Blogs > Burney's Bytes

Burney's Bytes will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blazing a Trail To Greatness

The county is about to have yet another titillating two-sport stud in its midst.  Word out of the Orchard Lake St. Mary's football program is that Eaglets' baseball star, Blaise Salter, one of the top incoming seniors on the state's prep diamond scene, will be head coach George Porritt's starting tight end this fall on the gridiron.
Salter, an all-state catcher in the spring and verbally committed to play in 2012 for Michigan State, is expected to replace recently graduated three-year starter, Mike Padula, in St. Mary's line-up when the football season opens for the Eaglets on August 27 on the road at Grand Rapids West Catholic. His large frame, large hands and high-levels of agility and speed make him a perfect fit at the position and his presence in the offense will ease the transition of the team's new starting quarterback by his sheer ability to act as a potent safety valve on broken plays and alternate reads.
On the baseball diamond, Salter hits a ton – over the .375 mark – at the plate and possesses a lethal gun of an arm behind it, making it nearly impossible to steal bases on the Eaglets' defense. The coaching staff at MSU knew how valuable this kid was and was eager to get him into the fold up in East Lansing as quick as possible. A scholarship offer was proffered and a commitment secured from him before the start of his junior campaign this past spring.
Success in both baseball and football runs in Salter's family. Bill Freehan, former MLB all-star catcher, not to mention one of the best prep athletes to ever spawn from Oakland County, is Salter's grandfather. Freehan was an all-state catcher and running back at Royal Oak High School back in the late-1950s before accepting a dual-athletic scholarship (baseball and football) to the University of Michigan and helping to lead the Wolverines to a win in the College World Series in 1960 during his sophomore year. As a professional ball player, he played 15 years in the big leagues, each and everyone of them with his hometown Detroit Tigers, 11 of which he was named to the MLB American League All-Star team.
In 1968, he was an integral member of the Tigers' World Championship squad, finishing second in the balloting for American League MVP behind teammate Denny McClain and recording the final out of the World Series that October on a pop foul down the first base line that sent the entire city of Detroit and state of Michigan in general into a state of delirium. Up until 2002, he was the all-time MLB leader in fielding percentage for catchers. Following his retirement in 1976, Freehan has held a series of television and radio broadcasting gigs and for a period of time in the late-80s and early-90s he was the head baseball coach of his alma mater UofM up in Ann Arbor.


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