This HOF class the real deal
The most recent Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame class is one of the most talented I can recall.
This group had a heavy Copper Country flavor to it as Mary Seaton, Chris Givens, Jim Crawford and Carl “Scuppy” Backstrom attained the honor.
Seaton and Givens are former Hancock High standouts who excelled in sports about a decade apart.
Seaton was an outstanding skier at Hancock, gaining all-state status four times. She also played basketball for the Bulldogs.
Her biggest moment came in 1976 when she was chosen to compete for the United States in the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
The late Fred Lonsdorf, who operated Mt. Ripley for Michigan Tech for years, always said Seaton was “the hardest worker I ever coached.”
Givens had an outstanding career at HCHS, gaining all-state laurels in hockey and football. In fact, he earned a scholarship to Central Michigan University as a punter.
But he has also has had a great hockey coaching career at Traverse City Central.
The most lasting memory I have of Givens was seeing him get off a prodigious 65-yard punt against Crystal Falls in a 1982 game. He also scored the winning touchdown late in the game against the powerful Trojans that season.
Crawford arrived in the area as a member of the Copper Country Chiefs in 1972, coming from Ontario.
While he was a steady player for the Chiefs, Crawford would gain the most fame for leading the Calumet High hockey team to six state championships.
A no-nonsense kind of coach, Crawford demanded that his players put out 100 percent all the time.
That kind of attention resulted in a winning percentage of more than 73 percent.
Backstrom, who was pitching for Mohawk of the Twilight League, was one of the first pitchers I faced in my somewhat speckled baseball career.
A tall left-hander with a sharp curveball, he needed just three pitches to strike me out.
An outstanding three-sport athlete at Calumet High School, Backstrom was signed to a minor league contract by the Boston Red Sox.
Interviewing Scuppy many years later, I asked him what was his main pitch.
“My curveball was really nasty, especially on left-handed hitters,” he said.
I nodded in agreement to that statement, recalling that strikeout of many years ago.