1970 Baseball: Player Memories and Lives After Albion

Catching up with the 1970 baseball Britons, and reflections on a winning memory—the 3-1 victory over Michigan State on May 25, 1970—that will forever resonate in the annals of Albion College athletics. (Read “A Victory for the Ages” in the Fall-Winter 2020-21 edition of Io Triumphe! magazine.)

By Kirk Heinze, ’70

Duncan “Bow Wow” Beagle

The winning pitcher in the nightcap of the double header and co-captain of the team, Duncan went on from Albion to earn his law degree from the University of Detroit in 1974. For five years, he served in the Genesee County Prosecutors Office before joining his father in private practice. In 1991, he was appointed a Genesee County Circuit Judge. Assigned to the Family Division, he has served 29 years on the bench. In January, Duncan was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to become the Chief Judge of the Genesee County Circuit & Probate Courts. He and his wife, Dana, live in Fenton, and they have a son, Devan.

“The night before we faced Michigan State, three things were on my mind. First, I realized it would be the last game I would ever pitch for Albion. Second, we were facing an outstanding team that was still in contention for the Big Ten title and a school we had not defeated in baseball since 1907. Third, I would be facing four of their best players from Flint, my hometown. These were guys I knew well and played with or against over the years. One of them, Ron Pruitt, became an All American for the Spartans and played several years in the majors. We played well in the first game; however, the Spartans prevailed. In the 2nd game, our shortstop, Ron Megregian, showed why he was selected as an All American. And Jeff Kezlarian had two, clutch RBI singles, one a squeeze bunt. Our catcher, Art Kale, had me mixing my pitches, and I was able to keep their hitters off balance for all seven innings. I was so focused on winning that after we recorded the last out and won 3-1, one of my teammates told me I had pitched a one hitter. I had bragging rights in Flint for several years. The victory over MSU was not only ‘One Shining Moment’ for me, but also for my teammates and our beloved Coach, Morley Fraser.”

Kirk “The Reverend” Heinze

The Game 1 starting pitcher, Kirk earned his M.A. in English at Wayne State while teaching at both Shaw College and Wayne County Community College in Detroit. He and Katha, ’70 moved to East Lansing in 1977 where Kirk began his doctoral program in English-American Studies. He spent 31 years at Michigan State University as a faculty member and administrator. Katha worked first as a community education teacher, later director, and then as an elementary school principal for Holt Public Schools. She spearheaded the development of the first year-round school in mid-Michigan. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next April. They greatly enjoy spending time with their children, grandchildren, extended family and dear friends at their Mason home and Suttons Bay cottage.

“That doubleheader against Michigan State is one of the most vivid memories among many I cherish from four wonderful years at Albion. Morley and Liz Fraser were truly second parents for many of us on the team, and we were deeply saddened by their passing. The best part of pulling this article together has been reconnecting with so many of my teammates. While youth is indeed fleeting, memories endure over a lifetime. Rekindling some of the embers was a pleasure and a privilege. My deepest appreciation to Io Triumphe! Editor, John Perney, and his team for the opportunity.”

Rick “Joner” Jones

An infielder, Rick was a senior leader on the 1971 championship squad. After graduating from Albion, he worked for a non-profit in Kansas City where he met his wife, Kathy. Soon after marriage, they left Kansas City to pursue M.A. degrees at Florida State University. They spent the next 38 years in public education. Kathy taught math and then became the director of technology for several school systems—the last dozen years leading a technology consortium of 60 school districts. Rick taught English, coached football, tennis and “even a little baseball, softball, and track.” He spent the last 24 years of his career at North Farmington High School, his alma mater, 12 of those years as the principal. He was also a member of three medical service teams doing humanitarian work in Mali, West Africa.

Rick and Kathy have two daughters, one a history teacher and the other a veterinarian. Both played college tennis at Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, NY. To keep up with their four grandsons, Rick and Kathy split their time between homes in Minnesota and Kentucky. Rick still coaches youth hockey in Minnesota.

“As for the doubleheader against Michigan State, I most remember the mindset of the guys going in. We had outstanding senior leadership and two great competitors taking the mound for the doubleheader—guys who would battle on every pitch. We also had an experienced team that knew how to play: we hit cut-off men, didn’t make many errors, had good at-bats, moved runners along, shook-off mistakes, and we played loosely and confidently. We hadn’t beaten MSU in my previous two seasons, 1968-1969, but we never had a bad loss. We competed.

During the 1970 season, I had the first of five knee surgeries seven weeks before. So, my contribution that day was pitching batting practice and coaching first base...and keeping up with Morley’s legendary signals from the 3rd base coaching box: ‘Bacon...Tomato...Sandwich! which translated to Bunt...Take...Steal!’ When giving signs, Morley would go through all kinds of gyrations—tugging on his jersey, touching his hat, and using multiple hand-signals before landing on the ‘indicator’ and holding that position for ten seconds while calling out the names of the batter and runner to make sure they were paying attention. He was a beauty and had a unique genius for creating a team culture! We knew we could play with those guys.

