by Jack B. Tany
Name the multi-sport athlete who was a high school first-team All-American in three sports.
A. Bo Jackson
B. Danny Ainge
C. Deion Sanders
D. Dave Winfield
E. Tim Morales
“We’re the only family I know of that plays catch without facing each other.” – Jay Hilgenberg, center, whose brother Joel is a center and their father and uncle were both centers.
“Coaches like to talk about building character. They don’t build character. They eliminate those who don’t have it.” – Pepper Rodgers, former college football coach.
“I’m the bad guy. You got your good guys, your Dr. J. You got your pie and ice cream guys. I’m no pie and ice cream guy.” – Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, embracing his villain role while in the NBA.
Pitcher Rod Beck made millions of dollars in his Major League Baseball career. But when he was back in the minors as a 34-year-old with Triple-A Iowa in 2003, he lived in his RV in the stadium parking lot. Fans stopped by the RV to hang out with Beck after games.
A set of twins from the state of California – who have ties to the Saginaw area – are making huge waves in the sport of volleyball. Twin sisters Molly and Mallory LaBreche have led their school, Palos Verdes, to the Southern Section girls’ volleyball playoffs. If the name LaBreche sounds familiar, their father John LaBreche was a basketball standout at Heritage High School, and grandfather Bruce LaBreche was an outstanding three-sport athlete at Saginaw High School.
Molly plays libero and defensive specialist while Mallory is a setter and outside hitter for the Sea Kings (21-8). Mallory has dished out 331 assists and is second on the team in both kills (135) and blocks (48). Molly leads the Sea Kings in digs (354) and aces (44). The twins’ success from a young age can primarily be attributed to hours upon hours of practice but also to the ingenuity of their father, John. He dug out the dirt in their backyard and built the twins a beach volleyball court.
Two weeks before their 17th birthday in July, the twins paired to win the 16U division at the Junior AVP Nationals in Hermosa Beach. Six weeks earlier they partnered to win the Cal Cup, also in Hermosa. They have grown to love the beach game so much that now they only play indoor for their high school team. The LaBreche twins, who are straight-A students, will continue their volleyball careers in college as Mallory will be attending UCLA and Molly is going to Louisiana State University.
The Detroit Lions’ offensive line has been getting rave reviews as one of the top units in the National Football League. Is it me or does right tackle Penei Sewell get flagged at least once a game?
Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium remains the only major college football stadium named for an African-American man. The stadium was named for Jack Trice in 1997, decades after he was trampled during his first varsity start. Trice, who was born in Ohio, was Iowa State’s first Black athlete and he made his first varsity start at Minnesota on October 6, 1923. He wrote in a letter the day before the game that the “honor of my race, family and self are at stake.” He was trampled during the game in Minneapolis, and he died two days later upon his return to Ames, Iowa. He was 21. After years of pressure from students, the stadium was named for him in ’97, making it the first major college stadium to be named for a Black person. The school installed a 100-ton bronze and concrete sculpture of Trice’s silhouette titled “Breaking Barriers.” A street was renamed “Jack Trice Way” and his degree was posthumously given to his family members.
Jeremiah McLaurin of Saginaw High School owns the Saginaw County record for most interceptions in a career with 22. McLaurin, who went to Michigan State University on a football scholarship, played for the Trojans from 1997-99. He is tied for sixth overall in Michigan High School Athletic Association history. C.J. Nightingale of Mendon (2006-09) has the state record with 27 career interceptions. Nightingale accomplished his record in a span of four years while McLaurin played three years of varsity football at the High.
When I think of one-hit wonders I often think of Chris “Red Pop” Shelton. Shelton was in the Pittsburg Pirates system and they left him unprotected; with the Tigers claiming him as a Rule 5 selection. In 2006 Red Pop slugged nine home runs in the Detroit Tigers’ first 13 games. Shelton had red hair and a body like Babe Ruth, and his offensive outburst earned him nicknames like Orange Crush, Big Red, and, of course, Red Pop, named after a popular soda pop from Detroit-made Faygo.
When the pop began to fizzle and suddenly Shelton’s power disappeared, he became a liability in the lineup. Shelton didn’t make it through the entire season. He was assigned to Toledo to make room for Sean Casey, whom the Tigers signed in a midseason trade. Shelton finished the season at .273 with 16 dingers and 47 ribbies. In spring training, the Tigers used their last roster spot on Marcus Thames instead of Shelton. Red Pop ended up in the minor leagues with the Texas Rangers. He played sparingly with the Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, and the New York Mets before calling it quits.
