The Mid-America Conference celebrated its past and looked toward the future when the conference had their annual meetings at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland.
The past was having five new members inducted into the conference’s Hall of Fame.
Leading the quintet of honorees was Orel Hershiser.
The native of suburban Philadelphia starred at Bowling Green when in 1979 he was 6-2 with a 2.26 ERA and was named a first team MAC performer. In 1979, he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 17th round and from there as they say the rest was history as he spent 17 years in the major leagues.
In his 12 seasons in Los Angeles, Hershiser went 204-150 with a 3.48 ERA 1988 was his magical season as the man called “The Bulldog” by manager Tommy Lasorda led the Dodgers to the Western Division title, defeated the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series and then defeated the Oakland Athletics to win the World Series the first for the Dodgers since 1981 and fourth since the team moved from Brooklyn in 1957.
Hershiser won two games in the series to be named the Series Most Valuable Player. In addition, he won the NL Cy Young Award as well as setting an MLB record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings previously held by the late Don Drysdale.
His other achievements in Dodger Blue was his first full season 1974 when he had a stretch of 33 2/3rd consecutive scoreless innings. He was named to the NL All-Star team three times and was awarded the Silver Slugger award in 1993.
He then moved to the Cleveland Indians spending three seasons leading the Indians to three straight American League Central Division title, two AL Championships and two World Series appearances.
Along with Hershiser, former Eastern Michigan quarterback Charlie Batch was honored. In his fourth years in Ypsilanti (1994-97) Batch held nearly all of the Eagles passing records including total offensive yards (7,725) total passing yards (7,592) and career touchdown passes (53).
The native of Homestand, Pennsylvania was drafted by the Detroit Lions in second round of the 1998 draft. He started four seasons for the Lions before moving on to his hometown of Pittsburgh, and was with the Steelers for 11 seasons primarily as a backup to Ben Roethlisberger (also a MAC Hall of Famer) and was part o the team that won Super Bowl XL in Detroit against the Seattle Seahawks. In his NFL career, Batch passed for 11,085 yards and 61 touchdowns.
Michael Turner’s presence during his time at Northern Illinois University and was the main piece in the resurgence of Huskies football we know to this day.
The native of Chicago is NIU’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 6,038. In his senior season of 2003 he led NIU to a 10-2 record which included wins over Maryland and 19th ranked Alabama both on the road.
When he finished his career in DeKalb, the man they called ‘The Burner” amassed 4,941 rushing yards, 6,038 total yards, 48 touchdowns and 21 100-yard games.
Turner played nine seasons in the NFL his first four in San Diego and then four seasons in Atlanta. Rushing for 7,338 career yards and caught 70 passes. Was a two-time Pro Bowl participant and twice named All- Pro while with the Falcons. In addition, Turner was an outstanding kick returner with both teams.
Also inducted were Dr. Carol Cartwright who was president at both Kent State and Bowling Green along with former Toledo women’s Basketball star Dana Drew-Shaw.
As to the future, major topics were discussed at the meetings with the most prominent being the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on states allowing sports gambling and hoe this would affect a sport like football and a conference like the MAC as the 2018 football season is on the horizon.
In addition, there was a couple of changes in regards to men’s basketball. The first was in scheduling against non-conference opponents as the conference look to boost their standing and gain a second team into the NCAA Basketball Tournament which has not happened since Miami came in as an at-large team in 1985.
The second was in regard to a MAC team that won an NCAA Tournament would get ae extra 30% share along with their normal share from the tournament for two seasons. An example, Buffalo’s first round win over Arizona in this year’s tournament