49 years ago, when we enrolled at Notre Dame, I was fortunate to be assigned to room 128 Breen Phillips. What a great bunch of guys we had on the floor. None better than George Blaha, of Grayling, Michigan, who lived across the hallway. George and I hit it off right away because we both loved baseball and the Detroit Tigers; we both loved doo wop music and the ballads of the late 50’s; and we both wrote letters to a girlfriend back home several afternoons a week. I often heard George say “I’m going to go write Mary Krause”. I never knew her, but I felt I did because George mentioned her so much.
By the time he was a senior at ND, George had a dream to be a basketball broadcaster. His good friend Bill Dwyre also wanted a career in sports, perhaps in broadcasting. One day, George and Bill went to a local high school basketball game with a tiny tape recorder and microphone. They sat in the last row of the stands and “broadcast the game” into their little reel-to-reel recorder. George did the play by play and would hand the mic over to Bill who provided incisive commentary. After they had their finished product, they sent it to a veteran South Bend sportscaster and asked him to critique it. A few days later, George and Bill got a call to come in and see this sportscaster. When he ushered them into his office he said, “George, Bill.…neither of you has a future in sports”. This was not the message they were hoping for. But, they were not deterred. Fortunately, each of them had more faith in their talents (and better judgment) than this veteran sportscaster, who is long forgotten.
Bill is still writing columns for the Los Angeles Times after serving for many years as their Sports Editor, including leading their Pulitzer Prize winning efforts for the 1984 Olympics. Bill also has a long list of accomplishments and awards in journalism. And, he remains one of the most talented guys in our class and an all around good guy.
George got an MBA from a state funded university in Ann Arbor and later started out at a low level in his chosen field. Alas, he and Mary Krause drifted apart.
If you Google George Blaha you will learn that he has become a giant in Michigan sports. He’s in the State of Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He is the voice of Detroit Pistons Basketball and also is the voice for the college football team of the state funded university in East Lansing. In his basketball work, George is known for having a lot of special game calls that his fans listen for. My favorite one is: “There are only two great plays; South Pacific and the pick and roll”.
George’s work for the Pistons and Spartans causes him to spend a lot time in airports. One day, between flights, he bumped into a familiar face from his past and they exchanged small talk. They learned that each was unattached. They started dating. When George comes to Notre Dame with the Michigan State team I try to catch him in the Press Box when I can get away from my work on the sideline. I was waiting for George one day when he got off the elevator with a girl on his arm. He saw me and immediately said, “Cappy, you will know who this is”, as he pointed to his companion. I said “Is that Mary Krause?” Sure enough! A few years later, George and Mary Krause (I always call her that) invited me to an anniversary party at a country club in Gaylord, Michigan (aka Lower Canada). George hired the fabulous Jack Scott as his dance band. Jack sounds as good as he did when we were in high school, listening to all of his hit records. At that first party, George dedicated one song to Mary and asked Jack to play it 5-6 times during the evening………..”My True Love”. A couple weeks ago, Jack Scott was again the dance band for another anniversary party up there and it was again my pleasure to see George and Mary Krause and to hear the great Jack Scott.
Like most of the great ND men from our class, George has retained all of the same personable characteristics he had before he was rich and famous. He even looks just the same.
If you don’t remember Jack Scott, Google him and you’ll find some of his great hits. You’ll find an audio of “My True Love”; a great American Bandstand video of “What in the World’s Come over You”; “Burning Bridges”; Jack’s great cover version of Conway Twitty’s “What am I living for”; and many, many others. Also, look for Jack’s version of Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser”, done with words. It’s a goodie.