‘Mick McCabe’s Golden Yearbook:’ The most amazing stories in prep history

It was March 27, 1982, a Saturday, and as I stood at Crisler Arena’s press row, I was approached by the Bautistas: Joaquin Bautista and Diane.
A day earlier, I had written a story about two of my favorite basketball players, their 5-foot-10 ½ twin sons, Mike and John, who were seniors at Warren De La Salle and about to play for the Class B state championship.
“We’re having that story framed,” their mother said. “You’ll be framed in our house forever.”
[ After 50 years, Mick McCabe is writing once-in-a-lifetime Michigan high school sports book. Here’s how to order it ]
At that moment, something I had long suspected hit me like a ton of bricks: I wasn’t only writing for Free Press readers; I was writing for scrapbooks, refrigerator doors and even frames.
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My conversation with the Bautistas occurred only 12 years into my career at the Free Press, and more than 38 years later nothing has changed.
If anything, my realization of my role only has intensified.
No longer am I surprised by emails from a parent of an athlete I wrote about back in the day who mentioned the pages of the newspaper had long ago turned yellow, but they still held a place of reverence in the family scrapbook.
I can’t imagine the countless all-state pages in desk drawers and file cabinets that are opened only for special occasions.
At first glance, these relics of the past may seem like clutter, but they are things that will never be thrown out because there will always be someone – a mother or father, a grandparent or grandchild – who wants to relive a family member’s glory days.
So all of that has led me to a new place: The Book.
It’s entitled: “Mick McCabe’s Golden Yearbook: 50 Great Years of Michigan’s Best High School Players, Teams & Memories.”
Yeah, that’s a mouthful. I was hoping for: “My (First) 50 Years at the Free Press,” or my friend Mike (No Show) Dempsey’s idea: “If I Ever Called You An . . . You Might Be In This Book.”
Before I tell the backstory to “Mick McCabe’s Golden Yearbook,” I’ll get the hard sell out of the way. The 176-page hardcover collector’s book is the ultimate scrapbook. It contains names of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Michigan’s top male and female athletes from the last half-century. It tells the stories of our state’s all-time top teams.
“Golden Yearbook” includes the All-State Dream Teams since 1970 for football, boys basketball and girls basketball. It includes all the athletes named as their sport’s best player – Miss Tennis, Mr. Soccer, Miss Softball, Mr. Baseball and so on.
You may be in the book. Or your teammate. Or your son or daughter. Or your mother or father. Or your grandchild. Or your grandparent.
It’s all there for posterity. And the pages of this book, I guarantee, won’t turn yellow like newsprint.
“Golden Yearbook” was never a goal for me. For the last 15 years or so, someone periodically would mention I should write a book, but I never felt the need to do so.
The frequency of the suggestions to write a book increased in early 2017 when I thought I had retired. Little did I know that I would utterly flunk retirement and return as a part-timer 10 months later.
But when the novel coronavirus canceled every sport this spring, a couple of months ago Free Press sports editor Chris Thomas asked whether I could select all-state Dream Teams in football and boys and girls basketball that would cover my 50-year career. He also wanted the top five teams in each of those sports.
I knew it was possible, but I never realized how time consuming it would be or and how much fun I would have in the process.
It meant I could again write about Tyrone Wheatley, Antonio Gates, Tony Dungy, Jerome Bettis, Courtney Hawkins, John Miller, Mark Ingram Jr., LaMarr Woodley and so many more. And that was just football.
In basketball there was some guy named Earvin Johnson, who went on to become one of the greatest basketball players on the planet. Put him on a team with Glen Rice, Shane Battier, Dan Majerle and Campy Russell and you have a lineup for the ages.
Olympic gold medalist Pam McGee, half of the 6-f…
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