"I can only hope that as our four grandsons progress through their athletic careers they have a coach as memorable as Morley and teammates as talented, selfless, funny, and accomplished as the Albion Baseball guys from 1970!”

Art Kale

Art was named Second Team All-MIAA on the 1971 Briton championship team. After graduating from Albion College as a math major, he spent almost 40 years in the automotive supplier business before entering politics. Art served four years as Chair of the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners and is now the Manager for the Village of Homer, just south of Albion. Art still officiates ice hockey thru USA Hockey and the Michigan High School Athletic Association. He lives on Duck Lake, north of Albion, with his wife Elizabeth. He very much enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.

“It’s hard to believe that a little over 50 years ago, as our catcher, I was fortunate to be a part of Albion College baseball history...beating Michigan State University at home 3-1...the first time in over 60 years! MSU back in the day was a national powerhouse sending numerous players to the major leagues, including Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, Steve Garvey, Mike Marshall and Rick Miller!

"That morning I felt a little different, that is, somewhat more confident than in previous years when we played them. While we couldn’t match up player to player (with the exception of Ron Megregian), we had two great pitchers going In the doubleheader, Kirk Heinze and then Duncan Beagle in the second game. Plus, as a team, we were playing pretty well.

"Heinze was awesome that day, probably the best game I ever caught him. His fastball was heavy, and his curve and off speed hit my spots. Unfortunately, we lost 2-0, but his pitching performance set the stage for the second game and Beagle’s off speed stuff!

"Beagle was equally as effective only allowing one hit as we beat the “damn Spartans” (as Coach Morley Fraser would say) 3-1! Beagle was consistently hitting his spots. He kept the Spartan hitters off balance all afternoon—just a great performance.

"A weird memory from the game was our new scoreboard. MSU’s home field had an electronic scoreboard, a beautiful green coated fence and the Red Cedar River flowing just on the other side of the right field fence. We had NO scoreboard, a snow fence and the intramural field on the other side of the fence. But Morley, not wanting “to be bush,” had a new scoreboard built and located in left field at the foul line. However, the gold painted background with purple numbers (one of us had to run down every half inning and put up the correct inning-by-inning score) was actually almost too small to read from the dugout. Oh well, we all felt big time that day, because in our traditional sack lunch that included a bologna sandwich, chips, milk and an apple, we got an added bonus...a cookie! Even Food Service had a premonition of what a special day this would be! God, I miss playing ball at Albion and miss my teammates...love you guys!!”

Jeff Kezlarian

Jeff, a freshman in 1970, knocked in two of the three Briton runs in the victory, including the winning run. After Albion, he graduated from the Wayne State University School of Medicine before serving eight years in the Navy. For thirty years, he has been in the private practice of psychiatry, while thoroughly enjoying his five daughters and son. Weekends also include playing golf with his older brother, and fellow physician, Kim.

“Morley was so kind to put a picture of me in the local paper afterwards claiming I missed the first game because I was taking a biology exam. However, I really wasn’t scheduled to play in the first game anyway. I remember how excited Morley was when we went ahead. As a freshman, the whole game was thrilling.”

Kim Kezlarian

A key contributor to the 1970 team, Kim went on to graduate from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. After a successful Family Medicine practice in Midland from 1977-1989, he took a post as an Emergency Room physician with the Henry Ford Health System, in Detroit. While managing Henry Ford’s extensive urgent care network, Kim also began serving the first of three “tours” as medical director for the system's Occupational Health Division.

He is the director Occupational Medicine at Henry Ford, which serves over 200 customers in three states. As such, he and his extensive team have been on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic:

“Our major responsibility has been to evaluate employees of the City of Detroit, including the Police Department and Fire Department, and return them to work safely. We also manage the employees for DTE. The Fermi 2 Nuclear Plant in Newport, MI was about to start its shut down procedure to replace used nuclear material and clean the entire plant. This requires about 2,000 contractors, most from out of state, to perform the process. The process began just as the pandemic was starting. We are still testing the employees of DTE until we get them all back to work.”

Kim came down with Covid-19 at the end of March. Six of his family members also contracted the virus. Thankfully, they have all recovered. Kim was away from his medical duties for just nine days, but, once cleared, he immediately returned to work.

“My first memory of that day is watching the mighty Spartans disembarking from their team bus. They were very impressive. I had to leave to go to my lab which, because of the late date in the semester, I could not otherwise make up. However, I vividly remember the absolute joy of this victory when I returned to Alumni Field. My joy was also accompanied by a sense of extreme pride. I was so emotionally attached to the team through the strong family feeling that permeated throughout, largely due to Morley. I thought what a marvelous melding of all the different individuals from different fraternities, led, of course, by the Sigma Nu ‘Snakes.’ I have always taken immense pride in Albion College. Virtually everyone I have encountered over the years knows about Albion and has great respect for the institution—as do we who have had the opportunity to represent it.”

