2013 Alumni Game: "Gold Team" wins 9 - 8 . . .Ron Dugay is "Bert Tooley" MVP (see "Reunion" section below) . . .
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Baseball Event Locations
Varsity Baseball
JV Baseball
Freshman Baseball
Alumni Field - 1200 W. Grand River
Alumni Field - 1200 W. Grand River
Freshman Field - 411 N. Highlander Way
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_S C H E D U L E
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For the most up-to-date schedules: highschoolsports.net
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_H O N O R S
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HOWELL _ALL-STATE _BASEBALL _PLAYERS
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ATHLETE
YEAR
SPORT
POSITION/EVENT
TOOLEY, "BERT" ALBERT
1904
BASEBALL
SHORT STOP
VAN BLARICUM, "CHESTY" FRED
1940
BASEBALL
CATCHER / PITCHER
POHL, KARL
1976
BASEBALL
2ND BASE
HIBNER, DAVID
1977
BASEBALL
SHORT STOP
McCANN, BILL
1990
BASEBALL
CATCHER
HIRSCHMAN, STEVE
1991
BASEBALL
PITCHER
HIRSCHMAN, STUART
1991
BASEBALL
PITCHER
HENDERSON, ERIC
2011
BASEBALL
SHORTSTOP
VYLETEL, JOSH
2012
BASEBALL
PITCHER
BRADNER, TYLER
2013
BASEBALL
PITCHER
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1_9__State Champions__0_4

Howell Baseball Championships

1_9__State Champions__1_0
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State Champs
Runner Up
Final Four
Regional
District
League
County
1904 & 1910
1903
2012 & 2013
2012 & 2013
1922 - 30 - 31 - 77
1952 - 63 - 64 - 65 - 68 - 69 - 72 - 76
1923 - 24 - 30 - 31
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- 92 - 94 - 03 - 12 - 13
- 77 - 78 - 86 - 88 - 89 - 96 - 11 - 12
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Lee "Shelander Classic": __CHAMPS: 1977, 78, 79, 85, 03, 11, 12, 13 ___Runner-Ups: 1975, 76, 81, 94, 97, 98, 02, 06, 07, 10
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_R E U N I O N
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7th Annual Howell Alumni Game

July 12th, 2014

Contact Rich Robinson TODAY!!

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Howell High forever, we will always be, faithful and loyal, in our love for thee... RAH! RAH! RAH! _HAIL! HAIL! the gangs all here, round our colors bold, we'll stick together for our dear GREEN and GOLD...
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Howell Alumni Baseball Results
2007
Green 17 - Gold 1
_2007 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Jeff Gerkin
2008
Gold 7 - Green 3
_2007 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Steve Broderson
2009
White 4 - Gray 3 (8 Innings)
_2007 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Jeff Minock
2010
Gold 13 - Green 8
_2007 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Rick Humphries
2011
Green 8 - Gold 4
_2007 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Mike Barger
2013
Gold 9 - Green 8
_2013 Albert "Bert" Tooley MVP
Ron Dugay
Special thanks to Rich Robinson for coordinating this annual event & the Press & Argus for their coverage and photos.
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HOWELL ALUMNI GAME LOGOS THROUGH THE YEARS

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HOWELL BASEBALL JERSEYS THROUGH THE YEARS
Designs are from existing jerseys or artist rending from past year books or photos. Please donate "past" jerseys so that they may be framed for future viewing.
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1904
1910
1940's
1950's
1960's
JV Jersey: Mid 1970's
Mid-Late 1970's
Late 70's Early 1980's
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Late 80's Early 1990's
Mid 1990's
Late 1990's
Early 2000's
Mid 2000's
Late 2000's
2012 - Gray
2012 - Green
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_A L U M N I__A R T I C L E S
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'It's great to be home'
by Sarah Eberspacher Daily Press & Argus July 14, 2013

Howell’s 2013 alumni baseball game perhaps played out a step or two slower than when the athletes made their marks as Highlanders .

“A step?” Ron Duguay (1980-82) asked, laughing. “I’ve lost many steps! You get out here, and you realize: First, the eyes go. Then, your arm. Then, the legs. “But I got one good pitching rotation in there,” Duguay added. “One time every 365 days? You can suck it up. And it’s just so much fun, that as long as I can walk, I’ll be getting out here.”

