Wooten, local sports legend, dies at 82
Former Major League Baseball
player and basketball star Earl Hazwell Wooten, 82, died Saturday at
his Williamston home.
After finishing high school in Pelzer, Mr. Wooten went to work in the towns textile mill and joined the mills baseball team, which was a member of the Carolina Textile League.
According to published reports, his skills were noticed by major league scouts, and Mr. Wooten signed a contract with the Washington Senators. He played two seasons with the team, in 1947 and 1948.
He played six games for the Senators in 1947 and was called up to the Senators in 1948, where he hit .256 for the season. He was to play for the Senators in 1949, but broke an agreement not to play basketball while under contract and was released by the Senators.
"I signed that contract with good intentions," he said in a 1994 interview with the Anderson Independent-Mail. "I really thought I could give it up. But when I got home and they started bouncing that basketball ... well, it was all over."
For the next several years, Mr. Wooten played minor league baseball in Boston and Atlanta before retiring in 1955. He finished with a career batting average of .325, according to the Web site, Historicbaseball.com.
He then moved back home to Pelzer and continued to play with the mill teams in both basketball and baseball.
"I didnt grow up thinking about playing in the major leagues," Mr. Wooten said in the 1994 interview. "I grew up wanting to play for the mill team. Thats what all the boys grew up dreaming about."
Mr. Wootens high school coach, Marshall Stone, said in the 1994 interview that Mr. Wooten was a natural athlete.
"Earl was one of those individuals you didnt coach," Mr. Stone said. "He just played."
In 1994, a stretch of South Carolina highway was named after Mr. Wooten. The Earl Wooten Highway begins at the intersection of S.C. 20 and U.S. 29 and continues up S.C. 20 through and Pelzer to the Greenville County line.
Funeral services for Mr. Wooten will be held at Pelzer United Methodist Church on Monday at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
The family will receive friends at Gray Mortuary in Pelzer this evening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mr. Wootens family asks that memorials be made to Pelzer United Methodist Church, 8 Hale St., Pelzer, 29669.