Friday, March 25, 2016

‘Knowns’ and some ‘not well knowns’ about Roy Helser

Identification for 1941 Linfield Baseball team photo -- Back: Wolfsehr, Partlow, Bixler, Monnes, Lyons, J. O’Meara, Williams, Means, Thomas, Coach Helser. Center: Hagerman, Walker, Voth, Rich, Piche, Bolin, Grube, Front: “Art.”

Some Roy Helser knowns….

…A member of Linfield Class of 1936, Roy Helser was a three-sport (football, basketball and baseball) athlete for Linfield.

…He coached Linfield in football (as an assistant), basketball and baseball. His 1966 Wildcats baseball team won the college’s first ever national championship in any sport. He’s in the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame as a coach and athletic director (1968-1973).

…Helser and Paul Durham (also Class of 1936) were co-head coaches of Linfield men’s basketball for three seasons, 1949-1952. Helser was head coach by himself for nine seasons, 1952-1961. He retired from coaching basketball after the 1960-1961 season and was succeeded by Ted Wilson.

Some Roy Helser not well knowns …

…Although a member of the Class of 1936 – along with this wife Dorothy Helser – Roy Helser graduated in 1941.

…Named Linfield head baseball coach in 1950, Helser coached the sport 21 seasons (1950-1970), he apparently/maybe/perhaps was Linfield head baseball coach in 1941, too.

...Although retired from coaching Linfield men’s basketball after the 1960-1961 season, he coached the 1965-1966 basketball team for seven games.


With the permission of Elam Anderson, Linfield president, after Dorothy Evelyn Wall and Roy Herman Helser married Aug. 11, 1935, in Kitsap County, Wash., they became the first married couple to attend the college. 

After Dorothy Helser graduated in May 1936, Roy played professional baseball and Dorothy often traveled to his games.

"He had great stuff, but he was wilder than a March hare," she told the McMinnville News-Register, recalling how her husband, a left-handed pitcher, often threw equal numbers of strikeouts and walks.

In 1941, the Helsers (Dorothy, Roy and baby son Dennis, a.k.a. "Denny") returned to McMinnville so Roy could earn his degree.

The 1941 Linfield Oak Leaves yearbook shows Helser earning a bachelor of science degree in Physical Education as does a 1941 edition of the McMinnville T-R/Telephone-Register newspaper, predecessor of the N-R.

ROY HELSER apparently/maybe/perhaps was Linfield head baseball coach in 1941

Roy Helser’s time as a professional baseball player included playing for the Salem Senators of the Western International League in 1940 and 1941. This was when he was back on the Linfield campus as a student working toward his degree.

The 1941 Oak Leaves has photos of Helser as coach with the Linfield baseball team that year and also as coaching assistant to Henry Lever, football head coach.

Text in the 1941 Oak Leaves says in the 1940-1941 school year Lever was head coach at football, basketball and track and Helser “who starred in yore for Linfield ably took over the post of baseball coach…”In the same Oak Leaves it says, “Coach Roy Helser succeeded in turning out a completely capable club…”

A story in the May 14, 1941 Oregonian, about a Linfield baseball game in McMinnville versus Pacific mentions “Coach Roy Helser’s Linfield nine…”

However, T-R stories of the time about Linfield baseball identify Henry Lever as the Linfield baseball coach. Maybe it was force of habit by the newspaper to identify Lever as the baseball coach even if he wasn’t that season?

Whatever the case, Wildcatville says it’s more probable than not that Roy Helser was Linfield head baseball coach in the 1941 season. If so, that meant he was attending Linfield, coaching at Linfield and playing for the Salem Senators at the same time.

ROY HELSER coached the 1965-1966 Linfield men’s basketball team for SEVEN games.

On Friday night, Feb. 18, 1966, in Riley Gym, Linfield men’s basketball team, coached by Ted Wilson, beat Lewis & Clark, 85-77.

The afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 19, 1966, Wilson was admitted to McMinnville General Hospital with a heart attack. Because of that, Wilson’s physician would not allow him to coach the remainder of the season.

