BORN: SEPTEMBER 22, 1893, MONTAGUE, MI
DIED: MARCH 13, 1940 OLYMPIA, WA
A native of Montague, Ira Flagstead played
baseball with four teams in a major league career that spanned 13
seasons. A catcher since his days with the Montague Independents,
Flagstead was signed by the Detroit Tigers in the spring of 1917. The
Tigers were deep in catching, so the stocky 5-foot-7, 170‑pounder was
moved to the outfield. Although he posted a batting average in excess
of .300 in three of his four seasons with the Tigers, Flagstead never
finished higher than third on the team in that category. The Tigers
were rich in hard-hitting outfielders and Flagstead played in the shadow
of teammates Ty Cobb, Harry Heilmann and Bobby Veach. In the spring of
1923, he was sold to the Boston
The Red Sox were a weak club offensively, but Flagstead's bat and his hustle delighted the Boston fans. Blessed with a fine arm, he established an American League record for outfielders by participating in three double plays in a 1924 game. The 1925 season was a banner one for the veteran outfielder. The team leader in hits, doubles, walks and runs, Flagstead tied American League records for runs scored in a contest, most times walked in a game with five and most times walked in an inning. At season's end, he was named the Red Sox's most valuable player. Flagstead broke Tris Speaker's record for double plays started in a game with three against the St. Louis Browns on April 19, 1926.
The club honored the Montague native with "Flagstead Day" in 1928. "Boston's outfielder" was presented with a variety of gifts, including a new car and $1,000 in gold. He ended the year with 41 doubles - a career high and the sixth highest season total in the American League that year. Released by the Red Sox in the spring of 1929, Flagstead saw limited action with the Washington Senators and Pittsburgh Pirates before the end of the 1930 season. A .290 career hitter, he closed out his baseball career with Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League. He died at the age of 46 in March of 1940.
BORN: NOVEMBER 5, 1930, MUSKEGON, MI
A three sport star at Muskegon Heights, Frank Howell led the Tigers to a
third consecutive 9‑0‑0 gridiron record as well as a third consecutive
mythical state championship in 1947. A member of the Associated Press
All‑State squad in 1947 and 1948, he entered the University of Michigan
Unfortunately, injuries plagued Howell at U of M. His hard luck on the gridiron removed him from starting positions in 1950 and 1951. Howell's senior year at Michigan proved more fruitful. Averaging 4.8 yards per carry, the Wolverine back scored two touchdowns on the year, including the lone touchdown in a 27‑7 loss to conference rival, Ohio State. A Michigan victory in the contest would have meant a trip to the Rose Bowl for the Wolverines.
Playing center field with the Michigan baseball team, Howell lettered in his three years with the varsity. The 1952 Wolverines placed second in the conference with a 6‑5 extra inning victory over Wisconsin in the season finale. Howell's three home runs in conference play earned him a share of the Big Ten home run crown. Michigan posted a 10‑3 conference mark and ended the 1953 baseball season as Big Ten co‑champions with Illinois. Howell finished conference play as co‑leader in triples and runs batted in. Invited to compete in post‑season play, the Wolverines won the school's first NCAA baseball championship. Howell performed well in post‑season play against Stanford, as well as scoring three runs in the championship game against the University of Texas.
Although Howell's baseball skills received some interest from the Boston Braves, he opted to enroll in the School of Dentistry at Michigan. After earning his degree in 1957, he returned to Muskegon Heights and opened an office. He remained active in local baseball, playing nine seasons in the City League. He also became active in politics, earning a seat on the Muskegon Heights City Council in the spring of 1958.
BORN: JULY 19, 1912, IRONWOOD, MI
DIED: JULY 16, 2003, DENVER, CO
Best known for his skills on the gridiron, John Regeczi captained both
football and basketball teams at Muskegon Heights. He also set Tiger
track records in the 100‑yard dash, the 220‑yard dash, and the javelin
A outstanding running back, Regeczi also handled the punting duties for the Heights. Taught the "rocker", or two‑step style of kicking by Coach Oscar E. "Okie" Johnson, he was chosen by Richard Remington of the Detroit News on his first team All‑State squads of 1929 and 1930. Thanks to the influence of C. F. Bolt, director of athletics at Muskegon Heights, Regeczi attended the University of Michigan.
Regeczi lettered in football, basketball and baseball during his years at U of M. His punting skills fit nicely with Coach Harry Kipke's philosophy of "punt, pass, and prayer" football. The Wolverine football team rolled to undefeated seasons in 1932 and 1933 en route to back‑to‑back national titles. Regeczi's talents were recognized with honorable mention All‑American honors as a junior and a place on the College All‑Star roster following his senior year.
A fine baseball player, Regeczi turned down an offer from the Detroit Tigers two years later in order to teach physical education in L'Anse, Michigan. Regeczi later accepted a position at Burton Junior High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He retired in 1973 after a 36‑year career, including 21 seasons of coaching at the junior high level.
BORN: JULY 15, 1955, MUSKEGON, MI
Although the incredibly talented Denise Sharps wanted to play basketball
for Muskegon Heights High School, the school did not have a girls
basketball program. An experienced player from the Heights' City
League, Sharps attended high school before the enforcement of the Title
IX legislation prohibiting discrimination against students based on
race, sex or religion. Her basketball career was delayed until she
enrolled for classes at Muskegon Community College and joined the
women's basketball team.
