Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on October 19, 1999 · Page 45
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 45

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Tuesday, October 19, 1999
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i TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19 19 9 9 CENTURY OF CHAMPIONS DETROIT FREE PRESS 5E OUR TOP THIS WEEK'S EXCERPTS OUR TOP : RED WINGS TODAY: Two Dynasties, The '50s WEDNESDAY: Magic Johnson, The '70s THURSDAY: Fielding H. Yost, The'OOs FRIDAY: Joe Louis, The '30s SATURDAY: 1963 Tigers, The '60s 100 As part of "Century of Champions, " the Free Press compiled our favorite 100 Michigan spores figures pym the 20th Century. We will count Hmim th ;.w every day in the Free Press, until revealing our No. I choice on Dec. 30. We start the countdown todav with No. 100 which, narumllv features a tie, because you can't separate irammeiiand Whitaker. NO. 100 ALAN TRAMMELL Feb. 21, 1958 Tigers shortstop 1977-96. Won four Gold Gloves ('80, '81, '83, '84), selected to six All-Star Games ('80, '84, '85, '87, '88, '90). Got his 2,000th career hit Aug. 15, 1991, against Chicago White Sox. Career batting average .285; career fielding average .977. Was MVP of World Series as Tigers won in '84. In '87 hit .343 (third in AL) with 28 homers, 105 RBIs, 205 hits, finishing second to George Bell in AL MVP voting, 332-311. Voted shortstop by fans on Tigers' all-time team. Became Tigers' hitting instructor. LOU WHITAKER May 12, 1957- Tigers second baseman 1977-95. Sweet Lou and Trammell were longest-running double play combination in baseball history, establishing a league record in '95 with 1,918 appearances as teammates. AL rookie of year in '78. First Tiger since Norm Cash to reach 1,000 RBIs ('94), finishing his career with 1,084. Got his 2,000th hit in New York on June 6, 1992. Had 2,369 career hits and 244 home runs. Selected to five All-Star Games ('83-87). Won three Gold Gloves (83-85). Had .276 batting average, .984 fielding percentage. NO 99 DOUG KURTIS March 12, 1952- Marathon runner from Northville. Ran in 190 marathons in 25 countries and holds the world records for most victories with 39 and the most sub-2:20 marathons with 76. Won a record six straight Free Press marathons in 1987-92. Retired from marathon competition in '97. A systems analyst at Ford Motor Co., he became director of Detroit' Free PressFlagstar Bank International Marathon. Also coaches elite Detroit area runners and is the director of Northville's Roadrunner Classic. NO. 98 KARCH KIRALY Nov. 3, I960 Volleyball player. Possibly the best player the world has seen. Born in Jackson but grew up mainly in Ann Arbor while his father, Laszlo, earned three degrees. Led UCLA to three NCAA championships ('79, '81, '82). Member of the U.S. national team in '81-89. During that time, the team won gold medals at '84 and '88 Olympics. Named world's top player after '86 world championship. Also starred in beach volleyball, winning dozens of tournaments and first Olympic gold (with Kent Steffes) in '96. HIGHLIGHTS FROM April 6, 190ft James Jeffries knocked out challenger Jake Finnegan in the first round at Detroit. It was the first-ever first-round KO in a heavyweight title fight. April 25, 1901: The Tigers made their American League debut with a 14- 1 "'fiSl J 7 ' I i v " 4 III.MIIMIM nfrn HOW TO ORDER YOUR No Michigan sports fan will want to end this century without a copy of "Century of Champions." The Ftee Press' new 336-page book includes more than 650 photographs, the 100 most important Michigan sports figures of the century, all-time teams for the Lions, Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, Wolverines, Spartans... and much, much, more. Like the Roar of '84 Tigers. The CENTURYI Gordie From Page IE Impressed, Adams arranged for Howe to work out with a junior team in Gait, Ontario. As part of the deal, he promised him a Wings jacket. "I wanted that jacket so bad all the time I was in Gait," Howe said. "I remember that quite a few times I walked down to the railroad station by myself. I knew when the Red Wings' train would be coming through town, traveling to