BANGOR, Maine — When Dick Whitten was coaching the Waterville High School baseball team, he would see the bookbag fly over the fence onto the field.

That meant his son, J.T., had arrived from elementary school.

“When I was 7 or 8 years old, I would go catch fly balls with them, and I would get to take batting practice,” J.T. recalled. “My dad got me into baseball. I looked up to him when I was growing up.”

The time he spent with his dad and the Purple Panthers paid off. J.T. Whitten was a standout three-sport athlete in high school and has put together an impressive college baseball career at Husson University in Bangor, just like his dad did at the University of Maine.

They are different types of hitters, but both have been offensive catalysts with noteworthy numbers.

The 5-foot-6 Dick Whitten was a productive left-handed leadoff hitter for the Black Bears and played on three College World Series teams (1981, ’82, ’83). The first baseman-outfielder was a career .327 hitter.

J.T. Whitten, who stands 5-11, is a right-handed senior first baseman for the Eagles, carrying a career batting average of .340.

“He was faster than I am. He bunted a lot. I’m bigger and more of a power guy. I’m a gap hitter,” J.T. said.

“I was a slap hitter who hit the ball where it was pitched,” Dick said. “J.T. has learned how to do that.”

J.T. learned a lot about hitting from his dad.

“The three S’s: Step, Stay [back] and Shoot [the hands/wrists through the ball],” J.T. said. “He always preached that to his players.”

“He got a lot of hitting in. My dad and I would pitch to him and even his mother would,” Dick said.

Another thing his father instilled in him was a disdain for striking out.

“It was drilled into him that when you get two strikes, you shorten up your swing and go for contact,” said Dick Whitten, who also hated striking out and rarely did.

J.T. Whitten has struck out just once this season in 124 at-bats and only 30 times in 517 career at-bats.

“You can’t get on base if you don’t hit the ball. I pride myself on that,” he said.

His son’s one strikeout this season is the thing “I’m most proud of,” Dick Whitten said.

“He has a very good eye, and he has really worked on his patience and making sure he gets a good pitch to hit. He has had a heckuva’ career, especially his senior year,” he said.

J.T. Whitten took a .371 average on the year into Tuesday’s game with Colby. He leads the team in hits (46), doubles (11) and walks (17) and is second in RBIs (21).

J.T. calls his dad after games to discuss it and his performance. His dad tries to attend as many games as he can.

“I hope he’s proud of me. It’s not Division I Maine but [Division III] is exciting. It’s fun to play college baseball,” J.T. said.

Dick is proud of his son.

“And the thing I’m proudest about is he’s a good kid,” he said. “It’s great to see him succeed the way he has. He has put a lot of hard work into it. He loves to play.”