Serving Franklin County, WA

Another year

I’ve seen a few Sci-Fi movies about time travel and how someone can change history. But, of course, we really can’t and neither can the folks in the movies.

I look at time travel and think where has the year gone now that we are near the end of 2022?

To me that seems really fast but a minute or an hour haven’t gotten any faster it just seems that they have. We get up in the morning and splash some water on our faces and the next thing we know is that we are splashing water on our faces before we go to bed. (OK, now you know some of my routine.)

For some, 2022 was a good year and one to remember. Others are ready to turn the calendar to 2023 because of a job loss, or worse, a loss of a loved one. You can always get another job but a loved one is irreplaceable.

We’ve lost a few folks in the sports world in 2022 that had ties to the state of Washington. I’ve already covered Bill Russell, who made the Seattle area his home after his coaching days for the Seattle Supersonics were over.

Los Angeles Dodger shortstop Maury Wills passed away at the age of 89 on Sept. 19. Wills played for the Spokane Indians in the 1958-59 seasons before being called up to the Dodgers and would be the starting shortstop on the 1959 World Series Champion Dodger team. Wills would play in four World Series and was on the victorious team in three of those series.

In the 1962 season, Wills would break the Major League record by stealing 104 bases. This feat would earn him the National League Most Valuable Player award.

In 1980, Wills was named interim manager of the Seattle Mariners late in the season, but would be fired in May of 1981 when the season got off to a poor start.

Wills spent a great deal of time teaching the game of baseball which may have been his forte. Oftentimes, great players have difficulty coaching or managing athletes to be successful. As a player, he was fun to watch and as a young baseball fan he was one of my favorites.

Another former Spokane Indian and Los Angeles Dodger was Tommy Davis. Tommy played outfield alongside Willie Davis — no relation for the Indians. They would both be called up to play outfield for the Dodgers and I was a big fan.

Tommy passed away at the age of 83 in April. In the glory days of the Spokane Indians where many of the really good athletes would eventually play in the Major Leagues, it was fun knowing where they got their start.

In June, NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny passed away at the age of 93. McElhenny played fullback, punt returner, kickoff returner and kicker for the Washington Huskies. He was certainly one of the great Huskies of all time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

Recently, Franco Harris — the former Pittsburgh Steeler running back also famous for the “Immaculate Reception” 50 years ago on Dec. 23 — passed away Dec. 20. Harris helped the Steelers win four Super Bowls.

He was awarded most every outstanding award for team and NFL that he was eligible for. Harris is on the list because he played his last year as a professional athlete for the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately, his glory days had passed him and Seattle wasn’t ready to make him relevant again.

Last on the list, but certainly not least, is Mike Leach. The former Washington State football coach passed on Dec. 12. Leach would take an interesting path to head coaching stardom. He never played college football, but he did play college rugby. He studied coach LaVell Edwards passing game at BYU and with another football coach, Hal Mumme, would develop the Air Raid offense.

Coach Leach utilized the offense for great success at Oklahoma as an offensive coordinator, Texas Tech, WSU and Mississippi State. Leach’s last game was a Thanksgiving night victory over arch rival Ole Miss. Ironically, Leach passed away at University of Mississippi Hospital.

Leach did it his way and brought great success and belief to many players and fans. He was certainly one of a kind and wherever he went the fans seemed to like football a lot more than before he got there.

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].


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