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Francis Michael "Whitey" Wistert (February 20, 1912 in – April 23, 1985 in ) was an American football and baseball player. He played college football for the University of Michiganmarker Wolverines. He was the first of the three Wistert brothers (Alvin, Albert ) who were named All-American Tackles at Michigan and later inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967. He and his brothers are three of the seven players who have had their numbers retired by the Michigan Wolverines football program. During his time at Michigan, Wistert won three consecutive Big Ten football Championships, including back-to-back National Championships. He was also Big Ten conference MVP in baseball in college and later played for the Major League Baseball Cincinnati Reds.

College athletics

After graduating from Chicago's Schurz High Schoolmarker in 1929, Wistert attended the University of Michigan where he was a star athlete in both football and baseball from 1931-1933.

The Wistert brothers of Michigan

Wistert was the first of three brothers to play for Michigan. The other two are Al Wistert and Alvin Wistert. All three Wistert brothers wore number 11 for the Wolverines football team, and all three were All-Americans. Interviewed by the Detroit News in 2004, brother Alvin Wistert recalled: "And if I'm not mistaken I think this is unprecedented in the annals 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. And all were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame."

The Wistert brothers grew up on the northwest side of Chicago and were the sons of a Lithuanian family. Their father was a Spanish-American War veteran who was later killed in the line of duty while working for the Chicago Police Department. According to brother Alvin Wistert, their father "was born Casmir Vistertus and he Anglicized it when he came to America to Wistert."

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


As a football player, Wistert played for consecutive undefeated National Championship teams in 1932 and 1933 and was a consensus All-American in 1933. The 1934 University of Michigan yearbook, the Michiganensian, included the following quote from Grantland Rice: "Wistert was unanimously selected as the best tackle in the Middle-West this year. He was the key to Michigan's defensive line play. He was a sure tackler and it was next to impossible to fool him on trick maneuvers. He was keen, quick, and accurate in diagnosing plays."

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 Minnesotamarker Golden Gophers.

One of Wistert's teammates on the 1932 and 1933 Michigan football teams was future U.S. President Gerald Ford. In an interview in the February 1974 issue of "Michigan Alumnus," Wistert said of Ford: "He was a real good competitor - a real bulldog type. Even during a losing year, he was voted MVP by his teammates. They felt he was one guy who could stay and fight for a losing cause."

In 1936, he was a member Michigan football coaching staff under Coach Harry Kipke.


Wistert also earned varsity letters in baseball three years and was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference in 1934. The 1934 Michiganensian yearbook reports that the final game of the baseball season was a 4-0 shutout by Wistert against the University of Chicagomarker Maroons. "Wistert, for the Wolves, allowed only five well-scattered 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." Wistert also pitched a four-hitter against Ohio State.


Wistert was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967, one year before his brother Albert. In 1981, he was named to the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in the fourth class of inductees alongside his brothers. Only five Michigan football players earned this honor before him.

Professional baseball

Wistert had a short cup of coffee in Major League Baseball, appearing in three games for the Cincinnati Reds between September 11, 1934 and September 25, 1934. In two appearances as a pitcher, Wistert allowed only one run in eight innings, for a career ERA of 1.13. However, in three plate appearances, he went hitless and struck out twice. Although he only played briefly at the major league level, Wistert played five years of professional baseball. Fellow 1933 Michigan Wolverines football All-American, Ted Petoskey also debuted for the Reds in September 1934.


After retiring from sports, Wistert became a New Yorkmarker lawyer. He went on to became a vice-president of an industrial relations firm in . He served in the United States Navy as a lieutenant during World War II.

See also


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