Thursday, April 14, 2011

Muskegon Baseball Preview - MLive


Coach: Tom Lopez.

Last year: 4-24.

Home games played at: Marsh Field

Key returnees: Orlando Pena, Jamie Pesch, Amario Hobson.

Watch for: Owen Verge, Terrance Spears, Ryan Follins, Kevonte Keys, Jose Gonzalez, Thomas Goedert, Jailyn Thompson, Paul Casteneda, Darrion Hoggard.

Outlook: Inexperience is a big concern, but Lopez likes his team’s chemistry and work ethic.

2011 Muskegon Varsity Schedule

Big Reds Baseball

3/30 Muskegon Catholic
4/12 Mona Shores
4/14 East Kentwood @4:30
4/15 @East Kentwood @4:30
4/16 Big Red Invitational
4/21 @Rockford** @4:30 & 6:00 $
4/22 Montague** @4:00 & 6:00
4/26 Grand Haven @7:00
4/28 @Grand Haven @4:30
4/29 North Muskegon @6:30
5/3 @Hudsonville @4:30
5/5 Hudsonville @4:30
5/7 GMAA @ Mona Shores TBA
5/10 Holland West Ottawa @4:30
5/12 @Holland West Ottawa @4:30
5/17 @Jenison @4:30
5/19 Jenison @4:30
5/20 Newaygo**@4:15 & 6:15
5/21 @ Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills TBA
5/23 Grandville @4:30
5/25 @Grandville @4:30
5/31 MHSAA Districts TBA
6/11 MHSAA Regional
6/14 MHSAA Quarterfinals
6/17 MHSAA Semifinals
6/18 MHSAA Finals

** Doubleheader

$ Rescheduled

Home games played
at Marsh Field

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Muskegon High School - Harry Potter Award

Big Red Baseball MVP
1981 - James Aldrink
1982 - Scott Port
1983 - Matt Siuda
1984 - Darren Fairfield
1985 - Tom Siuda
1985 - Brian Hunter
1986 - Tony Cuti
1987 - Robert Picard
1988 - Brian Johnson
1989 - Tony Novak
1990 - Max Anderson
1991 - Joe Sherwood
1992 - Dan Ogle
1993 - Tom Lopez
1994 - Steve Lillmars
1995 - Joe Trigg
1996 - Nicholas Slater
1997 - Jason Hersey
1998 - Patrick Daniels
1999 - Jacob Reineke
2000 - Rob Backstrom
2001 - Aaron Skiles
2002 - Peter Grostic
2003 - Mike Gallegos
2004 - Mark Tillman
2005 - Josh Cherry
2006 - Jason Ruud
2007 - Kevin Cooper
2008 - Justin Tyler
2009 - Dennis Merritt
2010 - Evan Saxe

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Negro League baseball legend Elston Howard got his start in Muskegon

January 13, 2011

Elston Howard is a well-known name to baseball historians.

Howard was a star catcher in the Negro National League who, in 1955, became the first black man to play for the most iconic of all sports franchises, the New York Yankees. Howard later became the first black coach in the American League and the first black to hold an executive position with a major-league team.

HowardTweeked.jpg - In 1955, Elston Howard became the first black player for the New York Yankees. Howard was a Negro League star who got his start in integrated professional baseball with the Muskegon Clippers.

Less well known is that Howard played his first season of integrated professional baseball for the Muskegon Clippers in 1950 at historic Marsh Field in Muskegon.

“Muskegon is the town where Elston Howard got his start after the Negro League,” local sports historian Ron Pesch said. “That is very significant.”

Howard and pitcher Frank Barnes were the first black players for the Clippers, who played in the Central League and were a Class A farm team of the Yankees.

Howard is just one of hundreds of great players from the Negro Leagues and one of the most notable Muskegon connections to that symbol of America’s segregated past, when blacks were not accepted into baseball’s major and minor leagues in the first half of the 1900s, instead forming their own teams and leagues.

Memories of those great players and teams will be on display starting tonight and running through March 13 in an exhibit titled: “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball” at the Muskegon Museum of Art in downtown Muskegon.

The event kicks off with a free reception at 5:30 p.m. tonight, featuring live music, a presentation by artist Kadir Nelson whose 33 paintings make up much of the exhibit and an appearance by Cecil “Aspirin Tablet” Kaiser, the oldest living player from the Negro Leagues.

Bringing back memories

Although Muskegon never had a team in the Negro Leagues, many black teams played games at Marsh Field in the middle of the 20th century.

