" McGreevy, even travelled to Pittsburgh to continue their heckling. Pittsburgh lost in the best-of-nine series, five games to three, to a team led by pitchers Cy Young and Bill Dinneen and third baseman–manager Jimmy Collins. Christy Mathewson, in his book "Pitching in a Pinch" wrote: "For some time after "Hans" Wagner's poor showing in the world's series of 1903 ... it was reported that he was "yellow" (poor in the clutch). This grieved the Dutchman deeply, for I don't know a ball player in either league who would assay less quit to the ton than Wagner ... This was the real tragedy in Wagner's career. Notwithstanding his stolid appearance, he is a sensitive player, and this has hurt him more than anything else in his life ever has."
Prior to 1904, Wagner had played several positions, but settled into the shortstop role full-time that season, where he became a skilled fielder. His biography on BaseballLibrary.com describes his gritty style:
"A stirring march and two step", titled "Husky Hans", and "respectfully dedicated to Hans Wagner, Three time Champion Batsman of The National League" was written by William J. Hartz in 1904.
In September 1905, Wagner signed a contract to produce the first bat with a player's signature, the Louisville Slugger, becoming the first sportsperson to endorse a commercial product; the Honus Wagner was to become a best-seller for years. One month later, with one point separating him from Reds center fielder Cy Seymour for the batting title, Wagner fell short in a head-to-head matchup on the final day of the season, with Seymour collecting four hits to Wagner's two, as contemporary press reports stated that the fans were far more interested in the Seymour-Wagner battle than in the outcome of the games.
Shortly before the 1908 season, Wagner retired. In desperation, owner Barney Dreyfuss offered him $10,000 per year, making him the highest paid Pirate for many years. He returned to the Pirates early in the 1908 season, and finished two home runs short of the league's Triple Crown, leading the league in hitting (for the sixth time)‚ hits‚ total bases‚ doubles‚ triples‚ RBI‚ and stolen bases. Wagner took over the batting lead from the New York Giants' flamboyant outfielder Mike Donlin during a July 25 game against the Giants and their star pitcher Christy Mathewson. Wagner was 5-for-5 in the game; after each hit, he reportedly held up another finger to Donlin, who went hitless, and who had just beaten runner-up Wagner by a wide margin in a "most popular player" poll.
Wagner and the Pirates were given a chance to prove that they were not "yellow" in 1909. The Pirates faced Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers. The series was the only meeting of the two superior batsmen of the day, and the first time that the batting champions of each league faced one another (this later occurred thrice more, in the 1931, 1954 and 2012 World Series). Wagner was by this time 35 years old, Cobb just 22.
In 1910, Wagner's average fell to .320, his lowest average since 1898. Nevertheless, he aged exceptionally well; the three highest OPS+ seasons by any shortstop aged 35 or older belong to Wagner, and even his age-41 season ranks 8th on the list.
On June 9, 1914, at age 40, Wagner recorded his 3,000th hit, a double off Philadelphia's Erskine Mayer, the second player in baseball history to reach the figure, after Cap Anson, and Nap Lajoie joined them three months later. This accomplishment, however, came during a down period for Wagner and Pirates. Wagner hit only .252 in 1914, the lowest average of his career. In July 1915, he became the oldest player to hit a grand slam, a record which stood for 70 years until topped by 43-year-old Tony Pérez. In 1916, Wagner became the oldest player to hit an inside-the-park home run.
In 1916, Wagner married Bessie Baine Smith, and the couple would have three daughters: Elva Katrina (b. 1918, stillborn), Betty Baine (1919–1992), and Virginia Mae (1922–1985).
In 1917, following another retirement, Wagner returned for his final, abbreviated season. Returning in June, he was spiked in July and played only sparingly for the remainder of the year, batting .265. He briefly held the role of interim manager, but after going 1–4, Wagner told owner Dreyfuss the job was not for him. He retired as the NL's all-time hit leader, with 3,430. (Subsequent research has since revised this total to 3,418.) It took 45 years for St. Louis' Stan Musial to surpass Wagner's hit total.
Wagner has been considered one of the very best all-around players to ever play baseball since the day he retired in 1917. Baseball historian and statistician Bill James named Honus Wagner as the second best player of all time after Babe Ruth, rating him as the best major league player in 1900 and each year from 1902 to 1908. Statisticians John Thorn and Pete Palmer rate Wagner as ninth all-time in their "Total Player Ranking". Many of the greats who played or managed against Wagner, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Walter Johnson, list him at shortstop on their All-Time teams.
In 1928, Wagner ran for the office of Sheriff of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania but lost. He was appointed as a deputy of the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office in 1942. He also ran a well-known sporting goods company. A sporting goods store bearing the name "Honus Wagner" operated in downtown Pittsburgh for 93 years before closing permanently in 2011.