Duguay did more than walk around the field on Saturday, pitching three scoreless innings, going 4-for-4 at the plate and singling in the tying run for his Gold team, which won the game, 9-8.

Despite taking two and a half hours to knock off seven innings, Howell’s Gold and Green teams gave each other a run for their money. The Gold team jumped out to an early lead in the second after a scoreless first inning, delivering five runs off a couple of singles and a double from Ryan Larson (2009-10).

But the Green team edged its way back into contention, scoring three runs of its own in the third inning and blanking the Gold, then adding four more in the fourth inning to take the lead. The Gold team scored two runs in the seventh inning off a couple of singles to take the one-run win, though, falling back on fresher legs. As some of the longer-removed players began to tire , the more recent graduates were all the more relied-upon to keep the intensity up.

“We need those younger guys coming in to keep it going,” Howell baseball freshman coach Rick Humphries (1975-77) said. “The older guys, you’ll start to get some attrition. And me, I can still pitch in these games a little, but about three innings is the max.”

Errors, plunks and foul balls may have ruled the day, but the players ruled the outcome —continuing the Highlanders’ baseball legacy — a success. That’s the point of the event, after all, said organizer Rich Robinson (1979’ graduate). “It’s just the natural progression, and it’s really good to see that,” Robinson said. “We all come through, we make our mark, hopefully, and then we step aside for the next generation. That’s what we’re trying to do with this.”

Well, sort of step aside. While there were plenty of laughs and smiles as the game wore on, there were also a few plays that got the competitive juices flowing. But by the time the seventh inning rolled around, Duguay swung by the announcer’s area to tease Howell athletic director Dan Hutcheson that he deserved the most valuable player honors.
The swag? A trophy recognizing Highlander great Albert “Bert” Tooley, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers after graduating from Howell High School in 1904. Duguay’s lighthearted lobbying paid off, as he was awarded the trophy, and it bookended a day of baseball highlighted by politics.

Howell native and current candidate for Michigan governor Mark Schauer, a 1980 graduate, threw out the first pitch with an effort that didn’t look too far removed from his days playing varsity football for the Highlanders. Stepping off the field with an honorary T-shirt and hat afterward, Schauer admired his new gear and took a minute to reminisce about his own athletic endeavors. “All of my Howell shirts and stuff are really old, so it’s nice to have the new hat and shirt,” he said, grinning. “The logo’s a little different, but that’s okay. It’s just exciting to be able to represent my hometown. I’ve lived in Battle Creek for more than 25 years, but it’s great to be home.”

As a member of the U.S. Congress for two years starting in 2008, Schauer was starting centerfielder for the Democrats in the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.
“It’s good to come out of semi-retirement for the day,” he said. “I’ve always loved sports. It’s how I built a lot of friendships that I’ve carried through the years, so it’s fun to be back, seeing so many friends.”

It was certainly a slower pace for Robin Witjes (2008-09), who just finished his collegiate baseball career at Oberlin College. But the two-time participant of the alumni game said the friendships and legacy Schauer alluded to are part of what makes the day a success.
“It’s just nice to see the history in action, and talk with guys who played so much longer ago than me but who can still really play. That amazes me,” Witjes said. “Having just ended playing in college, it’s great to come out, hit a baseball, throw it around with friends.
“It’s different, definitely,” he added. “But it’s a lot more fun.”

 

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Having a ball - Green Team takes Howell alumni game
By Mark Csapo - DAILY PRESS & ARGUS - July 10th, 2011

HOWELL — It was less about running, scoring and catching, and more about reminiscing, stories and catching up.

That was certainly the case at Howell High School on Saturday during the Fifth Annual Howell Alumni Baseball Game. For the record, the Green Team came away with an 8-4 victory over the Gold Team, but the festivities went deeper than that. “This is not about baseball,” said Rich Robinson, a 1979 graduate who created and has organized the yearly event. “The whole point is just the reunion aspect. We’re all competitive guys, but it’s still just a baseball game. It’s more about the warmup before the game, talking among the guys, having fun and making jokes at your friends’ expense.

