May 11, 1990 |
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida
Wittels played college baseball for the Florida International University Golden Panthers in Miami, Florida. He finished the 2010 season with a 56-game hitting streak, two hits shy of the Division I record. He also set the FIU season record for hits. He was nominated for the Best Male College Athlete ESPY Award for his 2010 performance, won Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors, and was named a NCBWA and Louisville Slugger/TPX Preseason All-American prior to the 2011 season.
His parents are Lishka Wittels (a member of the Jewish-Cuban community, and a descendant of Turkish Jews) and Michael Wittels, an orthopedic surgeon, and he has three siblings. He is from Bay Harbor Islands, Florida and is Jewish. When he was eight years old, his father put a batting cage in their home's backyard. He attended Jewish day school until middle school.
Wittels attended Dr. Michael Krop High School. There, he was Miami Herald Third Team All-Miami Dade in 2006 and 2007, and Second Team All-Miami Dade in 2008. As a senior, he batted .420, with six home runs and 29 RBIs.
College, and hitting streak
Wittels played college baseball for the Florida International University Golden Panthers in Miami, Florida. He was an infielder, playing mainly shortstop but also third base and second base, and a relief pitcher.
Wittels finished the 2010 season, his sophomore year, with a 56-game hitting streak; the same number of games as Joe DiMaggio had in his major-league-record 1941 streak. He finished two hits shy of Robin Ventura's 58-game streak in 1987 (then, as a sophomore with Oklahoma State University), the Division I record. During the streak, he wore the same items of clothing for each game (though he washed them), and did not cut his hair. He chewed the same brand of Bubblicious Watermelon bubble gum every game. Before each game he got down on one knee in the outfield to say the shema, a Jewish prayer.
Wittels was nominated for the Best Male College Athlete ESPY Award for his 2010 performance, won Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors, was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament Team, and led FIU to a Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament championship. U.S. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida honored him with laudatory mention in the United States House of Representatives. Sports Illustrated writer Joe Lemire called him: "Arguably the most famous player in Div. 1 baseball".
He batted a league-leading .412, setting the FIU season record with a league-leading 100 hits, and leading the team in doubles (21; third in the league) and RBIs (60). He wore number 10.
Prior to the 2011 season, Wittels was named a Louisville Slugger/TPX Preseason All-American (third base, first team), as well as an All-American by PING! Baseball (utility, first team), the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) (second base, second team), American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings (utility, second team), and Baseball America (second base, third team).
Under NCAA rules, his streak would have continued had he kept it going into the 2011 season. The streak ended when Wittels went 0 for 4 in the 2011 season opener. Of all major league and NCAA Division 1 hitters, only Ventura and DiMaggio have ever had as long a hitting streak. In 2011, Wittels batted .345.
He finished his FIU career hitting .352 with 7 home runs and 116 RBIs over the course of three seasons.
False rape accusation
On December 27, 2010, Wittels and two friends were falsely accused of raping a 17-year-old girl at the Nassau, Bahamas' Atlantis Resort and Casino. Florida International University said in February 2011 that it would not suspend him on the basis of the pending rape charge.
The charges were dropped by the Bahamian attorney general on June 20, 2011, after evidence pointed to an elaborate plot by the father of one of the girls to extort money from the Atlantis. The Huffington Post reported that security camera footage did not support the women's version of events. Wittels' attorney said the accusations stemmed from an apparent attempt to extort money from the Atlantis resort.
After his junior year of college, he signed with the Cardinals on July 2, 2011, and began playing for the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York–Penn League. With them, Wittels finished the 2011 season hitting .262 with 8 doubles, a triple, and 13 RBIs, and had a 14-game hitting streak (tied for 6th-longest in the league).
In 2012, Wittels played for the Batavia Muckdogs (NYPL; A-), Quad Cities River Bandits (Midwest League; A), Springfield Cardinals (Texas League; AA), and Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League; AAA), batting a combined .243. The Cardinals released him on October 9, 2012, re-signed him the following February.
- Siobhan Morrissey (August 8, 2012). "Where have you gone, Garrett Wittels?; The shortstop's epic hitting streak once thrilled MLB, until his epic fall". ESPN. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- Jacob Berkman (July 6, 2010). "DiMaggio. Koufax. Wittels — Jewish batsman eyes college streak". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
- Adam Beasley (February 16, 2011). "Garrett Wittels: FIU baseball player cleared to play despite rape charge". Sun Sentinel.
- "Sports Shorts". Jewish Sports Review. 8 (87): 17. September 2011.
- Joe Lemire (June 3, 2010). "The hits keep coming for FIU's Wittles". Sports Illustrated.
- "# 10 Garrett Wittels Bio". FIU Panthers. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Karen Crouse (June 2, 2010). "Hitting Streak Lifts Shadows Over a Campus". The New York Times.
- "Florida International's Garrett Wittels pulls within 2 of longest hit streak in FIU loss". ESPN. June 6, 2010.
- Mike Sielski (June 4, 2010). "Florida International's Wittels Chases Hit Record". Wall Street Journal.
- "Hitting Streak on Hold as Hair Grows On". The New York Times. June 12, 2010.
- Janie Campbell (May 21, 2010). "FIU Infielder Bags Berth on NCAA's All-Time Hit List; Panther Garret Wittels will attempt to tie the NCAA's 2nd-place hitting streak tonight". NBC 6 South Florida.
- Lincoln Diaz-Balart (June 9, 2010). "Honoring Garrett Wittels of FIU for Extending his Hitting Streak to 56 Games". Congressional Record, Volume 156 Issue 86.
- Sunil Joshi (February 18, 2011). "College player's hitting streak halted at 56". Major League Baseball.
- "Garrett Wittels NCAA baseball hit streak reaches 50 games on Thursday". SILive.com. May 27, 2010.
- Klopman, Michael (June 20, 2011). "Garrett Wittels Rape Charges Dropped: FIU Baseball Star Cleared (Video)". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- "Why GW is Sun Belt Player of the Year". FIU Panthers Prowl. May 2010.
- Sissi Aguila (July 5, 2011). "Garrett Wittels signs with the St. Louis Cardinals". FIU News.
- Jacob Berkman (July 13, 2010). "Jews in Sports: From DiMaggio to Wittels", The Jerusalem Post
- "Garrett Wittels of FIU arrested, charged with rape in Bahamas". ESPN. December 27, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "Bahamas drops rape charges against FIU's Garrett Wittels". USA Today. June 20, 2011. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Amy Shipley (February 19, 2011). "Florida International's Garrett Wittels will pursue NCAA baseball record under cloud of suspicion". Washington Post.
- "Bahamas drops rape charges against FIU's Garrett Wittels". ESPN. June 20, 2011. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "Garrett Wittels Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights". minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- "Garrett Wittels; 2012 Memphis Roster". Scout.com. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "Garrett Wittels Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
- Another five Cards minor leaguers released Scout.com