Friday, August 1, 2008

Leroy Wheat, Pitched for Philadelphia A's

Leroy Wheat, 78, who pitched for the A's in Philadelphia in 1954 and Kansas City in 1955 died July 29 at a hospital near his Florida home.

Originally signed by the Cleveland Indians, he was traded with Bill Upton early in 1954 for Dave Philley. He was not only a great athlete but an accomplished educator as well. After baseball he completed his Masters degree and became a teacher of physical education and baseball coach and became Athletic Director at Broward Community College.

He never forgot the thrill of pitching to Ted Williams in his major league debut.

Lee attended several reunions and was loved by fans and fellow players alike. There is a term used in baseball that a player is a "gamer." That is someone who plays hurt for the good of the team. While getting ready to attend the first of his reunions, he suffered a serious fall which injured his ribs and other painful problems. Nonetheless, Lee would not disappoint his fans and friends and showed up on time, signing autographs and greeting everyone.

Lee Wheat could pitch sidearm, three quarter and overhand, a rare ability.

If you did not love Lee Wheat, you never met him. The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society deeply mourns his loss. There is an empty spot on our bench that can never be filled. His passing leaves 59 remaining.

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