In Memoriam: Paul Pettit

Paul Pettit. Photo by Canyon Lake Insider.

Paul Pettit, 88, passed away at his home in Canyon Lake, California, on September 24. Paul was born in Los Angeles on November 29, 1931, and raised in Lomita.

The baseball phenom attended Narbonne High School in Harbor City. From 1947 to 1949, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed pitcher struck out 945 batters in 549 innings and pitched six no-hitters, three of them in a row. In one 12-inning game, Paul struck out 27 batters. He became known as “The Wizard of Whiff.”

In 1950, Paul signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates worth $100,000. He is acknowledged as the first $100,000 “Bonus Baby” in Major League Baseball history.

Two weeks after his signing, Paul was in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform for the first time. He made his professional debut, starting against Chattanooga, on April 23, 1950.

In 1952, Paul played for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. He returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953.

Paul’s arm injury became impossible to ignore at the start of the 1954 season. He was eventually forced to give up pitching and was sent down to the Salinas Packers of the California League, where he played outfield.

In 1955, Paul played for the Azules de Veracruz of the Mexican League. He hit .382.

In 1957, Paul returned to the Hollywood Stars. He won 15 games and helped Hollywood win the PCL pennant.

By 1958, Paul’s arm injury had become so bad that he was moved to first base. He retired in 1961.

Paul attended Cal State Long Beach during his baseball career. By the time he stopped playing baseball, Paul had earned a degree in physical education. He began teaching and coaching baseball in 1962.

In 1968, Paul managed the minor league Dubuque Royals. At the end of the season, Paul opted to return to teaching and coaching at the high school level.

Paul was married to his high school sweetheart, Shirley Jennings, for 65 years. They have six children. Shirley passed away in 2016. In 2017, Paul relocated from Hemet to Canyon Lake when he married Sally Mitten.


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