Roy Helser became acting coach with Linfield in the thick of a battle for the Northwest Conference title and a berth in the best of three NAIA District 2 playoffs with a team from the Oregon Collegiate Conference. Winner of the playoffs would advance to the 1966 NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Helser had last coached Linfield men’s basketball on Monday March 13, 1961. In that game, Linfield’s 1960-1961 season ended with a 107-85 NAIA tourney first round loss in Kansas City to eventual champion Grambling, 107-85.

With Helser at the helm of the 1965-1966 Linfield team and JV coach Dick Barnett, a Linfield grad (Class of 1965) and former Wildcat basketball player, as his invaluable assistant, Linfield won six games in a row:

::Won final four games of 1965-1966 NWC season::

-Sat. Feb 19, Willamette, 91-74
-Mon. Feb 21, Pacific, 120-97
-Fri. Feb 25, L&C, 84-81, OT
-Sat. Feb 26,  Willamette, 105-71

(All games in Riley Gym except L&C in L&C Gym in Portland.)

:: Won NAIA District 2 Playoffs in Riley Gym::

-Mon. Feb 28, Eastern Oregon, 131-83
-Tue. Mar 1,  Eastern Oregon, 74-49

::NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.::

On Tuesday, March 8, 1966 (11 a.m. tipoff) in the tourney's  first round, Linfield, bedeviled by 28 turnovers, lost 95-81 to Lakeland of Sheboygan, Wisc.

Thus, ended Roy Helser’s second tenure as Linfield men’s basketball coach.

Ted Wilson resumed coaching in the 1966-1967 season. In all, Wilson coached Linfield 20 seasons, 1961-1981, before retiring.

In case you wonder, NCAA and NAIA rules indicate that if a coach misses a game or a limited amount of games due to a temporary illness, the wins or losses by the team in his or her absence usually are credited to the head coach.  So, the wins and one loss in the final seven games of the 1965-1966 season are credited to Ted Wilson. 


==Wayne Petersen (Class of 1966), 6-foot-2 senior guard, was a member of the 1965-1966 Linfield men’s basketball team. The day after Wilson was admitted, Petersen and other teammates went to McMinnville General Hospital in downtown McMinnville.  (Don't confuse McMinnville General with McMinnville Community Hospital, which used to be across Baker Street/99W from the Linfield campus.) 

“A nurse saw us and asked why we were there. ‘We want to see our coach,’ they told the nurse. The nurses were not happy with Wilson. They caught him doing push-ups on the floor of his hospital room. “He did a hundred pushups every day and the fact he was in the hospital after a heart attack wasn’t going to stop him,” Petersen said.

==Roy Helser becoming coach meant Petersen was playing basketball for his father-in-law. Petersen and Susan Helser (Class of 1966), daughter of Roy and Dorothy, were married Dec. 26, 1965, in McMinnville. That was during Linfield winter break and during a break in games during the 1965-1966 basketball season.

==It wasn’t a complete surprise Helser became coach, Petersen said. “He had been the basketball coach and he knew us.” Dick Barnett, JV coach, wasn’t going to get the job because he was about the same age as the Linfield players and had played Linfield basketball with many of the 1965-1966 team members. “Dick had a good basketball mind,” Petersen said. Sitting next to Helser on the bench, Barnett got to do much of the game coaching.

==Petersen and teammates met on campus with Wilson, discharged from the hospital but still recovering from his heart attack. It was a “farewell and do well” to the team from Wilson before the Kansas City NAIA national tournament.

After that meeting, Wilson traveled to stay with relatives in The Dalles and recuperate.

The plane on which the Linfield team, coaches and others traveled to KC (on March 6) had another men’s basketball team on board. It was #2 ranked in the nation Texas Western (now University of Texas at El Paso); its coach, Don Haskins, and others.

Texas Western had been unbeaten until it lost 74-72 to Seattle University, Saturday night, March 5, 1966, in the Seattle Center Coliseum (now Key Arena) before a huge crowd.

