As Time Marches On, Tuttle's Blissfield Success Sets Record Pace

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

May 24, 2021

BLISSFIELD – Larry Tuttle spends a little more time in the dugout these days.

The Blissfield coach, 76, says that is his daughter’s idea.

“My daughter tells me she didn’t want me out there,” Tuttle said. “My reaction time isn’t what it used to be.”

Tuttle not coaching third base is something new. However, not much else has changed with the Blissfield baseball program since Tuttle arrived more than five decades ago as a budding baseball coach.

He was an assistant coach at Temperance Bedford who wanted to be a varsity head coach. Blissfield gave him that opportunity, and he never left.

“They asked me if I wanted to coach track,” Tuttle said. “I said, ‘No, I want to coach baseball.’”

Earlier this month, Tuttle’s Royals beat Hillsdale, on the road, in front of a large contingent of former players, parents and community members who made the trip to witness history. With a 15-0 win in the opening game of the Lenawee County Athletic Association doubleheader, Tuttle passed former Grand Ledge head coach Pat O’Keefe to become the winningest high school baseball coach in state history. 

Blissfield is up to 27-3 this season, giving Tuttle 1,324 career victories. O’Keefe compiled 1,315 wins during 1968 and then between 1970 and 2019 before stepping down. Both are in the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame. 

“Pat and I go back a long way,” Tuttle said. “We’ve known each other a long time. We were both active in the coaches association as board members. He is a good man. This record has been between he and I for many, many years.”

Blissfield baseballThe secret to Tuttle’s success is that he treats today’s games pretty much the same way he did when he took over the program in 1968. 

“The expectations don’t change,” Tuttle said. “That’s important. It is the same today as it was with all my teams. You set that expectation early on. The kids have been great.”

Tuttle has had enormous success at Blissfield. This week the Royals clinched the LCAA tittle, the 40th league title Tuttle has won during his 53 seasons. Also during that span, Blissfield has won 32 District, 23 Regional and seven MHSAA Finals championships. His most recent Finals title came in 2003, which, at the time, was his third in four years. 

He has coached several baseball players that went on to play in college, several at the Division I level, and around a dozen who were either drafted or signed as free agents with Major League Baseball organizations. A couple of them have made it to the Major Leagues, and others have remained in professional baseball as coaches or managers at one level or another.

Steve Babbitt moved to Blissfield in the late 1980s when he was hired as a teacher, and became Tuttle’s assistant coach. He eventually became Blissfield’s athletic director. He was in the district for 30 years, and has retired – and Tuttle is still at it.

“He already was the head coach for 20 years when I got here, and now I’m retired and he’s still coaching,” Babbitt said. “It’s remarkable. … For somebody to be as passionate as Larry and to do it as long as he has, for more than 53 years, is unbelievable.”

Babbitt said Tuttle might have mellowed a little bit over the years, but, to his credit, he’s adapted his coaching style while keeping the expectations the same.

“Once you cross that line and get on the field, nothing has changed,” Babbitt said. “The expectations are the same. He loves the game.”

Tuttle coached third base up until this season, when he decided to turn that duty over to assistant Eric Schmidt, one of his former players. Tuttle not only coached Schmidt, but Schmidt’s father as well. The Royals have several coaches, all with various duties.

“Eric is doing third base this year and doing an excellent job,” Tuttle said. 

Matt Ganun and Matt Jones – both former Royals baseball players – take turns coaching first base. Another former Royal, Jeff Jackson, helps relay Tuttle’s calls from the dugout. 

“Jackson and Ganun were on the 1992 state championship team,” Tuttle said. “They know the game.”

Having so many coaches in the dugout is a blessing, Tuttle said.

Blissfield baseball“I’ve got a lot of great coaches with me,” Tuttle said. “Everybody knows their responsibility and it just falls into place, much better than anybody thinks. If someone look at us, it looks like we are stumbling over ourselves. That’s not the case at all.”

