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Many with Hall of Fame credentials/Paul Peterson

May 30, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

It is a subject that has long been a bone of contention for me.

The subject is who belongs in the Upper Peninsula Sports of Hall of Fame.

Now, the U.P. Hall of Fame panel has done a credible job for the most part. But they have long ignored what I consider to be slam-dunk selections from our area ... and instead put in log-rollers and horseshoe pitchers.

There is no doubt that former Copper Country figures like the late Don and Rick Miller of Hancock, Wayne Sickler of Calumet and Fritz Wilson of Houghton should be in the hall.

The Miller brothers won more combined games than any prep hockey coaching duo in the nation in their time; Sickler was a talented all-sport athlete who once led the state of Michigan in collegiate football scoring while at Northern Michigan University; and Wilson was an all-state basketball player at John D. Pierce who later led NMU in scoring.

All of the above also had outstanding careers as either coaches or officials.

But those four are just a few of the local athletes I believe are deserving of the honor.

Here are five more athletes I think have more than enough the credentials to be inducted.

1. Holly McCullah of Calumet. One of the early pioneers of women's sports, McCullah was an ace fast-pitch softball hurler in the early 1950s. She led her Calumet Waarala Drugstore team to a state championship by posting impressive stats. An all-around athlete, she also was the first local woman to bowl a 300 game.

2. Leo Durocher of Stanton. Durocher is arguably the finest hitter ever to play in the Twilight League, posting a career average of more than .400 over four decades and hit with power. He batted .310 in the one season he spent at Central Michigan University. Also a fine hockey player, he played for several local senior teams in his career.

3. Mike Maki of L'Anse. An outstanding multi-sport athlete at L'Anse High, Maki went on to win an even 300 basketball games at Jeffers High, despite often not having the greatest talent on hand. He was also a key member of the 1982 Bunkhouse-Pettibone team that captured a state fast-pitch softball championship - the last ever won by a local team.

4. George Michaelson of J.A. Doelle. Chassell High coaching legend Ed Helakoski once called Michaelson "the finest pound-for-pound player I've ever seen." Just 5-foot-9, he led the U.P. in scoring two straight seasons (1961 and 1962) and totaled 1,432 points in just 68 career games. In the 40 plus seasons I've covered local basketball, he remains in the top five for all-around ability.

5. Bernie Ruelle of Hancock. Ruelle had enough raw talent to make the roster of the Detroit Red Wings in 1944 for two games (he scored a goal). But he combined with his brother Jackie and the Bukovich brothers to help the Portage Lake Pioneers dominate senior hockey in the 1940s and 1950s. He was also a fine baseball and softball player.

There are many other names I could throw out there who had stats as worthy, but this group stands out.



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