William H. “Bill” Wright, Jr. (1950)

William H. “Bill” Wright, Jr., of Knoxville, died April 21, 2011. He accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Tennessee but in 1943 was called into the Marines and assigned to the officer’s training program at Duke University. He received his 2nd Lt.’s Commission at Quantico, Virginia and served a year in the Central Pacific. He returned to UT for the 1946-47 basketball season but passed up his final year of eligibility to sign a bonus baseball contract with the St. Louis Browns (now Baltimore Orioles). Due to health issues, he gave up his promising baseball career and returned to UT to graduate with a bachelor’s degree (1950) and a master’s degree (1951) from the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. He accepted a position as teacher and coach at Knoxville West High School and in 1960 was hired at UT as the first full-time academic advisor to athletes in the SEC, a position he held for 16 years. In 1963, in addition to his counseling duties, he was named head baseball coach. He retired from coaching in 1981 as the winningest baseball coach in Vol history. In 1982, he was head coach of the gold medal winning USA team in the World’s Fair International Baseball Tournament. After retiring, he was inducted into six Sports Halls of Fame.

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