Bob Ludwig, one of the top baseball players to ever come out of the Muskegon area, played for the Outwin Zephyrs and remembers games against all-black teams at Marsh Field, most of the time against the Chicago American Giants and other teams from the Chicago area.

“Those games were always packed; I’m talking 5,000 people in that stadium,” said Ludwig, 83, who plans to attend Thursday’s opening celebration for the exhibit.

Although blacks did not enjoy the same privileges or rights in those days as whites, Ludwig said “we never had a speck of trouble in any of those games.”

Clippers300dpi.jpg - The 1950 Muskegon Clippers baseball team was a Class A farm team for the New York Yankees. The Clippers featured two black players, pitcher Frank Barnes, and out- fielder-catcher Elston Howard, back row, fourth from the right. Howard went on to be the first black player for the Yankees, joining the team in 1955.

Those games reached the height of their popularity in the mid-1940s, shortly beforeJackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 by playing in a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were played on Sunday afternoons and later on Wednesday nights.

“I still remember those black teams showing up in old buses that used to break down or run out of gas all the time,” Ludwig recalled. “They were playing those games to make a little money, but even though 5,000 people would show up, they wouldn’t get their fair share.”

The most famous black player to ever compete at Marsh Field was Satchel Paige.

Paige was a star pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League who played several exhibition games in Muskegon in the early 1940s. In 1971, Paige was the first Negro League player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Ludwig also remembers playing against Great Lakes Naval Training baseball teams out of Chicago, an organization which had a Great Lakes White team and a Great Lakes Negro team.

Ludwig played eight seasons of minor league baseball from 1946 to 1953 and played games in 45 different cities, but never was teammates with a black player.

Howell is the name

While Elston Howard was the most famous baseball player ever to play for a Muskegon team, he was not the most successful black baseball player to be raised in Muskegon.

Frank Howell was a three-sport star at Muskegon Heights High School in the late 1940s.

Howell, who turned 80 years old in November, was a great center fielder for the University of Michigan who led the Wolverines to the 1953 national championship. Howell was offered a contract out of college by the Boston Braves, but opted to enroll in U-M’s dental school instead.

“Unfortunately, Frank Howell was the only black baseball player of note to come out of Muskegon,” said local baseball historian Marc Okkonen, who has written several historical baseball books. “Honestly, it’s kind of embarrassing that Muskegon has done so well in so many sports, but has not produced any black players in baseball’s minor leagues.”

But Elston Howard, who was born in St. Louis, Mo., and played with Paige with the Kansas City Monarchs, batted .283 with nine home runs in 54 games for the Clippers in the 1950 season.

He served two years in the military in 1951 and 1952, then continued to move up in the Yankees’ minor-league organization and finally became the first black to play for the Yankees in 1955.

Howard, who died in 1980 at the age of 51 from heart disease, played 14 big-league seasons and finished with a .274 career batting average and 167 home runs. He was the American League most valuable player in 1963 as a catcher and played in 10 World Series, winning six championships.

Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner had this to say about Howard shortly after his death in 1980.

“If indeed humility is a trademark of many great men, with that as a measure, Ellie was one of the truly great Yankees,” Steinbrenner said.

Howard was a giant of the game who started his climb to the top of the integrated baseball world in Muskegon — and there was a reason for that.

The Yankees recognized Howard’s talent and wanted to send him somewhere to play where he wouldn’t face the often nasty bigotry that was going on in southern ballparks at that time.

“It was a very racist time period in America, to be honest,” said Jim Moyes, a former Muskegon resident and noted sports historian and personality.

“But Muskegon was a great place for Elston Howard to start. Muskegon was certainly much more tolerant than most cities.”

Related events
• Today: 2 p.m., Autographed Memorabilia Sale. Louis Manley Jr. will have quality Negro League autographed memorabilia available for sale. A portion of the sales will support the MMA.

• Friday: Unity breakfast at Muskegon Community College with Kadir Nelson. Call 724-3172 for reservation and information. Tickets for sale in MMA gift shop.

• Jan. 27: 7 p.m.,“Shadowland,” a living history performance by Bobby Norfolk.

• Feb.12: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Super Baseball Saturday, a free family fun day.

• Feb. 24: 7 p.m., a lecture by Larry Lester, one of the founders of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

• Feb. 26: 1-4 p.m., a Negro League baseball memorabilia clinic with Louis Manley Jr.

• Feb. 26: 4 p.m., a panel discussion and reception featuring Lester, former Negro League players, a former sportswriter and others.

