Like most athletes of your time, you played multiple sports growing up. Which was your favorite, and why?
I had more personal success in basketball. I had the most fun playing baseball. However, my favorite sport was football. I loved the passion, drama, and the tight, interdependent camaraderie that grew through hours of instruction, work-outs, practice, and the excitement of the game.
You enjoyed quite a bit of success in your playing days. Which teammates helped bring out the best in you and how did they do that?
I was inspired by upperclassmen Rollie Newman and Eric Hillman. Underclassmen Mike Loar and Bill Mishler brought a competitive excellence that also challenged me. However, the three classmates and teammates that stand out in my memory are Larry Quider, Dick Davis and Mike Cingano. We grew up together and had competed against each other and with each other since the days of Little League baseball. They consistently provided motivation to succeed through their attitudes, efforts and skills. They were friends who set a high standard. I didn’t want to let them down.
Larry Quider was an imposing offensive/defensive tackle. He was tough and reliable. He was also the best hitter on the baseball team. He possessed a very smooth, powerful swing from the left side and seemed to get more than his share of clutch hits.
Dick Davis was an outstanding center and linebacker on the football team, a valuable back-up player on the basketball squad and a versatile infielder/catcher on the baseball team. He was fearless and tireless. He performed one of the best “effort” plays I had seen in high school. On film, following a home game, we were astounded to see him make his block at the line of scrimmage and race 30 yards downfield to throw a cross body block to spring our running back for a long touchdown. Dick’s slightly goofy sense of humor was also a team asset and kept us loose.
Mike Cingano played superb offensive/defensive end in football and was a smooth-shooting forward on the basketball floor. As good as he was in those sports, he was even better on the baseball diamond. He was our best all-around baseball player. He shined at shortstop and was our pitching ace for our sophomore, junior and senior years. Mike and his wife, Pam, have been great friends for many years. I was happy and proud to learn of Mike’s recent appointment to be the varsity baseball manager at Beaverton. He insists I call him “Coach” from now on.
Who were the players from other schools that gave you the most headaches? How did you handle them?
Vern Ruhle played all three major sports for Coleman. He was a long and lanky athlete who played a tough end and forward. His top talent was as a pitcher. We played against him in Little League, Pony League and High School. He was the toughest pitcher to hit that I can recall. Other than the fact he struck me out a lot, I wouldn’t put him in the headache category, as he played in a quiet, dignified manner with a high degree of sportsmanship regardless of the outcome of the game. I felt a bit better about the strikeouts when he made a decade long career in the Major Leagues.
Who was the coach that influenced you the most, and what did they teach you?
I learned the importance of conditioning and preparation from Coach Sroufe, the need for toughness, integrity and persistence from Coach Van Wieren, and the value of building team relationships through Coach Merkle’s approach. However, I have to credit my in-house coach with having the most influence on my life and athletic endeavors. My father, Guerdon Schumacher, started in Beaverton as a science teacher and football/basketball coach for several years before departing to start his insurance agency.
Dad continued to avidly follow Beaverton sports throughout his life. On long night drives to and from towns such as Coleman, Houghton Lake and Roscommon, he would talk to me about the superb athletes and teams of the 40s and 50s. I heard many tales of Ken Govitz, Harold Parker, Ken Brown, the McKellar twins, Sherm Fassett, Bob Tarzwell, Mike Morris and basketball brawls between Beaverton and Gladwin. I grew up on these stories and developed a strong desire to make the team. This desire grew stronger as I became old enough to appreciate such athletes as Jim Newman, Larry Gerow, Walt Offenbecker, Dick Govitz, Phil Maxwell and many others.
While I was in early grade school, Guerdon had a basketball hoop set up on a large cement pad. He emphasized the need to develop a jump shot with a variety of fakes and drives. He taught me proper defensive and rebounding techniques. Most importantly, he understood the need for competitive fire, pride and teamwork and passed that on to me.
Guerdon died in December of 2013. Ken Govitz had talked to him about my possible nomination. He made sure to deliver to Ken two large scrapbooks of clippings that my number one fan, my mother, Paula, had put together for me. Dad was quite excited and pleased about my chances to make the Hall of Fame.
