Whitey Wistert
Date of birth: (1912-02-20)February 20, 1912
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Date of death: April 23, 1985(1985-04-23) (aged 73)
Place of death: Painesville, Ohio
Career information
Position(s): Tackle
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
College: Michigan
Career highlights and awards
Awards: Michigan Football Legend
College Football Hall of Fame

Francis Michael "Whitey" Wistert (February 20, 1912 – April 23, 1985) was an American football and baseball player. He played college football and college baseball at the University of Michigan. Wistert was the first of the three Wistert brothers—he was succeeded by Albert (Al) and Alvin—who were named All-American tackles at Michigan and later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967. During his time at Michigan, Wistert played on three consecutive Big Ten Conference football championships teams, including two that won back-to-back national championships. He was also Big Ten Conference MVP in baseball in college and later played for Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds. The Wistert brothers all wore jersey No. 11 at Michigan and are among the seven players who have had their numbers retired by the Michigan Wolverines football program. Their number will be put back into circulation starting on November 10, 2012 before a Michigan home game against Northwestern as part of the Michigan Football Legend program.[1]

Early yearsEdit

Wistert was born in 1912 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents, Kazimir J. Wistert and Josephine (Shukis) Wistert, immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 1894 and were married at Chicago in 1907.[2][3] His father was a policeman in Chicago from at least 1910 to 1927.[4][2][5] At the time of the 1920 United States Census, Wistert's family lived at 5647 Waveland Avenue in Chicago's 27th Ward and consisted of parents, Kazimir and Josephine, and five children: Josephine (age 11), Isabelle (age 10), Francis (age 7), Evelyn (age 6), and Alvin (age 3-1/2).[2]

Wistert's father was shot while on duty and pursuing a robbery suspect in July 1926.[6][7] By the spring of 1927, Wistert's father, who had served in the U.S. Army from 1898 to 1901, was disabled due to "chest emphysema with draining sinus" and was admitted to the U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[5] He died in June 1927 when Whitey was 15 years old.[8]

At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Wistert's family continued to live at 5647 Waveland Avenue in Chicago. The household at that time consisted of Wistert's mother, Josephine, and five children: Josephine (age 22, employed as a bookkeeper), Francis (age 18, employed as a tube maker for a radio company), Evelyn (age 16, employed as a "saleslady" at a variety store), Alvin (age 13), and Albert (age 8).[9]

College athleticsEdit

After graduating from Chicago's Schurz High School in 1929,[10][11] Wistert attended the University of Michigan where he was a star athlete in both football and baseball from 1931 to 1933.

The Wistert brothers of MichiganEdit

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, Alvin 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."[12]

The Wistert brothers grew up on the northwest side of Chicago and were the sons of a Lithuanian family.[13] Their father was a Spanish-American War veteran who was later killed in the line of duty while working for the Chicago Police Department.[13] According to brother Alvin Wistert, their father "was born Casmir Vistertus and he Anglicized it when he came to America to Wistert."[12]

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."[12] Kowalik took Whitey with him on his visit to Ann Arbor, and according to Alvin, "that's how it started: the Wisterts of Michigan."[12]


Whitey Wistert
No. 19     
Personal information
Date of birth:
Career information
Debuted in 1934 for the [[Cincinnati Reds]]
Last played in 1934 for the [[Cincinnati Reds]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Big Ten MVP, Baseball, 1934

As a football player, Wistert played for consecutive undefeated national championship teams in 1932 and 1933[14][15] and was a consensus All-American in 1933.[16] 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."[17]

Wistert and Chuck Bernard were the leaders of the 1933 offensive line when the team went 7–0–1 with a tie to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.[14]

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."[18]

In 1936, he was a member Michigan football coaching staff under Coach Harry Kipke.[19]


Wistert also earned varsity letters in baseball three years and was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference in 1934.[20] The 1934 Michiganensian yearbook reports that the final game of the baseball season was a 4–0 shutout by Wistert against the University of Chicago 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."[21] Wistert also pitched a four-hitter against Ohio State.[22]


Wistert was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1967, one year before his brother Albert.[16] 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.[23]

Professional baseballEdit

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.[24] 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.[11] Fellow 1933 Michigan Wolverines football All-American, Ted Petoskey also debuted for the Reds in September 1934.[25]

Late lifeEdit

After retiring from sports, Wistert became a New York lawyer. He went on to became a vice-president of an industrial relations firm in Toledo, Ohio. He served in the United States Navy as a lieutenant during World War II.[11]

See alsoEdit


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Census entry for Kazimir Wistert and family. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1920;Census Place: Chicago Ward 27, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_340; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 1665; Image: 396.
  3. Marriage record for Kazimir J. Wistert and Josephine Shukis, married February 11, 1907 in Chicago. Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920 [database on-line].
  4. Census entry for Kasimir and Josephine Wistert, both born in Russia-Lithuania. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 27, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_270; Page: 31B; Enumeration District: 1202; Image: 959; FHL Number: 1374283.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Disability record for Kasimir Wistert, age 50, occupation police officer, home in Chicago, married to Josephine Wistert of 5647 Waveland Avenue in Chicago. U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866-1938 [database on-line].
  6. "Wounded". Chicago Daily Tribune. July 11, 1926.
  7. "Sergeant Kazimer Wistert". Officer Down Memorial Page.
  8. Death record for Kazimer J. Wistert, died in Chicago on June 7, 1927, born about 1877, son of John Wistert, spouse of Josephine Wistert. Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line].
  9. Census entry for Josephine Wistert and family. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 482; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 1524; Image: 202.0.
  10. "Schurz High School Sports Hall of Fame". Schurz High School. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Francis "Whitey" Wistert". National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Green, Jerry (2004-01-02). "Wistert brothers' fame was built on hard work". Detroit News.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Campbell, Jim (2006-04-15). "Conversation with Al Wistert: An old pro tells it like it was". Pro Football Weekly LLC. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "1933 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  15. "1932 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jones, Todd (2007). "Michigan". In MacCambridge, Michael. ESPN Big Ten College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Enterprises. ISBN 1-933060-49-2.
  17. 1934 Michiganensian, p. 104. University of Michigan.
  18. Kim, Hae-Jin (1996-10-31). "Former Pres. Ford made most of his 'U' experience from 1931-1935". The Michigan Daily. Archived from the original on January 27, 2005. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  19. "1936 Football Team". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  20. "University of Michigan Football All-American: Francis (Whitey) Wistert". The Regents of the University of Michigan. 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  21. 1934 Michiganensian, pp. 126-127. University of Michigan.
  22. 1934 Michiganensian, p. 127. University of Michigan.
  23. "Hall of Honor". M Club. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
  24. "Whitey Wistert". Sports Reference, Inc.. 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  25. "Ted Petoskey". Sports Reference, Inc.. 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2007-12-07.

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