Wyant grew up in nearby White Hall. His parents ran Wyant’s Store, a general store selling everything from toothpaste to horse saddles that has been in the family for more than 100 years and once doubled as the town’s dance hall and post office.
“It was the 7-Eleven before the 7-Eleven,” said Wyant, with a smile.
Wyant used to help his father stock shelves and clean the store.
“I learned a lot of good lessons there,” he said.
Wyant starred in baseball (and also played basketball) at Western Albemarle High School. His teammates included future UVA football player Billy Baber (who went on to spend three years in the NFL) and Jason Beale, who would go on to play baseball at Virginia Tech.
Wyant is still the all-time RBI leader at Western, ranks third in home runs and is within the top six in hits, runs, wins, ERA, complete games and strikeouts.
“Hunter is on a real short list of the best players we’ve ever had,” WAHS head coach Skip Hudgins said. “He was an outstanding competitor. If you were going to beat him at anything, you were really going to have to buckle up and do well. He wasn’t going to beat himself. He was a very, very competitive kid.”
Hudgins has known Wyant since elementary school when he was his P.E. teacher.
“He came from a very strong and supportive family and was somebody in my mind who was going to be successful at whatever he wound up doing,” Hudgins said.
Wyant chose UVA over the University of North Carolina, Wake Forest University and Tulane University.
“It really came down to staying home,” Wyant said. “I had been fortunate enough to have my entire family watch me play sports – everyone from my parents to my grandparents to my sisters and brother.
“I realized it didn’t make a lot of sense to go away when I could go to an institution with a good baseball program and academic opportunity right here.”
Wyant was immediately a force in the middle of the Hoos’ lineup. Womack ranks Wyatt within the top six or seven hitters he ever coached.
“Right from Day 1, he could swing the bat,” recalled Womack, who coached at UVA from 1980 to 2003. “You’d like to have all nine of your players be able to hit good pitching, but real good pitching is hard to hit. The reality of it is it that sometimes you have a couple guys in your lineup who can handle real good pitching – they’re not intimidated, they’re not overwhelmed and they have good at-bats against top-quality pitching. Hunter was one of those guys.”
Womack always wanted Wyant on base with runners on and in the most crucial situations. He recalled a home run Wyant hit on the road against then-juggernaut University of Miami that propelled the Hoos to a win.
“He was a clutch hitter,” Womack said. “And the better the pitcher, he took that on as a challenge.
“I always kind of felt like he could hit anybody.”
Womack said Wyant was soft-spoken and well-liked.
“I’m not trying to embarrass him,” Womack said, “but when we used to travel and walk through the airport, he sort of turned the girls’ heads. He was one of those guys who kind of had those movie-star looks.”