Tuttle has heard from several of his former players and community members since setting the wins record.

“I’ve had a number of players who have contacted me, some over the internet, some have phoned. It has been very exciting from that standpoint and very rewarding to hear from them,” Tuttle said.

“I heard from Brad Fischer. He has been in pro baseball for 43 years with various teams, Major League teams. … He made a comment to me that really hit home. He said, ‘Coach, if it hadn’t been for you, my career in baseball would never have happened.’ That really hits home when someone tells you that. Then I know maybe I’ve had an impact on some lives.”

Blissfield is enjoying one of its best seasons in years, led by five seniors – Nolan Savich, Ty Wyman, Zack Horky, Scott Jackson and Gavin Ganun. Ganun and Horky have signed to play at Bowling Green State University next season. 

Tuttle’s goals have been the same pretty much every season for years – win the league, win the District, and make a deep MHSAA Tournament run. This year’s team is ranked No. 6 in the most recent Division 3 coaches association poll.

Breaking the record also brought a lot of attention, from newspaper and television stations to Bally’s Sports Detroit doing a segment on Tuttle and the team for a Detroit Tigers pre-game show.

“It’s been exciting,” Tuttle said. “It’s been good for our whole community and the school system. In a small town, the school system is a major part of the community.”

Tuttle lives across the street from Blissfield High, not much more than a long fly ball from the Royals’ stadium. Most days, especially this time of the year, that is where you will find him, working on the field.

“I don’t do as much as I used to because I have a lot of people helping me,” Tuttle said. “Some of the other coaches won’t let me now. But I’m over there almost every day doing something, because usually there’s something that has to be done to keep it looking like it does.”

Some things never change.

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Blissfield coach Larry Tuttle poses for photos with his team after setting the MHSAA record for baseball coaching wins this month. (Middle) Tuttle’s 1992 team was among his Finals champions; he is standing back row, far right. (Below) Tuttle with this season’s five seniors. (2021 photos courtesy of Joe Flaherty. 1992 photo from MHSAA files.)

Record-Setter Prout Helps Pace Standish-Sterling's 2022 Semifinals Run

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 27, 2023

Standish-Sterling’s run to the 2022 Division 3 Semifinals was driven in part by a record-setting offense, including a pair of senior standouts who posted single-season and career highlights.

The Panthers made the team record book in four categories, topped by a record 28 triples over 42 games. They also were added for 371 RBI (fourth all-time), 425 runs (12th) and 414 hits.

Cole Prout tied the MHSAA record for runs scored in one season with 84 and set the record with 27 career triples over three seasons (with 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). His 13 triples in 2022 tied for third on that list, while Chase Raymond’s 10 tied for 11th. Prout also tied for 12th all-time with 182 career runs, while Raymond is eighth on the single-season RBI list with 77 over 42 games in 2022 and earned a career RBI entry with 140.

Prout plays now at Central Michigan, and Raymond is playing at Saginaw Valley State.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA baseball record book:

Alden Stefanovski played a major role in Whitmore Lake reaching the 2022 Division 4 Semifinals. The senior also made the record book with 20 doubles over 33 games, the first from his school to earn a listing. He was joined in 2023 in the records by senior Alex Di Dio, who hit nine triples over 29 games and also three home runs in one game April 13 against Adrian Madison. Di Dio also was added for 13 triples and a .460 average for his three-season career, and he’s continuing at Kalamazoo College.

Trenton senior Jason Marshall was nearly unstoppable on the base paths during the 2022 season – and perfect stealing on them. He made the record book with 49 steals in 49 attempts, and also for seven triples over 35 games. He’s playing football at Eastern Michigan.

Trent Hagenbach finished his Saginaw Valley Lutheran career in 2022 tied for 11th on the career triples list with 16 despite not having a 2020 season and hitting all of them over the final two. He also made the records for his seven as a junior and nine as a senior.

