History Of The U.P. Sports Hall Of Fame
A sports hall of fame to honor men and women from Michigan's Upper Peninsula was a dream for many years. It had been talked about often in the '50s and '60s.
The U.P. Sportswriters Association, forerunner of the current U.P. Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, got as far as organizing a committee in 1960 to investigate the project.
Former Northern Michigan University President Edgar L. Harden talked about it in 1965 and expressed a willingness to having it housed on the NMU campus.
The dream came true in March of 1972 when the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame Council held its first induction dinner in the Great Lakes Rooms of NMU's Don H. Bottum University Center.
Among the many who worked to get the Council organized were the late C.V. "Red" Money, Northern's former athletics director, coach, and physical education department head, and the late Jim Trethewey, long-time sports writer who became editor of the Marquette Mining Journal.
The members of the first Council, who were selected because of their interest in U.P. sports as administrators, coaches, officials, and media members met to approve a Constitution and By-Laws, prepared by Trethewey, in January of 1971.
They were long-time coach Art Allen of Iron River, coach and administrator Dick Bonifas of Manistique, Michigan Tech Athletic Director Al Bovard and Ted Kearly of Houghton, NMU Athletic Director Gil Canale of Marquette, Lake Superior State Athletic Director Ron Cooper of Sault Ste. Marie, newspaper editor Ray Crandall of Iron Mountain, newspaperman Larry Ebsch of Menominee,Gogebic Community College coach Gene Farrell of Ironwood, MTU Sports Information Director Dennis Hanks of Houghton, NMU Sports Information Director Gil Heard of Marquette, Norman “Boots” Kukuk of Marquette, newspaperman Dick Loranger of South Range, newspaperman Gene Maki of Wakefield, LSSU Sports Information Director Dennis McPherson of Sault Ste. Marie, newspaperman Tom Pellow of Gwinn, broadcaster Jim Pinar of Escanaba, Paul Suomi, ex officio NMU, Money and Trethewey.
Trethewey was the Council's first Executive Director and Bovard served as the first President.
Criteria for Council membership has changed over the past 20 years. All members are now selected at-large, based on attrition.
The 1972 organizing meeting also marked the first election of inductees, selected from a list of legendary U.P. sports figures compiled by Trethewey.
Charter inductees were: Taffy Abel, Hunk Anderson, Eddie Chambers, Doc Gibson, George Gipp, John MacInnes, Fred Norcross, Gene Ronzani, Gus Sonnenberg, C.C. Watson, and Billy Wells.
Hall of Fame plaques were first publicly displayed in the Superior Room of the Bottum University Center. When the displays outgrew the wall space, the City of Marquette, offered space in the Marquette Lakeview Arena. Lakeview was home to the Hall of Fame until 1997 when it was moved to the Pine Mountain Resort in Iron Mountain.
Hall of Fame sponsored activities include All Star Basketball games, for boys and girls (started in 1986). All proceeds from these events go to the Hall of Fame Academic/Athletic Scholarship Program which began in 1997.
The Council currently honors ten people annually, three of whom must be from the Pre-1970 or Deceased category.
The Council accepts only written nominations which must contain biographical information on the nominee's athletic related activities. This can be submitted in narrative form or outline form. Additional material, such as newspaper clippings and letters of support, can be very beneficial. All nominations remain on permanent file and may be added to any time.
Nominations should be addressed to Dennis Grall, Secretary, U.P. Sports Hall of Fame, 2115 24th Avenue South, Escanaba, Michigan 49829, and must be received by June 1 to be considered at the next annual meeting. The secretary copies and distributes the nominations to Council members who cast their ballots solely on the basis of written information. Only in extremely rare cases is there discussion and non-Council members cannot speak at the selection meeting.
The nominee must be a native of the Upper Peninsula or a person who has accomplished his/her feats while residing in the U.P.