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Baseball was a huge part of Whitey Wietelmann's life. In fact, he spent more than five decades as a part of the national game.
His nickname was given to him by Casey Stengel, his first manager. He wore the number 19 in San Diego, long before Tony Gwynn arrived. He was also once dubbed "Mr. Indispensable" in San Diego.
Wietelmann debuted on September 6, 1939 with the Boston Braves and spent parts of 9 seasons in the majors with Boston and Pittsburgh. In 580 career games, he hit .232 with 7 home runs and 122 RBI.
Following his major league career, he played for the Padres from 1949-52. He coached the team from 1960-65, was a coach for the Reds from 1966-67, and then again with the PCL Padres in 1968. When baseball expanded in 1969 and added the San Diego team, Wietelmann joined as a coach and held that position until 1979. After that, he worked for 14 years in the organization in various jobs.
He also tried to switch things up as a batter. From 1939-40 and in 1942, he was right-handed. In 1943 and 1945, he was a left-hander and he was a switch hitter in 1941, 1944 and 1946-47.
He pitched 7.2 innings in his major league career and later became a pitcher in the minors. As a player-manager with Yuma of the Arizona-Mexico league in 1955, Wietelmann had a 21-13 record in 50 games as a pitcher and also played in the infield.
He is recorded as saying in an interview that the most embarrassing moment of his career came when he was asked to throw out the first pitch before the Padres' first postseason home game.
"I didn't like that," Wietelmann was reported as saying. "If you're not playing in the game, you shouldn't be on the field."
Wietelmann also introduced some new ideas and innovations to the game. He invented a baseball-cleaning machine while he worked with the Padres and he helped to pioneer pitch-charting while he was in the minors.