games. I'd just wait there for them. I figured that if they stopped for anything, I'd go aboard and see if I could ask Adams about my jacket. But the train never stopped. They went rolling through every time. I'd just walk back home." In 1945, Howe was invited to training camp with the Wings, bunking in Olympia Stadium because of the wartime housing shortage. He amused himself by killing rats with his stick. After scoring two goals in an exhibition in Akron, Ohio, he signed his first contract to play for the Wings' farm club in Omaha, Neb. He scored 22 goals there. In '46, he made the big-league team for good and approached Adams about some unfinished business. "Mr. Adams," he said, "it has been two years now, and I haven't got my jacket yet." Adams sent Howe, along with forwards Ted Lindsay and Marty Pavelich, to a sporting goods store downtown and told him to sign for it. "It was smooth, like satin on the outside, with leather sleeves and an alpaca lining," Howe said. "It had a big 'D' with 'Red Wings' written on it. It looked like the most beautiful jacket in the world." Had an incident in 1950 turned out for the worse, Howe wouldn't have been able to enjoy his prized jacket for very long. In the playoff opener at Olympia, the Wings trailed Toronto in the second period, 3-0. Howe charged toward Leafs captain Ted (Teeder) Kennedy but, as he lunged to hit him, Kennedy pulled up. Howe missed him and went hurtling headfirst into the boards, right in front of the Detroit bench. Paramedics placed him on a stretcher as the crowd watched in stunned silence, then rushed him to Harper Hospital. He had broken his nose, shattered his cheekbone and seriously scratched his right eye. And his brain was hemorrhaging. He was in critical condition. His mother was flown in. At 1 a.m., neurosurgeon Fre-dric Shreiber saved Howe and a hockey town's hopes. He drilled an opening in Howe's skull and drained fluid to relieve pressure on his brain. Afterward, he put Howe in an oxygen tent. By morning, Howe's condition had improved. He pulled through, the only lingering effects of the operation being a facial tick, which earned him the nickname Blinky. As the story goes, while he lay on the hospital gurney, he even apologized to coach Tommy Ivan, who had replaced Adams in 1947, for not playing better. Howe went on to complete a spectacular 26-season NHL career in which he played 1,767 games, scored 801 goals, tallied 1,850 points, won six scoring titles, and took home six Hart Trophies as the league MVP. He played in 23 All-Star Games from 1948 to '80, when he skated at age 52 with the Hartford Whalers, still strong, playing with sons Marty and Mark. No stupid boards would get the best of him. Nothing and nobody ever did. Howe was harder than them all. 1900-1929 1 3 victory over Milwaukee before 10,000 at Bennett Park. Sept 28, 1901: Fielding H.Yost coached his first game at Michigan, a 50-0 victory over Albion. Jan. 4, 1908: Michigan dropped out of the Western Conference and COPY OF 'CENTURY Or CHAMPIONS' Bad Boys. The City of Champions, when the Tigers, Lions, Wings and Brown Bomber ruled the world. The book will be available in early November for $49.95, but you can order in October at a special pre-publication price of $39.95. The book will be shipped as soon as it arrives from the printer. There are three ways to order Charge with a Visa or MasterCard The best In time, hockey would understand that Howe was above little things like head injuries. Like the Tigers' Ty Cobb, Howe was the best ever to play his sport. Period. As great as Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky were, neither matched Howe's combination of scoring, toughness, intimidation and longevity. Howe was neither artist nor innovator. He played raw hockey, old-time hockey, Detroit hockey, ripping wrist shots and exploding elbows like atom bombs. To him, a hat trick wasn't three goals. It was a goal, an assist and a fight. Howe never needed the help of enforcers. He was his own policeman, one of the best in the game. He once skated past a heckler in the crowd and nicked the offender's nose with the blade of his stick, shutting him up. He often