With the merger of Saginaw High and Arthur Hill high schools, Arthur Hill’s Memorial Stadium will now be a soccer field for Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. I would really like to see the school district turn the stadium into a multi-purpose field with artificial turf, a la Midland’s Community Stadium. Saginaw United could use it for their home games and the district could host football and soccer playoff games.
Memorial Stadium has a very unique history. After WWII, the Fordney Club of Saginaw County spearheaded the drive to construct the Arthur Hill High School Memorial Stadium. Many club members pledged their personal credit to back this successful effort. The result was one of Michigan's finest high school football stadiums, dedicated in 1949 to the schools World War II fallen heroes.
Joe Kapp is the only quarterback in the modern era of professional football to play in the Rose Bowl, Grey Cup, and the Super Bowl.
The University of Michigan football team and head coach Jim Harbaugh are in hot water again and are being investigated by the NCAA for sign stealing. The NCAA does not have rules specifically against stealing signs, but does prohibit in-person advanced scouting of opponents and using electronic equipment to record an opponent’s signals. There are also bylaws prohibiting unsportsmanlike or unethical activities. Good Lord, what an archaic rule. Everybody does it – including high school football teams.
President Richard M. Nixon won $6,000 playing poker in his first two months in the U.S Navy during World War II. He used the money to help fund his campaign for Congress. He won that, too.
Companies can rent Buffett Boardroom at Werner Park, the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers’ ballpark. The space is named after Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world and a former Storm Chasers minority owner. Buffett wears a full baseball uniform when throwing out ceremonial first pitches before Omaha games.
A total of 17 high school teams from the Great Lakes Bay Region have qualified for the Michigan High School Athletic Association football playoffs. They include the following (with my prediction of the winning team in bold):
Division 2 – Traverse City Central High School (4-5) at Heritage High School (7-2)
Division 2 – Midland High School (5-4) at Midland Dow High School (5-4)
Division 3 – Grand Rapids Northview High School (4-5) at Mount Pleasant High School (8-1)
Division 3 – Bay City Western High School (5-4) at Gaylord High School (9-0)
Division 4 – Lake Fenton High School (6-3) at Freeland High School (8-1)
Division 5 – Essexville Garber High School (5-4) at Frankenmuth High School (8-1)
Division 5 – Birch Run High School (5-4) at Swan Valley High School (5-4)
Division 6 – Bullock Creek High School (6-3) at Clare High School (7-2)
Division 6 – Central Montcalm (5-4) at Chesaning High School (8-1)
Division 7 – Hemlock High School (3-6) at Beaverton High School (6-3)
Division 8 – Michigan Lutheran Seminary H.S. (6-3) at New Lothrop High School (8-1)
8-Man – Merrill High School (8-1) at Kingston High School (7-2)
8-Man – Au Gres-Sims High School (7-2) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart High School (8-1)
8-Man – Bay City All Saints Central High School (7-2) at Marion High School (8-0)
My All-Time starting 5 for Syracuse University’s basketball team: Dave Bing, Carmelo Anthony, Rony Seikaly, Derrick Coleman, and Sherman Douglass (edging out Billy Owens).
Whatever happened to Jeff Smoker?
QUICK QUIZ ANSWER
B. Danny Ainge. Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, Ainge was a multi-sport start at North Eugene High School. He led the Highlanders’ basketball team to consecutive AAA state titles in 1976 and 1977, earning All-State honors both years, and was considered one of the top football recruits in Oregon at wide receiver. As a junior, he was named to the 1977 Parade High School All-American team, and is the only one to be a high school first team All-American in football, basketball, and baseball.
At Brigham Young University, he was named National Basketball College Player of the Year and won the John R. Wooden Award for the most outstanding male college basketball player. While in college, Ainge also played parts of three MLB seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, mostly as a second baseman. He was then drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics. Ainge played in the NBA for 14 seasons, playing for the Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and Phoenix Suns, primarily as a shooting guard. He went on to coach the Suns for three seasons before joining management of the Celtics, with whom Ainge has three NBA championships to his credit.
16th November, 2023