Part III: York, Pa.’s, Vic Wertz made baseball history – but there’s a catch
Former Major Leaguer Vic Wertz’s death dominated the front page of the The York (Pa.) Daily Record in 1983. Here, the York native holds a display of photos showing his mark on on the big leagues – he hit the long drive in the 1954 World Series that Willie Mays hauled in. Mays’ amazing feat was called “The Catch.” Also of interest: York, Pa.’s, Vic Wertz made baseball history – but there’s a catch, Part I and Polio survivor and York, Pa.’s own Vic Wertz: ‘The man who hit the ball Mays caught’ and Who were most prominent 20th-century sports heroes in York and Adams counties?
Baseball writer Mark Armour is going to fill in the blanks about the little-known story of Vic Wertz, the York native who was widely known as a Major League baseball slugger in the 1950s.
He is writing a 4,000-word biography about Wertz in a book about the 1954 Cleveland Indians.
He has made contact with members of the Wertz family still living in the York County area.
Here is an excerpted description about the work, as given to the family:
“The biography is a birth-to-death story, with baseball as the center of the story. This will be part of a comprehensive encyclopedia of baseball biographies (over 1100 thus far) that is hosted here: http://bioproj.sabr.org. As it happens, I am the founder of the project, and have written 30 of the stories myself. For the Indians book I am writing one: Vic Wertz.
“Victor Woodrow Wertz was born on February 9, 1925, in York, Pennsylvania,
about 100 miles west of Philadelphia, the youngest of five children
(Dorothy, Paul, Doris and Helen preceded Victor) born to Paul and Manerva
Wertz. The family lived on West Market Street across from the West Side
Hospital in York, while Paul operated a branch of Shue’s Hardware Store in
nearby Manchester. When Vic was 11 years old, the family relocated to
Reading, about 60 miles to the Northeast. Paul Wertz had become involved in
the insurance business.
“Vic did not play baseball until after he moved to Reading, but he took to it
quickly, starring for both Gregg Post in American Legion ball and at Reading
High School , both of whom won state championships with Wertz. In 1941 he
was first scouted by Ed Katalinas of the Tigers, who watched Wertz hit two
home runs and a double during his first visit. “That was enough for me,”
recalled Katalinas. Wertz got a few bonus offers from other clubs, but chose
Detroit, offering no bonus money, because he had been a fan of the Tigers
ever since their World Series victory over the Cubs in 1935. He signed on
July 1, 1942.”
Yorktownsquare.com readers have previously supplied information about this local-boy-who-made-good.
But if you have any other information – including any anecdotes or funny stories – please comment below or contact Mark Armour.
Other posts about Vic Wertz:
– Part II: York, Pa.’s, Vic Wertz made baseball history – but there’s a catch.
– Reader links Manchester hardware store with former baseball slugger Vic Wertz.
– York Town Square reader: ‘I thought Vic Wertz had some connection to York?’
– For stats and stuff about Vic Wertz, visit: baseball-reference.com.