The top 100 high school athletes of all time: LeMahieu one of four athletes from the Catholic League listed Nos. 61-70
The following is a list of the top 100 male athletes in the history of Michigan high school athletics. This list was created after hours of compiling facts and opinions. In analyzing data and comparing athletes of the 1920s to those of the 1990s and beyond we found difficulty in imagining how the athletes of the past would compare and compete against the present-day athlete. The adage, ‘bigger, stronger, faster’, must be applied but one cannot overlook the records and achievements of those in the 1930s, ‘40s and earlier.
It is the intent of State Champs to expose and honor the achievements of athletes, some of whom our readers might not be familiar with and to create conversation on just who were some of the best.
We have a few guidelines for athletes to be considered for this list. One is they had to attend high school, for at least one school year, in Michigan. They also had to compete in sports at the high school they attended. Playing for club teams and travel teams outside of the school are not within these guidelines.
Athletes like boxers Joe Louis and Chris Byrd, for example, did not, as far as our research could ascertain, compete in athletics, at least in boxing, their main sport, in high school.
Other athletes, like hockey standout Mike Modano, who did not play for his high school team, are excluded as well.
State Champs would like to thank Wikipedia, MHSAA historian Ron Pesch, Detroit area historian Bill Hoover and others like Michigan sports writers Denny Grall and Bill Kahn for their expertise. These, and others, provided so much of the information and opinions about these athletes that made this project possible.
It must be noted that much of the information obtained, especially on some of the Negro League players, was sketchy.
The following is a list of the athletes ranked 61 through 70. Next week we will release the athletes ranked 51-60.
61. D.J. LeMahieu, Birmingham Brother Rice, Louisiana State, Cubs, Rockies (MLB): In his senior year at Brother Rice, as the leadoff hitter, he hit .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs, 32 RBI and 39 stolen bases. In 92 at-bats LeMahieu struck out twice. His career average in high school was .459 with 201 hits. As a junior, he was an Alflac All-America. He was also a two-time Gatorade player of the year and a two-time Dream Team selection by the coaches association. In 2007 LeMahieu was named Louisville Slugger Player of the Year in Michigan and was named Mr. Baseball. He also started on the varsity basketball team. He was the second round draft pick of the Cubs in the 2009 MLB Draft, and made his debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Rockies. LeMahieu won a Gold Glove in 2014, was named an All-Star in 2015 and ‘17, and won the National League batting title in 2016 but was not selected to the All-Star Game that season.
62. Tim Thomas, Davison, Vermont, Bruins, Panthers, Stars (NHL), Olympics: Thomas was a first team all-state selection for the 1991-92 season. He played defense for Davison his sophomore season. In a 3-2, six-overtime victory over Port Huron Northern in a 1991 region final Thomas made 62 saves. At that time it was the longest game in Michigan High School Athletic Association history. Thomas played four seasons at Vermont. He led the nation in save percentage in 1996 (.924) and helped the Catamounts to NCAA tournament appearances in his final two seasons, including a berth in the ’96 Frozen Four, a program first. He was a two-time NCAA East All-American. He ranks first all-time amongst Vermont goalies in games played (140), wins (81) and saves (3,950). Thomas was selected No. 217 overall by Quebec in the 1994 draft. He made it to the NHL at age 28. He became a starter with the Bruins four years later. In 2010 he was a member of Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy (Stanley Cup Playoffs) after leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup. At age 37 he was the oldest to do so. Twice he received the Vezina Trophy (2009, 2011) as the league’s top goaltender.
63. John Rowser, Detroit Eastern, Michigan, Packers, Steelers, Browns (NFL): A three-sport athlete at Eastern, Rowser excelled in the long jump and the sprints in track, and played a long side Bill Yearby in basketball and football. He was first team all-state in basketball and made all-state in the other two sports. He jumped 21 feet, 5 inches at Eastern. He played for Bump Elliott at U-M and was a halfback on the 1963 Rose Bowl team. As a senior he stated all 10 games at cornerback and three games at halfback as U-M finished 6-4. The Packers selected him in the third round and he played in the 1968 Super Bowl winning team as a rookie. He was the first PSL player to claim a Super Bowl ring. Rowser played 10 NFL seasons, played in 127 games and had 26 interceptions.