Dansville had 10 pitchers contribute to its 388 strikeouts over 38 games during the 2022 season, a total which placed the Aggies second all-time. Tucker Mosley paced the team with 137 strikeouts.

Parchment’s Aaron Jasiak finished his three-season varsity career with seven record book entries, including one of the most impressive winning streaks all-time. He won all 26 pitching starts over his career, which didn’t start until his sophomore season because of the COVID-related cancelation of 2020. His winning streak is the seventh longest in MHSAA history, and his 0.87 ERA ranks 11th. He also made career lists with 163 runs scored, 112 stolen bases and a .460 batting average over 103 games, and his 60 steals over 38 games this spring rank 10th. He’s continuing at Hillsdale College.

Bay City Western finished 42-2 in winning the Division 1 championship in 2013, ranking sixth for most wins in a baseball season. The Warriors also tied the record with 21 shutouts, and their 1.02 ERA ranks fifth all-time.

Grandville Calvin Christian senior Blake Pettijohn struck out 20 batters in a 7-0 win over Belding on May 11, which tied for seventh-most for a seven-inning game. He’s continuing at Hope College.

Grant’s Oakley Obenauf made the single-season stolen bases list in the spring with 45 over 29 games – and was a major contributor as his team made the single-game list multiple times. He had a combined eight steals over two games as Grant swiped 13 and 11 bases during halves of a doubleheader May 11. Obenauf is a senior this school year.

Paw Paw reached the team record book this past spring after being hit by 50 pitches over 30 games. Seven players were hit by at least five pitches, with the team leader totaling 10.

Lansing Eastern earned its first record book entries from a pair of graduating seniors this spring. Dominic Wilson capped his three-season varsity career with 134 stolen bases, which rank 10th. He swiped a career-high 51 as a senior. Teammate Matthew Stevenson made the career batting average list at .472 despite getting only eight at bats as a sophomore because of an injury.

Benzie Central’s Wyatt Noffsinger enjoyed a memorable run to nearly finish off his high school career, throwing consecutive no-hitters against Buckley on May 24 and then Manton on June 3.

Okemos then-junior Caleb Bonemer earned his first record book entry with three home runs June 3 against Grand Ledge as his team clinched a Division 1 District title. Bonemer has committed to sign with Virginia.

After 45 years, Flint Southwestern’s Ruben Luna and Risto Nicevski were added for their accomplishments on the 1978 Class A championship team. Luna made the wins list with a record of 14-0 and the ERA list with a 0.71, and Nicevski made the ERA list with a 0.72. Both went on to play at Michigan State.

East Lansing’s Sam Busch enjoyed a career day on April 12, 2019, when he hit three home runs in consecutive at bats against Ionia. A junior that season, he’s now playing at Michigan State.

Powers North Central’s Adrian Mercier enjoyed a record-worthy junior season this spring. He hit .619 over 32 games, ranking 10th all-time for a single season.

Whitehall senior Cayden Ritchie chased and nearly caught the single-season stolen base record in 2021, when he tied for second with 72 steals over 36 games. He also made the single-game steals list five times, twice with a high of six.  

Aidan Liedeke capped his Brighton Charyl Stockwell career in the spring with some of the most impressive strikeout numbers in state history. Already listed for averaging 15.41 strikeouts per game as a junior in 2022, he averaged 14.92 Ks per game this spring to finish his three-season career at 15 strikeouts per game. He posted a 0.88 ERA in the spring as well to finish with a career 1.52. He’s playing at Kalamazoo College.

Killian Bies finished his Marshall three-season career in the spring among leaders all-time for getting hit by pitches. He already had tied for sixth as a sophomore in 2021 with 22 HBPs, and with 14 more both his junior and senior seasons he finished with 50 to rank fifth on that list. He’s continuing at Cornerstone.

PHOTO Standish-Sterling's Cole Prout (8) readies for a pitch during his team's 2022 Division 3 Semifinal.