RIP to Ted Wieand, who pitched for parts of two seasons with the Reds in the 1950s. He died on July 7 at the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest, located in Allentown, Pa. He was 88 years old. Wieand played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1958 and 1960 as part of an 11-year pro baseball career.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Wieand was born in Walnutport, Pa., on April 4, 1933. He was nicknamed “Ted” by an uncle, honoring the other President Roosevelt. Wieand attended Slatington High School, where he pitched on the school’s baseball team. He also played American Legion Ball and in the Lehigh Valley Twilight League during the summers. Weiand was an American Legion All-Star in 1950, and struck out 20 batters in a game against Nazareth. He had a reported 28-3 career record between Slatington High and American Legion ball, including a no-hitter. By his senior year, he was considered the Lehigh Valley’s best pitching prospect since Curt Simmons a decade earlier.
By 1951, at least eight major-league teams were interested in signing the 18-year-old right-hander. The St. Louis Cardinals won the bidding, thanks in part to the fact that Wieand would be able to start his career in the Cardinals’ affiliate in Allentown — practically in his back yard. He signed with the Allentown Redbirds in November of 1951 and started his career with them the following year. Wieand’s professional debut, on May 2, 1952, was a wild one. He held the Wilmington Blue Rocks hitless until the sixth inning, but he suffered a 5-2 loss thanks to 9 walks and 5 wild pitches. Control would be his biggest enemy that year, as he won 10 games but walked 132 batters in 172 innings.
Wieand began to fine-tune his control in 1953, and he ended up with a 12-5 record and sparkling 2.31 ERA for Winston-Salem. He spent the next four years advancing through the Cardinals organization, eventually settling in with the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League. He spent two seasons and part of a third in Houston, and he won a career-best 16 games with the Buffaloes in 1956. As proof that he had become quite a control pitcher, he issued just 81 walks in 223 innings while striking out 129 batters that year.
After another strong season with Houston in 1957, Wieand was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, who were looking for pitching help. On December 5, the Reds got Wieand, Willard Schmidt and Marty Kutyna, all right-handed pitchers, for outfielders Joe Taylor and Curt Flood. It was a great deal for Flood, who embarked on a great career as the Cardinals starting center fielder for the next dozen years after two cups of coffee with the Reds. It was also the least controversial trade of Flood’s career. It worked out pretty well for Wieand, too. He was moved up to the team’s AAA affiliate, the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League, in 1958. In 41 games, including 25 starts, he had a 9-12 record and 4.19 ERA. He was called to the majors after the PCL season ended.
Wieand made one appearance for the Reds that September, and it came on the 27th in Milwaukee against the Braves. After starter Jay Hook was pummeled for 4 runs in 3 innings, Weiand came into the game in the fourth inning with the Braves leading 4-0. The first batter he faced, Frank Torre, welcomed him to the majors by hitting his 6th home run of the season. In Wieand’s second inning of work, he allowed another run when Del Crandall hit into a run-scoring force out. Wieand gave up 2 runs on 4 hits, but he did strike out a future Hall of Famer — opposing pitcher Warren Spahn.
Wieand spent all of 1959 with the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League. While there were more pressing matters taking place in the country — the Cuban Revolution, for instance — the Sugar Kings fought their way into the postseason and won the Little World Series against the Minneapolis Millers in seven games. Wieand was a big part of Havana’s success, leading the team with 16 wins and 13 complete games. He won the first game of the Series against the Millers and got a no-decision in the last game, which was played in Cuba and was attended by Fidel Castro himself. Stew Thornley has an excellent writeup of the entire Series.
The Reds added Wieand to their 1960 Opening Day roster, and he got into five games in April. The long ball cost him. His only major-league decision came on April 17, when he was summoned to the mound in the ninth inning after reliever Bill Henry had reduced a 5-0 Reds lead over Pittsburgh to 5-4. Wieand retired Don Hoak on a ground ball, but then Dick Groat singled and Bob Skinner homered for a surprising 6-5 Pirate win. On April 24 against the Phillies, he relieved starter Bob Purkey after he had tired and allowed a couple of baserunners. Wieand intentionally walked Harry Anderson to load the bases, unintentionally walked Joe Koppe to bring in a run, and then Jimmie Coker hit a grand slam to cap a 7-run inning that gave Philadelphia a 9-5 lead. The grand slam was the last pitch that Wieand threw in the majors, as he was released back to Havana before the end of the day.
In parts of two seasons, Wieand appeared in 6 games for the Reds and had an 0-1 record and 9.95 ERA. He allowed 7 runs on 8 hits, with 5 walks and 5 strikeouts.
The highlight of his playing career, Wieand said in a 2011 interview with The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), was the time he spent with a team he never actually played for. After finishing his 1960 season in the minors, the Reds sent Wieand to the New York Yankees. In 1961, Wieand made the Yankees Opening Day roster. He never got into a game, and he was sent to AAA Richmond in mid-May. But for a few weeks, he was on the same team as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford and the rest of the World Champion 1961 Yankees. They treated the rookie well during his brief time with the team and gave him a small share of their World Series winnings — $500, according to contemporary news reports.
“Although I had been in National League stadiums before, when I went into the spacious clubhouse of hallowed Yankee Stadium for the first time and then walked out onto the vast playing field with the monuments to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins in deep center field, I said to myself, ‘Now this is the major leagues!'” he recalled.
Wieand said that in his first appearance with Richmond, he suffered an injury to his right elbow. He managed to pitch in 52 games in the minors between 1961 and ’62, mostly in relief, but he was not the same pitcher. The end of his playing career came when doctors told him that surgery on his right elbow came with a 50-50 chance that he would lose feeling in the fingers on his right hand. “I had a family of five to feed, and it was time for me to get on with my life,” he said.
Wieand had a 109-108 record in 11 seasons in the minor leagues. After he retired from baseball, he returned to Pennsylvania and became a plumber. He retired after working for Muhlenberg College as plumbing supervisor. According to his obituary, Wieand was inducted into the Northern Lehigh Ring of Honor, Class of 2010-2011, and also the Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
For more information: Legacy.com