The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the rarest and most expensive baseball cards in the world, as only 57 copies are known to exist. The card was designed and issued by the American Tobacco Company (ATC) from 1909 to 1911 as part of its T206 series. While sources allege that Wagner, a nonsmoker, refused to allow production of his baseball card to continue, the more likely reason was sum the ATC was willing to pay Wagner. The ATC ended production of the Wagner card and a total of only 57 to 200 cards were ever distributed to the public, as compared to the "tens or hundreds of thousands" of T206 cards, over three years in 16 brands of cigarettes, for any other player. In 1933, the card was first listed at a price value of US $50 in Jefferson Burdick's The American Card Catalog, making it the most expensive baseball card at the time.
When the Baseball Hall of Fame held its first election in 1936, Wagner tied for second in the voting with Babe Ruth, trailing Cobb. A 1942 Sporting News poll of 100 former players and managers confirmed this opinion, with Wagner finishing 43 votes behind Cobb and six ahead of Ruth. In 1969, on the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, a vote was taken to honor the greatest players ever, and Wagner was selected as the all-time shortstop. In 1999, 82 years after his last game and 44 years since his death, Wagner was voted Number 13 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Players, where he was again the highest-ranking shortstop. That same year, he was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team by the oversight committee, after losing out in the popular vote to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ernie Banks.
Wagner was not finished playing baseball after his retirement from major league baseball. He managed and played for a semi-pro team. After retirement, Wagner served the Pirates as a coach for 39 years, most notably as a hitting instructor from 1933 to 1952. Arky Vaughan, Ralph Kiner, Pie Traynor (player-manager from 1934–1939), and Hank Greenberg (although Greenberg was in his final major league season in 1947, his only season with the Pirates, and very well established) all future Hall of Famers, were notable "pupils" of Wagner. During this time, he wore uniform number 14, but later changed it to his more famous 33, which was later the number retired for him. (His entire playing career was in the days before uniform numbers were worn.) His appearances at National League stadiums during his coaching years were always well received and Wagner remained a beloved ambassador of baseball. Wagner also coached baseball and basketball at Carnegie Institute of Technology, which is now part of Carnegie Mellon University.
Wagner lived the remainder of his life in Pittsburgh, where he was well known as a friendly figure around town. He died on December 6, 1955 at the age of 81, and he is buried at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh.
A life-size statue of Wagner swinging a bat, atop a marble pedestal featuring admiring children, was forged by a local sculptor named Frank Vittor, and placed outside the left field corner gate at Forbes Field. It was dedicated on April 30, 1955, and the then-frail Wagner was well enough to attend and wave to his many fans. The Pirates have relocated twice since then, and the statue has come along with them. It now stands outside the main gate of PNC Park. The statue roughly faces the site of the Pirates' original home, Exposition Park, so in a sense Wagner has come full circle.
In the 1992 episode Homer at the Bat, the popular TV show The Simpsons made a reference to Wagner. The character Mr. Burns lists three ringers he wants for his company's baseball team, but they are Honus Wagner, Cap Anson, and "Mordecai 'Three Fingers' Brown". His assistant has to point out that they are not only retired, but long-dead ... Anson having played in the late 19th century.
In 2000, Wagner was honored with a U.S. postage stamp. The stamp was issued as part of a "Legends of Baseball" series that honored 20 all-time greats in conjunction with MLB's All Century team.
A near mint-mint condition T206 Wagner card sold in 2007 for $2.8 million, the highest price ever for a baseball card. In 2010, a previously unknown copy of the card was donated to the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Baltimore. The card, which is in poor condition, sold in November 2010 to a collector for $262,000, well over the $150,000 that was expected at auction. The card came with Sister Virginia Muller's brother's handwritten note: "Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21st century!"
On April 20, 2012, a New Jersey resident purchased a VG-3 graded T206 Wagner card for more than $1.2 million.
On April 6, 2013, a 1909–11 T206 baseball card featuring Honus Wagner sold at auction for $2.1 million.
On October 1, 2016, a T206 Wagner card graded PSA-5 sold for $3.12 million, setting yet again the record for highest price paid for any baseball card.
On May 29, 2019 a Honus Wagner T-206 sold for $1.2 million by SCP Auctions in Southern California. The same card had been previously auctioned for $657,250 in 2014 and $776,750 in 2016. The encapsulated card was rated as only a 2 on a scale to 10.
Honus had three daughters with his wife Bessie Baine Smith.
Currently, Honus Wagner is 147 years, 0 months and 9 days old. Honus Wagner will celebrate 148th birthday on a Thursday 24th of February 2022. Below we countdown to Honus Wagner upcoming birthday.