Rick Knock

Playing left field in the first game, Rick had two of the seven Briton hits. His first job after Albion was as a short-order cook at the Wayside West in Kalamazoo. He then moved to Charleston, SC, and worked on a construction crew where he got “hooked observing Navy ships going out to sea down the Cooper River.”

After joining the Navy, Rick spent 20 years as a Surface Warfare Officer and later, an Engineering Duty Officer, after he earned a M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. His last duty station was in San Diego where he met his wife. During his last tour, Rick went to law school at night and became a patent attorney. “But as fate would have it, I only filed one patent and ended up being a civil trial attorney instead, which I'm doing to this day.”

Rick and his wife have four children. Each of their three daughters lives in San Diego—two are copywriters, and one is a technical editor for an engineering firm that had a hand in designing parts for the recent NASA Mars shot. Their son is a senior at UC Riverside.
Rick lives in La Jolla, CA. “Just before the pandemic hit, we bought a house on four acres in Jamul, about 15 miles due east of downtown San Diego. We've been holing up here during these strange times, enjoying the country air.”

“Quite frankly, I don't recall a lot about that great win, although I do remember lots of good guys having tons of fun playing baseball for Albion College. And, of course, who could ever forget Morley. I hope all is well with everyone on that team and trust that your lives have been filled with joy and happiness. It's been a long, long time but seeing the lineups in the scorebooks reminded me of each of you and what great guys you all were/are. It certainly is true that when we're young, we're invincible. So let's all stay young during these trying times.”

Don “Mac” McClellan

After graduating from Albion, Don earned an MBA, and then has worked for 45 years in the family business, DeWitt Products Company. DeWitt Products is a manufacturing company that produces asphalt for restoration of built-up roofs and asphalt driveways. Last October, Don transitioned into semi-retirement. He is now building a house in Bellaire, Michigan, and will move ‘Up North’ next spring.

“I vividly remember warming up Heinze and Beagle before each game. Thus, my nickname, "Bullpen Don." When Morley told us he would take us all to Schulers for dinner in Marshall, I think it gave us some extra incentive. After barely losing the first game, I think we all felt that we could beat this Green Machine. We also had a great dinner on the line. Well, we did beat them, and Morley took us all for dinner at Schulers. Great win. Great memories. Great to have been part of it all.

"For many years, Albion baseball coaches had an alumni game against the varsity in late September. I never missed any. As a catcher all my life, I still caught at least two innings until the alumni games came to a halt about 5 years ago. Each year to come back and participate would bring back memories of old. I loved meeting those young players and informing them that back in 1970, Albion beat mighty MSU, the first time in 63 years.”

Ron “Mugger” Megregian

Ron was an All-MIAA First Team infielder in 1970 and an All-American. He played minor league baseball from August 1970 to March 1971. Ron eventually advanced to a tryout with Class AA Asheville, a Cincinnati Reds affiliate. “Dissatisfied with the lack of fun and team spirit (like we had at Albion),” Ron pursued a career in coaching and teaching. He earned an elementary teaching certificate from MSU in 1972 and began teaching at Mackinaw Middle School in Saginaw Township in January 1973. He taught and coached several sports until he retired in 2010. In addition, he served from 1996-2000 as the Technology Coordinator for the district, setting up networks, grading and attendance software and teaching students, teachers and administrators to use computers. From 2001-2010, he was back in the classroom while serving as the district Energy Manager.

Ron has been married to Kay Kennelly since 1980. They have two sons and a daughter and four grandchildren. Now retired, they split the year between Eastport, Michigan, and Gulf Shores, Alabama.

“What I remember most is how Duncan completely frustrated the MSU hitters. That is what I see in my mind recalling the game. Looking at the scorebook, he had at least one strikeout in every inning except for the sixth. Pretty amazing in any game.

“I don’t remember the final ground ball specifically, but that whole year, and especially late in any game, I wanted to ball hit to me. I was extremely aggressive and focused when the pitches were thrown, and I didn’t want the burden of a mistake (error) to be on anyone else. Some people were impressed with how much ground I could cover, but it was really attributable to getting an extremely good jump because I was focused. There was no way I was going to mess up fielding that ground ball. I guess the more pressure, the more intensity I had.

“I tried teaching this mental aspect of the game to high school players while coaching, but I learned that, ultimately, it’s one of those things that has to come from the inside.”

