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January 13, 1989 - Image 20

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-13
Note:
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Five

stars

get

top

rating

in

'88

Another year of sports excellence at the

'U'

BY STEVE COHEN

1988 was a good year for Michi-
gan athletics. Former third-base star
Chris Sabo won baseball's National
League Rookie of The Year Award,
playing next to fellow Wolverine
Barry Larkin for the Cincinatti Reds.
Dallas Mavericks' forward Roy
Tarpley won the NBA's Sixth Man
Award. Anthony Carter of the Min-
nesota Vikings lit up the NFL with
his pass receiving ability. Long-dis-
tance runner Tracy Babcock won the
prestigious Power Scholarship for
excellence in academics and extra-
curricular activities.
In addition, humility and fair play
seemed to be in vogue last year.
Michigan followed suit with five
high-class acts. JimAbbott won the
Golden Spikes Award as baseball's
best player and led the U.S. to an
Olympic gold medal victory over
Japan. Gary Grant was general-ly
dominating, leading Michigan to a
26-8 record, earning the Big Ten's
Player of The Year award and first
team All-America status. Mark
Messner was an All-American for
the second consecutive year, and a-
finalist for the Lombardi Award as
the nation's best defensive lineman.
He helped lead Michigan to an 8-2-1
season and a 22-14 Rose Bowl Vic-
tory. Jeff Norton also had a busy
year, starring for the Olympic team
and debuting with the New York Is-
landers. John Fisher is entering his
last season as the nation's top-ranked
wrestler at 134 lbs, and a 21-0
record.
Jim Abbott is your average, ev-
eryday, superstar baseball player. An
all-around athlete who batted .427 in
high school, he also quarterbacked
his team to the semifinals of the
state championship. As a pitcher,
Abbott finished 26-8 in his 3-year
college baseball career, with a 3.03
ERA.
But Abbott is special in another
way. He accomplished all this and
more in spite of a birth defect that
left him without a right hand. As the
committee at the Golden Spikes
Award ceremony noted when they
awarded him the trophy for college
baseball's best player, he is
"remarkable, inspirational, and
courageous."
Abbott has received more media
attention than almost any other col-
lege athlete. Even before he came to
Michigan, CBS Sports did a feature
on the unusual high school pitcher
from Flint.
As he began to dominate on the
college diamond, the media barrage
continued. But Abbott downplays
the attention.

"I don't think people should make
too much of (my handicap)," he said.
"I was blessed with a good left arm
and a-not-so-good right one."
Abbott has blessed others with
his presence. As baseball coach Bud
Middaugh said, "We're extremely
proud of him. Anyone he's touched
here holds a special kind of place for
him. He's really an inspiration to all
the amateur players out there."
Players didn't always see past
Abbott's handicap. In his first high
school game, the opposing team

They pay money to watch us per-
form. When they get pumped up, we
get pumped up. Then they are able
to see a show."
Grant was more than showman.
He was a tireless worker, as his de-
fensive prowess suggests. He was
awarded the Wayman Britt Award for
defense by his team for four straight
seasons.
"We're going to miss Gary be-
cause he really did so much for this
team, " said Michigan coach Bill
Frieder, "not only leading us defen-
sively but having the ball in so
many crucial situations."
In 1988 he was named a first
team All-American, along with his
current teammate on the Los Ange-
les Clippers, Danny Manning. On
March 12 it was time for Michigan
to say goodbye to the brilliant guard
from Canton, Ohio.
After the game, Grant spoke to
the crowd.
"If I had to do it all over again...
I'd go to UCLA," he joked.
As Mark Messner neared his high

school graduation at Detroit Catholic
Central, he had a tough decision to
make. Messner, an All-American
nose-guard and tight-end, had to
decide where to go to college. His
choices whittled down to Michigan
and UCLA. The rest, as they say in
Hollywood, is history.
Messner entered the conscious-
ness of Wolverine fans a curly-
haired, wide-eyed kid somewhat in
awe of his surroundings.
"(Coach Shembechler) convinces
you with the tradition of Michigan
football and all that goes with it -
how many people watch you, what
you can do with it - that when you
wear (the uniform) you're something
special,"'he said.
To say that Messner is special is
an understatement. He'll leave
Michigan as the all-time career leader
in sacks (36), tackles for a loss (69),
sack yardage (273), and TFL yardage
(375). He is the first player in
Michigan history to be a four-time
All-Conference selection, and he's
been a near consensus first team All-