did much more than nick opponents when they dared challenge him. In '59, Howe engaged in perhaps his most famous fight. The Rangers that year promoted defenseman Lou Fdntinato as the toughest player in hockey. New York-based Look magazine even presented a six-page picture spread on him, showing him flexing his muscles and looking Gordie Howe had a knack for hat mean. Whenever the Rangers played the Wings, Fontinato was on the ice with Howe. "The idea was to distract me," Howe said. After a few altercations one night at Madison Square Garden, Howe got even. "Red Kelly and Eddie Shack were in a fight behind our net, and I'm leaning on the net, watching it," Howe said. "Then I remembered a bit of advice from Lindsay: Always be aware of who's out on the ice with you. I took a peek and sure enough, there was Louie with his gloves off about 10 feet away and coming my way. I truly thought he was going to sucker-punch me. If he had, I'd have been over. I pretended I didn't see him, and when he swung, I just pulled my head aside and that honker of his was right there, and I drilled it. That first punch was what did it. It broke his nose a little bit." A little bit? With one punch, Howe made a mess of Fontinato's face and further solidified his reputation as the league's only one-man team. Even rival Maurice (Rocket) Richard, whom Howe felled with one punch in his first visit to the Montreal Forum in '46, eventually admitted Howe's overall superiority. "Sincerely, I have never seen a greater hockey player I mean, a more complete player," Richard said. "Gordie Howe does everything and does it well." Chicago star Bobby Hull was just as blunt: "I wish I was half the player Gordie was." became an independent. Oct 18, 1913: Michigan Agricultural beat M ichigan for the first time, 1 2-7 at Ann Arbor, en route to its first perfect season (7-0). Nov. 20, 1917: Michigan rejoined the Western Conference, which now at 800-245-5082, 24 hours a day. Click on our Web ordering system at www.freep.combookstore Send a check or money order payable to the Detroit Free Press to Century of Champions, P.O. Box 441130, Detroit, Ml 48244-1130. Enclose $39.95 per book, plus 6 percent sales tax for Michigan residents, plus $5 per order to cover shipping and handling. and Bobby ruled Follow the leader As Howe helped reinforce Detroit's status as a hockey town, Bobby Layne made sure the fans spent the fall watching football. The blond, slightly pudgy product of Texas' hard-scrabble gridirons loved to lead men, in the backfield or in the barroom, and almost single-handedly pulled his fellow Lions together as a championship team. None of his teammates crossed him. No matter where. No matter when. "There's no question," said Russ Thomas, then a scout and assistant coach, "that he was a legendary figure. No one ever led a team as he did." On the field, Layne tolerated nothing but honest effort. "Bobby had an affinity for chewing your rear end out," tackle Lou Creek-mur said in a book by Richard Bak. "If you ever missed a block, not only did you know about it, but all the other guys on the offensive team and everybody on the bench knew about it. On top of that, the 50,000 fans up in the stadium all knew about it, too, because he told you right then, out there in front of the whole crowd. It was so embarrassing, we all made a pact that we would never miss a block that would ever disturb Bobby Layne.", ,.jr I X RICHARD BAK COLLECTIONSpecral to the Free Press ' tricks on the ice, anyway. In 26 NHL seasons, he scored 801 goals. Off the field, Layne tolerated nothing but team togetherness. Every Monday, he led a Lions ritual: He would buy hfs teammates drinks at the Stadium Bar, across the street from Briggs Stadium. They would goof off, joke around, laugh a lot and talk a little, and Layne, between shots of scotch, would belt out the lyrics of his favorite song: "Ida Red." Although a few players didn't drink most notably halfback Doak Walker the entire team had to attend. Or else. "The biggest thing about our success was the tightness of the group," Layne said. "You showed up whether you drank or not. We had 100 percent attendance. The worst thing that