March 3: 7 p.m., talk by Ron Shapiro, a sports agent, New York Times bestselling author and civic leader.

March 10: 7 p.m., performance and talk by Joyce Stearnes Thompson, daughter of former player Turkey Stearnes.

Brown Bag Film Series
January and February Brown Bag films celebrate the opening of “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.” Admission is free with coffee and cookies. All showings are at 12:15 p.m.

• Today: “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro League Baseball Leagues,” (58 min.) Learn about Negro League Baseball by watching compelling interviews of players.

• Jan. 27: “Pitching Man, Satchel Paige Defying Time,” (55 mins.). This is the story of Satchel Paige, an extraordinary athlete who overcame major adversity to play baseball.

• Feb. 10: “Inning 5–Shadow Ball, 1930~1940,” (151 mins.). This is part of the PBS series by Ken Burns.

• Feb. 24: “Only the Ball was White,” (30 mins.). This is based on the 1972 book by Robert Peterson.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kurt Knutson and the amazing 1951 Muskegon Big Reds

Muskegon Chronicle
Sunday, July 11, 2010
by Jim Moyes

It was a year that arguably remains at the top for Muskegon High School in terms of athletic excellence, but victories came interspersed with moments of joy and tears of sorrow.

When Muskegon’s 1951 football team capped its season with a 26-6 victory over rival Muskegon Heights, there was unbridled enjoyment when Harry Potter’s gridders were acclaimed as the mythical Class A state champs.

However, it wasn’t the only state championship Muskegon High earned in 1951.

Many of those same Big Red football legends of yesteryear also played huge roles in leading Muskegon to the Class A baseball state crown in the spring of 1951, Coach Potter’s second state title in the same calendar year.

M0711BIGREDS copy.jpg
The 1951 Muskegon High School mythical state championship team.

Muskegon overcame adversity to claim the baseball state championship with its standout pitcher on the sidelines with an undisclosed illness, the severity of which was a mystery to his teammates and media.

I know that the state did not officially sanction a state playoff for baseball until 1971. However, in 1951, the winner of a Memorial Day tournament in Battle Creek was recognized as champs by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Jim Moyes
This tournament pitted the winners of the four major Class A conferences in the state of Michigan in a two-day format. Teams invited included Flint Northern, winner of the Saginaw Valley; Monroe, the top team of the Detroit suburban area; and Battle Creek, champion of the Five-A Conference.

Muskegon earned its trip to the Cereal City by capturing the highly competitive Southwest Conference championship. And the Big Reds accomplished this feat with their ace pitcher, not on the mound in Battle Creek, but being tested for an undisclosed illness many miles away at the Mayo Clinic.

When a large influx of baseball players reported for tryouts in the spring of 1951, Harry Potter knew he was blessed with a ton of talent, including the ace of the pitching staff from 1950.

Kurt Knutson had a monster year in leading the Big Reds to a very respectable 9-2 record. The 16-year old junior hurler shut out four foes during the 1950 season and posted a minuscule earned-run average of 0.78.

Three of those shutouts came against some top-notch competition at the time. Knutson posted successive 1-0 masterpieces against the Holland Dutchman and the Benton Harbor Tigers before blanking archrival Muskegon Heights 5-0.

Only three teams Knutson that faced during the 1950 campaign were able to score off the slender righthander. A powerful North Muskegon squad could later boast of scoring a pair of runs off the Muskegon ace in dropping a 5-2 tilt to the Big Reds.

During this era, the big rival for Muskegon in baseball was the Maroon Giants of Kalamazoo Central. Kalamazoo won its 38th straight game over the Big Reds in front of a large crowd at historic Marsh Field. Knutson carried more than his share of the load for Muskegon, but the normally airtight defense of Muskegon allowed a pair of unearned runs to cross the plate in Kalamazoo’s 2-0 win.

M0711KNUTSON copy.jpg
Kurt Knutson

What a collection of candidates greeted Coach Potter prior to the 1951 baseball season! Recently I had a chance to reminisce with Jerry Eaton, one of the many galaxies of stars on this Big Red machine.

“Look at the great athletes we had on this team,” replied an awestruck Eaton.

Certainly the person most well-known was Big Red shortstop Earl Morrall. Morrall, who has long been overlooked for a place in the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, was a three-sport star at Muskegon High.

While everybody recalls Morrall’s legendary exploits on the football field, Morrall was talented enough in baseball to become the regular shortstop for the Michigan State University baseball team.