Dave “The Deacon” Moeller

Dave was the MIAA MVP, hitting .500 in league play on the 1971 championship Britons. Scouted by several major league teams, he injured his throwing arm during the ’71 season, thus ending hopes for professional baseball after Albion. A retired U.S. Air Force Major, Dave served for many years as a navigator on bomber crews. When stationed in Bitburg, Germany, he was a member of the elite European Armed Forces Alpine Skiing Team. He lives in Arizona where he spends time with his son, Austin.

“I remember playing as a freshman against the dreaded Spartans and being quite intimidated. By the time we were juniors and seniors, we realized they were, in fact, not much better than the Britons. I remember in Game Two, being on second base, then stealing third standing up and scoring on a Spartan error. Take that; we hated the damn Spartans!”

Tom “Arrow” Myers

Myers, an All-MIAA First Team infielder in 1970, served two years active duty in the US Navy—stationed on Guam. He then taught for 35 years at Lake Forest High School, in Illinois. He was head baseball coach from 1978 thru 2010, head football coach from 1986-2000, and head basketball coach from 1981-86. In addition, he still coaches football at Lake Forest College. Among many coaching honors Tom has received, he has been inducted into the Illinois High School Athletic Association’s Baseball Hall of Fame. He has been married to Carol for 39 years, and she is also a Hall of Fame coach, in gymnastics. They have two sons who have also followed the coaching profession.

“My first thoughts of MSU doubleheader are somewhat conflicted. I remember having committed the two errors in the first game. I remember trying so hard to make up for them, but couldn’t! During the time between games, I had to take a few deep breaths and calm myself slightly. The second game was really exciting. I remember my bunt with runners on second and third. I tried to push it between the pitcher and the right side of the infield and blooped it up in the right direction, but the air the ball got did not did not allow runners to advance. I remember running hard to first, but again frustrated. Getting picked up by the rest of the guys in order to score those two, huge runs eased my mind. Taking Ron’s toss at second base and easily getting the advancing MSU runner made my day. The excitement of finally beating MSU really hit me when Morley hugged me and said, ‘Thank you, Thank you!’”

Rick Rodes

Just a freshman, Rodes started both games at third base. He would go on to play on three MIAA championship teams. After graduating from Albion in 1973, Rick moved to Philadelphia and earned his Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. His first job was as a counselor in a local school district, and he eventually became the principal of a private school for juvenile delinquents.

After working with troubled youths for seven years, he transitioned to Medical Education and advanced to a partnership role before starting his own company in 2005. He sold his company in 2014 and has been “enjoying retirement ever since.”

Rick has been married to a Spartan alumna for 43 years. They have three children and two granddaughters. The “highlight of their year is making an annual pilgrimage to ‘Up North’ Frankfort, Michigan.”

“As a freshman starting at third, I was a bit nervous about playing the ‘damn Spartans.’ In fact, I think I might have made one of the first-inning errors in the first game. But we all settled down, and we gave them two good, tight games. I recall that after that first inning, our defense settled down, our clutch hitting picked up, and we beat the Green and White. I also recall getting a few favorable calls from the umps, especially at first base. When I commented to Morley about how much I liked the umpires, he got that big Morley smile on his face, and he said: ‘Rodes, they’re the best damn umpires in the entire state of Michigan!’”

Harry “Murdock” Turney

A solid outfielder and excellent hitter throughout his Briton career, Harry was Second Team All-MIAA on the 1971 championship Britons. After graduating from Albion as an English major, he worked at Goodyear from 1967-73. Over the next three decades he served as an educator for the State of Michigan. He is married to Mary, and they have two children. Daughter, Rachel, was a star softball pitcher first for Saginaw Valley, then for Michigan State. Son, Harry, played Division II baseball in college. He is enjoying retirement in Jackson and often attends Albion sporting events with Mary.

“I did not see the victory over MSU as a big upset because most of us played in the same summer leagues (Stan Musial & United Baseball). In 1970 there were major colleges and small colleges. Without distinct college divisions then, there was often a blurring of talent. We had some guys who would have been good players at much larger schools. Morley and Liz Fraser treated us as family, and it was great to see them so happy after that win.”

In Memoriam

Chuck Arey, outfielder, passed in 2019 at age 68. Chuck was senior co-captain of the 1972 MIAA championship team, Morley’s final championship team. After graduating from Albion, he joined the family business, Albion AutoMart, which he managed with his father and brother. He continued to support Albion College and the Albion Community throughout his life.

Greg “The Mace” Macy, first baseman, passed in 2006 at age 57. He was an All-MIAA Second Team selection in 1971, his senior year. Greg was a highly successful personal injury attorney in the Tampa Bay area for almost 30 years before retiring to Tennessee.

Chuck “Wild Wild” West, pitcher, died earlier this year at age 70. A longtime member of the Amigo Sportsman Club, he was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting and fishing, especially in northern Michigan. For many years, he was an award-winning insurance agent for Northwest Mutual.