could happen was if a couple of players went somewhere, and two others went somewhere else. Pretty soon, those two are blaming the other two for something that went wrong. We'd meet, go over Sunday's game, and iron out any differences we had. We all left there as friends and if we had a loss, by Tuesday we'd have it behind us and be ready for the next game. Nobody was blamin' anybody else." Legends of Layne's shenanigans piled up over the years that he never played a game without a hangover, that he never even played a game sober. "He always got more credit than he deserved for some of the off-field escapades," linebacker Joe Schmidt said. "Not to say some of had 1 0 members and would become known as the Big Ten. , Oct 30, 1920: Michigan Agricultural beat Olivet, 109-0, for its biggest rout. Sept 24, 1926: Detroit businessmen were granted an NHL franchise, which they stocked with players Mm I Jt 1 g them didn't happen." In '57, he was arrested on a charge of drunken driving early in the season and acquitted because of his thick drawl. In court, he made the arresting officer admit that his slow Texas drawl might have sounded like the slurred speech of a man in his cups. Afterward, the Lions' team trainer celebrated the verdict by making a sign that he hung above Lavne's locker. It read: "I'M NOT DRUNK. I'M JUST FROM TEXAS." Layne loved to break in rookies. Before the '58 season, he got hold of defensive tackle Alex Kar-ras and wouldn't let him go, barking at him in his deep drawl. "Listen, rookie," Layne said. "You think you're hot stuff. You're nothin' but a rookie who don't know enathang." "Yes, sir, Mr. Layne," Karras said. "From now on, you just follow me around like a puppy," Layne said. "You understand? You're my puppy." "Yes, sir," Karras said. Layne gave Karras the nickname Puppy, then changed it to Tippy, which became Tippy Toes. Day after day, after practice, Layne made Karras go out drink- ing with him into the wee hours of the night, sometimes despite Karras' wholehearted efforts to get out of it by hiding under the bed. To bar after bar they went, scarfing down scotch and bribing bands with $100 bills to keep them playing after hours. "We'd sit there and drink and get drunk and get sick," Karras said. "There were many nights when Layne and I'd get so darned sick, I couldn't drive, and he'd drive back to training camp. He used to tell me, 'I don't like the dark. I'm scared of the dark. I don't want to go to sleep.' He never required sleep. It'd be daylight when we rolled into camp, and while I'd try to sneak in an hour's sleep, he'd be in the shower, still singing." In time, Karras became worried about his health worried about making the team with his veins so full of alcohol. But he also became another of Layne's loyal disciples. "I liked him," Karras said. "Layne to me was sort of a pacifier, my blanket. When things went wrong, I'd say, 'Well, Bob will take care of it.' The whole club felt that way about him. Layne threw big parties, win or lose. We just had a ball, drinking and singing. There was never a team so close-knit." NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA can be reached at 313-222-8831 or cotsonikafreepress.com from the Victoria Cougars. Nov. 18, 1926: The Detroit Cougars -playing their inaugural season across the river in Windsor lost their first game, 2-0 to Boston. March 31, 1928: Gordie Howe was bom in Floral. Saskatchewan. riRST TEAM TED LINDSAY STEVE YZERMAN GORDIE HOWE RED KELLY MARCEL PRONOVOST TERRY SAWCHUK SECOND TEAM ,0 SID W ABEL ALEX DELVECCHIO Q LARRY T7 AURIE UJ STEWART EBBIE GOODFELLOW (?) HARRY LUMLEY OUR TOP LIONS FIRST -TEAM OFFENSE Q: BOBBY 5 LAYNE O BARRY SANDERS lC5 WALKER O SEWELL LOU CREEKMUR V ALbA ZJ WOJCIECHOWICZ fnA DICK ' STANFEL fori LOMAS JJ BROWN ". CHARLIE y SANDERS O CLOYCE BOX Q HERMAN !C7 MOORE :Ct, JASON O HANSON (KR) MFI. GRAY FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE (DE) BUBBA BAKER j) "X KARRAS LES BINGAMAN O BROWN WAYNE WALKER JOE SCHMIDT CHRIS SPIELMAN LEM BARNEY Qj DICK (NIGHT TRAIN) LANE 0 YALE LARY JACK CHRISTIANSEN YALE LARY JACK CHRISTIANSEN (PR) 1 f- i

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