All four members of the Big Reds’ starting backfield in 1951 were also regulars on the baseball team.

Joining Morrall in the starting lineup were halfbacks Leland David and Bob Fairfield, while the bruising fullback on this Big Red team, Dick Fett, was also a regular. Five years ago, this Muskegon football squad of 1951 was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Genetics ran deep on this Big Red team. Lee David’s son years later would be a first-round draft pick for the Toronto Blue Jays. And the late Bob Fairfield’s son, Dusty, became a legend as the longtime football coach at Ravenna.

“We had two exceptional catchers,” Eaton recalled. “How many teams can boast of having two great catchers on one team? It didn’t matter who Harry threw out there, Bob Soderholm and Dick Fett were just terrific players.”

Captain Jerry Stephens joined Morrall and David in the starting infield at second base with Bill Nyblade at first.

Fairfield was a hard-hitting left fielder, while Tom Byrnes was a steady performer in right field. Patrolling centerfield was Bob Hill.

“Hill was a great player,” Eaton recalled. “He could really hit and had great speed for an outfielder”

While Knutson was expected to be the mainstay on the pitching mound, Potter quickly recognized the potential talent of Eaton. The flame-throwing righthander would sign a contract with the Detroit Tigers before returning to his alma mater to coach Muskegon’s baseball team for many years.

“I was a young sophomore in 1951 and Kurt Knutson took me under his wings,” Eaton said. “He was always talking baseball with me and certainly helped make me a better pitcher.”

For whatever reason, there were a limited amount of games scheduled in the 1940s and 1950s, as evidenced by the Big Reds’ 13-0-1 record, with only a season-ending tie to cross-town rival Muskegon Heights marring a perfect record. The game was called with the Big Reds batting in the eighth inning, with two runners on and nobody out, when a sudden storm quickly deluged Mona Lake Park.

There were no cupcakes on the 1951 Big Red schedule. How disappointed was this author when the Big Reds twice defeated a North Muskegon team, the only losses suffered by the Norsemen who were coached by my father, Paul Moyes.

Coach Potter sent out his ace pitcher to battle Heights in the first Southwest Conference game of the season. The Big Red bats were booming as Knutson allowed the Tigers no earned runs in a convincing 10-3 victory.

A week later, a gritty Knutson tossed a neat two-hitter as the Big Reds disposed of the Holland Dutch, 5-1. Unbeknownst to all but perhaps Kurt Knutson, there began some ominous signs that all was not well with the popular Muskegon pitcher.

Time and time again during my research for this story, there were frequent game articles that depicted Knutson “wobbling” or “stumbling” around the mound. However, when the big game of the year rolled around, Coach Potter sent Knutson to the mound to face the mighty Maroon Giants of Kalamazoo Central.

Not only was the Southwest Conference championship at stake, but also Kalamazoo, with a winning streak that had reached 46 games, was a definite threat to eclipse the state record of 55 held by Potter’s own Big Red powerhouses from the early 1940s.

The Maroon Giants were aptly named, as not only had they become a dynasty in baseball, but Central had also won three consecutive Class A basketball championships. The big star on the basketball court, as well as the baseball diamond, was 6-foot-6 first baseman Ron Jackson.

Jackson played parts of seven season in the major leagues, mostly with the Chicago White Sox, and would go down as Kalamazoo Central’s most heralded athlete until a guy by the name of Derrick Jeter appeared on the scene in the early 1990s.

With the score knotted at 2-2, with Kalamazoo batting in the third inning, Knutson stunned all those in attendance when he turned ill and began vomiting uncontrollably near the pitching mound. A very concerned Potter replaced Knutson with sophomore standout Jerry Eaton. Eaton permitted Kalamazoo just two additional runs while the potent Big Red batsmen did the rest.

The big blow in Muskegon’s victory was a bases-loaded triple by Bob Hill that provided some much-needed insurance runs for the victors. The Big Reds won convincingly, 8-4, and snapped the Kalamazoo winning streak.

The following week, a courageous Knutson would pitch in his final game for the Big Reds in the team’s final conference game with Grand Haven. Knutson was far off form, but he somehow mustered enough stamina to pitch the Big Reds to a 9-4 win over the Bucs, clinching the conference championship and earning Muskegon a berth in the Battle Creek Invitational.

It would prove to be a bittersweet Memorial Day weekend for this Big Red baseball squad. While Knutson headed to the Mayo Clinic for testing, the Big Reds were determined to “win this tournament for Kurt.”

