Thursday, January 29, 2009

How it all began - the story of Muskegon Baseball

Baseball at Muskegon High School begins with a single name.

The Big Red Marching band has William Stewart. Baseball has Harry Potter.

A graduate of Manistique High School in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Harry pursued a college career at Western Michigan University (then called Western State Normal). In the early‑1920s Harry was a three‑sport star at Western in football, basketball and baseball.

Following graduation, Potter turned down a professional baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He accepted a teaching and coaching position at Crystal Falls High School and returned to the U.P. C. Leo Redmond, a teammate on the football squad with Potter during their days at Western persuaded Potter to join him at the high school as an assistant coach and physical education teacher in 1927.

Between 1927 and 1942, Potter handled the football and basketball second-team coaching duties at Muskegon High School, compiling an 84‑14‑3 mark on the gridiron and a 154‑62 record on the cage court. He became the school's head basketball coach in 1943, then Muskegon's varsity football coach and athletic director in 1947.

While the city of Muskegon had a long history of baseball, it wasn't until the spring of 1937, when Potter established a baseball program, that the Port City school took up the game. Competing at Marsh Field in Southwestern Conference, and later in Lake Michigan Athletic Conference competition, Potter led the Big Red baseball team for 30 years. Along the way, his team established a stellar reputation, that included a state record streak of 55 consecutive victories between 1941 and 1945. Before the days of Michigan High School Athletic Association baseball competition, his 1951 team scored a mythical baseball crown in a tournament in Battle Creek. Potter's skills helped develop professional ballplayers, including Bob Ludwig, a outstanding AAA prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization, John Huizenga, a AAA catcher in the Detroit Tiger system, Major League pitchers Ray Newman (Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Tigers) and Jim Johnson (San Francisco Giants).

Potter's baseball squads grabbed S.W.C. conference crowns in 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1951 and 1952 and L.M.A.C. titles in 1962 and 1963. In 30 He retired from active coaching in1964, remaining as the school's athletic director until his retirement in 1966. He passed away in 1980.

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