One phone call drove home importance of new job

One phone call drove home importance of new job

I figured I might be walking around the lobby of the Butte Civic Center for hours.

The Butte Sports Hall of Fame at the Civic Center has hundreds of plaques, and they aren’t necessarily in order. I was also looking for a name I wasn’t sure would even show up on any of those plaques.

So, I was prepared to be there a while.

The name I was looking for was Mike McGloin. I had just gotten off the phone with Mike’s heartbroken wife, Wynn Strahle. Mike passed away on April 27, and Wynn was writing his obituary in Denver.

Wynn, who must have searched the internet for the Hall and found to get my number, wanted to know what year her husband was inducted into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame for the obituary. I told her I would find out, even if it meant heading to the Civic Center and reading every plaque, before getting back to her.

“You’re such a Butte guy,” she said, offering an amazing compliment along with a thank you through the tears.

I searched the name on the list of individual members of the Hall on our website, and McGloin’s name was nowhere to be seen. So I headed to the Civic Center knowing only that Wynn thought it might have been around 1997 when her husband entered the Hall.

It turns out, McGloin was a member of the 1964 Butte Central football team, which was inducted on July 12, 1997.

The 1964 Maroons went 7-1-1 and won the Central A Division title. They were declared co-state champions because there were no state playoffs held that year.

McGloin was a quarterback for Coach Huz Jensen’s Maroons, whose only loss came to Class AA state champion Butte High. Mike threw a pair of touchdown passes to Ruben Cedeno in a key 12-7 victory over the Bozeman Hawks.

Only the names of Jensen, Cedeno, McGloin and Ed Kelly are on the plaque. Kelly was the star of the team. He scored 15 touchdowns on the season that saw the Maroons outscore their opponents 176-95.

So far, Kelly is the only member of the team inducted into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame as an individual. He went into the Hall in 2001.

Other team members who weren’t mentioned on the plaque include Dan Bender, Ralph Booth, Mike Callahan, Bob Corr, Chuck Durkin, Rick Klaboe, Ric LeCoure, Jerry Madden, Mike McGrath, Bob Petritz, Don Raymond, Jon Simonich, Tom Simonich, Arthur “Tudo” Stagnoli, Terry Sullivan and Carl Ueland.

Since there were more than 30 people in the team photo, there are other names that are unfortunately getting left out.

Being a member of that team — during the championship season and again during the Hall of Fame induction 33 years later — must have been major highlight of each player’s life.

It clearly meant a lot to Mike McGloin, and it meant the world to his wife.

Hearing that importance in her voice made me realize that, just days earlier, I made the right decision when I agreed to become the executive director of the Butte Sports Hall of Fame.

It is certainly not a job I strived for or even applied for. But it was a job that I couldn’t turn down.

Heading into it, I have no pretense other than helping to make sure that the feeling of importance of the Hall never goes away.

Longtime Butte track coach Charlie Merrifield, who of course is a member of the Hall, told me he doesn’t know whether to offer congratulations or condolences because the Hall has been a lightning rod for controversy since it began in 1987.

The late Pat Kearney, who was a co-founder and the chairman of the Butte Sports Hall of Fame, was at the heart of countless fights with people so upset that someone they wanted in the Hall was left out.

Kearney always welcomed that debate because it just underscored the importance of the Hall. People want their parents and grandparents in. Coaches want their players in. Players want their teammates and coaches in.

It would be a bad thing if the Hall of Fame was not debated with so much passion. Getting inducted into the Hall — even if only as a member of a team — is a huge deal.

Of course, I would be disingenuous if I did not point out my past criticism of the Hall of Fame, even if it was in jest. When Matt Vincent and I wrote our “Rat Chat” column for the daily newspaper, we poked fun at Kearney and the Hall with a column announcing the “Butte Rats Hall of Fame.”

We mentioned a funny quote by a Hall of Fame critic who said, “You are born into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame, and you play your way out.”

Kearney heard that quote too. His response was to ask the critic to be on the Hall of Fame selection committee. Pat did not do that to start a fight. He did it because he believed in hearing opposing views. He thought they were healthy.

So, I will welcome those opposing views, too. At least I will try to. I’m probably not as good at taking criticism as my friend Pat, who was not really very good at taking criticism at all.

To bring order to that criticism, though, I plan to work to make more people aware of the nomination and selection process. The more the people know about the process, the better.

In addition, I will work to make it easier to nominate people for the Hall when nominations open for next year’s class later this year.

As far as the physical Hall goes, the building needs to be expanded to keep up with the growing Hall of Fame. Plans are also underway to put pictures of all the Hall of Fame plaques on line — and in order — so people like Wynn will not have to make frantic phone calls to try to get information about their loved ones.

Of course, I am truly grateful that I was on the other end of Wynn’s call that day. That call really drove home the importance of my new venture.

As it turns out, the quest to find Mike McGloin did not take very long anyway.

His name jumped off the second plaque — yes the second plaque — that I looked at. That gave me chills.

And it gave me a pretty darn good feeling to know that I just helped out the wife of a Butte guy.

— Bill Foley, who relishes the title ‘Butte guy,’ writes a column that appears Tuesday on Email him at Follow him at 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Alan Dale
    July 13, 2016, 2:24 pm

    You will be just fine.
    You work hard for that wonderful town – god, only two years away and it seems like forever or too long.
    You are die-in-the-wool Butte and will do just as fine a job as your predecessor who set an amazing tone himself – I am looking at you Mr. Kearney.
    I just hope it won’t take too much of your time from doing this fine work.
    I am glad that wonderful town has you guys to go to local spots.
    Instead of worrying about what to cover so you can get home sooner, you go cover EVERYTHING, all hours, all days.
    You are Butte, Bill Foley, Butte is you.
    The marriage is unquestionable and undeniable.
    Now just make sure you allow the best of you to come out.
    It’s your time to shine and to take Butte with you.


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