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A quest for the perfect sports day/Paul Peterson

October 12, 2011
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

It was one of those days you probably know will not come again.

That perfect day of sports came on a Saturday in mid-October in 1984. The weather, for one thing, was absolutely ideal. The sky was a clear blue, with just the hint of coolness that hints of things that ultimately come in a month or so.

It was the kind of day the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce would like to bottle and show to prospective visitors.

There was a high school football matchup between unbeaten Hancock and once-beaten Lake Linden-Hubbell in Lake Linden that crisp afternoon.

Now, prep football in those days was a clear notch or two above what you see nowadays.

I'm not saying the top current teams wouldn't have been able to play with the top teams two or three decades ago. There were just many more good quality teams around, and the 54-0 routs that are common today, were a rarity.

Hancock and LL-Hubbell played intense, hard-nosed football that particular afternoon. The Lakes scored the first 17 points of the game, while the Bulldogs scored the final 20 points and won a thrilling 27-24 contest.

It remains the finest high school football game I ever had the privilege to cover.

Hancock coach Rich Salani and Lake Linden-Hubbell skipper Ron Warner - two future U.P. Hall of Famers - still remember it as one of the best games they ever coached in.

But the day would get even better for me because the Detroit Tigers were about to win their last World Series.

I got home in time from the football game to see Kirk Gibson of the Tigers launch his memorable game-clinching homer deep into the rigthfield upper deck off San Diego reliever Goose Gossage.

Being a lifetime Tigers fan, that was a very satisfying moment for me.

And just to cap things off, I took my son for a quick fishing trip to the nearby Pike River. We landed a couple of nice coho salmon and an 8-pound brown trout before dark arrived.

Oh, there have been a couple of sports days since then that rivaled that afternoon in 1984.

In 1989, I had the chance to see LL-Hubbell makes its first trip to the state football finals against a powerful Mendon team. The Lakes lost, but just being in the press box at the Pontiac Silverdome was a thrill.

On that same trip, I also had the opportunity to see Detroit Lions rookie Barry Sanders make a favored Cleveland Browns team look foolish with his zig-zag running style.

And there was a trip the next night to watch the Detroit Pistons of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer etc. demolish the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And the Michigan Tech men's basketball team hosting of the 2004 NCAA Regional Tournament certainly ranks high on the list because of the electric atmosphere at the Student Development Complex Gym. Seeing record crowds of more than 3,500 at the SDC was amazing.

As my days tick down, I wonder If I will ever see another day like that one in October of 1984. But the quest for the perfect sports day continues ...



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