All-Time Indians: Leon Wagner

Name: Leon Lamar Wagner       Position: Left Field
Nick Name: Daddy Wags             Number: 27
Tribe Time: 1964-1968           DOB: 05/13/1934
Accolades: Top 21 MVP (1964, 1966)        
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG OPS
Best Season (1964) 163 641 94 162 19 2 31 100 56 121 14 2 .316 .434 .253 .750
Career 630 2189 316 581 76 4 97 305 205 324 34 9 .332 .437 .265 .769

Leon Wagner burst onto the scene for the Tribe in 1964 as a 30 year old and immediately became the top offensive performer on a very weak hitting team. Wagner had previously played for the Giants, Cardinals and Angels before coming to the Tribe in a trade for Barry Latman and Joe Adcock. During his first season in Cleveland, a change in how statistics are recorded allowed Wagner to play in 163 out of the Indians 162 games (games canceled for rain still counted statistically, but were replayed for the record), still an Indians record for a single season. It was overall he second best season in his career (after his 1962 campaign with the Angels) and his best with the Tribe as he lead the team in home runs (31) and RBI (100).

In 1965, finally, Rocky Colavito came back to Cleveland and along with Wagner and Vic Davalillo became one of the greatest outfields in team history. The trio finished as the top three Indians in hits that year with Wagner reaching safely 152 times with 91 runs scored and a team leading 28 home runs. Despite taking a back seat to Colavito on the offensive side, Wagner still put up impressive numbers in 1966 and 1967, smashing another 35 home runs across the two seasons.

While he only played four full seasons with the Tribe, Wagner was still one of the top left fielders in Indians history. His 97 career home runs are third among left fielders and both players ahead of him, Albert Belle and Jeff Heath, played about 300 more games with in Cleveland than Wagner.

In 1968, Wagner saw a quick drop off in ability, going from an OPS of .774 during his first four seasons in Cleveland to a .538 in 58 games. With no home runs and just six RBI, Wagner was sent on his way to Chicago in exchange for Russ Snyder, an outfielder who ended up playing just 190 games with the Indians. Of course, Wagner didn't have near that many games left and he called it quits after playing just 11 games in the 1969 season.

Leon Wagner attempted a couple comebacks, the latest being in 1971 with the Padres, but was never able to make it back to the big leagues. After retiring, Wagner owned a clothing store for a time. He died in Los Angeles in 2004.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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