The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 6, 2013

A Don McCormack column: Mickey Z. never toots his own horn

By DON McCORMACK - donmac@suite224.net
Sports Editor

Taking the shutters off the variety store windows and doing some spring cleaning...



Mighty Mick

Elsewhere on this page, you will read Chris Larick’s most excellent feature on Mickey Zigmund, a 1964 Jefferson graduate who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame.

While Chris’ story is (as his efforts always are) both interesting and informative, it does not touch on Zigmund’s greatest accomplishment during his days as a basketball star for the Falcons.

Why?

Because Zigmund, never one to promote himself or his accomplishments, never told Chris, himself an ACBF Hall of Famer (Class of 2008).

So, here it is — no one in Jefferson boys basketball history, and, Loyal Readers, that dates back to 1900, —has scored more points in a single game than Mickey Zigmund.

On Nov. 29, 1963 — the second season of the old Falcon Gymnasium — Zigmund led coach Herb Smolka’s Falcons into a game against the visiting St. John Heralds.

That night, he fired in 41 points, surpassing the previous school best of 40, set by ACBF Hall of Famer Chuck Naso (Class of 2004), leading Jefferson to a 90-55 victory.

A half-century later, that record has not changed. Turns out, nor has Zigmund’s knack for keeping a low profile.

“I didn’t know what the record was and I didn’t know what it is,” Zigmund said. “That’s the only game something like that happened. There were and are a lot of great players.”

Zigmund made 18 of 25 shots from the floor in his record-setting effort and was perfect in four attempts from the free-throw line.

The Star Beacon account of the game the next day said, “Included in Zigmund’s successful shooting efforts were several jumpers from 20 to 25 feet, a bundle of fastbreaks and some from 10 feet.”

Junior center Dan Foster — himself an ACBF Hall of Famer (Class of 2006) — had 9 points and 16 rebounds in the win and junior guard Rick Havens, who would eventually become a highly successful baseball coach at his alma mater and for whom Jefferson’s sparkling baseball complex is named, had 10 points.

Turns out, Foster transferred to Edgewood before his senior season because Jefferson cancelled winter sports because it could not pass a levy. Eventually, the levy did pass and sports were reinstated, but it was too late for Foster to return to play with his buddies.

And his buddies paid for it.

“Dan Foster scored 49 points,” Zigmund said. “I think it was against Jefferson at Jefferson that he did that. In my mind, he’s the real record holder. He had gone to Jefferson and when they couldn’t pass a levy, he went up to Edgewood.”

The night Zigmund scored his 41 points, it was not known it was a Jefferson school record.

Exactly one week later, it was discovered.

“I remember Chuck Naso had scored 40,” Zigmund said. “I didn’t even know if his was the record. A couple of weeks later, the Star Beacon had written a small article saying I had the record.”

The game was Jefferson’s opener.

“It was the first game of the season,” Zigmund said. “I was a senior playing with four guys who had never played varsity before. Their tendency was to pass the ball to me because they thought I was never afraid. That’s what contributed more to it than anything. else.”

He said the times were full of emotion... and it had nothing to do with basketball, nor anything to do with sports, in fact.

“I think it was the week after the Kennedy assassination,” Zigmund said. “We didn’t have school Monday or Tuesday. I don’t remember when we practiced. Those were strange times.”

To this day, Zigmund continues to downplay his record-setting performance.

“From then to now, there have been some really good players who have come along. I didn’t pay any attention to it.”

One final caveat — the night Mickey Zigmund set the Jefferson boys basketball single-game scoring record, Friday, Nov. 29, 1963 — he celebrated his 18th birthday.

In style.



Up with Chuck

Naso had broken not only his own Jefferson single-game record with a 40-point performance against visiting Perry in an 83-39 romp Feb. 14, 1956, but also the Western Reserve League record.

While Zigmund broke his mark in the first game of his senior season, Naso set his in the last regular-season game of his career.

He canned 18 of 27 field-goal attempts and added four free throws to best his own school record of 38.



And finally...

A tip of our cap to the Batman and Robin of Conneaut — Nick Iarocci and Mike Joslin — trustees of the ACBF, who will be on hand Sunday when the organization holds its 11th annual dinner and awards banquet at the Conneaut Human Resource Center.

No other organization in Ashtabula County is more cooperative with us — nor does it better than the ACBF.

Happy birthday, fellas.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at donmac@suite224.net.