Cards on the Table: Wacky for Wockenfuss


Each week, we’ll be raiding the baseball card collections that survived garage sales, break-ups, and bankruptcy, and bringing you some of the oddest, dustiest, and/or most relevant Phillies baseball cards.  Please join us in this celebration of not only the Phillies’ past, but our own ability to hide shoeboxes full of small pieces of cardboard from those who would see them sold for a sack of coins.

Kids are fascinated by the most interesting things. And by interesting, I mean “stupid as all get-out.”

As a kid, I was fascinated by facial hair on baseball players. I was fascinated by Mike Schmidt’s mustache, by Rollie Fingers’ mustache, well, pretty much any player with an interesting mustache.

I was also fascinated by the Wolfman, the guy with the funny name and scruffy beard who was a super-sub extraordinaire for the Tigers and Phillies in the 1970s and ’80s.

I am, of course, talking about the great Johnny Wockenfuss.

Johnny Wockenfuss, or “The ‘Fuss” as I used to call him, actually hung around the game for quite a while.

Wockenfuss had himself a 12-year career in the Majors, most of it largely in a reserve roll. And while he did have a couple of decent seasons, he was never really known as a tremendous talent, facial hair aside.

12 Yrs79523732072267543731186310277278.262.349.432.782115
162 Game Avg.1624844225411115218635657.262.349.432.782115
DET (10 yrs)67721171855246485701080284239247.261.346.439.785116
PHI (2 yrs)1182562172158316263831.267.376.373.750110
AL (10 yrs)67721171855246485701080284239247.261.346.439.785116
NL (2 yrs)1182562172158316263831.267.376.373.750110

Still, he must have been doing something right to hang on so long.

One of the lasting gifts Wockenfuss gave the youth of America was one of the most unusual batting stances in the league, screwing up kids’ swings all across the country for years.

There were a few times I tried to emulate The ‘Fuss’ stance in a little league game, only to find myself lying down on the ground after each and every swing. Seriously ‘Fuss, why not straighten those feet out? How on earth can that be comfortable?

Other than his stance, though, Mr. ‘Fuss was largely a boring figure. Even the back of his 1985 Topps card didn’t really provide much interesting trivia for the average collector and fan…

So, Johnny was married with two sons. How unusual! What trivia! Try that one on your buddies, some time!

Wockenfuss has made headlines in recent years however, for being an outspoken critic on one of the game’s chief issues.

The ‘Fuss is not a fan of collisions at home plate.

After the incident last year that tore up Giants catcher Buster Posey’s knee, Wockenfuss was quite outspoken in his belief that collisions at home plate be outlawed.

"“My only problem, you’ve got to slide into second; you can’t just bowl him over, you can’t just lower your shoulder and crush him,” said The ‘Fuss. “Why is it you can do it with the catcher?”“If there’s plenty of room to slide, that type of thing there’s gotta be some type of punishment. There’s gotta be a line drawn somewhere. Why is it the catcher is dead meat?”"

After his playing career, Wockenfuss did some managing at the minor league level, and in 1993 received his greatest professional honor, being inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame.

Hey, don’t laugh. Are you in the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.