And win it they did.

Coach Potter surprised many Muskegon supporters when he sent out a young sophomore by the name of Brad Hart to pitch the opener against Monroe. Hart pitched a gem, going all nine innings in a 2-1 Muskegon victory.

Monroe’s only run came at the expense of a disputed balk call against inexperienced Hart. Muskegon trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, the last scheduled inning. Never known as a speedster in his Hall of Fame career, Morrall used his legs, and not his fabled right arm, to send the game into extra innings.

Morrall singled, took second on the catcher’s wild throw, advanced to third on an infield out and then tied the game on a clean theft of home. After Fett led off the deciding ninth inning by being hit by a pitch, Morrall singled, and after Tommy Byrnes laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, Fett raced home with the winning run when the pitcher threw wide to first base.

Eaton was “effectively wild” in the championship game with Battle Creek. None of the Bearcats were digging in at the plate after Eaton hit a batsman and tossed three wild pitches as Muskegon fulfilled its pledge to “win this for Kurt” by defeating Battle Creek, 5-3.

Many of these same Big Reds formed a team to play in the State American Legion tournament in late July. Muskegon swept through three opponents to win a prestigious zone tournament played at Marsh Field.

On July 29, 1951, just two months after Muskegon had won the Battle Creek Invitational, and recognized as the 1951 state champs, Knutson passed away, a victim of leukemia.
That evening, the players from the Muskegon Elks team were gathered at the local American Legion Post where the club’s victory was being celebrated. The celebration came to a crashing standstill when word was received that their beloved teammate had passed away. Many of Knutson’s fellow Big Reds wept unashamedly.

When I asked Eaton what kind of a person Knutson was, he quickly burst out: “Oh my God! You’d want him for a brother!”

When they laid Knutson to rest on July 30, 1951, among the pallbearers were Eaton and Morrall.

“At the funeral we were given identification bracelets in memory of Kurt,” recalled an emotional Eaton.

“I have worn that bracelet ever since his funeral. And I know Earl did the same for many years.”

Kurt Knutson was just 17 years old.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Grand Haven stops Muskegon's 55-game win streak

Monday, May 24, 2010,
M0524LOOKBACKXView full size)

Bob Ludwig (far left), Joe Damato, Buster Boguski and Bob Reid with the Nashville, Tenn., minor league team in 1951. Ludwig signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1946 after his freshman year at Michigan State. He played in the minor leagues from 1946-53, appearing in 806 games including 437 at Class AA and AAA where he batted .290. At Nashville in 1951 Ludwig was named to the AA Southern League All-Star team, ending the season with a league-leading 212 hits.

This week 65 years ago...

Pitcher Bob Ludwig took the only loss of his three-year prep career and the Muskegon’s only loss from 1941-1945. The Big Reds’ 55-game win streak is still third-longest in state history.
The Chronicle said on May 23, 1945:

The Muskegon Big Reds, rolling along undefeated since the opening game of the 1941 season, were nipped 4-3 Tuesday afternoon at Marsh Field as the Grand Haven High school nine snapped the long, 55-game winning streak.

Grand Haven won the game on two big runs in the first half of the extra inning eighth inning by bunching three singles and two Muskegon errors. The defeat was a heartbreaker for Coach Harry Potter, the Muskegon players and the fans because Muskegon had come from behind in the sixth to tie the score after trailing for four innings and Muskegon had the pepper to come through with one run after two were out in the last of the eighth.

Bob Ludwig with Macon, Ga., minor league team in 1949. Ludwig signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1946 after his freshman year at Michigan State. He played in the minor leagues from 1946-53, appearing in 806 games including 437 at Class AA and AAA where he batted .290. At Nashville in 1951 Ludwig was named to the AA Southern League All-Star team, ending the season with a league-leading 212 hits.
This long, history-making winning streak of 55 games began back on April 25, 1941 for the Big Reds. On that day, Muskegon defeated Montague in the season’s opener and then went on to win every game in the 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944 seasons and on into the 1945 schedule.

In addition to holding the honor of defeating Muskegon, Grand Haven today stands first in the northern half of the Southwest Michigan Conference.

Johnny Mahder, sophomore southpaw, was the winning hurler, limiting Muskegon to seven hits. Bob Ludwig hurled an eight-hit game for Muskegon.

Entering the first of the extra inning, with the count tied at 2-all, Grand Haven got started when Mahder was safe on an infield error after two were out. DeWitt and Fekete singled to fill the bases and then Mahdre came home on an infield error. The Bucs ran the margin to 4-2 when DeWitt crossed the plate on Westerhof’s single.

