Whitlow Wyatt

Whitlow was born in Kensington, Georgia in 1907. His father was a railroad engineer with the Central of GA Railway. His family moved to Cedartown during his sophomore year of high school where he played football and baseball for Cedartown High. During his senior year a scout from the Detroit Tigers came to scout Frank Chilton. He noticed Whit throwing batting practice and ended up signing Whit rather than Frank.

Whit was also a standout in football, good enough to get a scholarship to Georgia Tech. He was a great passer and punter. When Tigers owner Frank Navin found out Whit was playing football he convinced him not to play and gave him the equivalent of a 4-year education, $4,000. Whit left Georgia Tech and pitched two years in the minor leagues, then pitched the next seven years for the Tigers. Trades took him to the Indians and the White Sox. He then retired to his farm five miles east of Buchanan, Georgia.

During the spring of 1938, though, Whit was talked into joining the minor league Milwaukee team of the American Association. After a slow start he blanked Louisville 10-0. Whit recalls, “I think I struck out Pee Wee Reese four times. He and Pete Reiser were the two finest young players I ever saw coming up. I became a pitcher that day at age 31. I could always throw hard and I had a pretty good curve ball. The difference was that I came up with the change-up.”

Earning Most Valuable Player in the league he was called up to Brooklyn. Extra motivation from Manager Leo Durocher helped Whit during his best major league years as a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers. From 1939 to 1944 Whit compiled an 80-45 record for the brash, controversial Durocher whose argumentative ways earned him the nickname, “Leo the Lip”. Whit said in an interview a few years ago that he liked Leo. “He helped me. He made me a meaner pitcher.” During the 1941 World Series Whit won the second game 3-1 to halt the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak. His record in 1941 was 22-10, which made him the National League’s most winning pitcher. During a 17 year career Wyatt compiled a 106-95 record. He left baseball in 1945 and retired to his farm in Haralson County.

Whit’s baseball career was far from over. In 1950 he was talked into returning to baseball to be pitching coach for former teammate and manager of the Atlanta Crackers, Dixie Walker. Whit became manager of the Crackers in 1954 and the won the All-Star game and Dixie Series. That same year he went to Philadelphia as head pitching coach. In 1957 Whit went to Milwaukee and coached great players such as Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews.

Whit Wyatt retired in 1967 as pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves after 37 years in baseball.