Grant’s ‘Hometown Hall of Famer’ event is WednesdayThe event is open to the public. The doors open at 9 a.m., and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the high school gymnasium.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
When Bud Grant thinks back to his childhood in Superior, he remembers an era of scrap drives, war bonds and rationings.
Families gathered by radios for the latest news, and talk of World War II dominated daily life.
When people needed an escape, they turned to sports.
“Sports were big because that was one form of entertainment we could have,” Grant said. “I can’t remember a game that wasn’t packed.”
Grant played football, basketball and baseball for Superior Central High School. He graduated in 1945 and went on to play in both the NBA and the NFL before signing on as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 1967.
Grant will be back in Superior Wednesday for the Hometown Hall of Famers program presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The program pays tribute to Hall of Famers and their hometowns with a special ceremony and a plaque presentation.
Grant, 85, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1994. He led the Minnesota Vikings to 11 divisional championships and four Super Bowl appearances during his tenure and compiled a .620 winning percentage.
On Wednesday, a plaque will be dedicated in Grant’s honor at Superior High School. The plaque will remain in the trophy case at the high school, and a commemorative road sign will also be on display in Superior.
The event is open to the public. The doors open at 9 a.m., and the ceremony is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the high school gymnasium. Tom Hansen, relations specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Superior, will serve as master of ceremonies.
SHS activities director Ray Kosey said visitors should park in the 28th Street lot and enter the high school through Door 12.
Following the plaque presentation, a reception will be held in the high school’s Performing Arts Center. Visitors will have a chance to socialize with Grant and take photos, Kosey said.
“The Pro Football Hall of Fame has been great to work with,” Kosey said. “I think it’s going to go off really well.”
Kosey spent the past few weeks searching out sports memorabilia, photographs and old newspaper clippings that feature Grant. The items will be arranged in a display for the ceremony and a DVD of Grant’s career highlights, compiled by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will be played.
“This is quite an honor,” said Grant. The recognition leaves him both humbled and emotional.
During the ceremony, Grant said he hopes to talk about some of his influences from Superior. Near the top of his list is Harry Conley.
“Harry Conley was my mentor,” Grant said. “He was a tough old Irishman, and in order to play on his teams you had to be tough.”
Conley coached Grant in both football and basketball at Superior Central High School.
For 22 years, Conley served as the head coach of the Central football team. He taught his players not just to play the game, but to understand it.
“I still remember some of the things he would say,” Grant said.
Grant also speaks fondly of his childhood friends. One of those friends, Bob Downs, will introduce Grant at Wednesday’s ceremony.
Grant said he, Downs and Ray Halverson were inseparable as boys. They spent their summers with baseball gloves in hand and set up games whenever they could get a field.
“Anytime it wasn’t raining, we were playing baseball,” Grant said.
The three continued as teammates and friends in high school.
Downs and Grant will have a chance to reminisce on Wednesday, but Grant said they’ll miss the third member of their group. Halverson died in January.
“I wish he could have been here,” Grant said.
NOTES: Grant has a trophy of his own to present Wednesday, or more accurately, a trophy of his father’s. The trophy dates back to 1936 and was won by the Superior Fire Department. Grant’s father, a fire fighter, was a member of the city championship team that year. “I’ve got this trophy I’ve had for 50 or 60 years,” Grant said. He’ll be happy to see it returned to the city where it was won.