What are your three favorite memories as a Beaver?
1. Beaverton Wins In Final Seconds – In 1968, we traveled to Roscommon to open the conference season. Beaverton, Roscommon and Harrison were considered the pre-season favorites.
Roscommon had a stout defense and a number of tough running backs. The night was chilly and damp after an earlier shower. The field was relatively sound with the exception of some muddy ground approaching one end zone. The game became a tug of war for field position. After a scoreless first quarter, we recovered a Buck fumble on the 23 yard line. After a first down, we are on the 10 with a chance to get an edge.
We had been developing a fine set of option runs out of an I-formation that was beginning to gain an effectiveness that would grow throughout the year. I played quarterback and was allowed to call most of the plays. Mike Loar was the fullback and the first option at the guard holes. I could give the ball to Mike or pull the ball back, proceed down the line, read the defensive end and keep it or give or toss the ball to one of the other backs, Bill Mishler, Gib Roberson or Dan Grant. Our line was on the small side, but were quick, gritty, and athletic with Mike Cingano, and Dave Evans at end, Larry Quider and Mike Shreeve at tackle, Dave Nimphie and Tom Lang at Guard with Dick Davis at center.
It seemed like a good time to call the option to the right side. I set the count and we broke the huddle to face their defense. Like a precision instrument, on the count of one, Dick snapped the ball and ten young men powered to the right. I rolled out, looked to my backfield and saw nothing but clear Roscommon night sky and an empty field. I had gone the wrong way and was by myself. I looked downfield and saw no one but a Roscommon defensive end who looked as surprised as I felt, as the rest of his defense had flowed to our massive rightward movement. Fortunately, the Roscommon defender fell for my inside fake and I scored.
From the grandstands and Coach Van Wieren’s perspective, I had called a brilliant naked reverse that fooled everyone. I sheepishly confessed that I had gotten confused on my own call. Bill Mishler narrowly missed the extra point kick and we took a six point lead that stood until the third quarter when they got six of their own. The fourth quarter was played on the Roscommon side of the 50 in the muddy end of the field. We kept pushing and pinning them back, but were not scoring. On one fourth down, we attempted to punt. As Dick hiked the ball, it became stuck in the mire and barely dribbled to me at the up back position, well in front of Bill, our kicker. I was able to get off a rugby style kick to keep the Bucks well in their end.
We get the ball for the probable last time as the game is ending (no overtime when we played). As we got inside the 15, Coach called our last time out. He decided to make one more try for the end zone and to attempt a field goal if we fail. We got stopped after a short gain inbounds. The clock is running. I rush off to get the kicking tee, we huddle up and break. Dick’s snap stays clear of the muck and is accurate. Bill’s kick is a beauty and sails through. Roscommon only has time for the kickoff. I was not on the kickoff team and could only cheer from the sideline. After brief drama, the Roscommon returner was dropped. The team exploded as one, rushed the field and carried Bill off on our shoulders. This started an undefeated run through the conference capped by a 14-0 defeat of Harrison for the championship.
2. Beavers regain Butch – Gladwin had owned us in football and basketball for years. We were beating them in baseball, but that did not affect where Butch, the toy mascot trophy, resided. Earlier in the season, we gave Gladwin a good game, but fell short. However, our team was improving and much more competitive than the first time around. Moreover, they had to play us at home. Gladwin’s team was taller and had a rebounding edge led by their large center. I don’t recall why Coach Merkle decided to start seldom-used reserve Dick Davis, but it was an inspired move to put Dick on their center. Dick, an excellent football player, as a basketballer was….an excellent football player. Dick harassed and bothered Gladwin’s center into early foul trouble and contributed to his eventual fouling out.
In the meantime, the rest of the team is also doing their best to keep at them. We trailed at halftime, but came back on the merit of our full court zone press (taught to us by Coach Sroufe during his tenure). After a one point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, we closed it out for a six point win. I had 23 points with Bill Mishler adding 15. Mike Cingano, Cal Robertson, Jim Wesley, Terry Snyder and Randy Bassage all made significant contributions. Dick did not score a point, but was my unsung player of the game.