64. Joe DeLamielleure, Center Line St. Clement, Michigan State, Bills, Browns (NFL): Born in Detroit, DeLamielleure was a big man from a small Catholic school. All-State in football, DeLamielleure played fullback on offense. He also started on St. Clement’s basketball team (honorable mention all-state). He was an All-America lineman at MSU and six times he made first team All-Pro. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1973 after being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Bills. With the Bills he was part of the “Electric Company” that supplied the juice for running back O.J. Simpson. DeLamielleure played 13 NFL seasons and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. He was selected to the NFL all-decade (1970s) team.
65. Sergio Perkovic, Birmingham Brother Rice, Notre Dame: A recent graduate of Notre Dame, Perkovic earned All-America honors as a junior and senior at Brother Rice. He was Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association Player of the Year as a senior, the same season he was named first team all-state as a defensive end in football. Had a stellar rookie campaign for the Fighting Irish, ranking fourth on the team in goals (28) and points (33), and was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team. Started all 15 games as a sophomore and finished as the team’s third-leading scorer, and netted a team-high 34 goals. As a junior Perkovic ranked third on the team in goals (26) and fourth in points (30). He’s a three-time All-America and he finished ranked sixth in program history for career goals (111) and 12th in points (134). He has the most goals by a midfielder in program history.
66. Gabe Dean, Lowell, Cornell: As a quarterback Dean led Lowell to three state finals and one state championship. He was named first team all-state twice. In wrestling he won the Division 2 189-pound title in 2011 and in 2010 he lost in the 189 final in Division 1. At Cornell Dean became the school’s seventh four-time NCAA All-American in program history after going 35-1 as a senior (only four wins came by a decision). Earned his third consecutive spot in the national finals, dropping a 4-3 decision to Penn State’s Bo Nickal to snap a 45-match win streak. He set a Cornell record with 152 career wins. As a junior he won his second straight NCAA title.
67. Bill Simpson, Royal Oak Shrine, Michigan State, Rams, Bills (NFL): Simpson was all-state in football, baseball and basketball, and was coached by Hall of Famer Al Fracassa. At MSU he was an outstanding two-sport athlete. In 1974 he was named first team all-conference in baseball and football. He holds the MSU single-season record for base on balls. Simpson was selected in the second round (50thoverall) of the ’74 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played five seasons with the Rams and three more with the Bills. A safety, Simpson was the punter and place kicker at Shrine and also punted for the Spartans. In the 1981 playoff game for the Bills against the Jets, Simpson’s interception in the end zone preserved a 31-27 victory. He had 34 career interceptions plus nine more in postseason play.
- Nick Perry, Detroit Mackenzie, Detroit King, Southern California, Packers (NFL): Perry was named the No. 1 Blue Chip prospect by The Detroit News in 2008. During his junior year (at Mackenzie) in 2006, Perry was named to the all-city teams as he recorded 75 tackles and 11 sacks. He also started on the basketball team at Mackenzie. His senior year he played defensive end and tight end, and spearheaded King to the school’s first football state championship (2007). Perry recorded 147 tackles and a state-record 36 Sacks. He also caught 14 passes for 310 yards and eight touchdowns. He received numerous honors including being named to the USA today All-USA First Team,[ Dream Team and Perry also participated in the 2008 U.S. Army All-America Bowl. At USC Perry started nine games as a sophomore and in his final (junior year) season he recorded 54 tackles (13 for loss) in 12 games. Green Bay selected Perry as the No. 28 pick overall in the ’11 draft. In March Perry signed a five-year extension worth a reported $60 million.