Dan Beeson (Class of 1970,) Linfield 6-foot-8 freshman center sat on the plane one seat back and across from David “Big Daddy D” Lattin, Texas Western 6-foot-6 starting center. “He never said a word, but looked pissed off,” said Beeson.

Petersen sat next to Willie Cager, a 6-foot-5 Texas Western substitute forward. Cager told Petersen he, his teammates and coaches were mad at each other after the upset loss. Plus Cager said, their coaches were screaming at the players for being out on the town in Seattle after the game.

The Linfield entourage got off of the plane in Kansas City. The plane proceeded to Wichita, Kan., where Texas Western was headed to play (on March 7) and win its opening round NCAA tournament playoff game. It won three more games in the playoffs before meeting (on March 19 in Maryland) and upsetting #1 ranked Kentucky for the 1966 NCAA Division I national basketball title.


=Linfield Men’s Basketball team 1965-1966: (Front row, l-r) Ed Griffin, Gary Crabaugh, Don Hakala, John Lee. (Back row, l-r) Wayne Peterson, Jack Forde, Dan Beeson, Roger Baker, Bert Waugh, Bob Lamb. Source: 1966 Oak Leaves.

=Roy Helser, 1941 Bachelor of Science in Physical Education grad. Source: 1941 Oak Leaves.

=Coach Roy Helser (far right) and 1941 Linfield Baseball team. Source: 1941 Oak Leaves.

=Two players on the 1936 Linfield baseball team, coached by Henry Lever. They are (l-r) Morrie Helser (Class of 1937) and his brother, Roy Helser. Source: 1936 Oak Leaves.

=Linfield 1940 football coach (second from the left, wearing a suit) Henry Lever and three assistants (l-r) Ted Gebhardt, Helser and Earl Gillis. Source: 1941 Oak Leaves.

=Oregonian story about a Linfield baseball game in 1941 season.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Linfielder Umbarger – call him Dwight, Yogi or Joe -- tells interesting tales

:::Sad news. Email from Bob Ferguson said Dwight Umbarger died 3/6/2016. The following story was written by Wildcatville in March 2015 (year is correct) based on research and a phone interview. Dwight was sent a draft of the story for his review/editing. But, he never returned it. Some slight edits were made to the draft before posting this. But, please realize this story might have inaccuracies. :::

Dwight (also known as “Yogi” and Joe”) Umbarger, Linfield Class of 1958, has connections to the Portland’s Cleveland High School Warriors (then Indians), Oregon State College Beavers, University of Colorado Buffaloes, Grays Harbor College Chokers (Aberdeen, Wash.), Linfield College Wildcats and more.

Dwight Elis Umbarger was born in 1934 on his grandparents’ ranch in Colorado. He loved life there, helping his grandfather with milling lumber, running cattle, hauling grain and harvesting wheat.

In 1947, he moved to Oregon when his father, Charles Dwight Umbarger, a Union Pacific Railroad chef, was transferred to Portland. See Footnotes.

Umbarger had to acclimate to urban life. In Portland he’d look out a window in his home and see neighbors. In Colorado he saw scenic ranch land. “It took me about three years getting used to living in Portland. I ran away from home three times and because of that had to repeat seventh grade,” he said.

When he moved to Oregon, he’d never played baseball. He made up for it. From ages 16 to 47 he was a semi-pro baseball player for Portland teams. He with the Columbia League’s Merchants of Portland’s Moreland-Sellwood area where he lived. Later, he played for the Portland Colts and Norgan’s Dodgers of the City League.

At Portland’s Cleveland High School, he played football, basketball and baseball.

In 2006 and 2007 respectively, he was enshrined in the 2006 Commerce-Cleveland High School Alumni Association and Portland Interscholastic League Halls of Fame, recognizing his football and baseball prowess. See Footnotes.

Umbarger graduated from Cleveland in 1953 and played on the All-City team in the Class A Shrine All-Star football vs. the State All-Stars in the game played that summer in Portland’s Multnomah Stadium.

