Ex-Pro Bowl punter Wittum dies

Updated: January 27, 2010, 9:09 AM ET
Associated Press

ANTIOCH, Ill. -- Former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl punter Tom Wittum, who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox but opted for a standout baseball and football career at Northern Illinois, has died. He was 60.

Wittum died of cancer Friday at his home in the northern Chicago suburb of Antioch, his son, Matt Wittum, said Tuesday.

A fifth-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 1968, Wittum instead chose to attend Northern Illinois. He set 10 school kicking records as a place kicker and punter, including the career, single-season and single-game records for punts, punting yards and punting average.

Equally skilled as a third baseman, Wittum helped lead Northern Illinois to a 24-8 record in 1972 -- the first year the Huskies were invited to the NCAA baseball tournament.

Wittum was drafted by the 49ers in 1972. The two-time Pro Bowler played in 70 games with San Francisco from 1973-77, kicking 380 punts for 15,494 yards with a 40.8-yard gross average, according to the team.

He retired from the NFL after a serious car accident left him with several broken bones in 1978, but went on to teach driver's education and coach for more than 30 years, most of it at Grayslake High School in Grayslake, Ill.

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, four children, four grandchildren, and two sisters.

The 49ers said in a statement posted on its Web site that it was deeply saddened by news of Wittum's death.

Matt Wittum said his father's body was cremated, and a memorial service to celebrate his life was held Tuesday at The Chapel in Grayslake.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press