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
* 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
||# of TDs
(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
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.
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
* 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