The Obit For Don Eaddy

Grand Rapids Hall of Famer Don Eaddy dies at 75

Friday, July 11, 2008

By Greg Johnson The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- In recent years Don Eaddy would take his brother Jim fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and they would usually end up talking about their athletic pasts in Grand Rapids.

"I'm not saying this just because he was my brother, but Don was, without a doubt, the best all-around athlete ever to come out of Grand Rapids," Jim Eaddy said.

Mr. Eaddy, a Chicago Cub for a brief time in 1959, died Tuesday night in New Hampshire after a battle with cancer. He was 75.

Mr. Eaddy was a standout at the University of Michigan in baseball and basketball, and a standout at Ottawa Hills High School in football, basketball and baseball.

Bob Hendrickson, a former basketball coach, athletic director and standout athlete at Ottawa Hills, was a teammate of Mr. Eaddy. He concurred with Jim about the quarterback who threw him passes in football.

"I might be prejudiced, but he had to be the best athlete ever out of the city," Hendrickson said. "He was the best at that time in everything, and you don't see that anymore. And he was a really great person, too."

Jim said his brother, who as an eight-time letter winner at Michigan in football and basketball and led the Michigan baseball team to the 1953 NCAA national championship, loved competition.

"He played in the minor leagues (third base) after being in the service, he made it to Triple-A and was called up by the Cubs. He was up with them twice (in 1959) for (15) games, but only got to bat once."

One of five children of William and Clotell Eaddy of Grand Rapids, Don was twice named to All-City teams in each of the sports he played at Ottawa Hills.

He earned 12 varsity letters, and had some performances that veteran City League sports enthusiasts still talk about.

n the fall of 1950, Ottawa Hills tied Union 41-41 in a football game, and Mr. Eaddy either passed to Hendrickson or ran for all of the scores. That winter, in a basketball game against Creston, Mr. Eaddy scored 39 points, including 27 in the fourth quarter.

He went on to Michigan to start for both the basketball and baseball teams, and was the first black athlete to play baseball for the Wolverines.

After his stints in the Air Force and professional baseball, Mr. Eaddy became a salesman and eventually a fast-food franchise owner, including a Burger King in downtown Boston by the old Boston Garden.

His older brother, Jim, meanwhile, became one of the Big Ten Conference's first black basketball officials, and was also a standout coach in the City League. His basketball team at Ottawa Hills won the Class A state championship in 1997.

The brothers are in the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame. Mr. Eaddy was elected as part of the first class at the current home, Van Andel Arena, in 1996, and Jim Eaddy went in 2007.

Mr. Eaddy is survived by his wife, Christine, his brother, Jim, of Grand Rapids and his sister Doris Eaddy of Washington, D.C. He was predeceased by his parents, a sister Shirley and a brother Bill.

Mr. Eaddy opted for cremation, and other arrangements are pending.

"I know he wanted his ashes spread all around that beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee," Jim said. "He loved his fishing."