An Early 20th Century Baseball Player Foretold the Succession Ending

A fan theory involving geese, coats, and an obscure baseball player somehow perfectly predicted the events of Succession's finale.

Tom and Greg in Succession
Photo: David Russell/HBO

This article contains spoilers for the Succession series finale.

Succession fan theories are fun but not all are created equally.

Some theories have proven to be pretty insightful while others were little more than dead ends. Following the premiere of the Succession series finale however, we’re ready to declare that one fan theory was better than the rest. Said theory involves: a baby name expert, the German word for “goose,” and an unprecedented baseball feat from the year 1920. Combine those elements together and you get a prediction that almost perfectly forecasts Succession‘s ultimate ending down to the last detail. Allow us to explain.

On May 25, baby name trend website Nameberry posted a TikTok video essay that delved into the meanings of Succession character names to guess the events of the show’s finale. You can watch said TikTok here:

Ad – content continues below

In the video, Nameberry editor-in-chief Sophie Kihm first delves into some of the obvious implications of Succession character names -“Roy” means “king” in Scottish, and “Shiv” means “to stab” – that sort of thing. Then she hones in the curious name of one character in particular: Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen). The Wambsgans surname is rare. Kihm estimates that the its original German meaning translates to something akin to “goose with a big belly” or more likely a goose down vest or coat. But it’s not the literal meaning of the Wambsgans name that foreshadows the end of Succession but rather its similarity to the name of another real life figure.

As Kihm notes, the only other prominent “Wambsgans” in Western history is an early 20th century baseball player named Bill Wambsganss. Primarily a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians, Wambsganss’ 13-year career from 1914 through 1926 would have been wholly unremarkable if it weren’t for one event. In game 5 of the 1920 World Series, Wambsganss committed the first, and still only, unassisted triple play in World Series history. For our readers unfamiliar with baseball: that is a tremendously rare feat (of which there are only 15 total in the sport’s lengthy history) that combines both athletic prowess and a tremendous amount of luck. Essentially Wambsganss eliminated three members of the opposing team as “out” in one play and he did so by himself.

A Wambsgans(s) eliminating three other people in one fell swoop, hm? Seems like something that could plausibly occur in Succession’s finale. But would the show’s mostly-British writing staff be familiar enough with the intricacies of American baseball history to make such a connection? It turns out that yeah, they probably were!

Tom Wambsgans does indeed go full Bill Wambsganss in the Succession series finale. With Lukas Matsson’s (Alexander Skarsgärd) blessing and Shiv’s (Sarah Snook) shivving of her brother, Tom effectively takes his three biggest competitors off the board and gets the coveted top job as CEO of Waystar Royco. Though Nameberry called the connection first, several other baseball-centric sources got in on the Wambsgans-Wambsganss fun after the episode.

The Cleveland Guardians, the current iteration of Wambsganss 1920 Cleveland Indians team, paid tribute to the two goose-named heroes.

The creator of the site Baseball Reference, noted some curious traffic spikes.

Ad – content continues below

Just like Tom Wambsgans got the Waystar Royco crown, Bill Wambsganss helped his team win the World Series title that year. Cleveland fans presented Wambsganss with a medal for his impressive defensive feat in game 5 but the second baseman supposedly lost it while boarding a train. Hopefully Tom Wambsgans won’t be as careless with his big prize.