Ludwig smacked out a double after one was out to get a Muskegon rally started in the last half of the eighth. Mahder than fanned Jack Streeter for the second out, but Tom Carr brought Ludwig home with a rousing double. Muskegon trailed 4-3 but the game ended as Fuller flied out.

Muskegon started the game in good style in the first inning when catcher Don Ohs walloped a homer. Grand Haven countered with two runs in the second when DeWitt and Fekete, who had hit both safely, came home on a single by Westerhof and a fielder’s choice.

The game was tied by Muskegon in the sixth when Jack Streeter singled to drive in Nick Yonker, who had walked and went around to third on a fielder’s choice and another walk.

More on the story
By Dave LeMieux

Memories last a lifetime

Now 82, losing pitcher Bob Ludwig still remembers the end of Muskegon’s win streak.

Bob Ludwig

“You would ask me about that,” said the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee with a chuckle. “Thing is, we could’ve won it with a base hit. It was just one of those things.”

“The thing about that game wasn’t that it ended the streak, it’s that we lost. You have to remember, the guys on that team had never lost before,” Ludwig said.

Something else you need to know about Ludwig and the 1945 Big Reds is that they never lost again.

The Big Reds’ 55-game win streak still ranks as the third best in state history behind Grand Haven’s 56 (1960-1962) and Homer’s 75 (2004-05).

The Big Reds finished the 1945 season 10-1 and were 59-1 from 1941-45.

On June 5, 1945, Ludwig and the Big Reds avenged the streak-ending loss by beating host Grand Haven 3-0 for the Southwestern Conference’s Northern Half title. Ludwig gave up just three hits and struck out 11 to get the win.

On June 9, 1945, at Upjohn Field in Kalamazoo, Muskegon won its fifth straight Southwestern Conference title with a three-run, two-out rally in extra innings to beat Kalamazoo Central 6-4.

Ludwig, pitching his third game in a week, including a 12-0 win over Muskegon Heights, went all nine innings against Central, striking out seven to finish his three-year prep career with an 18-1 record.

View full size)

Bob Ludwig with the Springfield, Mass., minor league team in 1952. Ludwig’s 0.78 career ERA in 116 1/3 innings for Muskegon is still fourth-best ever in the state. He was no slouch with the stick either, batting .468 (36 for 77) from 1943-45.

Ludwig’s two no-hitters at Muskegon came two weeks apart during his sophomore season. He might have had at least two more if it weren’t for fleet left hander Larry Boone from rival Muskegon Heights.

Boone broke up a pair of Ludwig no-hitters with sixth-inning bunt singles; one on May 12, 1944 and another on May 11, 1945.

“He could run like a deer and laid down a couple of bunts down the third base line,” said Ludwig, who now counts Boone among his best friends. “It was just baseball.”

“I got copies of those (box scores) from Coach Harry Potter’s daughter Ann (Potter) Moore and sent them to Larry. I didn’t put my name on them. I just wrote, ‘What a dink,’” Ludwig says, laughing at the memory.

It’s a laugh the two old rivals share every month when they meet for breakfast at a local restaurant with a group of other old-timers from the area.

“Those Heights guys turned out not to be so bad after all,” Ludwig says.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1940 - Briggs Stadium Expert Watches Bleachers Start

Framework To Be Laid Under Eye of Walter Gordon; Work on Moving Fences Back Has Begun.

League baseball moved closer to Muskegon today than for many years. Work on moving back left and right field fences to the same distance from the home plate as the distances at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, and laying of the framework for new bleachers designed to seat an additional 1500 customers in all started.

The initial stages of the work was under the watchful eye of an expert, none other than Walter Gordon, who has charge of Briggs Stadium in Detroit, and is head of the much bigger job of keeping that stadium and its fences and seats in proper repair.

Gordon will stay here until the framework of the bleachers are in position and satisfactory to himself, probably until next Tuesday when he will return to Detroit. Improvements for the most part are being done on the recommendation of the Briggs Stadium expert.

Other improvements also will be rushed, as only a short time remains to improve dressing rooms, rest rooms, to paint the stands and fences and repair seats before a baseball school is started here May 1.

No word has been received as yet by Business Manager Harry E. Potter as to when Jack Tighe, playing manager, will report. Tighe will run the baseball school assisted by Potter, with Wish Eagan, scout of the Michigan territory for the Tigers.