The Obit For Nick Willhite

Nick Willhite dies at 67; former pitcher for the Dodgers and Angels

The Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2008

Nick Willhite, 67, a left-handed pitcher whose five-year baseball career was highlighted by the shutout he threw in his debut with the Dodgers in 1963, died of cancer Sunday at a son's home in Alpine, Utah.

Willhite was born Jan. 27, 1941, in Tulsa, Okla., and grew up in Denver, where he starred in baseball and football in high school. He was signed by the Dodgers in 1959, earning a $50,000 bonus, and called up in June 1963.

A 6-foot-2, 195-pound starter and relief pitcher, Willhite was shipped to the Washington Senators after the 1964 season but was reacquired by the Dodgers early in the 1965 season. The Dodgers won the World Series that year, but he did not make an appearance in the series against the Minnesota Twins. After the 1966 season the Dodgers again traded him, to the Angels, who then traded him during the 1967 season to the New York Mets. He was out of baseball by age 26, with an overall record of 6-12 and a 4.55 earned-run average.

Willhite bounced around from one job to another, working as a pitching coach at Brigham Young University and in the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees organizations.

Divorced three times and living on the streets of Salt Lake City as a drug and alcohol addict, he reached out to another former Dodger pitcher, Stan Williams. Williams put him in touch with the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps former baseball players in need. Willhite entered a treatment center in 1989 and eventually became an addictions counselor.