Why an obscure baseballer from 100 years ago could have spoiled Succession finaleJune 2, 2023
Save articles for later
Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.
This story contains spoilers for season four of Succession. Every week The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald has been recapping the latest episode of Succession. You can listen to our recap podcast here.
When one major character outmanoeuvred the Roy siblings, getting himself named as the US executive running Waystar Royco for GoJo at the end of a rollicking finale of the HBO series Succession, it likely came as a shock to many of the viewers at home. But to fans of baseball’s early days, and internet conspiracy theorists, the signs were there for Tom Wambsgans to come out on top, besting three competitors at the same time.
“It’s me,” Wambsgans said to his wife, Shiv Roy.
The clues were there for some, thanks to Bill Wambsganss, a second baseman for Cleveland from 1914 to 1923. Wambsganss didn’t hit much, and there’s little indication he was a stellar base runner or a top-notch fielder. But he had one moment of pure glory, turning the first — and only — unassisted triple play in World Series history.
Tom Wambsgans also did not stand out to many before the finale for much beyond his poor treatment of Cousin Greg and his destructive relationship with his wife. But his unusual surname, and the notion that he would have to knock out three opponents at once, caught fire on social media in recent days, thanks to a viral TikTok by Sophie Kihm, the editor-in-chief of Nameberry, an online catalogue of baby names.
Thanks to her video, people began to speculate if the show’s writers had tipped their hands as to who would come out on top — and how. The theory had existed in various places for a while — some believe it explained the ending of Season three — but, as the series began to wrap up, the idea that Tom could end up winning, just like Wambsganss, started to feel more and more plausible.
Bill Wambsganns is remembered for one of the most spectacular defensive moves in World Series history.Credit: Getty
Whether the connection was intentional or not, it shone a light on a player who has been all but forgotten beyond one outrageously good play. Sean Forman of Baseball Reference reported Sunday night that there had been a surge of traffic on Wambsganss’ player page in the wake of the show’s finale.
What people are finding is an unremarkable player who made a play that is worth all the attention.
Wambsganss and Cleveland were facing Brooklyn in the 1920 World Series. In the fifth inning of game five, with Cleveland leading 7-0, Brooklyn’s Pete Kilduff and Otto Miller both singled. Clarence Mitchell then hit a liner that looked as if it could score a run or more.
In a breathless story about the game the next day, which ran on page A1, The New York Times recounted what happened once the ball left Mitchell’s bat. Wambsganss, who had been playing fairly far from second base, “leaped over toward the cushion and with a mighty jump speared the ball with one hand,” the paper reported.
Much has been made of how the arc of Wambsganss outsmarting three opponents parallels that of his namesake in the show.Credit: Getty
“Wamby’s noodle began to operate faster than it ever did before,” the article continued. “He hopped over to second and touched the bag, retiring Kilduff, who was far down the alley toward third base.”
With two outs already having been recorded on the play, Wambsganss turned his attention to Miller.
“Otto was evidently so surprised that he was just glued to the ground, and Wamby just waltzed over and touched him for the third out,” the paper reported.
The play gave Wambsganss a level of notoriety that eclipsed anything else about his career, or even his life despite his having gone on to manage in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
Former Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsgannss and Succession’s Tom Wambsgans, played by Matthew Macfadyen.Credit: Getty/AP
“Funny thing, I played in the big leagues for 13 years, 1914 through 1926, and the only thing that anybody seems to remember is that once I made an unassisted triple play in a World Series,” he said in the 1966 baseball oral history, The Glory of Their Times.
“Many don’t even remember the team I was on, or the position I played, or anything. Just Wambsganss-unassisted triple play! You’d think I was born on the day before and died on the day after.”
With Succession having completed its wildly popular run on television, we will never know if Tom Wambsgans was able to thrive after completing a triple play of his own, or if he would come to be defined only by the one moment, as Wambsganss was.
In Wambsganss’ defence, it has been more than 100 years since the unassisted triple play, and people are still talking about him. You would have to assume Tom Wambsgans would be OK with having the same fate.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article