Big D

“The best teams have chemistry. Good communication and they sacrifice personal glory for a common goal.”
Dave DeBusschere

Dave DeBusschere played in the NBA for 12 years (Detroit Pistons 1962-68; New York Knicks 1968-74). DeBusschere was an eight-time All-Star and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team six straight times. DeBusschere averaged 16.1 points; 11 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his career. Dave DeBusschere was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, and in 1996 he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary all-time team.

Dave DeBusschere was a player-coach for the Pistons for almost three seasons. Dave played professional baseball for four years; two of them with the Chicago White Sox. He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on strictly on basketball.

In his post NBA playing career, Dave DeBusschere was General Manager of the Nets, Commissioner of the ABA and General Manager of the Knicks.

It was a privilege to watch Dave DeBusschere play basketball. Not only was DeBusschere a talented player, but he also was totally unselfish, a true “team man” and that added to his greatness. DeBusschere played hard, had a good outside shot, would drive to the basket, played tenacious defense, and was a fine rebounder. It should be mentioned that his fellow Knick teammates, Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, also were completely unselfish. The Knicks’ Captain, Willis Reed, also was a “team guy.” With talented players and the concept of finding the “open man,” the Knicks won two Championships (1970 & 1973).

Dave DeBusschere also had the potential to be a fine Major League pitcher. His win total was in double digits in each of his two seasons with the Indianapolis Indians (1964 & 65). He gave up baseball after the 1965 season to focus on playing and coaching basketball. DeBusschere preferred the closeness and togetherness of the basketball court. He said there was a feeling of “being alone” on the mound.

Bill Bradley said Dave DeBusschere was like an older brother to him. Dave DeBusschere died much too young (age 62). He always will be remembered for what he taught us about teamwork, work ethic, and character. Dave DeBusschere was a real professional and a true champion.

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“I’m seeing the ball well, and when I get a pitch to hit, I’m not missing it.”

 Chipper Jones

Larry “Chipper” Jones was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Chipper Jones was taken by the Atlanta Braves with the first overall pick in Baseball’s 1990 Amateur Draft.Jones spent his entire 19 year Major League career with the Braves. Jones won the National League batting title by hitting .364 in 2008. Chipper Jones was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1999. Jones was an eight-time All-Star. His lifetime batting average was .303, and he belted 468 home runs.

Chipper Jones should be remembered as one of the best third baseman of all-time and one of the best switch hitters of all-time. His 1,623 RBI is the most ever for a third baseman. His 468 homers ranked third for switch hitters behind only Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Jones is the only switch hitter whose lifetime batting average is over .300  with more than 400 home runs.

We all are after consistency. As William Shakespeare said, “Consistency, thou art a jewel.”

Chipper Jones was mighty consistent. He is 20 or more home runs for 15 straight years,  and on six occasions he hit 30 or more homers. As a rookie in 1995, Jones hit 23 home runs and helped the Braves win the World Series.

Jones’ quote about seeing the ball and making the most of every opportunity is critical. Quite often, the batter only will get one good pitch to hit per plate appearance.

Chipper Jones had great eye-hand coordination and could get the barrel of the bat on the ball even against very tough pitchers. Chipper Jones knew how to set-up pitchers. He had a great approach to hitting and was kind enough to advise young players, thereby making them better hitters. Chipper Jones also was a good base runner.

It is not only understandable that Chipper Jones was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, but it’s also easy to understand why he received 97.2% of the vote!

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“I hate losing and I’m going to do whatever it takes to be the best at whatever I’m doing.”

Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz starred at North Dakota State before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz, who recently turned 25, moved to North Dakota at age 3 and was valedictorian of his High School class in Bismarck, in 2011.

Wentz set multiple NFL rookie passing records in 2016, among them, most pass completions. Wentz was having a magnificent season in 2017, when in week 14, he tore his ACL. Wentz led the Eagles to an 11-2 record and despite the injury, still is a candidate to be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

There is no doubt that Carson Wentz has talent; however being an elite quarterback requires much more than talent. Wentz exudes confidence but he does not do it in an arrogant manner. Wentz possesses the leadership skills that are necessary for a quarterback. Carson Wentz has a terrific work ethic and he is able to make good decisions quickly, which is an absolute must at the quarterback position. Carson Wentz also can run with the football – when needed.

Carson Wentz gives of himself with his charity work, and the manner in which he conducts himself is conducive to being a good role model. Carson Wentz is very young, 25, however he already has shown that he is a winner both on and off the football field.

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“I’ve tried to work hard. Not trying to show anybody up or do something spectacular for attention.”

Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay pitched in the Major Leagues for the Toronto Blue Jays (1998-2009) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013). Halladay is one of six pitchers to win the Cy Young award in both Major Leagues (2003 A.L., 2010 N.L.). Roy Halladay was the Toronto Blue Jays first round selection in Major League Baseball’s 1995 Amateur Draft. Halladay reached the Major Leagues in 1998; became an eight-time All-Star and won 20 games in a season on three occasions. Roy Halladay died on November 7, 2017, when the plane he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Roy Halladay was a terrific pitcher, a great competitor, a fine man, and I feel he earned his way into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. After more than a year in the Major Leagues, Roy Halladay struggled so much that not only did he go back to the Minor Leagues, but he had to go all the way back to Class A Ball. With the help of Mel Queen, Halladay made some major adjustments to his style of pitching. He dropped his arm angle a bit (over the top to three quarters) and that gave him some deception. His four-seam fastball was straight so he changed to a two-seam fastball, which gave his ball sink. With those changes, in a few years Halladay became a great pitcher. He threw a perfect game and then pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the Post-Season in 2010.

Roy Halladay was such a fine competitor that he led his League in complete games on seven occasions. Halladay was so dedicated to his craft that he attributed a lot of his confidence to preparation. Roy Halladay was giving of his time and dedicated himself to helping underprivileged children. Halladay won over 200 games, died much too young, and always will be remembered for what he stood for both on and off the field.

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“To go what I went through in NY, made me a better player and better person.”
Justin Turner

Justin Turner is the 32 year-old third baseman of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Turner attended Cal State Fullerton and was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. Turner was traded from the Reds to the Baltimore Orioles. Turner has played in the Major Leagues with the Orioles, New York Mets, and Dodgers. Justin Turner became an All-Star for the first time in 2017.

Justin Turner’s rise to stardom is a great story! He has gone from utility man to All-Star to Post Season hero. Turner was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2017 National League Championship Series. Justin Turner held his own with the Mets, but they released him. Turner met Marlon Byrd at the end of Turner’s final season (2013) with the Mets. Their conversations helped change Turner’s career! Byrd pushed Turner to change his approach to hitting. Turner ultimately “bought in” and added a leg kick, lowered his hands, and started to drive the ball instead of just trying to make contact. Turner got more “loft” into his swing and the results were incredible! Turner, who never had doubledigit home run totals, has hit 16, 27, and 21 home runs the last three seasons! Launch angle!
A. It’s never too late to change your approach.
B. If you are having some success (Turner was a Major League player for several years) be open minded on how you can improve.
C. There’s no substitute for hard work, provided you are working smart! Justin Turner has a great work ethic and is now a star!

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“It feels good to get 200 hits, but I just want to help my team win.”
Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve is the Houston Astros second baseman. Altuve is 27 years old and in 2017 he made the All Star team for the fifth time. Altuve won his third batting title this season. He also led the American League in hits for the fourth consecutive season. Altuve has won a Gold Glove and is a three-time Silver Slugger award winner. The American League MVP will be announced in the next few weeks, and Altuve is a strong candidate to win it. Jose Altuve also has led the American League in stolen bases on two occasions.

Jose Altuve is 5’6″ tall and the size of his heart is incredible! Altuve is from Venezuela and teams shied away from signing him because he is so small. Finally, the Houston Astros gave him $15,000 to sign with them. Once Jose Altuve signed a professional contract there was no stopping him! Altuve is the shortest active player in Major League Baseball and he is one of the game’s best players. Jose Altuve has added power to his game; he has hit more than 20 home runs in each of the last two seasons. He started off the 2017 Post Season by belting three home runs in Game One of the Divisional Series vs. Boston.  Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto stood 5’6″. The lesson here is that in Baseball you can still succeed even if you are a little guy.

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Cradle of Coaches

“There is nothing like Miami, nothing like the Cradle of Coaches.”
John Harbaugh

Bob Kurz,Newhouse was the Sports Information Director at Miami University, coined the phrase “Cradle of Coaches” in 1959. Miami University then unofficially was known as the, “Cradle of Coaches” until 2012 when it was officially trademarked.

The number of college and professional football coaches with roots to Miami University is incredible! Some of these men played football at Miami; some were assistant coaches there; and others were the head coach at Miami and then went on to more prestigious jobs. Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh played at Miami and was recently inducted into the Cradle of Coaches and given a statue in his honor. Paul Brown was one of the greatest football coaches of all-time; not only did he attend Miami University, but he also succeeded Weeb Ewbank at quarterback there. Ewbank led the Baltimore Colts to two NFL titles and was the New York Jets Head Coach when they defeated the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.

Among the “greats” who coached at Miami and then had a great deal of success elsewhere, was Sid Gillman. Gillman popularized the “deep downfield pass”. I well remember that from his days of coaching the San Diego Chargers of the AFL.

Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian and Bo Schembechler are three of the greatest College Football Coaches of all-time. All three were the head coach at Miami before moving on to bigger programs. John Pont coached at Miami and then led Indiana University to its only Rose Bowl appearance (1968) There are others, too. A tip of the cap to not only Miami University but also to the great State of Ohio for its rich football heritage.

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