Wayne Terwilliger, a former St. Paul Saints player and coach who also coached the Minnesota Twins during a life spent in baseball, died Wednesday in Weatherford, Texas. He was 95.
A popular figure in professional baseball for more than six decades, the man everyone knew as “Twig” had a particular influence on the game in Minnesota.
Terwilliger came to the state in 1952 to play second base for the Saints, then a Triple-A team. After that season, he was claimed off waivers by the Washington Senators, and spent the next two years as the Senators’ second baseman.
He played for five big-league teams — the Senators, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants and Kansas City Athletics — from 1949-60, finishing his MLB career with a .240 batting average, 22 home runs and 162 runs batted in.
He followed his playing career with another lifetime spent coaching and managing teams in the major leagues, minor leagues and independent leagues as well.
He was first-base coach for the Twins from 1986-94, a stint under managers Ray Miller and Tom Kelly that was highlighted by World Series championships in 1987 and 1991.
He then coached first base for the Saints from 1995 to 2002.
“It is with a heavy heart we share the information of the passing of Wayne “Twig” Terwilliger,” the Saints tweeted Wednesday. “He played for the Saints in 1952 and coached from 1995-2002. He served in the U.S. military during WWII. He was a mentor to many, a friend to all, and a great man. We will miss you Twig.”
Terwilliger was a radio man and machine gunner in the Pacific Theater during World War II, where he saw combat and was on Iwo Jima when soldiers famously raised the American flag.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Terwilliger suffered recently from dementia and bladder cancer, which led to a short stay in hospice care in Weatherford, Texas, where he died.
He was born June 27, 1925 in Clare, Mich.