College Baseball Flint Northwestern High school, 1967 Michigan State University, 1971

My Story

I grew up in Flint Michigan, one of the greatest places in the US to grow up. There was a lot going on in that town especially with General Motors headquartered there. If kids couldn’t afford to go to college, they could apply to General Motors and would be pretty much assured to get hired. In fact, both of my parents worked at GM. Anyway, the sports teams were also very good, and I was a part of most of them. Football, basketball and baseball were the sports I played, and though 5’ 7”, I was one of the fastest kids. In basketball, I could dribble and score, and in baseball, I did pretty well also, consistently with a batting average of .350 or higher. In High-School while playing sports and going to school, I set 3 goals for my life. I wanted to play Major League baseball, I wanted to act (I loved Don Knotts and Tim Conway) and I wanted an education. The first check off on my list was attending college. I was headed to Eastern Michigan University but apparently unknown to me, my High-School coach wrote a letter to Michigan State and told them of a recent game in which hit 3 home runs my first three at bats, drove in 5 runs, and we ended up winning 6-1. Funny story, but on my 4th at bat, I hit a long and high fly ball and the fans and kids were anticipating another home run and were so excited but the ball was caught! It was a great game regardless. I ended my High-School season hitting .453 and voted most valuable player on my Northwestern Team and all league shortstop and because of the letter that my High-School coach wrote in regards to this 3 homerun game, I ended up being recruited to attend Michigan State University which is where I really wanted to go. The time frame was 1967.
So with this short background about myself in High-School, on arriving at Michigan State, I thought I was big time. I was an athlete, short hair, straight laced, not doing drugs and thought I was better than most students around me. One of my Check Your Game moments took place during this time when I thought I was “all that!” During my Freshman year, there was this group of guys who had long hair, moustaches and assumed, were smoking pot. They weren’t considered a cool group at all and I treated them like that. As I lived in my dorm that year, I guess you could say that I got to know this group of guys through interactions in the hall ways and just being around them and I started becoming their friend. I got along with them so well that I ended up rooming with one of them along with a hockey player and another baseball player the very next year. These guys were like you and me…a friend! The biggest thing I learned is to not judge anyone. From that day on, I realized that I’m no better than anyone else, especially as an athlete. I have applied that same mentality when I meet others whether they were kids in my classrooms or adults I meet today. Don’t judge a book by its cover is how the saying goes.

My Advice

Before I share advice, I need to share what took place after College in regard to baseball. I ended up marrying my High-School sweetheart my Senior year of college and at the time being married, I was drafted by the Washington Senators (one year later they changed to the Texas Rangers). My first cousin, Merv was with the Orioles at the time and he was helping me out a bit in order for me to make a good decision. My offer, called for $1000 signing bonus and $500 per month to accept this contract. Merv told me to call the owner of Washington and see if he would give me $10000 but the owner told me that he couldn’t compete with that amount but for me to sign the contract that I had and he'd try to renegotiate the contract once I got to Geneva, NY. So, I had a choice between going to play baseball or to take a job opportunity as a Community Education Director for $12,500. There were no immediate benefits offered in baseball right away (pension) like the Community Education Director job, and it was a hard decision because I was married. I made the decision to accept the Community Education Director job. Things didn’t work out as planned in my marriage as my wife started the separation process and we were divorced several years later. I chose my marriage which went down a dead-end road instead of choosing to play Major League Baseball, which was one of my goals in life. My advice to kids today is that if you want something bad enough, go for it. Don’t let peer pressure or whatever else pull you away. I had the opportunity to play pro baseball but didn’t take it and at 28 years old was divorced. During the time that I was drafted, my Mom and Dad told me that it’s my decision and they would support me whichever direction I decided to do. They didn’t pressure me at all. I know they would’ve been proud if I followed my heart. Don’t let others convince you to do anything differently. The best thing that came out of my decision though, is that 38 years ago, after getting remarried to an amazing woman, Beth, we both had the privilege of having 4 wonderful girls and 10 grandchildren. I wouldn’t change a thing for myself, but for others who have a similar story to mine, take my advice and go after your dream, no matter what it is!
Bonus #1
When our first daughter Kelsey was born, my dad (an umpire for many years), said, ”oh man, he's got a foul ball!” My wife, Beth and I looked at each other and laughed and said, "that is really funny." Of course, he was joking but that’s what he said. The next child we had was Lindsey and of course he said, “another foul ball!” The third child was Shannon, and the fourth child Whitney. My Dad then names the girls the “Four Foul Balls.” I recently got a tattoo on my arm that has a picture of a baseball field with the first letters of my daughters on each of the bases with a heading on the top that says, “My Four Foul Balls!”
Bonus #2
When I was in Flint, Michigan working as a PE teacher, I had Terry Crews (the actor) in grades 3-6. Terry not only was a great artist, but also played basketball and flag football. As the years continued on, the young Terry started getting bigger and bigger and he ended up attending Western Michigan on a football scholarship. After a few years, he became a great player and he ended up getting drafted to play in the NFL for 6 years. When football was over, Terry then moved his family to the LA area to pursue his real passion and that was art. As Terry lived and worked in LA, he was eventually taken notice by some famous actors that got him into acting and the rest is history. I was just proud of all that Terry accomplished and as I continued teaching to young kids, I would always encourage them that they too could follow in Terry's shoes. Terry was a role model for both kids and adults and I'm proud to say that I not only knew him, but also taught him in school.