The next day, a school day, 39 students and athletes impetuously set out for Gladwin at lunchtime to retrieve Butch. I decided to go along when Larry Quider and Dave Nimphie stated their plan to go. It’s always wise to travel into enemy territory with your toughest linemen. Mr. Ellsworth, our principal, called the Gladwin High School and the Gladwin police to forestall possible trouble. This led to a mass meeting of students, administrators, and police in the Gladwin gym. Mr. Creason, their principal, graciously presented Butch and rolled triumphantly back to Beaverton. It cost us all a couple of lunchtime detentions that were well worth the larger reward.
3. Suicide Squeeze Kills Coleman – A number of us played varsity baseball as freshmen. We were members of a conference championship team led by several seniors, including Larry Hooper, who was a powerful, dominating pitcher. Not much was asked of us freshmen, except to adequately play our roles.
The next year, we are now a sophomore populated team with few upperclassmen. Our physical immaturity was evenly matched with our emotional immaturity. We sure had fun. Inadvertantly, and sometimes intentionally, we drove poor Coach Sroufe to the brink.
A representative play occurred at Clare. Mike Cingano struck out the lead-off hitter on a low fastball. Our catcher missed the pitch. As it skids to the backstop, the batter now heads for first. Our catcher retrieves the ball and hurls it ten feet over the first baseman’s head and it lands deep in right field. The runner, emboldened, rounds second and heads for third, where I am stationed. Our right fielder proceeds to send a rocket over my head allowing the runner to score. Brutal. A strikeout, passed ball, two errors, and an unearned run to start the inning. To recall an old press conference joke, if coach had been asked about the team’s execution….he would have been tempted to answer… he would be all for it.
By our junior year, we were becoming the team that would win the conference title in 1969. We traveled to Coleman to play the Comets led by Vern Ruhle, who would eventually pitch for the Tigers and Astros.
In a tight game, Ruhle was brought to relieve their starter and shut us down. I never had great success against him and felt fortunate to hit a screamer down the line. Actually, I was late on his fastball and barely kept an opposite field bleeder fair down the first base line. Mike Cingano follows me with a legitimate line drive single and I eventually get to third.
Coach Sroufe had an unusual, secret sign for the suicide squeeze play. He would look to the batter and runner while placing both hands around his in a strangling motion. Perfect and unmistakable for the suicide play. It was also comical and we had difficulty keeping our composure when we see it. Also, the signal seemed too transparent and too easily stolen.
At any rate, Coach was excited about this opportunity to possibly beat one of the best pitchers in the area. In his excitement and urge to communicate to me, at third, and our batter, Dick Davis, his motions were more frantic and exaggerated than usual. The thoughts that coach might choke himself into unconsciousness or at least telegraph our intent to the Coleman coach, both crossed my mind. The play worked perfectly. I took off for home as Ruhle delivered. Dick put down a perfect bunt and I easily scored the go-ahead run without having to slide.
What is your proudest memory as a BHS alum?
My proudest memory as an alumnus occurred this December, as I was touched and proud to experience the strong community support and respect for my family following my father’s death. I appreciated how the school is the center and the heart of the community as I shook hands and met with many people who were part of my father’s life. Beaverton High School, through its staff, students, alumni and friends, share a tradition and identity that has been very important to my family.
I also want to add an appreciation that occurred to me in 1989 as I was completing my psychology dissertation. The task required many years of independent study, research and analysis. I realized that much of my work began with the foundation I acquired at Beaverton High. Resultingly, I acknowledged Virginia Ross in the dissertation. I did not go far enough. I had many fine teachers and would like to credit Mrs. Woodruff, Mrs. Hicks, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Arehardt, Mrs. Mishler, Mr. Metzger and Mr. Matteson for their positive influence.
The other influence helping me through school was to recall an expression used by Coach Van Wieren to always keep your feet moving after contact to break a tackle or gain a bit more yardage. The expression often occurred to me whenever I was stuck in my studies or other aspects of life and encouraging thought helped me break through.
Looking at the list of current Hall of Fame members, do you have any comments for any of them?
I am proud and pleased to join the Hall. I look forward to meeting those of you I do not know and becoming reacquainted with those of you I have known for many years. I also look ahead to being able to contribute to the further success of the Beaverton Hall of Fame.