KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee baseball team will honor former head coach John Whited, who passed away in March, prior to its series finale against Ole Miss at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Any former players who wish to join Whited’s family on the field for the pregame ceremony are asked to contact Rachel Miller at (865) 974-9001 by Wednesday, April 17.
The third winningest coach in Tennessee baseball history, Whited served at the helm of the Volunteer program from 1982-87, amassing an overall record of 145-109 (.571) during his six years at Rocky Top.
Whited came to Tennessee in 1981 as an assistant to Bill Wright, who is UT’s longest-tenured coach in UT history at 19 years. The school looked no further than Whited to direct the program when Wright retired following the 1981 season. Whited promptly led the school to three consecutive trips to the SEC playoffs, including second-place finishes in both 1982 and 1984.
Included among his pupils from his time with the Volunteers were Major Leaguers Alan Cockrell, Rich DeLucia, Rich Rodriguez and Steve Searcy. In total, 12 of his players were drafted following their careers at UT.
Prior to arriving on the campus in Knoxville, Whited served as an assistant coach for three seasons at his alma mater, East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Whited directed the pitchers for head coach Charlie Lodes at ETSU. Four of his Buccaneer hurlers wound up in professional baseball, including Atlee Hammaker of the San Francisco Giants, a National League All-Star in 1983.
A native of Kingsport, Whited compiled an impressive mark in his 16 seasons as the head baseball coach at Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennett High School. He guided his teams to a record of 294 wins against 86 losses for a winning percentage of .774, which made him the winningest active coach in the state at that time. Dobyns-Bennett claimed 10 Big-Nine Conference titles during Whited’s tenure, and also finished runners-up in the state high school baseball championship twice.
His teams hold the Big Nine Conference record of 38 consecutive victories and nine times his team was voted as Upper East Tennessee’s top-ranked team. He was voted as Bristol Herald-Courier’s coach-of-the-year five times. He joined the ETSU staff in 1978.
Named the Most Valuable Player in the state tournament as a senior at Dobyns-Bennett in 1957, Whited pitched his way onto the all-state team. Following graduation from high school, he spent five seasons in professional ball, toiling as an infielder in the organizations of the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Minnesota Twins, for whom he was an Alabama-Florida State League all-star in 1960.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education with a minor in health education from East Tennessee State in 1962. He received a Master of Education degree from Memphis State in 1966.
Whited, who carried the nickname “20” with him, married a graduate of East Tennessee State – the former Jennie Lynn Steffey. He was the father of two children: Donna and John.