I've really gotten to like you Whitey as I've learned more about your story over the last year. Your wife seems like a great lady and hearing about your kids (Four Foul Balls) sounds like you've had many blessings and a wonderful life. I know you are glad that life turned out the way it did even though we all make mistakes in our past but that's the way things work many times. I appreciate many things about your story that includes your athletics, your coaching/mentoring and teaching but what I really liked hearing is your story about the kids that didn't look like you on the outside! I too can relate to being an athlete and making judgements of others that didn't look like me, especially when the others weren't athletes. Many times in life, people are so focused on the outside; what a person looks like, what kind of car they're driving, how someone speaks, what a person is wearing, etc., that we really miss what's important, and that's the inside of a person! I really love your Check Your Game moment when you realized that these other kids, though didn't look like you on the outside, were just like you as you got to know them better. I'm much older and wiser today and can attest to what you discovered in life and it's so important that others not judge a book by it's cover both on and off the athletic field because many times, people really do surprise us! Thanks again Whitey for spending time with me and being transparent to share a bit about your story. -Gary Rogers

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Mike Schulz says:

Nice job Whitey!! You might, at times, regretted not taking the baseball route, but literally thousands of lives were influenced and changed because of your influence. We had the best job in the world!!

Craig Irwin says:

Wow Whitey, Terry Crews! Was that at Johnson elementary School.I am six years older and was at Johnson also. You where the most supportive coach and made Johnson school sports a real pleasure.

Judy Curtiss says:

It was so fun to read your story!! Ive always felt sad you chose your marriage over the possibility of major league baseball, but your imprint you left and is felt on the city of Flint is forever. I cherish the short time you shared your life with our family. We always loved you and always will. What a beautiful life and wonderful family you have created!! ❤️❤️

Ann says:

Nice to read your story Whitey.
I’ve always admired your smile and fun personality. You are a great teacher and family man.
You have shown one of the best lessons in life as we may all look different on the outside in all shades of color too but what is in our heart and how we treat others that is important.
When you are a Teacher you influence so many lives.
Thanks for sharing

I always thought that you would make it to the “Bigs”.What a player!! I remember Coach Ralph timing us as we ran from home plate around the bases and back to home. You were the fastest,I was the slowest!!I ran into a pitcher from Flint Northern recently.I mentioned the game where you hit your three home runs. He said ” Two of them were off of me”!!To me you are “All that”. I’m proud to have grown up with you and will forever be your friend.Thanks Whitey!! Paul.

Carol Rittenbery says:

Whitey-that was an interesting account of your life as well as full of lessons for all. You did so much with your life. Congratulations.
P. S. You did your share of acting too!!!

Jon Reibel says:


Thank you for sharing your story. You are a great man and role model. Love the advice!

George Petroff says:

As the “other baseball player” that roomed with you at MSU, I can very much relate to the baseball thing, the marriage, divorce, not moving on to follow your dream. But also like you and the “foul balls” I have two fantastic kids and 5 super grandkids. Perhaps God’s plan was what we accomplished “off” the field. I’d like to think that was the case. But, having you as a roommate, and teammate has to be among the best times of my life. Love you Whitey.

So Proud of this post Whitey. I really never knew much about your background before you married my cousin, Bethany Huber. I knew that she a Great catch but upon meeting you,
You guys are a Wonderful couple and I’m proud to call you Family.
What a Great Father and Grandfather. Keep up the good job and your Love for your wife.
God is Good.
Betty Kay Etue