This year’s event honored the Howell team from 1978 that went 22-8, won the Capital Circuit championship, won the Shelander Classic and was ranked 10th in the Class A state polls. The coach from that team, Ted Klontz, made the trip to Howell from his current home in Nashville, Tenn., to coach the Gold Team. “It’s good to come back to see the guys,” the 66-year-old Klontz said. “We had really talented kids. They were building up for a couple of years and they put it all together that year. It was fun to watch them play. Everybody played their role. We were deep and we had pitching. “Now I see them on the field and I see their habits are still the same.” Even though his team lost Saturday, Klontz knows alumni games aren’t all about winning and losing. “It’s about good times,” Klontz said. “You hear about peoples’ lives. You hear about their triumphs and tragedies.”

This year’s event honored the Howell team from 1978 that went 22-8, won the Capital Circuit championship, won the Shelander Classic and was ranked 10th in the Class A state polls. The coach from that team, Ted Klontz, made the trip to Howell from his current home in Nashville, Tenn., to coach the Gold Team. “It’s good to come back to see the guys,” the 66-year-old Klontz said. “We had really talented kids. They were building up for a couple of years and they put it all together that year. It was fun to watch them play. Everybody played their role. We were deep and we had pitching. “Now I see them on the field and I see their habits are still the same.” Even though his team lost Saturday, Klontz knows alumni games aren’t all about winning and losing. “It’s about good times,” Klontz said. “You hear about peoples’ lives. You hear about their triumphs and tragedies.”

One of those recent sad stories involves Sonny Brigham, the assistant coach of the 1978 team. Brigham died in January this year at age 78 of congestive heart failure. This year’s alumni game was dedicated to the former coach, and many Highlanders had fond memories of Brigham.

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2011 PROGRAM

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“He was a great family man,” said Rick Humphries, a 1977 graduate who is married to Sonny’s daughter, Sharlene. “This is a nice tribute and a nice way to honor Sonny. He would be happy with it, but humbled.” Sonny’s son, Don Brigham, agrees.
“He really wasn’t into honors. He wasn’t that type of person,” said the 49-year-old Don Brigham, a 1979 graduate who played on the Green Team. Brigham had the honor of throwing out the first pitch in memory of his father, but he said his mind was focused elsewhere. “I was just trying to make sure to get the pitch to the catcher,” Brigham said jokingly. Those from the 1978 team said Klontz and Brigham made a perfect coaching tandem, with Klontz being the stereotypical head coach with a strong personality, while Brigham provided a calming influence as his sidekick. “Sonny and Ted worked well together,” Humphries said. “Ted would get on us and Sonny would smooth things out. He was good with kids. He had a simple demeanor, and he was a real, good hitters and players coach.” “He was always looking out for us kids,” said Mark Jenkins, a second baseman from 1978 who kind of got stuck playing catcher for a few innings for the Gold Team. “He was a great guy and a great coach. Sonny and Ted made a nice team.”
Klontz, who coached from 1969-83 and sent nine players on to play college ball from that 1978 team, echoed those same opinions. “Sonny was a real steadying influence,” Klontz said. “I was the coach who was always pressing. If the guys were upset with me, they’d go to him and talk things out. Then Sonny would come to me and share their thoughts. He was the interpreter.”

Saturday’s game, which took two hours to play in 88-degree heat, was basically decided in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Green Team snapped a 3-3 tie with five runs. Two of those runs came on errors, and ’79 grad Mike Brown hit an RBI double, but the big hit came from ’82 graduate Mike Barger, who cracked a two-run, bases-loaded single to start the rally. Barger had two hits in the game. He also made a nice diving — maybe somewhat stumbling — catch of a foul ball while playing catcher, and finished the game playing several innings at shortstop. For his efforts, Barger won the Bert Tooley MVP Award, named for the 1904 Howell graduate who went on to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. “Everybody wins here,” said Barger, a 47-year-old who graduated in 1982. “This is fun.” Barger is one of the co-founders of JetBlue, the seventh largest airline in the country. He flew in from Mamaroneck, N.Y., for the game, and plans to be here in the years to come. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it,” Barger said. “The crowd is good, and you get to see folks from back home. We’re going to come back next year.”

