John Carl Wittig, 84, Orioles pitcher in the '30s

February 28, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Carl Wittig, a former pitcher with the International League Orioles who later played with the New York Giants and the Boston Red Sox, died Wednesday of an aneurysm at Shore Memorial Hospital in Nassawadox, Va. He was 84.

The former 50-year Lansdowne resident, who moved to Bloxom, Va., in 1997, began his baseball career on the sandlots of Baltimore.

"He used to take his bicycle and pitch two games every Sunday," said his wife of 59 years, the former Elsie Gneiting.

He began his professional career in 1935 with Johnstown in the Middle Atlantic League and pitched for the Orioles during the 1937 and 1938 seasons. In 198 innings, he had 196 strikeouts.

"He was a very respectable right-handed pitcher and a 1930s standout," said Sun sports columnist John Steadman.

"He made it to the majors when there were only 16 teams during a time when many were called and few were chosen. He was a hard-throwing right-hander who always kept the ball low, and you can't help but wonder why he didn't do better in the majors," he said.

In 1938, he joined the Giants, and in 1943 his record was 5-15 with an earned-run average of 4.23. He was out of the game in 1944 and 1945, and in 1946 joined Syracuse, where he had a 1-7 record and a 4.31 ERA. He pitched for the Boston Red Sox in 1949 and ended his major league career there with a 10-25 record.

He returned to the Orioles in 1950 as a relief pitcher, and ended his career in 1952.

After leaving baseball, Mr. Witting was a dispatcher for Mayer Bros. Concrete products in Elkridge. He worked there from 1964 until his retirement in 1984.

Born and raised in Highlandtown, he left school in the ninth grade to help support his family.

He was a member of the Oldtimers Baseball Association, Maryland Professional Baseball Players Association and the Professional Baseball Players Alumni Association. He also was a Mason and longtime member of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Lansdowne.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Ambrose Funeral Home, 2719 Hammonds Ferry Road, Lansdowne.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Carol O'Master of Calverton and Christine Young of Bloxom; two sisters, Hilda Thacker of Baltimore and Marie Botteon of Dundalk; two granddaughters; and three great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 2/28/99

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