Liggett baseball coach, Cimini, elected into MHSBCA Hall of Fame

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 17, 2015

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — During a 12-year career as the head baseball coach at Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, Dan Cimini has amassed a career record of 325-75 and has helped guide the program to three state championships, with two coming at the Division 4 level and the other at Division 3.

Liggett is the only high school baseball team in Michigan to have ever gone to four consecutive state championship games, a feat the program accomplished from 2011 to 2014.

In 2013, the Knights won a Division 4 state title, and after making the move to Division 3, they won another championship the following year, becoming the first team in the state to win back-to-back state championships in two different divisions.

Those kinds of accomplishments are a good way to be elected into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and that is exactly what happened for Cimini, as he will be part of the 2016 class.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “My longtime assistant coach, Glynn Conley, nominated me, which was very nice of him. They elected me in, which was very, very humbling. All your hard work, and you get an opportunity to be on a wall with some of the greatest coaches that have ever coached in Michigan. It’s pretty cool.”

Cimini cited support he has received from Grosse Pointe South baseball coach Dan Griesbaum, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. 

“I look back on my career, and the person that’s always been there for me in the coaching world and has always looked out for me is coach Griesbaum,” said Cimini, who played for South in 1987. “He’s the first person I put on every résumé that I’ve ever had since I graduated high school. He’s been there to mentor me. I thank him for everything he’s done for me up until now, because without him, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.”

Griesbaum also had some kind words for his former player.

“It’s an honor he deserves,” he said. “He has done an awful lot over at Liggett in a short period of time. He’s put Liggett on the map, in terms of a baseball power, in Division 4 first and then Division 3. He’s just done a tremendous job with the program in the time he’s been there.”

Cimini, who is also Liggett’s varsity football coach, said one of the keys to coaching players is to let them know how much he cares about them. Perhaps one of the best ways to accomplish that is to leave them with lessons that can be applied beyond just the baseball diamond.

“Our motto is, ‘Everything counts,’” Cimini said. “I tell them every single day you wake up, make it the best day you’ve ever had … everything you do counts. And that’s not just on the ball field, it’s in the classroom, it’s how you treat people, it’s how you interact, it’s how you carry on with your day. Life’s about choices. We try to make the best choices we can on and off the field, and the kids have done a great job of that.”

One of the players Cimini has impacted is 2008 graduate Curtis Fisher.

“Knowing coach Cimini for all these years and having the opportunity to call him a coach, a friend, a mentor and see the growth that took place with the program and where it’s gone, it gets me emotional. I get choked up about it,” he said. “It’s really all come together well.”

Cimini may not have accomplished all that he has if it wasn’t for the level of enjoyment he has received from his role as Liggett’s skipper.

“It’s always fun when you build something up,” he said. “I didn’t inherit a program that was already vying for state championships. When you build something like that from scratch, it means something. It means something a lot deeper than anyone can imagine. I love this school. I love this student body that’s been here since I’ve been here. I appreciate everything that Liggett’s done for me. I appreciate everything that my students and athletes have done for me since I’ve been here. It’s not about me — it’s about them.”

According to a press release, the Hall of Fame inductees’ names are on the wall at Comerica Park and will be formally inducted during the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game in June 2016.

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