Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – If there were a Mount Rushmore of Central Michigan athletics, Dave Keilitz would surely be on the short list of those considered for immortality.
He will soon take his rightful place among the all-time baseball greats in the state of Michigan.
The legendary Chippewa baseball coach who later became the university’s director of athletics and remains among CMU’s most respected and recognizable figures, will be inducted into the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts.
He will join one of the game’s all-time greats, Kalamazoo native and former New York Yankee Derek Jeter, in comprising the Class of 2018. The pair will join a very select group of baseball personnel, including Al Kaline, Alan Trammell, Ernie Harwell, Ty Cobb and Kirk Gibson. The hall’s inaugural class in 2015 comprised 10 members. Each of the three subsequent classes numbers two each.
“it’s a really nice honor and I am very humbled by it, especially when you look at the names that are in the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame and then to go in with Derek Jeter, who’ll be a first-ballot hall-of-famer in Cooperstown, it’s really special,” Keilitz said. “I was taken aback when I got the phone call on it.”
Keilitz, a Midland native, played at Central Michigan from 1961-64, becoming the Chippewas’ first baseball All-American as a senior. He took the reins of the program in 1971 and in 14 years – with longtime assistant Dean Kreiner at his side – built CMU into the Mid-American Conference’s preeminent program.
Keilitz amassed a 453-203-6 career record and four times he was named the MAC Coach of the Year and six times he took the Chippewas to the NCAA Tournament. He had led CMU to four Mid-American Conference championships in a seven-year span before leaving the dugout after the ’84 season to begin a 10-year run as the university’s director of athletics.
“To me (the induction is) a great tribute to CMU baseball and our university,” Keilitz said. “I look at it as a tribute also to the players that we had and the coaches that we had. I really credit Central Michigan University, which gave me all the wonderful opportunities professionally to be able to do the things I was fortunate to be able to do. It’s a great honor and hopefully it’s an honor for our players, our coaches and the university as well.”
From 1994-2004, Keilitz served as the executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association. In April, his uniform number (34) was retired and the field at Theunissen Stadium named in honor of him and his family.
“What a tremendous honor for Dave Keilitz, who is one of the most admired and respected people among all the biggest names in college baseball in general and Central Michigan University in particular,” CMU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Michael Alford said. “We’re all very happy for him and very proud of him. This honor is indicative of the kind of man Mr. Keilitz is, how highly respected he is, and how much he is admired.”
The induction ceremony is scheduled prior to the Lugnuts’ Aug. 11 game against Bowling Green. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Keilitz is a member of five other halls of fame: The American Baseball Coaches Association, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Midland County, the Mid-American Conference and the Marcy Weston Central Michigan University.