Whit Wyatt

As a high-school phenom in Georgia, Wyatt struck out 23 Oglethorpe University batters in a game. Signed by the Tigers, he had 16 straight victories for Evansville (Three-I League) in 1929. Then, for eight frustrating seasons, Wyatt was expected to become a top American League pitcher but was sidetracked year after year by injuries. From 1929 through 1937, he compiled a 26-43 AL record. In 1931 his 1.53 ERA tied Dizzy Dean for the Texas League crown. After an MVP season in the American Association in 1938, he was purchased by the Dodgers and became a four-time All-Star.

Wyatt went 15-14 for Brooklyn in 1940, tying for the NL lead with five shutouts. In 1941 he and teammate Kirby Higbe each won 22 games, tops in the majors, to lead the Dodgers to the pennant. Wyatt’s seven shutouts were also the ML high. He threw two complete games in the World Series, beating the Yankees 3-2 in the second game, but losing 3-1 in the Series finale. Over the next two seasons Wyatt was 33-12, but he faded in 1944.

Wyatt was unafraid to knock a batter down, earning the reputation as a headhunter. Joe DiMaggio called him “the meanest guy I ever saw.” When Wyatt became a ML pitching coach (Phillies, Braves), his pupils said he encouraged them to throw at hitters as well.