Share your memories of Nick Willhite
HERE IS WHAT OTHER METS FANS HAVE TO SAY:
February 18, 2002
Willhite was a hot prospect to joining the Dodger rotation behind Koufax and Drysdale, but finished up his career with the Mets, with whom he got his final (and worst) start in the major leagues: on June 11th 1967, the first anniversary of Dick Rusteck's shutout of the Reds, he and the Mets' relief staff got lit up by seven home runs by the Cubs (in Wrigley with the wind blowing out, no doubt) and lost the game 18-10. Ouch!
February 8, 2006
His 1967 baseball card said he'd do all right in the majors if he could keep his weight down. I don't know what happened to his weight, but his career ended with that card, I think.
December 19, 2008
Nick passed away at his son's home in Alpine, Utah on December 14, 2008 after a battle with cancer.
Nick's entire life was a battle. He won a World Series ring with the 1963 Dodgers as a rookie but was out of baseball after his brief 1967 stint with the Mets.
Nick was married three times and divorced three times, and in the 1980s he was living on the streets of Salt Lake City as a drug and alcohol addict. His addictions were the reason he lost jobs as a minor league coach for the Royals, Brewers, and Yankees.
At the age of 48 on October 14, 1989 (the day of the first game of the A's-Giants Earthquake World Series) he was calling some old friends and family, having thought about suicide. In the phone book was the number of Stan Williams, a former Dodger teammate. Williams immediately had the Baseball Assistance Team call Nick, and two days later Nick was in a rehab center in Colorado.
After he completed rehab Herman Franks helped him find a place to live. Don Newcombe and Peter O'Malley helped him get his World Series ring back. He had hocked the ring a few years earlier when he needed $1,100 to fix his car.
He became an addiction counselor in the early 1990s and also reunited with his six children and his grandchildren.
Rest in peace, Nick.
December 22, 2008
First, upon Nick's passing, I would thank Bob P who put together a life story for us instantly, fleshing out a guy we would all know near nothing about, yet, as Shea comes crashing down, he added to that quilt that is the Mets and SHOULD be remembered, even for this moment alone.
My comments about him were more musings on his career. Like Joe Moeller, he was a Dodger wonderkid in the 60's who never got it done. Willhite was traded to the Mets mid 1967 from the Angels at the old (JUNE ) trade deadline in return for a very respectable Jack Hamilton. (Hamilton started 20 games and won 9 for the Angels after the trade.) Of course eight weeks later came the Conigliaro incident for which Hamilton is ultimately remembered.
Meanwhile, the Mets gave Willhite the start the day after the trade, and though Nick only gave up 1 HR, the Cubs hit 7 while the two teams set a record with a combined 11. And Nick Willhite is done as a major leaguer before June is over.
Not quite an Otis/Ryan gaffe, but clearly an ill fated trade in Mets history.