Saturday’s event featured young and old athletes on both teams. The oldest was 82-year-old Bob Kennedy. The 1947 graduate was on the Green Team, but kept to the bench the entire time in his first alumni game.
“I don’t think my legs would hold up,” said Kennedy, a life-long Howell resident with seven children, 23 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren on the way. “I was going to come last year, but I didn’t. This year Bruce Campbell says, ‘You’re coming.’ My wife (Joanne of 62 years) thinks I’m crazy.”
Campbell is a 77-year-old who was on the Gold Team, but also stayed in the dugout as a “bench coach.” An oldtimer who did play, however, was 77-year-old Norm Jamison, who played second base for one inning for the Gold Team. Nothing was hit to him. “I couldn’t guarantee what would happen, but I think I would have stopped it,” said Jamison, a 1952 graduate who has attended three alumni games. “I could try.”
The youngest was 20-year-old Robin Witjes, a 2009 graduate who now plays baseball and football at Oberlin College in Ohio. Witjes was all over the field Saturday, playing center field, pitcher and catcher for the Green Team. “I haven’t pitched in four years,” Witjes said. “The first batter hit a triple off me, so I couldn’t take it easy. ... It’s a great time out here, meeting everybody and hearing their stories.”
The game attracted a few less participants this year, Robinson said. He hopes to drum up more for future games, especially the younger athletes.

“There’s a core group of about 40 guys who come every year, but I’d like to see more players from the 1990s,” said Robinson, who was a part of that 1978 championship team. “For whatever reason, we haven’t been successful in reaching those guys from the ’90s. We need them because they’re the guys who will pick up the ball and carry on the legacy. Us guys from the ’70s only have a few more years of being able to play.”

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Baseball tradition continues -- Highlanders come back for fourth annual alumni game - By Rich Shepich - Daily Press & Argus • JULY 11, 2010

HOWELL -- Howell High School baseball players spanning seven decades gathered at the school's baseball diamond Saturday for an event that has already become something of a summer tradition. From Bruce Campbell, who played for Howell in 1950 and 1951, to Matt Hunt, who just wrapped up his career in 2008, nearly 40 former Highlanders returned to participate in the fourth annual Howell alumni baseball game.

"It's awesome," said the game's creator and organizer Rich Robinson (1978). "The most fun of this is everybody getting together and everybody busting each other's chops. What's funny is that it's gotten to a point where we're not only heckling the other team, we're heckling our own team, too."

While the goal is a good time and both new and renewed friendships, don't be fooled. While the game is in progress, both teams want to win badly. It's easy to hear the laughter and steady stream of light-hearted ribbing coming from the dugouts, but a closer listen will reveal players sharing scouting reports about the pitcher and encouraging one another.

Saturday, former Howell JV baseball coach and current varsity assistant Rick Humphries -- who played for the Highlanders from 1975-77 and was a part of two Capital Circuit league championship teams -- started on the mound and tossed three shutout innings to help the Gold team to a 13-8 win. Following the game, he received the Bert Tooley Most Valuable Player award. "I had good stuff and I just threw it up there and let them hit it," Humphries said. "It's great to see this turnout and great to see guys I haven't seen in years."

Last year's Bert Tooley award winner, Jeff Minock (1977-79), drove in the first run of the game with a two-out single in the first inning, prompting chiding from the dugout. "He's already on his way to another MVP award," someone yelled out. "He should be. He trains all year for this," was the response. Minock then relieved Humphries on the mound to start the fourth with his team leading 3-0. After the Gold team added another five runs in the fifth, the Green team got to Minock. The Green team rallied to score six runs in the fifth, and got as close as 10-8 in the sixth, but the Gold team held off the rally thanks to closer Ron Duguay (1980-82). He teamed up with his former high school catcher, Mike Barger -- who flew in from New York for one day to play in his first alumni game -- to close the door on the Green team. "We reunited the battery there for the save," said Barger, a former TOPGUN instructor with the Navy who was part of the team that founded JetBlue airlines in 1999. "It was great fun. I got on an airplane, came in this morning to play -- I didn't want to miss another one and I look forward to coming back every year."

Still, while it's competitive on the field, the score hardly matters following the game, when all the players go back to being on the same team. The players gather for the after party, and, not surprisingly, word has it that stories abound. "Everyone sits around and talks about how good they were in high school," Jason Arnold (1990-91) said with a laugh, "and that they could still play today if they had to."

It was a family affair for Jim Merians, who was the honorary manager of the Gold team and had three sons playing in the game. Mike (1976-77) and Gary (1978-79) played for the Gold team, while Gregg (1980-83) played for the Green team. "Baseball, for our family, is the game," said Jim, who moved to Howell from Livonia in 1963. "It's wonderful ... It's like going to a class reunion every year. It's not my class, but I know a lot of these kids. I tell them that over the years their faces are going to change, but my face is going to stay the same, so they have to come up and tell me who they are."

