Bad To The Bone

Whit Wyatt

    Whitlow Wyatt was a hard-throwing right-hander who was most famous as the pitcher who won 22 games in 1941 and helped lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to the NL Pennant. He also won the Dodgers only World Series game in '41.

     Born in Georgia in 1907, as a high-school phenom he struck out 23 Oglethorpe University batters in a game once. Signed by the Tigers, he had 16 straight victories for Evansville of the Three-I League in 1929. 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. he broke in with the Tigers in 1929.

    Elbow problems limited him to just 26 wins over nine seasons and three teams. He was aquired by Dodgers Exec. Larry MacPhail in a rebuilding move in 1939. He became a big winner at the Ebbets Field confines, going 8-3 after being obtained during the '39 season, and winning 70 games for Brooklyn from 1940-43. 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.  

    He also cemented his reputation as a headhunter after he joined the Dodgers, becoming part of a beanball tandum with Van Lingle Mungo. When a beanball war erupted between Brooklyn and the Cardinals during the 1941 season, Wyatt was at the forefront! 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.

    His creedo was..."Never be afraid to pitch inside. If you have to flip someone, do it". He would pride himself when he would down an opponent. Dodger Manager Leo Durocher would dole out cash as a reward to Wyatt, leaving the money on the top of his locker for every batter he'd knock down! He retired in 1945 with a 106-95 career record, and later became a pitching coach at the major league level. 

    Whit Wyatt died on June 19th, 1999 at the age of 91.