Davis had just declined an interview request from a Flint Journal
sports writer and was walking away, when something the reporter
had said clicked and brought him back.
said the owner of the then-Los Angeles Raiders football team.
Thats where all the great high school basketball players
It was December
1984, at the Pontiac Silverdome after a Raiders-Detroit Lions
game. Davis granted the interview, and it seemed appropriate that
an owner whose motto was Just win, baby should acknowledge
Flints reputation of prep hoops excellence.
harvest of 15 state basketball titles was just one highlight of
a decade that once again brought national and world attention
to a mid-sized city in the Rust Belt. From Ken Morrows Olympic
role in the Miracle on Ice in 1980 to Jim Abbotts
meteoric rise to major-league baseball stardom in 1989, Flints
assembly line of sports success stories never slowed in the 80s.
consecutive winters, the Class A boys basketball title never left
the city limits as first Central (1981-83), then Northwestern
(84-85) ruled the state.
guard Eric Turner started Centrals run, and later led the
University of Michigan to the National Invitation Tournament crown.
Mark Harris kept the streak alive with a 40-foot buzzer shot in
the 82 semifinals, and along the way the Indians tied Northerns
Class A record of 37 straight victories.
smashed that mark with 60 straight wins, led by Jeff Grayer and
Glen Rice, both of whom wound up in the NBA, Rice
to pick up an NCAA title at UM in 89.
of this dynasty were Central coach Stan Gooch, whose 28 consecutive
tournament wins set a record, and NWs Grover Kirkland, the
first Flint coach to reach 300 victories.
the Class B level under coach Mose Lacy, who would have had his
own three-year title run (85-87) if not for a 54-foot
buzzer shot by Saginaw Buena Vista in the 86 final. The
Bucs biggest star was Roy Marble, who joined Turner, Harris,
Rice and Grayer on the Team of the 80s selected by area
standouts included Centrals Darryl Johnson, an eventual
MVP at Michigan State; Northerns Demetrius Calip, a teammate
with Rice on UMs national championship team; Southwesterns
Andre Wiley, who played with 1988 finalist Oklahoma; and NWs
Trent and Craig Tucker, who may have been the first cousins taken
in the same NBA draft (1982) by the same team (New York Knicks).
basketball, Northern twins Pam and Paula McGee led the University
of Southern California to two national titles, and Pam helped
the U.S. win the 1984 Olympic gold medal at Los Angeles. Northwesterns
Tonya Edwards played on back-to-back national title teams at Tennessee.
was a defenseman on the U.S. hockey team that stunned the Soviet
Union and won Olympic gold in February 1980, but the Davison grad
said it was a bigger thrill to capture the Stanley Cup with the
New York Islanders a few months later. Morrow and the Isles defended
the Cup the following year.
captured hearts worldwide in the 80s. The Central High athlete
born without a right hand first gained statewide notice in 1984
when he came off the bench to quarterback the Indians to a football
But it was
in baseball that Abbotts hard-throwing left arm struck down
doubters again and again. He pitched his way onto the UM staff
in 1986, carried the U.S. flag at the opening of the Pan Am Games
in 87, won the gold-medal game at the Seoul Olympics in
88 and made the roster of the California Angels in spring
training 1989, accomplishing the rare feat of going directly from
college to the major leagues. He won 13 games his rookie season,
surprising batters with his 90-mph fastball and ability to field
made it to the World Series, but Carmans Jeff Hamilton did,
with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers.
football players reached the Super Bowl � Carl Banks (Beecher,
New York Giants), Jim Morrissey (Powers Catholic, Chicago Bears),
Reggie Williams (Southwestern, Cincinnati Bengals) � and six others
played in the NFL: Andre Rison (Northwestern), Mark Ingram (Northwestern),
Brian Carpenter (Southwestern), Lonnie Young (Beecher), Eugene
Marve (Northern) and Booker Moore (Southwestern).
Shawn Cronin joined Morrow in the NHL, but Flints own pro
hockey fortunes rode a roller-coaster in the 80s.
in 1984 claimed their first Turner Cup in 15 years of playing
in the International Hockey League, but 15 months later, on July
9, 1985, the franchise moved to Saginaw. Team president Dr. Eugene
Chardoul cited a lack of Saturday night playing dates offered
by IMA Sports Arena management, and attendance had been wallowing
the Generals for their abrupt, overnight move out of town, but
just 28 days later, a group fronted by NHL Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay
announced IHL approval of a new franchise here. The Flint Spirits
started poorly and were literally within an hour of folding in
mid-January 1986, when a group headed by former General Bob Perani
rescued the club. The revived Spirits reached the Turner Cup finals
in 1988 and were still in town as the decade ended.
Conference schools won an astounding 14 consecutive Class C wrestling
titles, a streak that finally ended in 1989. New Lothrop claimed
eight of them, but Montrose had the biggest individual stars.
Gary Silva held the national record with 187 career wins when
he graduated in 1981, and Mike Murdoch topped that with a 209-9-1
career mark through 1986.
set a Flint bowling record with an 834 series, but a change in
the way lanes were oiled led to an explosion in scoring later
in the decade. Perfect games, which had numbered two or three
per season, now exceed 60 every year.