While the game generates plenty of fun and friendships in its first four years, it also benefits the Howell baseball program and the Howell Alumni Scholarship Foundation. In the dugout during the later innings, Robinson was already talking to players about next year's game -- and the authentic baseball jerseys he is hoping to order for everybody to wear. A summer tradition continues.

Contact Daily Press & Argus sports reporter Rick Shepich at (517) 552-2861 or by e-mail at rshepich@gannett.com.

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Alumni have fun in extra innings - BY TIM ROBINSON - DAILY PRESS & ARGUS - • JULY 19, 2009

HOWELL — Gary Merians, class of 1979, flew to Michigan from Florida for Saturday's Howell Alumni Baseball Game at the Howell High School baseball field. • The target of boos from the White Team, led by his brothers, Gregg and Mike. • Hit in the ribs by the second pitch from Gregg in his first at-bat. "It was a rough day," he said, laughing. "I knew that (getting hit by a pitch) was coming. There was no doubt about it. I knew when the first pitch came across the plate I should have hit it."

The lightheartedness mixed with competitive fire made for a surprisingly competitive contest, in which the White Team beat the Gray Team 4-3 in eight innings. It was the third time in as many years the home team won. This year's game featured teams in uniforms like those worn by the 1910 Highlanders team that won a state championship, including blue and white, which were Howell's colors until the 1960s.

"This is just amazing," Merians said. "You get these guys back together, and I haven't seen some of them in 30 years. Jeff Minock and I played catch the very first practice of our Little League careers. These guys, coming back here, it's wonderful. It's just great."
Most of the players signed up Saturday were returnees from previous games, but the man who had the key hit in the game decided at the last minute to play. "I really wasn't going to come out," said Ron Duguay, who pitched the final three innings and got the win when he singled home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth. "But all my friends said they were coming out, so I decided to come out. A little peer pressure."
Ted Klontz, who coached the Highlanders in the 1970s, made a rare visit to Howell from his home in Tennessee to see many of his old players and was impressed. "It was funny," he said. "The game starts out that we're going to have fun, and then it gets down to the last inning and now it's 'We've got to win this thing.' I thought that was fun to watch. These are really good people. They were good kids who grew into extraordinary adults. We've got surgeons, doctors, lawyers. I think we contributed to that and a lot of them said baseball got them to looking bigger than they thought they would be. That's really flattering. It feels good."

Jeff Minock, who was teased mercilessly about his comments in a story in Friday's Daily Press & Argus, was greeted with good-natured jeering when he won the Bert Tooley Award, given to the game's most valuable player. Asked if he would be able to keep the traveling trophy, he said, "It probably won't be traveling. I'll probably keep winning it for years to come." That was followed by uproarious laughter. Minock walked the bases loaded in the first inning before getting out of the jam without a run. He pitched three innings, striking out seven, then caught the final three innings. He had two hits and scored a run. "One thing that's nice is I struck out my brother-in-law, Jeff Gerkin," Minock said. "I told him, 'It's going to be a long year.' These one-game seasons are tough. It's going to be a long year for ol' Gerk."

The White Team scored a run in the first, then saw the Gray Team score twice on an error in the fifth and add another unearned run in the seventh.
But the White Team scored twice in the bottom of the inning after Minock's leadoff double to tie the game. After some discussion, it was decided to begin the eighth with the international tiebreaker, in which a runner is placed at second base to start the inning. Duguay came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth against the Gray's Brett Walters, then hit a line drive to left to win the game. "It was off-speed, and that helps when you're my age," Duguay said. "I think he tried to guide in a curveball after he threw a high fastball and I was kind of sitting on it. I got lucky, I guess."

The game was a fundraiser for the Howell Alumni Association and for the high school athletic department. Before the game, Jess Mack, who ran the Howell Area Junior Baseball Association for 30 years, threw out the first pitch. Merians, who is a high school baseball coach, was on the Gray Team along with his father, Jim. "We just made the adjustment to the schedule so we could come up here, and it's great," he said. "My 30-year class reunion is coming up. I won't able to make that, but I was able to make this." Duguay, who lives in Howell, missed the first two games but doesn't plan to do so again. "It was great," he said. "I didn't realize it would be so organized out here. It was well worth it. I'm definitely coming out next year."

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