Wabishaw Spencer Wiley
Nicknames: Doc, Bill, Washeba
Positions: c, 1b, of, p
Teams: West Baden Sprudels (1910), Brooklyn Royal Giants (1911-1912, 1918), Mohawk Giants (1913), New York Lincoln Giants (1913-1924), Philadelphia Giants (1918), military service (1918-1919), Atlantic City Bacharach Giants (1919)
Height: 6' Weight: 190
Born: February 1, 1892, Muskogee, Oklahoma
Died: Essex County, Virginia
One of the best catchers of his era, an early highlight of his fifteen-year career was when he batted .398 while catching for the 1913 eastern champion New York Lincoln Giants, a team that featured such greats as John Henry Lloyd, Spot Poles, Louis Santop, Home Run Johnson, Joe Williams, and Dick Redding. Owner Jess McMahon insisted that his team that year could have won the pennant in either the American League or the National League.
The big Oklahoman was part Indian, and began his career in 1910 as a catcher with the West Baden Sprudels, under manager C.I. Taylor, but moved to New York the following year and remained there for most of his career. After two seasons with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, batting in the lower part of the batting order, he joined the Lincoln Giants and spent a dozen seasons with the club. In 1914 he hit .418 and moved into the third slot in the batting order, becoming a fixture in both the batting order and behind the plate, catching Cyclone Joe Williams. A smart catcher, he was very skilled at handling pitchers, and was a good clutch hitter with power, batting in the heart of the order for the Lincoln Giants for almost a decade. Incomplete statistics show batting averages of .241, .441, and .343 for the years 1917-1919, and in 1920 the big, jolly six-footer was still swinging a hefty bat, playing a "stellar" game afield, and was very popular with the fans at the Protectory Oval.
As a young man he attended Arkansas Baptist College and Wiley University before graduating from the Howard University School of Dentistry. Before completing the schoolwork for his diploma, he attended college during the off-season, and was also the catcher on the school's baseball team. In 1916 he was catching with the Howard University team in April but joined the Lincoln Giants when the regular season started and even took a few turns on the mound during the latter months of the season. After he earned his degree, he began practicing dentistry in addition to playing baseball, setting up offices in Newark and East Orange, New Jersey.
During World War I he volunteered for military service and was commissioned a first lieutenant in the Army Dental Corps. After his discharge in 1919, he began spending more time with his dental practice prior to being released by the Lincoln Giants in a housecleaning in the spring of 1924. Finally retired from baseball, he was able to devote a greater part of his time and energy to his profession. However, he kept active in baseball by coaching the East Orange Police Department's baseball team. He was also an expert trap and skeet shooter and belonged to both a gun club and to professional dental organizations. He died at an early age but had made good business investments and left his wife financially secure.
Source: James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.