For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook -

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Chris Whitehead got married on the field at Lynchburg, saw three pro seasons; Killed in 1991 crash

Chris Whitehead 1990 Lynchburg Red Sox card, Whitehead posed fielding

Red Sox minor leaguer Chris Whitehead caught up with The Knoxville News-Sentinel in January 1991, going over his first three pro seasons - and his hopes for more, to make the majors.

He also spoke to The News-Sentinel of the big happening his previous season at high-A Lynchburg, when he and his fiancé Stephanie got married at home plate.

"Baseball's been my life, and Stephanie really likes baseball, so it was just something we thought we would always remember," Whitehead told The News-Sentinel. "We didn't expect, or really want, all the attention we got over that."

For Whitehead, though, his baseball dreams would soon end, as he returned home for his family. Then that summer, his life would end, killed in a two-car crash in his hometown of Maryville, Tenn. 

Whitehead's career began in 1988, taken by the Red Sox in the 22nd round of the draft out of Middle Tennessee State University.

Whitehead started with the Red Sox at short-season Elmira. He saw 70 games and hit .248. That August, he spoke to The Elmira Star-Gazette about that night's opposing pitcher after a loss.

"He had a pretty good breaking pitch," Whitehead told The Star-Gazette, "and he jammed us with some fastballs. But he was very hittable; it just took us too long to get to him."

Whitehead moved to single-A Winter Haven for 1989. He hit .241 in 120 games. In mid-July, Whitehead held a .250 average with five home runs. He'd also played both outfield and third, his hometown Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal wrote.

"I think by playing more than one spot, an organization will keep you around longer," Whitehead told The Daily News-Journal. "All of us want to make it to the bigs, and you have to do whatever it takes."

Whitehead then moved to Lynchburg for 1990. He hit .210 there in 117 games. But, though he had hoped to continue, Whitehead ultimately left for a job at home, The Daily News-Journal wrote that July. 

He was then killed as his car struck an oncoming vehicle there, July 25, 1991. He and his wife had two daughters.

"He was a young man, and you can't understand why some things happen like that," Whitehead's old coach at Middle Tennessee State Steve Peterson told The Daily News-Journal. "But he had good faith in God, and his family will be able to handle his death. He was only 24 years old, but the 24 years he lived, he lived a good life and touched a lot of people."

After his passing, his college started an award in his honor, given to the best offensive player. His high school later honored him with a memorial. Then, in 2016, he was inducted in to his county's Hall of Fame, The Alcoa Daily Times wrote

Chris Whitehead 1990 Lynchburg Red Sox card, Whitehead posed fielding

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,141
Made the Majors:1,369-33.1%
Never Made Majors:2,772-66.9%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:557
10+ Seasons in the Minors:337

No comments:

Post a Comment