Former Michigan State coach Danny Litwhiler going into College Baseball Hall of Fame

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Danny Litwhiler helped make baseball stars out of Steve Garvey and Kirk Gibson. He is created with creating the concepts for the pitching radar gun and infield drying solution.

Now, the former Michigan State coach is heading into the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Litwhiler, the first Spartan to enter the College Baseball Hall of Fame, is part of the 14-man class announced Thursday. He will be inducted during a virtual ceremony June 26.

“We’re extremely thrilled for not only Danny Litwhiler, but the entire Litwhiler family, for this honor,” current MSU coach Jake Boss Jr. said in a release. “Skip was a pioneer in all facets of college baseball. The impact that Skip left on Michigan State is certainly far-reaching, and he was an even better human being than he was a coach, and we’re proud to have our program forever associated with Danny Litwhiler.”

Michigan State athletic director Biggie Munn welecomes new baseball coach Danny Litwhiler on Sept. 16, 1963.
Michigan State athletic director Biggie Munn welecomes new baseball coach Danny Litwhiler on Sept. 16, 1963.

Litwhiler, who died at 95 in 2011, went 489-362-8 with the Spartans from 1964-82, coaching them to Big Ten titles in 1971 and 1979 as well as a third NCAA tournament berth in 1978. Then-athletic director Biggie Munn hired the 11-year major leaguer away from Florida State, where Litwhiler went 190-83-1 with three College World Series appearances and seven NCAA tournaments in nine seasons.

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Garvey and Gibson, both of whom also played football at MSU, were among Litwhiler’s 13 former Spartans to make it to the major leagues. Litwhiler was a 1942 All-Star and won a world championship with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1944 in a career that spanned from 1940-51. He also played for the Phillies, Braves and Reds and finished with a .282 average with 107 home runs and 451 RBIs in 1,057 games after graduating from Bloomsburg State Teachers College in Pennsylvania.

American baseball players Danny Litwhiler (left) of the Cincinnati Reds and Jackie Robinson (1919 - 1972) of the Brooklyn Dodgers pose together as they smile and hold a poster form the 'Mayor's Friendly Relations Committee,' Cincinnati, Ohio, May 11, 1984. The poster features an illustration of a group of boys and the text 'What's his race or religion go to do with it--he can pitch!', 'Fight for Racial and Religious Understanding', and 'Keep pitching for EQUAL RIGHTS for all Americans. Remember--Home Runs are made by children of every race, color, creed and national origin.' (Photo by Betz-Marsh Studio/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)
American baseball players Danny Litwhiler (left) of the Cincinnati Reds and Jackie Robinson (1919 - 1972) of the Brooklyn Dodgers pose together as they smile and hold a poster form the 'Mayor's Friendly Relations Committee,' Cincinnati, Ohio, May 11, 1984. The poster features an illustration of a group of boys and the text 'What's his race or religion go to do with it--he can pitch!', 'Fight for Racial and Religious Understanding', and 'Keep pitching for EQUAL RIGHTS for all Americans. Remember--Home Runs are made by children of every race, color, creed and national origin.' (Photo by Betz-Marsh Studio/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)

Litwhiler did not play in 1945 after entering the Army’s Special Services, he helped organize recreation activities for thousands of troops. He returned to pro baseball in 1946, but continued to make an impact after retiring as a player.

Along with his coaching at MSU and Florida State, Litwhiler served as the International President for the U.S. Baseball Federation from 1978-83 and was a member of both the technical committee of the International Association of Amateur Baseball and the board of directors for the American Baseball Coaches Association. He also coached three seasons in the minor leagues from 1952-54.

After helping create “Diamond Grit” to dry wet spots on infields while at Florida State, Litwhiler in 1974 at MSU came up with the concept of using police radar gun technology to track the speed of pitches. He partnered with JUGS Pitching Machine creator John Paulson to build it for baseball. The prototype used at MSU is the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Litwhiler is credited with more than 100 inventions for baseball. He was inducted into the American Association of College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980, received the “Lefty Gomez Award” for outstanding contributions and distinguished service to college baseball and was selected for the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994. Litwhiler is one of only three Spartans to have his number (1) retired and was named MSU’s Distinguished Baseball Alumnus of the Year in 2003.

The College Baseball Hall of Fame was created in 2004, with the first class inducted in 2006. Other inductees along with Litwhiler this year include former major leaguers Todd Helton (Tennessee), Terry Kennedy (Florida State) and Gregg Olson (Auburn).

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-Spartans coach Danny Litwhiler into College Baseball Hall of Fame