George “Wags” Wagner

“It was a great time for a great sport.” Before there were batting averages, homerun stats, on base percentages, and national championships, there were money games. Some were big and some were small. League play was only a game during the week with a factory or an office team because the top players wanted to save their energy for the weekend money games. George Wagner played in a lot of weekend money games. George Wagner began his softball career at 51st and Union, playing many times in front of 3,000 to 4,000 spectators. Before his retirement many years later, Wagner would play with and against some of softball’s great players. When playing for the Leo XIII Council, he locked horns with the legendary pitcher Lewa Yacilla, managing four hits off him in a losing effort. From 1949 to 1951 Wagner played with the original Bobcats, managed by Piccalo O’Halleran. They competed against Starlight Club, East Side Trojans, the Bill Bonnetts, and Weinbergs at Gill Stadium and Northtown. After serving in the Army for two years, George Wagner joined the Daley Hamburgs where he played with Zeke Ireland and Lefty Hunt. Many times in such a competitive arena, he would meet that night’s teammates as he was warming up. During that era, money games were the place to be. Starting out in smaller games, the best players of that time moved into Sunday pot games with the top fifteen players playing with various teams under various names. George Wagner played shortstop and shortcenter. He batted third with most of his teams and was well known as a line drive hitter who favored left and right center. He retired from active playing in 1958. George Wagner retired from the Board of Trade after fifty years of service (for 25 years he owned a seat on the Board of Trade). He and his wife, Kate have four children, Susan, Ann, Kathy, and Edward.