Litwhiler's 1949 Bowman Gum baseball card
|Born: August 31, 1916|
|Died: September 23, 2011 (aged 95)|
|April 25, 1940, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 25, 1951, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Runs batted in||451|
|Career highlights and awards|
Daniel Webster Litwhiler (August 31, 1916 – September 23, 2011) was an American Major League baseball player who played outfield from 1940 to 1951. He played for the Boston Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, and Cincinnati Reds. He was the first Major Leaguer to have an error-free season. That same season, 1942, he also became the first player to stitch together the fingers of his glove.
Before entering baseball, Litwhiler graduated from college, unlike most major leaguers at the time. He graduated from Bloomsburg State Teacher's College in 1938, earning a bachelor's degree in Science and Social Sciences. The baseball facility at Bloomsburg is named Danny Litwhiler Field.
Major League career
After finishing the 1941 season with a .305 batting average, he was selected to the All Star game in 1942, where he hit safely in his only at-bat.
In 1942, he recorded 308 putouts and 9 assists without making an error for a 1.000 fielding percentage. He had an errorless streak of 187 games before making an error on May 20, 1943, the only error he made that season as he led all outfielders in fielding percentage for the second straight year with a .996 fielding percentage.
Litwhiler was traded to the Cardinals in 1943 and was a key player for them in the 1944 World Series against the St. Louis Browns. He played left field in five of the six games and had four hits with one RBI and two runs scored.
He then coached at Michigan State University from 1964 to 1982, and holds the record for most wins by a coach in the school's history. Among his former players are Steve Garvey, Kirk Gibson and Rick Miller.
During his coaching career, he invented a very effective method of drying baseball fields after rain using calcined clay which was marketed as Diamond Grit, enabling play to resume very quickly and in the process saving organized baseball millions of dollars over the decades. He also invented the use of the radar gun for timing pitches, which effectively revolutionized the assessment of pitchers. It first came on the market in collaboration with the Jugs company, known as the Jugs Gun.
- Gutman, Dan (1995). Banana Bats and Ding-Dong Balls: A Century of Unique Baseball Inventions. New York, USA: MacMmllan Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 0020140053.
- "Baseball Almanac – Remembering Yesterday's Heroes : Danny Litwhiler". Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "Danny Litwhiler, former MSU baseball coach, dies at 95". Retrieved 2011-09-24.