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Danny Litwhiler, 95; played, coached, invented for baseball

Associated Press / September 24, 2011

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - Danny Litwhiler, who followed an 11-year Major League baseball career in the 1940s with a lifetime of coaching college players and work on inventions intended to improve the game he loved, died yesterday. He was 95.

Michigan State, one school where Mr. Litwhiler coached, said he died in Clearwater, Fla., and that his wife, Patricia, had notified the school. He also coached at Florida State.

Mr. Litwhiler played for the Phillies, Cardinals, Braves, and Reds from 1940-51. He was an All-Star in 1942 with Philadelphia and was a member of the Cardinals’ 1944 championship team.

According to biographical information from Michigan State, Mr. Litwhiler was the first major leaguer to play an entire season without committing an error (317 chances in 151 games in 1942) and played 187 consecutive errorless games over a period of two seasons. A two-time Gold Glove winner, Mr. Litwhiler had a lifetime average of .282 with 107 home runs, 451 RBIs, and 428 runs scored in 1,057 games played.

He later served as international president for the US Baseball Federation from 1978-83. Michigan State said he helped develop one of the first radar guns for use in clocking pitches, one of dozens of inventions for the game.

In 28 years of coaching Division I college baseball at both Florida State and Michigan State, Mr. Litwhiler had a combined record of 678-445-9 (.603) and guided his teams to 10 appearances in the NCAA Tournament. His former players included Kirk Gibson, Rick Miller, and Steve Garvey.

Mr. Litwhiler was born in Ringtown, Pa. Besides his wife, he leaves eight children.