Farewell, Jud Heathcote

Jud Heathcote, photo courtesy MSU Basketball

“Michigan State has lost one of its icons today. And yet nothing can erase his impact on the program, the players he coached and the coaches he mentored. Spartan basketball is what it is today because of Jud Heathcote.”
~MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo

Legendary Michigan State University basketball coach Jud Heathcote has passed away at the age of 90:

George M. (Jud) Heathcote coached the Michigan State men’s basketball team from 1976-95, guiding the Spartans to 340 victories, three Big Ten titles, nine NCAA Tournament berths and one national title during his 19 seasons in East Lansing.

Heathcote is the second-winningest coach in MSU history with a record of 340-220 (.607), including a 14-8 (.636) mark in the NCAA Tournament. His overall record was 420-273 (.606) over 24 seasons, including five years at Montana.

In his third season in East Lansing, Heathcote led Michigan State to its first NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1979 and won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1978 and 1979. During those two seasons, Heathcote had the opportunity to coach one of the game’s greatest players, All-American Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who propelled the Spartans to a 51-10 record in his two seasons at MSU.

A two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (1978 and 1986), Heathcote coached seven All-Americans (Johnson, Gregory Kelser, Jay Vincent, Sam Vincent, Scott Skiles, Steve Smith and Shawn Respert) and 22 NBA players. Five of his players won the Big Ten scoring title a total of six times. During Jud’s tenure, MSU had at least one player among the first-team All-Big Ten selections in 12 of his 19 years.

Prior to his retirement, Heathcote ensured that the future of Spartan basketball would be in good hands. In 1990, he promoted assistant Tom Izzo to associate head coach, and fought for Izzo to be named his successor.

Read on for more and please share articles about him that you enjoyed in the comments!

Here’s a brief video on Heathcote from CBS Sports…

Even Wally Pipp didn’t get Wally Pipped!

via “Everything You Know About Wally Pipp Is Wrong” on Absolute Michigan…

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Wally Pipp’s Final Resting Spot, photo by PPWWIII

True confession: My father was a veritable baseball encyclopedia good enough for a scholarship at Yale whose love of the game kept him around baseball and me steeped in it. That said, though I learned the story of Wally Pipp at a young age, it was all wrong.

The name of Wally Pipp conjures visions of shirkers, slackers and layabouts and the stars who get a chance to shine when they take the inevitable day off. Most sports fans know the story of how on June 2, 1925 New York Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp was given the day off for a headache, and Lou Gherig played 1st for the next 2,130 consecutive games until “The Iron Horse” retired due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease. Tom Brady “pipped” Drew Bledsoe years ago, and Dak Prescott did the same to Tony Romo last season.

I read a whole lot about this confusing tale, but the article Wally Pipp’s Career-Ending ‘Headache’ by Snopes founder David Mikkelson is quite simple a tour de force of the twists and turns in one of our biggest American sports legends that has been told and retold in print and screen. There’s a ton to read including the newspaper clippings and I recommend you do so, but let’s skip to Mikkelson’s conclusion:

After winning three straight American League pennants between 1921-23, the Yankees finished a couple of games off the pace in 1924 as the Washington Senators captured their first flag ever. New York expected to regain the top spot in 1925, but that was the year Babe Ruth’s excesses finally caught up with him.

…With Ruth either missing or too weak to play effectively, and some key players slumping … New York tumbled to a dismal seventh-place finish (in an eight-team league) in 1925. With his team already near the bottom of the standings and eleven games under the .500 mark at the beginning of June, manager Miller Huggins decided to shake up his line-up and replace some of his slumping veterans with younger players. Contemporaneous news accounts leave no doubt that Wally Pipp did not sit out the game on 2 June 1925 with a headache; he was deliberately benched by a manager who had charge of a team that was playing poorly and who opted to sit down some of his older players to give others a try.