- Draymond Green, Saginaw High, Michigan State, Golden State Warriors (NBA), Olympics: Although Green was not a Mr. Basketball Award winner, many of those who watched and reported on basketball during his years in Saginaw (2005-08) wrote that he was the state’s best player his junior and senior seasons. He led Saginaw to the Class A title in each of his final two seasons. He was a Dream Team selection by The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press in 2007 and ’08. He suffered an injury before his senior season and although Green did not miss a game he was not at his best until the last half of the season and in the tournament. He played four seasons for MSU coach Tom Izzo and ended his career as one of three players in school history with over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. The Warriors selected Green as the 35th pick overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He’s a two-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Champion. He was named the league’s defensive player of the year in 2016-17. In 2015 Green re-signed with the Warriors to a five-year, $82 million contract, this a year after helping Team USA win a Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.
- Wayne Schwalbach, Escanaba, Central Michigan: Schwalbach was a Class A all-state running back who is still the Escanaba’s all-time rushing leader with 2,240 yards. In 1973 he set the Upper Peninsula track records in the 100-yard dash (9.9 seconds) and shot put (58 feet, 7 inches) that still stand. He was a two-time Mid-American Conference selection at tight end for CMU and was the punter on the school’s 1974 NCAA Division II championship team.
Here are Nos. 71-100.
71. Prescott Line, Oxford, Southern Methodist, Michigan State (football)
72. William Gholston, Detroit Mumford, Detroit Southeastern, Michigan State, (NFL)
- Sammy Gee, Detroit Miller, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
- Darnell Dickerson, Detroit King, Pittsburgh (football)
- Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill, Michigan State, Warriors, Hornets, Suns, Magic, 76ers (NBA)
- Dan Majerle, Traverse City High, Central Michigan, Suns, Cavaliers, Heat (NBA)
- David Bowens, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Michigan/Western Illinois, Packers, Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, Jets, Browns (NFL)
78. Brent Metcalf, Davison, Iowa (wrestling)
79. Don Coleman, Flint Central, Michigan State, Cardinals (NFL)
- Tony Dungy, Jackson Parkside, Minnesota, Steelers, 49ers (NFL)
81. Chet Walker, Benton Harbor, Bulls (NBA)
82. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Detroit Cass Tech, Michigan (football)
83. Clay Youngquist, Battle Creek Lakeview, Texas (swimming)
84. Joe Barksdale, Detroit Cass Tech, Louisiana State, Raiders, Rams, Chargers (NFL)
85. George “The Gipper” Gipp, Calumet High, Notre Dame (football)
86. Curtis Jones, Detroit Northwestern, North Idaho Junior College (basketball)
87. Walt Owens, Detroit Northwestern., Western Michigan, Negro League Baseball
88. Andy Greene, Trenton, Miami (OH), Devils, (NHL)
89. Rudy Tomjanovich, Hamtramck, Michigan, Rockets (NBA)
90. Charlie Justice, Hamtramck/Detroit Northern, Negro League Baseball, Globetrotters
91. George Goeddeke, Detroit St. David, Notre Dame, Broncos (AFL/NFL)
92. "Jumpin’ Johnny" Kline, Detroit Northwestern/Detroit Northeastern, Wayne State (track, basketball), Globetrotters
93. Earl Brown, Jr., Benton Harbor, Notre Dame (basketball, football)
94. Harry Kipke, Lansing Central, Michigan (basketball)
95. Gary Hoogeboom, Grand Rapids Northview, Central Michigan, Cowboys (NFL)
96. Steve Beck, Southeastern, Arizona State (basketball)
97. Wilbert "Wilbur" King, Detroit Pershing, Negro League Baseball
98. Steve Fraser, Hazel Park, Michigan, (Olympic wrestling)
99. Phil Regan, Wayland Union, Western Michigan, Tigers, Dodgers, Cubs (MLB)
100. Mike Kadish, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Notre Dame, Dolphins, Bills (NFL)