Wright Bazemore: Fitzgerald football royalty

His name is revered in high school football circles, but how much do you know about Fitzgerald's most famous football alumnus? Here is some information on Wright Bazemore:

* He was born on a farm in Fitzgerald, Georgia on August 1, 1916.

* He played five sports for FHS and earned 16 letters. That included four letters each in football, basketball, and track, and two each in tennis and baseball.

* Here are the TDs he scored in the 1933 season as reported by the Thomasville newspaper:

  Date Opponent # of TDs
  Sep 29 Montezuma 5
  Oct 6 Ocilla 6
  Oct 13 Sparks-Adel 5
  Oct 20 Waycross 1
  Oct 27 Moultrie 1
  Nov 3 Albany 1
  Nov 10 Douglas 1
  Nov 24 Cordele 0
  Nov 30 Tifton 0

(NOTE: The paper didn't say if these were rushing, passing, defensive, or special team TDs.)

* He was also written up in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" for scoring 10 TDs in a game twice while at FHS. (NOTE: A Mercer University "Mercerian" article in 2000 said that he was written up for scoring 11 TDs in one game, but Coach Bazemore stated in a interview that it was 10 in a game on two different occasions. That was confirmed by Coach Bazemore's son.)

* He graduated from FHS in 1934. He had many scholarship offers, but he chose to go to Mercer where his FHS coach (Bill Alderman) had played. At Mercer, he was on the football and basketball teams.

* He played football at Mercer with another Fitzgerald native, Paul Ward. Mr. Ward later went on to become mayor of Fitzgerald.

* He graduated from Mercer in 1938 and accepted a coaching job at Waycross. He then joined Valdosta as an assistant coach in 1940 and took over as head coach at Valdosta in 1941. He retired after the 1971 season.

* During his time at Valdosta, he had a career record of 268-51-7. His teams won 17 region titles, 15 South Georgia championships, 14 state titles, and 3 national championships. Oh, yeah -- he also won at least seven state titles in basketball and six state titles in tennis.

* While he wasn't drafted into the service during World War II, he didn't think it was fair that boys he had coached were going off to and dying in the war while he was back home. As a result, he chose to join the Navy. 

* He was named the National High School Coach of the Year in 1969. He was Coach of the Year for District IV (covering six states) in 1968 and 1970. He was Georgia's Prep Coach of the Year six times, and he was named Region Coach of the Year 11 times.

* He was elected to the Georgia's Sports Hall of Fame in 1960.

* He was made a charter member of the Mercer University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1971.

* He was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001.

* In 1996, Valdosta's football stadium was named Bazemore-Hyder Stadium in honor of Coach Bazemore and Coach Nick Hyder.

* Pictures of him while he was at Mercer:  1   2   3   4

* Picture of Coach Bazemore with his son, Curt:  1

* Here's an interesting piece of trivia: If you've seen "Remember the Titans," you might recall that that the TC Williams Titans finished second in the nation in 1971. Who was first in the nation that year? It was Wright Bazemore's Valdosta Wildcats in what would be his final year of coaching.

* How he wanted to be remembered: "Even if I were not remembered as a coach, I would hope that there are those who I have influenced as far as becoming responsible men and women. Those who practice good Christian principles. All my life I've tried to instill the fact that competition, properly supervised, is a good character builder...Life is competition."

There you have it -- a little info about Fitzgerald's most famous football alumnus.

Information provided by: Louie Harper, Curt Bazemore, Becky Taylor, "The Legendary Wright Bazemore's All American Valdosta Wildcats: 30 Years of Winning" by Tapley Fennon Newton, "Gridiron Glory Days, Football at Mercer, 1892-1942" by Robert E. Wilder