It appeared he might go to college to play football and baseball at Notre Dame (football coach Frank Leahy, later to live in Lake Oswego) or Colorado (football coach Dallas Ward).

However, Oregon State grad/Portland contractor Charles Parker (for whom Oregon State’s football stadium was named until it became Reser) wanted him to play those two sports for the Beavers. Kip Taylor and Ralph Coleman were the respective Beaver football and baseball coaches.

Umbarger walked on at Oregon State College and earned a football scholarship. However, after practicing football three weeks (before Oregon State classes had started) in Corvallis he was asked to relinquish the scholarship so it could go another player. Umbarger said “screw you,” hopped a train and ended up Boulder and enrolled at the University of Colorado (where his sister had attended/graduated).

See Footnotes for a photo showing Umbarger as a member of the 1953 OSC Rooks freshman football team. He never enrolled at OSC nor played for the team, but he did get his photo in the 1954 OSC Beaver yearbook.

At the University of Colorado, he played on its freshman football team, but was injured in a game, totally hyperextending his left knee. Because of the injury he tried to withdraw from all of his classes before going back to Portland. But, professors of two classes would not comply. That gave him an abysmal academic transcript.

He improved his grade point average a bit by attending Portland State College in spring 1954.

“I’d been talking to Roy Helser (Linfield baseball and assistant football coach) and “Doc” Whitman (Avard Whitman, Linfield registrar and NWC faculty athletic representative) about transferring to Linfield.

“Helser knew me because I played for a team against the Black Sox” of Drain (Oregon) team of which Helser managed and played of the southwest Oregon Sawdust League.

To continue improving his GPA to gain admission to Linfield, he attended Grays Harbor (junior) College in Aberdeen, Wash. Umbarger was to attend Grays Harbor, but not participate in sports. However he did have a job working with the college’s “Chokers” football team taping players’ ankles and handling other duties. See Footnotes.

But, while at Grays Harbor football practices, Umbarger “could see that even with a bad leg, I could outrun any offensive back on the team, plus and I liked to run into people.”

After completing the 1954-1955 academic year at Grays Harbor – he did not play baseball for the college -- he transferred to Linfield in the fall of 1955.

“Roy Helser was mad at me,” said Umbarger. “If I had let my leg heal and concentrated on baseball it would have helped my baseball career.” Nonetheless, he starred in both football and baseball for the Wildcats.

At Linfield, the 5-foot-10 and 195-pound Umbarger was a running back and linebacker and football squib kicker for Coach Paul Durham’s football Wildcats.

At one point during his Linfield football career, Umbarger averaged 9.1 yards a carry. Part of the credit was his speed and his quick start. Umbarger and Howard Morris shared Linfield’s 1957 Arnold Huntley Memorial Plaque (most inspiration player award.)

For Helser’s Linfield baseball team, the left-handed Umbarger was a speedy outfielder with a good arm and a left-handed power hitter.

Durham and Helser would “never swear what so ever. They’d get as upset as any coach, but never swear,” Umbarger said.

Umbarger earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Linfield in 1958 as well as a teaching certificate. “I surprised a hell of a lot of people” by earning my degree. Coach Durham was instrumental in me I got through college. He always insisted his players complete their education.

“I was among players who looked at Paul as a father figure. And I looked at him also as a great singer, too. We sang together in the McMinnville First Baptist Church choir,” Umbarger said.

Umbarger lettered in football in the 1955, 1956 (NWC champ and start of “the Streak”) and 1957 (NWC champ) seasons. His letters in baseball were in the 1956 (NWC champ), 1957 and 1958 seasons.

After college, Umbarger said he signed a professional baseball contract and then played for teams in Idaho and New York state. The next season he went to baseball spring training in Florida, but then the U.S. Army called.

(While a student at the University of Colorado, he was in Army ROTC. At Linfield, he did Army Reserve duty in McMinnville.)

