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Three-sport letterwinner Dittmer dies

[ 0 ] June 2, 2014 |
Elkader native Jack Dittmer, right, and Hall of Fame player Ty Cobb talk baseball at the 1945 All-America Boys' game. (Register file photo)

Elkader native Jack Dittmer, right, and Hall of Fame player Ty Cobb talk baseball at the 1945 All-America Boys’ game. (Register file photo)

Former University of Iowa three-sport letterwinner John D. “Jack” Dittmer passed away Saturday, May 31, 2014, at the age of 86.

Dittmer, a nine-time letterwinner in baseball, football and basketball, was first-team All-Big Ten, second-team All-America and co-captain of the Big Ten champion Iowa baseball team in 1949. In football, he earned all-conference and second-team AP Big Ten honors in 1948 after leading Iowa in scoring. A year later, he was tabbed as Iowa’s most valuable player after setting a Big Ten single-season record for receiving yards. He lettered in basketball in 1950.

At one time, he owned the school career record for touchdown receptions with 13.

He earned nine letters at Iowa from 1946 to 1950: four in football, four in baseball and one in basketball. No other Hawkeye athlete has won so many letters since that time.

Upon graduation, Dittmer signed a professional baseball contract in 1950 with the Boston Braves. By 1952, he was called up to the majors, and he played with the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-56. Dittmer played in Major League Baseball for five years.

Dittmer, a second baseman, was a member of the Milwaukee Braves when Hank Aaron made his debut with the team in 1954. He also played alongside Hall of Famers like Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and Al Kaline.


Dittmer ended his professional career in 1959 and sold cars in his hometown of Elkader until he retired in 2009.

Dittmer was elected to the Iowa Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978, and in 1993, he was inducted into the National Iowa Letterman’s Club Athletic Hall of Fame.

Dittmer is survived by his wife of 63 years, Darlene, his children Lisa Ihde, Jan Garms, and Doug Dittmer, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Visitation is 3-7 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday, June 3, at Peace United Church of Christ in Elkader and one hour before services Wednesday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Funeral services begin at 10:30 a.m. on June 4, and Dittmer will be laid to rest at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

Dittmer was a 12-time letterwinner at Central of Elkader High School. He was a two-time Des Moines Sunday Register all-state football player in 1944 and 1945 as a halfback, including first-team honors as a senior. He also was a second-team all-state basketball selection in 1946.

Category: Baseball, Iowa Hawkeyes Football, Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

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