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Red Wings Icon Howe Was Multi-Sport Sensation

Mr. Hockey starred on the diamond and the links

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Gordie Howe, Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings icon Gordie Howe was a champion golfer and a slugging first baseman.

Imagine Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe as a slugger on the diamond. Or perhaps driving the ball with authority off the tee on the links of a golf course.

Well, the truth is you don’t have to imagine any of this, because it all happened.

Mr. Hockey could’ve just as easily made a career as Mr. Baseball, or even Mr. Golf. Howe exceled at all three sports.

Howe, who would slug baseballs out of Tiger Stadium once while taking batting practice with the Detroit Tigers, did so for real in the spring of 1951. He was a solid hitter playing first base for the Saskatoon 55s of the Northern Saskatchewan Baseball League.

That is, he was until the Red Wings got wind of how their 1950-51 Art Ross Trophy winner was spending his summer and immediately put a stop to it.

“I think about halfway through the season, the Detroit Red Wings told him to knock it off, because here he was, you know, the most famous hockey player at the time, I think forever, and that he might get hurt in baseball,” remembered Howe’s teammate Charlie Beene to Battlefords Now. “And he was having a good time playing.

“They were asking him to stop playing baseball, and he loved to play it, and he was competitive.”

Red Wings Howe Also A Champion Golfer

In the Saskatchewan resort town of Waskesiu, the Lobstick is a prominent annual amateur match play golf tournament that continues to this day. For years in the 1950s and early 1960s, Howe held a summer job working on the course doing maintenance and groundskeeping. When Howe wasn’t working, he’d be out there playing, often with his best buddy, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Johnny Bower, who owned and operated the popular burger joint in Waskesiu.

While playing the course, Howe twice drove the 320-yard first hole, hitting over the famous Lobstick evergreen that stands aloft in the middle of the first fairway, giving the course and tournament its name.

In 1954, he was the winner of the Lobstick Open.

Two-sport stars aren’t uncommon in Red Wings history. Current Detroit forward Andrew Copp was a hotly-recruited high school quarterback. Tom Filmore played in the U.S. Open. Jim Riley is the only person to play in both the NHL and MLB.

But a three-sport star? Yet again, Mr. Hockey is standing out in the crowd.

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