He ended up at Fort Carson (Colorado) for mountain and airborne jump training. Then, it was off to serve at Fort Clayton, a U.S. Army base in the Panama Canal Zone. While there he taught at the Army’s warfare school.

Later, he attended transportation school at Eustis (Fort), Newport News in Virginia.  Even later, he was discharged from the Army.

After completing his military duty he apparently taught and coached on the Oregon coast, at Siletz and Newport High Schools.

Then, a career change bought him back to Portland. He worked almost 40 years as fleet manager for Ross Island Sand & Gravel.

In Portland, he was involved in CYO/Catholic Youth Organization football and for 17 years was president of the CYO Coaches Association. He also helped with the Little League baseball program which fed baseball at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie. See Footnotes.

Umbarger and his wife volunteered for the Portland’s Blanchet House of Hospitality to “feed, clothe, and offer shelter and aid to those in need.”


To see larger renditions of the photos below, click on each photo.

==His “Yogi” nickname? That came about when some friends compared his baseball playing ability to that of Yogi Berra of New York Yankees’ fame. And, “Joe?” For some, it was in response to the old refrain, “What do you know, Joe? An item in the Sunday Oregonian of April 19, 1953, said, “Dwight Umbarger, Cleveland all-city outfielder, is "variously known to teammates as Joe and Yogi, but seldom as Dwight."

==A Nov. 3, 1963 “Greg’s Gossip” sports column in the Oregonian by L. H. Gregory, then the newspaper’s sports editor, included mention of a Union Pacific passenger train trip he took east via Chicago. During the trip, Gregory visited with Matt Kruzich, dining car steward of the UP’s “palatial” City of Portland. “Matt took us through his dining car and kitchen,” wrote Gregory. “We met his chef, Charles Umbarger, 27 years as a railroad chef, and found a football fan as well. His son Dwight (Yogi) was a fullback and baseball outfielder at Linfield, graduating in ’58.”

==2006 Commerce-Cleveland High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame

Football: All-City and Shrine Game
Baseball: All-City, All-State, PIL Hitting Champion, Linfield All-Conference
Professional: Brooklyn Dodgers baseball
Little League Coach
NOTE: Umbarger says he still holds the Cleveland High and PIL career batting record at .291.

==2007 PIL Hall of Fame

School: Cleveland (Commerce)

Sports Played: Football, Baseball
High School Honors: Three-year Football letter winner; Second Team All-PIL; First Team All-PIL; member of Shrine Team. Three-year Baseball letter winner; Two-time First Team All-PIL.
Post High School Career: All-Conference Football team at Grays Harbor CC. All-Conference Football Team at Linfield College; three-time All-Conference Baseball Team. Has served as president of CYO Coaches Association.

==Oregon State College Rooks (freshman) football team of 1953 appearing in 1954 Beaver student yearbook, Oregon State College, Corvallis, Ore. - Page 62. Oregon State Rooks (freshman) football team. Dwight Umbarger is on the far right in the third row.

==Grays Harbor College Football 1954 team photo from 1955 Grays Harbor College Nautilus yearbook.. Umbarger, wearing uniform #20, is in the front row, third from the right. In the third row, fourth from the left is Howard Glenn, who would become an Umbarger football teammate at Linfield.

==About the Chokers nickname: Grays Harbor College, a two year institution, is located in Aberdeen, Wash. The city is the economic center of the Grays Harbor County, bordering the cities of Hoquiam and Cosmopolis, says Wikipedia. Timber is one of the driving forces in the economy. The “Chokers” nickname for college teams is for a choker (or choke), a logger who attaches cables to logs for retrieval by skidders or skylines.

==Photos from Linfield Oak Leaves yearbooks. In the football team photo, he’s fourth from the right. In the baseball team photo, Umbarger is in the front row, fourth from the left.

==At the time Umbarger was helping with the Little League program, Linfielder Larry Hermo was Putnam head baseball. One of Hermo’s standout Putnam players was Scott Bosius, who went on to star at Linfield baseball and for Oakland and the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball. Brosius is a former Linfield head baseball coach.


