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Whitey Wistert

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Whitey Wistert

Born: February 20, 1912
Died: April 23, 1985(1985-04-23) (aged 73)
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 11, 1934 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1934 for the Cincinnati Reds
Career statistics
(through Career)
Win-Loss    0–1
Earned run average    1.13
Strikeouts    1
Career highlights and awards
Big Ten MVP, Baseball, 1934

Francis Michael "Whitey" Wistert (born February 20, 1912 in Chicago, Illinois, died April 23, 1985 in Painesville, Ohio) was an American football and baseball player. He played college football for the University of Michigan Wolverines. He was added into the College Football Hall of Fame after he was elected to it in 1967. He and his two brothers are three of the seven players who have had their uniform numbers retired by Michigan Wolverines football. While at college, Wistert helped Michigan win the Big Ten Conference football championship in 1931, 1932, and 1933. He was also Big Ten Most Valuable Player in college baseball. He later played for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball.

College athletics

Wistert graduated from Chicago's Schurz High School in 1929.[1][2] He attended the University of Michigan where he was an athlete in both football and baseball in 1931, 1932, and 1933.

The Wistert brothers of Michigan

Wistert played for the Michigan Wolverines before his two brothers, Al Wistert and Alvin Wistert, did. All three Wistert brothers wore the number 11 for the Wolverines football team, and all three were members of the College Football All-America team, which is the best players through all of the United States. When interviewed by the Detroit News in 2004, brother Alvin Wistert said, "And if I'm not mistaken I think this is unprecedented in the of college football: that three brothers all would go to the same school, all played football. All played tackle, all wore the same number 11, all made All-American. Two of us played on four national championship teams. They all made it into the College Football Hall of Fame."[3]

The Wistert brothers grew up on the northwest side of Chicago and were the sons of a Lithuanian family.[4] Their father was a Spanish-American War veteran, who later died while working for the Chicago Police Department.[4] Brother Alvin Wistert said that their father, "was born Casmir Vistertus and he Anglicized it when he came to America to Wistert."[3]

The story of the Wistert brothers at Michigan began when Whitey's Carl Schurz High School school-mate John Kowalik was invited to visit the University of Michigan. At the time, Whitey Wistert "was working in a factory building Majestic radios."[3] Kowalik took Whitey with him on his visit Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Alvin Wistert later said, "that's how it started: the Wisterts of Michigan."[3]


As a football player, Wistert played for National Championship teams that never lost a game in 1932 and 1933[5][6] and was a chosen All-American in 1933.[7] The 1934 University of Michigan yearbook, the Michiganensian, had this to say by Grantland Rice: "Wistert was unanimously selected as the best tackle in the Middle-West this year. He was an important part of Michigan's defensive line play. He was a very good tackler and it was nearly impossible to fool him on trick plays. He was keen, quick, and accurate in finding out how a play would happen."[8] Wistert and Chuck Bernard were the leaders of the 1933 offensive line when the team went 7-0-1 with a tie to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.[6]

One of Wistert's teammates on the 1932 and 1933 Michigan football teams was Gerald Ford who later became the U.S. President. In an interview in the February 1974 copy of Michigan Alumnus, Wistert said about Ford: "He was a real good competitor—a real bulldog type. Even during a losing year, he was voted team Most Valuable Player by his teammates, because they believed he was someone who could stay and fight even when they lose."[9] In 1936, he was a member Michigan football coaching staff of Coach Harry Kipke.[10]


Wistert earned varsity letters in baseball three years. He was chosen as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference in 1934.[11] The 1934 Michiganensian yearbook wrote that the final game of the baseball season was a 4–0 shutout by Wistert against the University of Chicago Maroon. It wrote, "Wistert, for the Wolves, allowed only five well- hits during the game. Although Whitey Wistert walked four men, he more than off-set this by striking out nine of the Maroons to face him."[12] Wistert also allowed, as the pitcher, Ohio State four hits in a game.[13]

Professional baseball

Wistert, still being a minor league baseball player, played for a short while in Major League Baseball, playing in three games for the Cincinnati Reds between September 11, 1934 and September 25, 1934.[14] In two times he pitched, Wistert let only one run in eight innings, for a career earned run average of 1.13. Though, in the three times he batted, he went did not hit the ball, so he struck out twice. Although he only played for a short while in Major League Baseball, Wistert played five years of professional baseball.[2] Fellow 1933 Michigan Wolverines football All-American, Ted Petoskey also debuted for the Reds in September 1934.[15]


Wistert became part of the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967, one year before his brother Albert did so.[7] In 1981, he was named to the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in the fourth class of Hall of Fame joiners with his brothers. Only five other Michigan football players earned this honor before him.[16]


Wistert became a New York lawyer after he retired from sports. He went on to become a vice president of an industrial relations in Toledo, Ohio. He was United States Navy lieutenant in World War II.[2]


  1. "Schurz High School Sports Hall of Fame". Schurz High School. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Francis "Whitey" Wistert". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Green, Jerry. Wistert brothers' fame was built on hard work. Detroit News. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Campbell, Jim. "Conversation with Al Wistert: An old pro tells it like it was". Pro Football Weekly LLC. [dead link]
  5. "1932 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "1933 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jones, Todd (2007). "Michigan". In MacCambridge, Michael. ESPN Big Ten College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Enterprises. ISBN 1933060492 . 
  8. 1934 Michiganensian. University of Michigan. 1916. pp. p. 104. 
  9. Kim, Hae-Jin. Former Pres. Ford made most of his 'U' experience from 1931-1935. The Michigan Daily. Retrieved September 25, 2008. 
  10. "1936 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 
  11. "University of Michigan Football All-American: Francis (Whitey) Wistert". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 
  12. 1934 Michiganensian. University of Michigan. 1916. pp. p. 126-127. 
  13. 1934 Michiganensian. University of Michigan. 1916. pp. p. 127. 
  14. "Whitey Wistert". 
  15. "Ted Petoskey". 
  16. "Hall of Honor". M Club. 

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