Michigan Baseball Hall welcomes pair
By Larry Hook
New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter and long-time Central Michigan University baseball coach Dave Keilitz were inducted into the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 11.
The ceremony took place at Cooley Law School Stadium in Lansing, home of both the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame and the Lansing Lugnuts. The presentation took place between the second and third innings of a game between the Lugnuts and the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
Plaques honoring the new inductees were unveiled beyond the outfield area of the stadium in left-centerfield. Fred Heumann, sports anchor for WLNS channel 6 of Lansing, served as emcee for the ceremony.
The Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame is in its fourth year of existence. The new members join the 14 others inducted since 2015: Jim Abbott, Bill Freehan, Charlie Gehringer, Ernie Harwell, Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Alan Trammell, John Smoltz, Pat O’Keefe, Larry Tuttle, Kirk Gibson, Ty Cobb, the 2003-2006 Homer High School baseball team and the 1959 Hamtramck Little League team.
Biographies, accomplishments and photos of the inductees can be found on the Michigan Hall of Fame website at www.michiganbaseballhall.org.
Derek Jeter, was a slick fielding shortstop who amassed 3,465 hits in his 20 Major League seasons, all with the Yankees.
Before he became a Yankee, Jeter was the nationally recognized star of the Kalamazoo Central High School Maroons.
As a high school senior, Jeter hit .508 with four home runs, 23 RBIs and 12 steals in 23 games. He earned the American High School Association High School Player of the Year award, as well as the USA Today High School Player of the Year.
In the majors, Jeter was a 14-time All-Star who won five Gold Glove awards and five Silver Slugger awards. He helped the Yankees win five World Series championships.
Jeter, now the CEO of the Florida Marlins, was not present for the ceremony. Instead, he sent a video message that was viewed by the 8,023 fans in attendance for the game.
“You always hear the phrase that you’re shaped by where you grew up, and that couldn’t be more true,” Jeter said in his recorded message. “Not only did I start my baseball career in west Michigan – in Kalamazoo – but it also shaped who I am as a person.
“West Michigan will always be important to me and my family. We always made an effort to give back to the community and we will continue to do so.”
Dave Keilitz gave his time and energy to baseball and athletics at Central Michigan University for over 50 years. As a player, first baseman Keilitz set 17 CMU records and was named the Chippewas’ Most Valuable Player in 1964.
He became the CMU head baseball coach in 1971, a position he held for 14 years. Not once during his tenure did his team finish with a losing record. He finished with a 456-203 win-loss record as the coach and won four Mid-American Conference championships.
Keilitz served as CMU’s athletic director from 1984 to 1994. Then from ’94 through 2014 he served as the American Baseball Coaches Association executive director.
In April of 2018, CMU named its baseball field at Theunissen Stadium as Keilitz Field in his honor.
Keilitz was present for the induction ceremony along with his wife of 53 years, Sue, and many family members and friends. He spoke to the crowd at Cooley Stadium following the unveiling of his Hall of Fame plaque.
“I’d like to thank the Lugnuts and the selection committee for this great honor,” Keilitz said. “When you look at the previous recipients, it’s very humbling; especially to go in with one of the greatest players, from one of the greatest teams ever, in Derek Jeter. …
“I especially want to thank Central Michigan University for all the wonderful opportunities they’ve given me.”