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.
Sorry. This was supposed to post this morning but somehow didn’t. Can we count this as the Lions’ big disappointment and win tonight??
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!”
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.
PS: Big thanks to Dave Hogg for tweeting this in my general direction!
Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life.
The evening beam that smiles the clouds away,
and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.
More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.
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.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
His hand can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.
Now you see me, now you don’t.
George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.
As you almost certainly know, Muhammad Ali passed away over the weekend. You may not know that Ali and his family lived in Berrien Springs, Michigan for years after his retirement from boxing.
Mitch Albom has a nice column about Ali’s unique blend of ego, principles, and deep compassion:
Let there be no argument. The man who just died was the most famous face on Earth. I contend he still is. Name a rock star, athlete or politician whose visage is instantly as recognizable in a New York boardroom, an African village or a Bedouin tent. We’ll save you time. There is no one. And remember, Ali achieved such worldwide fame without computers, without Internet, without DVRs or YouTube.
He did it through the magnificence of his boxing, the magnitude of his personality, and the causes he championed at a time when sitting down was more common than standing up.
…High-profile athletes rarely took such stances and certainly not with such consequences. It was a mark of Ali’s sense of principle and perspective (he famously claimed that the Vietnamese never called him the N-word, never put dogs on him, never lynched him, etc.) that while many Americans — and understandably, Vietnam vets who did go and fight — reviled him during those years, most have come around on him in time. I believe it is because he never wavered. He took his punishment. And he showed, in his later years, that his anti-Vietnam stance wasn’t a singular moment. He did things on principle for decades. He stood up for poor people. He was a civil rights advocate and champion. He gave a voice to young African-Americans in the 1960s and a hero to their children in all the years that followed. He also raised tens of millions to fight disease.
Read on for lots more at the Freep.
Kristin caught this bumblebee and a monarch butterfly sharing a snack at the National Wildlife Refuge in Seney. See her photo background big, view more in her Scenic Michigan slideshow, and visit her website at KristinaScarcelli.com.
Over on Absolute Michigan there’s a feature entitled 100 (plus) years at Tiger Stadium. It has a ton of photos and links including this excellent column written four years ago by Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports about the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium passing relatively unnoticed:
Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness.
…Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.
Read on for more.
Here’s a great video from PBS’s America’s Ballparks hosted by Jeff Daniels and featuring many Detroit Tigers greats.
More Detroit Tigers on Michigan in Pictures.