Duval, Caruso enshrined
By BURT ANGELI
HARRIS – Two Babe Ruth baseball all-star teammates, high school football foes and longtime friends entered the U.P. Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Iron Mountain’s Mike Caruso and Kingsford’s Terry Duval joined eight others during the 43rd annual induction banquet at the Island Resort & Casino.
The Twin City duo go back 50 years, teaming up on a Babe Ruth squad that took U.P. honors and traveled downstate. They also squared off in high school football.
“Terry was a heck of an outfielder,” Caruso said. “Those little legs could roam the outfield and cover a lot of ground. He was something else.”
Caruso, who went by the name Mike Carr during a 40-year radio career, covered sports of all sorts from football to ski jumping. His most memorable was 1993 when Iron Mountain and Kingsford captured state football titles at the Pontiac Silverdome .
“Those are moments you don’t forget,” said Caruso, figuring between 12 and 14 state title broadcasts. “That was the best experience (in 1993).
“You don’t make a lot of money in the media. But being a part of sports is what I really enjoyed.”
The self-described “little Italian boy from the Northside” credited Dean Barry for his start in sportscasting. Listening to the likes of Gil Heard also aided his career.
Caruso worked the bulk of his career with three sidekicks – John Koehler, Leon Waitrovich and Randy VanGasse. They were all in attendance Saturday.
“I worked with these three gentlemen and they all made it worthwhile,” Caruso said.
He thanked his wife, Laurie, and family for their support.
“I still can’t believe this is happening,” Caruso said. “I’ll always treasure it.”
Duval, a three-sport athlete at Kingsford, coached wrestling, track and football at Escanaba High School.
His Eskymo wrestlers crafted a 205-60 mark in 17 years, with today’s U.P. team championship trophy named in his honor. Duval was the head boys track coach for seven of his 36 years in the program. He also spent 34 seasons with the football team.
“We did not get up to this podium by ourselves,” said Duval, expressing appreciation to those who formed his life and inspired him.
Duval credited the late Ray Mariucci and Jerry Cvengros along with Kingsford High School great Dick Berlinski (“finest high school athlete I’ve ever seen”), Rex Terwilliger, Tom Wender, Dan Flynn and Dr. Mark Schinderle.
Duval and Wender, who guided Iron Mountain to a pair of state football titles, have been friends for 60 years.
“He’s taught me so much for some of those 60 years I’ve tried to unlearn some of that,” Duval quipped. “He taught me it’s a privilege and honor to coach student athletes. The parents are giving you their best. You owe them your best. He also taught me to have fun.”
Duval coached one of Saturday’s inductees, women’s sportswriting pioneer Sharon (Schultz) Ruibal.
“The only motivation that lasts is self motivation,” Duval said. “She’s one of the few that had it.”
Duval opened and closed his acceptance talk discussing the expression “Thank you.”
“Two old-fashioned words you never hear enough,” Duval said.
Duval remains a coach today assisting the Norway High School program.
In addition to Ruibal, the Hall of Fame group included Whitney Bell of Sault Ste. Marie, Jim Corgiat of Bessemer, Jon Lebrasseur of Nahma, Bill Lucier of Hancock, Mike Photenhauer of Menominee, Jill (Gobert) VanDamme of Perkins and the late Holly Jean (Anderson) McCullah of Laurium.
Bell, who helped the BC Lions win the 2006 Grey Cup, played indoor football for a team coached by Iron Mountain’s Bob Landsee.
“Bob Landsee gave me my first shot at pro football,” Bell said of the former Philadelphia Eagles and University of Wisconsin lineman. “It was an honor to have played for him.”
Corgiat turned down a minor league baseball contract to play football at Michigan State. Former Kingsford Flivver and Spartan Dave Manders sent Corgiat a letter of congratulations concerning his Hall of Fame selection.
“That made me feel eight-feet tall,” Corgiat said of hearing from Manders.
Lebrasseur’s nomination was filed by Iron Mountain’s Scott McClure. They were roommates at Lake Superior State University.
“Scott gave me some opportunities,” Lebrasseur said. “He got me into some situations and he got me out of some situations. I’d like to thank him for getting me into this situation tonight.”
“Coach Jon,” nobody could pronounce or spell his name in Muenster, Texas, compiled 850 wins and 14 girls basketball state championships in 35 years at tiny Sacred Heart High School.
Lucier was a Michigan Tech football and hockey coach. Nineteen of his players, including quarterback Jay Dishnow of Iron Mountain, are in the MTU Hall of Fame.
“I didn’t have to coach much,” Lucier joked.
Photenhauer, who needed to be voted on to the Menominee High School cross country team, won three U.P. titles with the Maroons. He also starred at Central Michigan University.
Ruibal, a track and basketball star with the Eskymos, said Duval “taught me to push beyond my perceived limits.”
Ruibal went on to write for the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today. She later became editor-in-chief of GirlsGymnastics.com for coaching giant Bela Karolyi.
Gobert scored more than 1,600 points during her Mid Peninsula High School basketball career. She also started three years at NMU.
McCullah was a standout softball pitcher and bowler.
U.P. Sports Hall of Fame also presented scholarships to Megan Chapman of Westwood, Callie Jensen of Gladstone, Jeremy Bell of Negaunee and Corban Ryan of Manistique. Lexi Gussert of Forest Park was also recognized, but the future Michigan State women’s basketball player is on a full scholarship and not eligible for the UPSHF award.