Dwight E. Umbarger (1934 - 2016)

Obit in Oregonian March 28-April 3, 2016. Photo here of Yogi appeared with obit. 

Umbarger, Dwight E. 81 Nov. 12, 1934 Mar. 06, 2016 Dwight was born in Loveland, Colo., to Charles and Margaret Umbarger. He graduated from Cleveland High School, Linfield College and was a teacher. Dwight played baseball and football at each school as well as semi-pro baseball. At the completion of his military duty, he worked for Ross Island Sand & Gravel. Dwight was involved with the Christian Youth Organization and Little League baseball programs. After retiring, his favorite part-time job was working at Brattain International. In earlier years, he loved to fish, camp, hunt and stay at his cabin at Mt. Hood. He spent every football season at Linfield with his tailgate friends. Wherever Dwight traveled in U.S. and Europe, he always seemed to know a friend by chance. Dwight is survived by his wife, Louise; children, Carol (Mark) and David (Sharon); one granddaughter; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his sons, Jeffrey and Scott. A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 9, 2016, at Holy Family Catholic Church. Dwight will be deeply missed and the world will not be the same without his bright, sparkling smile and humor. Contributions may be made to The American Cancer Society or Oregon Humane Society.

Guest Book entries included:

April 11, 2016 from Dan Beeson, Lake Oswego, Ore. -- “Dwight was a great man and a true friend. Always wanting to help everyone in some way. I always told folks when Dwight was next to me that he was my body guard and he would give me that smile and that chuckle. He sat with me in the front row a Maxwell field for the last home game and I heard many a story. I miss Dwight.”

April 10, 2016 from Terry Durham, Beaverton, Ore. -- “I am so sorry about the passing of Dwight. He was a favorite of my father, Paul Durham. I got to know Yogi when I was a young child running around Linfield College. I always enjoyed getting together and spending time with Yogi. He will be sorely missed. I apologize for not being able to make it to the funeral. All my love.”

April 10, 2016 from Pete Dengenis -- “Yogi was a great Linfield Wildcat. His wit and humor will be missed.”

Dan Beeson (Class of 1970) about Dwight "Yogi" Umbarger (Class of 1958):

--Dan was among those at Yogi's memorial service on April 9, 2016. "It was well attended and the stories about Yogi had everyone laughing at the stunts he pulled in life,” said Dan. There was a great story by one of the players on the CYO baseball championship team of 1996 that Yogi coached. Ross Island Sand & Gravel drivers were there. One drove a Ross Island cement truck and parked it outside the building used for reception after the service.

--In about 1976 Yogi visited Dan (a chiropractic doctor) at the Beeson Chiropractic Center in Portland. Yogi asked Dan –who played basketball at Linfield -- if Dan would play for the alumni in the Linfield alumni-varsity football team coached by Terry Durham. Dan said, “yes.” Yogi got Dan pads, pants and a helmet from a Portland high school coach Yogi knew. In the game, Yogi, then about 42 years old, played running back. On one play, he fumbled the ball and reached down to pull the ball back to himself. At the same time, another alumni player, Jim Consbruck (Class of 1969) dove to the ball. Jim’s helmet hit Yogi’s left shoulder and dislocated it. Yogi rested a bit and returned to the game.

----“Dwight was a heck of a guy and always had a great story to tell. At age 80, he was still driving trucks up and down the freeways delivering a rebuild truck or picking up a used one to be rebuilt. No one in my practice (Beeson Chiropractic Center) guessed his age correctly, most of the time missing it by 8 to 10 years. I saw Dwight the week before he passed. He gave me Yogi smile as I left. I will miss Dwight, what a guy.”

DWIGHT UMBARGER – hard running right half for the Linfield Wildcats is expected to start at the right half position against the College of Idaho on Maxwell Field at 8:30 Saturday night. Umbarger is one of the hardest men on the Linfield club to bring down. This is a key NWC contest for both clubs. McMinnville Daily News Register – Thursday, Nov. 1, 1956. (News Register pix 8251.)