In the case of Wally Pipp there was no inopportune headache, no “delightful and romantic story” — just a case of a slumping player who lost his job to an up-and-comer and never got it back. But his replacement was the stuff of legend (the indestructible ballplayer finally felled by a fatal disease), and so he became part of a legend that mixed fact and fiction and grew so large even some of the participants came to believe in its fictional aspects.

Via Mental FlossBleacher Report, and Wikipedia, I can report that Pipp was raised in Grand Rapids, was hit in the head with a hockey puck as a child that he attributed his headaches to, and played his first pro baseball for (seriously) the Kalamazoo Celery Champs. Pipp was one of the best first basemen of his era, hitting .281 with 90 HRs, 997 RBI and 1,941 hits. After retiring in 1928, Pipp played the market, wrote some radio scripts and books including as Babe Ruth’s ghostwriter, and did a pregame baseball show for the Detroit Tigers. He worked in a Michigan plant that made B-24 bombers during WWII and worked as a sales exec for the Rockford Screw Products Corporation. Mental floss concludes: Pipp went from playing first for the Yankees to peddling screws and bolts—and he loved it. Armed with the gift of gab and endless baseball stories, Pipp spent the rest of his life selling wares to Detroit’s auto hotshots. He passed away in 1965. (at the age of 71)

View the photo from Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids background big and see more in PPWWIII’s slideshow.

Remembering Mike Illitch of the Detroit Red Wings & Tigers

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Let’s Go RED WINGS!!, photo by Cori Conz

Mike Illitch, owner of Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Detroit Tigers has passed away. I could link to a lot of articles, but I think the tweets about Mike Illitch are the most powerful things I’ve seen. Here are some I like and please share your own comments.

View Cori’s photo bigger and see more in her I LOVE DETROIT slideshow.

More Red Wings and more Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.

Time to Roar: Detroit Lions return to the playoffs

Sorry. This was supposed to post this morning but somehow didn’t. Can we count this as the Lions’ big disappointment and win tonight??

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Matthew Stafford, photo by Brook Ward

The Detroit Lions take the field at 8:15 PM tonight vs the Seattle Seahawks, who are 8 point favorites. This is the Lions’ first playoff appearance since January of 2015 when they were totally jobbed by the officiating crew. While I’m tempted to invite speculation on just how they will “Lions” this one, I am enough of a fan to leave it at “Go Lions!”

View Brook’s photo background big, see more in his Sports From My Perspective slideshow, and view & purchase photos on his website.

Tigers, Cubs, and the 1908 World Series

1908-world-series-tigers-vs-chicagoSaturday, October 10 at Detroit, photo by Kevin Guilfoile ‏

#BaseballGeekAlert

Yesterday Kevin tweeted this box score, handwritten 108 years ago from Game 1 of the 1908 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs. The comments are priceless – check them out for such gems you may have missed such as the fact that the Cubs peppered 6 singles in the 9th inning and that both Evers and Chance – two-thirds of one of the best infields ever – both committed errors!

Heavy.com has a great account of the 1908 World Series that includes photos and a recap of each game. SPOILER ALERT: The Cubs won. They do a great job of setting the stage:

The 1908 series, with the Cubs facing the Detroit Tigers — who were led by the greatest hitter of his era, Ty Cobb — was only the fifth World Series ever played between the National League and the upstart American League which had been in existence as a “major” league only since 1901. The NL was formed in 1876.

The great American writer Mark Twain was still alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series, as was the legendary Apache Chief Geronimo, as Sports Illustrated writer Mark Rushin noted in his history of the 1908 World Series. Both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were still around, and so was former slave and crusading abolitionist Harriet Tubman who, more than a century later, is about to get her face on the U.S. $20 bill.

Movies were still silent, and though radio had been invented about a decade earlier, the first baseball game broadcast in the new medium wouldn’t happen until 1921, 13 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.

View the photo bigger and head over to Kevin’s Twitter for several more of these 1908 box scores!

