Sept. 25, 2011


Danny Litwhiler passes away


Former Michigan State and Florida State head coach and major league all-star Danny Litwhiler died on Friday, Sept. 23, in Clearwater, Fla., at the age of 95.


In 28 seasons at Florida State and Michigan State, he posted a record of 678-445-9 (.603) with 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. Litwhiler was inducted into the American Association of College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980.


While in Tallahassee, Litwhiler had a record of 190-83-1 (.695) in nine seasons from 1955-63. He took the Seminoles to seven NCAA Tournaments and three times reached the College World Series (1957, 1962, 1963) before heading to East Lansing.


In 19 years with the Spartans, Litwhiler was 488-362-9 (.573) with Big Ten titles in 1971 and 1979. He led MSU to three NCAA Tournaments (1971, 1978, 1979).


One of the greatest innovators of the game, he developed the radar speed gun. The first prototype which was used at Michigan State is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Litwhiler made an unbreakable mirror for pitchers to watch their deliveries and used a bat sawed in half to teach bunting. While at Florida State, he developed “diamond dust”, which was used to dry baseballs, and “diamond grit”, used to dry wet spots in the infield. Letwhiler came up with more than 100 inventions for baseball.


Litwhiler played for 11 years in the major leagues from 1940-51 with the Phillies, Cardinals, Braves and Reds. He was an all-star for the Phillies in 1942 and was a member of the Cardinals’ 1944 World Championship team. Litwhiler was thee first major leaguer to play a full season without committing an error (317 chances in 151 games in 1942) and set a record with 187 consecutive errorless games, putting his glove in the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Litwhiler was a 1939 graduate of Bloomsburg (Pa.) University and the baseball facility there is named in his honor (Danny Litwhiler Field).


(photo courtesy of MSU Media Relations Office)