By Jim Moyes
Local Sports Journal
Local Sports Journal
The Muskegon area lost another giant in its proud sports history with the recent passing of Howie Meloche.
Meloche passed away last Friday after a long illness, leaving a legacy of success in high school football, basketball and baseball.
He played at Muskegon St. Mary’s, which later became Muskegon Catholic Central. Meloche was part of the first MCC graduating class in 1954.
As a junior, Meloche excelled while playing with what was arguably the greatest collection of athletes that St. Mary’s produced over the years. Meloche was a halfback on an outstanding 1952 St. Mary’s football team.
The 1952-53 Muskegon St. Mary’s basketball team was the best the downtown Muskegon school produced, advancing all the way to the state final game before dropping a two-point decision to Saginaw St. Mary’s,
That Irish team lost only two games during the 1952-53 season, both to much larger schools in Holland Christian and South Bend Catholic. The Irish would avenge their early-season defeat to Holland Christian with a 57-56 upset win against the Maroons, who were undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the state in Class B.
In the state quarterfinals, St. Mary’ faced an undefeated Remus team that boasted a 23-game winning streak. Meloche who led all scorers in the game, poured in 22 points in front of an estimated 6,000 fans at the Grand Rapids Civic Auditorium.
Meloche played a huge role in the St. Marys semifinal victory over Escanaba St. Joseph to send the Irish into the championship game on Saturday.
Earlier in the season, Meloche had singed the nets for 48 points in a game with Muskegon St. Jean to erase a Greater Muskegon scoring record of 42 points set just days earlier by St. Joseph star Mart Mullally.
A recent obituary for Meloche pointed out that Howie once scored a school record 46 points in that game, but his teammate and friend Jim Morse was quick to correct that figure, pointing out it was 48.
Morse had a simple explanation for Meloche’s scoring feat. “We just kept feeding him the ball and he just kept making shots, “ recalled the former Notre Dame great.
“Howie was just a fun guy to be around,” said Morse. “He was always laughing. Howie was a great basketball player, a great pitcher, and a darn good football player. Howie was just a good all around kid who had a lot of fun in life. He enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him.”