In the winter of 1974, the Lady Jayhawks posted a 7‑4 mark. A forward, Sharps torched the nets, ending the year with an impressive 25.9 points per game average. Denise returned to MCC in the winter of 1975. Joined by her sister Evette, the team rolled to a 13‑1 regular season mark. Denise continued her torrid pace, averaging 24.7 points and 16 rebounds per game through the regular season. Upset in the opening round of the state tournament, the squad earned runner‑up honors at the Regional Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) tournament. Although the team dropped both of its games in the national AIAW junior college tournament, the trip helped to establish women's programs at MCC.
Spotted by a number of major college coaches at the national tournament, Sharps accepted a scholarship offer from Indiana State University. Moved to point guard, she excelled for the Lady Sycamores. The team posted a pair of 19‑9 seasons during her two years at ISU. Along the way, Sharps set numerous ISU scoring marks. She remains the Lady Sycamore's leader in career scoring average, with 18.1 points per game.
Upon graduation, the 5‑10 guard signed a free‑agent contract with the Iowa Cornets of the newly formed Women's Professional Basketball League in 1978. An All‑Star in her first season of professional play, Sharps led the Cornets to the Midwest Division co‑championship and a trip to the WPBL finals. Denise remained in the league for three seasons, spending time with the Chicago Hustle and Minnesota Fillies before the collapse of the circuit following the 1980‑81 season.
BORN: APRIL 5, 1924, SYRACUSE, NY
DIED: MAY 2, 1968, MUSKEGON, MI
An all‑around athlete and first team
All‑State fullback for Muskegon High School, Steve Sieradzki and his
teammates won runner‑up honors in the Class A basketball finals in the
Spring of 1942, as well as a share of the mythical gridiron state
championship in the fall of 1942.
Following graduation, Sieradzki was drafted by the U.S. Army, serving as a paratrooper during World War II. The war over, he enrolled at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) following his release from the military in 1946. The Spartan coaching staff eagerly welcomed his football and baseball talents with great expectations for the former Big Red star.
But injuries would haunt Sieradzki at MSC. A starting fullback, the 22-year-old freshman suffered a rib injury in the sixth game of the 1946 season and he was forced out of the Spartan lineup. An ankle injury in the first week of practice once again removed Sieradzki from consideration for the fullback spot in early 1947. Upon his return, he was switched to left halfback where he averaged 6.1 yards per carry in 32 attempts as the Spartans rolled to a 7‑2 record. A fine baseball player, Sieradzki notched a .232 average in 17 games for Coach John Kobs in the spring of 1947.
Sieradzki left MSC prior to the 1948 baseball season. In June of that year, he signed an unusual professional contract with the New York Yankees to play both football and baseball. The baseball Yankees also sponsored an entry in the All‑American Football Conference, a post‑war rival of the National Football League, and they played their home schedule at fabled Yankee Stadium. During the baseball season, Steve played briefly with several New York farm teams. Disappointed with his progress with the Yankee organization and by the separation from his family required by a career in professional sports, he retired in the spring of 1950.
Sieradzki returned to Muskegon to concentrate on selling real estate. He rose to new heights in his chosen career, assembling large land purchases for development throughout Michigan and the Midwest. The father of nine children, Sieradzki died of a heart attack in 1968 at the age of 44.
BORN: AUGUST 2, 1926, MUSKEGON, MI
A football, basketball and baseball star for Muskegon Heights High School,
Jack Weisenburger served as team captain on each squad in his senior year of
high school. A summa cum laude honor student, he entered the University of
Michigan in the fall of 1944. During his sophomore and junior years,
Weisenburger played football in the Wolverines backfield, as well as
the team's punting duties. Michigan rolled to second place finishes in the
Big Nine Conference in 1945 and 1946.
Although small for the position, Weisenburger perfected the art of the "spinning" fullback in Fritz Crisler's complex single-wing backfield formations in the 1947 season ‑ his final year of college play. The Wolverines rolled to a 6‑0‑0 mark against conference opponents and a 9‑0‑0 mark overall. The Big Ten's leading ground gainer, Jack received acclaim as an honorable mention All‑American. A member of the All Big Nine second team, he also received the conference medal for scholastic and athletic achievement.
Fritz Crisler's 1947 Wolverines were ranked second in the nation entering the Rose Bowl contest. Following a 49‑0 victory over eighth ranked USC, Michigan edged past Notre Dame for the top spot in a special poll of sports writers conducted following the bowl games. In 1988, that 1947 squad was selected as one of the top 15 teams in the history of college football by the Sporting News. Jack's brilliant contribution in the '48 Rose Bowl rout earned him Most Valuable Player honors for the game. His three one-yard touchdowns in the game tied the Rose Bowl record for individual scoring, set in 1925 by Elmer Layden of Notre Dame.
Although he was drafted by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League, and by the New York Yankees of the All‑American Football Conference, Weisenburger shunned the gridiron spotlight to pursue his first love ‑ baseball. He signed with the Boston Braves and enjoyed a productive minor league career for several seasons. He advanced as high as the AAA Milwaukee Brewers, the Braves' top farm team before retiring in 1951 to begin a successful career in the insurance business in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.