American twice.
Messner is also special off the
playing field. He hasn't forgotten
how impressionable he was as a
child, and wants to use his own
recognition in a positive way. He is
always accessible when it comes to
children, and works every week at
Mott Children's Hospital. He does
'I don't think people
should make too much of
(my handicap). I was
blessed with a good left
arm and a-not-so-good
right one.'
-Former Michigan
Pitcher Jim Abbott
service work for the Fight Against
Drugs.
At 6'3", 248 pounds, Messner is
not immune to nervousness or sor-
row. In his first game for Michigan,

his stomach had so many butterflies
he threw-up on a Notre Dame line-
man. At his last home game, he was
so emotional he felt it effected his
performance.
"When you come out on the field
and hear your name called out for the
last time, and the crowd cheers, you
know they're saying goodbye. That's
something that has been a very very
big part of your life. No matter
where you play in the NFL, you're
going to have half as many people
watching you... I'm going to miss
it terribly."
Messner is one of several Michi-
gan players who will be drafted into
the NFL. But scouts question his
potential, with his lack of outstand-
ing speed or size. They should know
better: he will go down as one of
Michigan's greats.
Like Abbott, Jeff Norton was
also part of the Olympic experience
in 1988. As Michigan's first hockey
Olympian since Willard Ikola in
See PLAYERS, Page 12

I' m
have
sure

a fun guy. I like to
fun and also make
the people are

enjoying the game. '
- Former Michigan guard
Gary Grant
bunted on him eight times. But after{
one hit, Abbott threw out the next
seven batters
In 1988, Abbott was a first team
All-American, the Jesse Owens Big
Ten Male Athlete of the Year, the
Sullivan Award Winner, and the
Academy Awards' Sports Award for
Courage recipient. This summer he
led the U.S. Olympic Team to the
gold medal in baseball, a demonstra-
tion sport, posting an 8-1 record.
The previous summer he was the
first U.S. pitcher in 25 years to beat
Cuba, also going 8-1. Abbott re-
ceived a standing ovation from the
Cuban host crowd of 50,000.
Abbott was a number eight draft
pick in the first round for the Cali-
fornia Angels. The major leagues
may be less hospitable to the young
superstar. But he will be ready.
From 1984 to 88, Crisler Arena
was the home of the NCAA's Pass-
ing Fancy-Gary Grant. Grant ended
his college career as Michigan's all-
time assist leader with 731 assists.
Grant was the General - dishing
off the ball to his teammates and
doing some scoring on his own. He
is second behind Mike McGee on the
Wolverines' all-time scoring list,
with 2,222 points.
The 6'3" guard came to Michigan
and produced immediately. He left
having started more games (128)
than any other player for Michigan.
His campaign included two first
team, one second team, and one third
team All-Big Ten selections.
"I'm a fun guy," Grant said. "I
like to have fun and also make sure
the people are enjoying the game.1

Athletic Dept.
changes its look
BY STEVE BLONDER
Although it might not seem readily obvious, no single sports event
dominates a year that saw the basketball team reach the "sweet sixteen" and
the football team win its second Big Ten championship in the past three
years as much as the appointment of Bo Schembechler to lead the Michigan
athletic department into the 21st century.
Then-Interim University President Robben Fleming ended months of un-
certainty last April when he announced the regents' choice to succeed Don
Canham, who retired after 20 years at the helm. Canham was responsible for
helping move Michigan athletics into previously unexplored marketing and
promotional areas, and presided during a period of prosperity for Michigan
sports. But state law required the 70-year-old Canham to retire.
The University's Board of Regents met repeatedly during the beginning
of the year to choose a new athletic director. Schembechler, the first choice
of the alumni committees and the regental search committee, turned the job
down in February because the regents told him he would have to give up
coaching.
Who would be next? The long, drawn out process kept everyone guess-
ing. Some reported John Swofford would leave North Carolina to come to
Ann Arbor, while others mentioned St. Louis advertising executive Clayton
Wilhite. By mid-March, University Director of Business Operations Jack
Weidenbach's name began to surface, and rumor had him making the cross-
campus move from the Fleming Building.
But in the end, the consensus first-choice would get the job. Schembech-
ler, it was announced, would head the department, and Weidenbach assumed
the newly created position of Associate Athletic Director. In this arrange-
ment, Weidenbach assumed responsibility for the day-to-day affairs of the
athletic department, and Schembechler could focus on his first love -
coaching football.
On many minds were questions about what changes the new administra-
tion had in store. The duo provided some quick answers, reshuffling some
administrative positions at first, but later moving on to other areas.
A key problems that needed immediate attention was a possible deficit -
the first ever - in the Michigan athletic department.
Schembechler, recognizing this, tagged Fritz Seyferth, as the new
See ATHLETICS, Page 12

Former Michigan star pitcher Jim Ab
top amateur athletes of the year.

Gary 'The General' Grant shoots his way to the top in 1988.

Bo Schembechler celebrates in Pasadena but is hard at work back in Ann Arbor
in his new role as Athletic Director.

PAGE 8 WEEKEND/JANUARY 13,1989

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WEEKEND/JANUARY 13,m 19$9

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