Though Wertz had a successful 17-year major league career, it is for one long out
with Cleveland that he is best remembered: Wertz hit the drive in the 1954 World
Series opener that Willie Mays
, racing to the deepest part of the Polo Grounds, caught
over his shoulder.
A powerful lefthanded hitter, Wertz drove in 133 runs for Detroit
in 1949 and 123 in 1950. He once smashed seven home runs over a five-game span. Capable
at two positions, he moved from the outfield to first base when he joined
in 1954. Though he missed part of the 1955 season when stricken with a non-paralytic
form of polio, he bounced back in 1956, hit four doubles to tie a ML record in a
September 26 game, and finished the season with a career-high 32 HR. A 1958 leg injury
caused him to miss most of the season, and by 1961 he was back with Detroit. He led
the AL with 17 pinch hits in 1962.