Matthew Macfadyen accepts the award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role in the HBO program “Succession” during the 74th Emmy Awards Sep 12, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Matthew Macfadyen accepts the award for outstanding supporting actor in a drama series for his role in the HBO program “Succession” during the 74th Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2022.. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Prestige dramas aren’t usually our area of expertise but considering the hubbub surrounding the series finale of Succession and the possibility that an old-timey baseball player theory predicted how things played out, it certainly caught our attention.



In as much as anyone could “win” on the show, it was Tom Wambsgans, husband of Shiv Roy, who maneuvered his way into the right place at the right time to become CEO following Waystar Royco’s sale to Lukas Matsson. That was notable because a theory about the show’s outcome went viral last week explaining why Tom was likely to become CEO. The theory was centered around his unusual last name and a real-life person who shared it.

As the theory goes, Tom is named for baseball player Bill Wambsganss, who played from 1914 to 1926 and is fondly remembered as the only Major League Baseball player to ever pull off an unassisted triple play in World Series history. Given that there are three Roy siblings, you could correlate that Tom did the same thing, getting all three outs when it mattered most in order to win.

We had our doubts about the veracity of the theory, given the way the last name made a lot of sense on its own given its Midwestern working-class roots. Not to mention that the show was created and mostly written by a bunch of Brits. And then there’s the fact that the “unassisted” triple-play metaphor doesn’t even really work for how things played out.

Now, the fun theory has been disproven by someone who actually worked on the show.

“I hate to spoil the internet’s fun, but it’s false,” Succession executive producer Frank Rich told Slate. “Tom’s family name was picked before we had shot a first season, let alone mapped out precise story twists that would culminate 39 episodes later! Not to mention that many of the key writers on the show, starting with its creator, Jesse [Armstrong], are British, live in London, and are devoted to British football.”

Rich added that he thinks someone on the staff might have had a relative with the unique last name, which is a much more plausible reason.

“If memory serves,” Rich said, “we were looking for something off-key that would be awkward to say/pronounce, befitting a character who arrives as an outsider in the Roys’ world.”

Even if the theory is false, the show still made sure to connect Tom to the world of baseball.


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to