PS: Big thanks to Dave Hogg for tweeting this in my general direction!

Make your own rainbow

Otherside of the Tail

Otherside of the Tail, photo by John Rothwell

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life.
The evening beam that smiles the clouds away,
and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
-Lord Byron

View John’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his slideshow.

More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Remembering Red Wings legend Gordie Howe

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Gordie Howe 1960s, photo by Edward Noble (via Wayne T. ‘Tom’ Helfrich)

The Detroit Red Wings shared the sad news that hockey legend Gordie Howe passed away yesterday morning. The Hockey Hall of Fame has an excellent profile of Gordie Howe that reads (in part):

Gordie Howe is referred to as simply “Mr. Hockey”. World War II had just ended when he first entered the National Hockey League, and when he played his final NHL season 33 years later, Wayne Gretzky was playing his first. Over those five decades, Howe didn’t just survive, he was dominant – on the scoring lists, in battles in the corners, on game-winning goals and when the year-end awards were handed out. He was a big man, though by modern standards no behemoth, but what set him apart was his incredible strength.

Though other superstars could be deemed somewhat better scorers, tougher fighters or faster skaters, no player has approached Gordie Howe’s sustained level of excellence. Incredibly, Gordie finished in the top 5 in NHL scoring for 20 straight seasons. To endure and excel, Howe needed a unique set of qualities, both physical and mental, and the foundations for his astonishing career were laid in him from an early age.

Howe grew and matured quickly, and when he was 15 he made a bid to play with the New York Rangers, attending the team’s training camp in Winnipeg. He was homesick, however, and before the end of the camp he returned to Saskatchewan. He made a better impression with the Detroit Red Wings the next year, joining a group of Red Wing veterans and untried youngsters to work out in front of Detroit boss Jack Adams. The ambidextrous Howe drew Adams’ attention from the start with a sizzling rush down the left wing and a sharp shot. The next minute he escaped down the right wing, switched his stick to the other side and still with a forehand zipped another shot at the goal.

Howe made his professional debut when he was 18, taking up the right wing for Detroit at the beginning of the 1946-47 season. He was 6′ tall and just over 200 pounds, making him one of the heavier players in the league…

…Apart from his forbidding temperament, Howe’s athletic and savvy playing style also contributed to his longevity. He never wasted energy if he didn’t need to, especially after he cut down on the number of fights he’d take part in early in his career. He was economical with his movements, anticipating when and where the play would intersect with his effortless progress around the ice. He often played 45 minutes of a game when the average total was 25. Observers noticed that when his exhausted line returned to the bench, Howe was the first to recover and raise his head, ready for another shift.

In all, Howe was selected to 21 NHL All-Star squads, 12 times to the First Team. Six times he led the NHL in scoring to capture the Art Ross Trophy and six times he won the Hart as the league’s most valuable player. His Detroit teams won the Stanley Cup four times.

Howe had been in his prime during a defensive era, the 1940s and 1950s, when scoring was difficult and checking was tight. When he was 40, in 1967, the league expanded from six to 12 teams and the number of offensive opportunities grew with it. Howe played the 1968-69 season on a line with Alex Delvecchio and Frank Mahovlich, the mercurial but talented star who had moved to Detroit from Toronto. Mahovlich was big, fast and skilled and Delvecchio was a gifted playmaker. The three were dubbed “the Production Line 3” and Howe’s scoring returned to the levels of his youth and then beyond. He topped 100 points for the first time, scoring 44 goals and adding a career-high 59 assists.

Read on for much more and watch the Legends of Hockey profile of Gordie Howe below.

Wayne T. ‘Tom’ Helfrich shared this photo by longtime Michigan news photographer Ed Noble, then of the Pontiac Press and later of the Oakland Press. Tom writes that Ed had a photo shoot with Gordie and knew he was a big fan and brought him this print. View the photo bigger and see more great old shots in his Detroit Red Wings slideshow.