JEFF HEATH – Baseball
Although plagued by injuries, Jeff Heath was an outstanding performer throughout his 15-year Major League career, the first 10 of them with the Cleveland Indians. He is one of seven players in Major League history who hit 20 homers, 20 triples and 20 doubles in the same season (1941, 8th in A.L. MVP voting).
Originally from Canada, Heath’s family settled in Seattle where he attended Garfield High. He was a standout football player as well. UW coach Jimmy Phelan tried to recruit him, calling him the best running back in the country. Heath had scholarship offers from many colleges. In 1935, Heath signed with Yakima of the baseball semipro Northwest League. He hit .390 in 75 games earning a spot on Les Mann’s All-American amateur baseball team, which toured Japan after the season. Heath batted .483 on the Japan tour, cementing his decision to forgo college football. Heath broke in with Cleveland in 1936 as a 21-year-old. His first season mostly as a starter was 1938. In 126 games with the Indians in 1938, Heath hit 21 homers, drove in 112 runs, and batted .343, finishing second to Jimmie Foxx for the A.L. batting title by just .006. He led the league in triples with 18 and was third in slugging (.602) to only Hall of Famers Foxx and Hank Greenberg.
He twice led the American League in triples. Over 4,937 career at-bats, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound outfielder hit .293 with 194 homers and 887 RBI.
Much more information is included in Heath’s Society of American Baseball Research bio.
DON HEINRICH – Football
After gaining All-American honors for two seasons at the University of Washington, Don Heinrich went on to play eight years in the National Football League and served several more as an assistant coach. Later he became an outstanding TV analyst.
He attended Bremerton High School, graduating in 1948. His 1950 completion percentage as UW quarterback set the NCAA record (60.9%). He was the nation’s leading passer in 1950 and 1952 after missing the 1951 season due to a shoulder injury.
Heinrich was selected by the New York Giants in the third round (35th overall) of the 1952 NFL draft. Military service delayed his start with the Giants until 1954. He quarterbacked the Giants to the 1956 NFL Championship. Heinrich spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders before starting a coaching career in 1961. After coaching for several teams, Heinrich began a broadcasting career, first for UW games and then as the first radio analyst for Seattle Seahawks games. He also worked for ESPN/ABC and published Don Heinrich’s College Football magazine and Pro Preview magazine.
In was inducted in the UW Hall of Fame in 1981 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
An extensive feature on Heinrich was published at SportspressNW.com in 2012.
LEO LASSEN – Media
His was a rasping monotone, but Leo Lassen’s descriptions of Seattle Rainiers’ baseball games gained him radio audiences of incredible proportions during the 1930s ’40s and ’50s in the Puget Sound area. And he was sorely missed when he departed the microphone in 1961. Leo started as a sportswriter and got into broadcasting accidentally.
Much more about Lassen can be learned from this Wayback Machine feature at SportspressNW.
HAL LEE – Basketball
Hal Lee captained the 1934 University of Washington basketball team and earned All-America honors. The 6-foot-3 point guard from Bremerton later become a long-time basketball official, mostly known for officiating Pacific Coast Conference games and the 1949 Final Four that was held at UW.
He was also a Husky baseball standout and was named to the UW baseball All-Centennial team in 2001.
Lee attended Bremerton’s Union High in the 1920s, starring in football, basketball and baseball. He’s widely considered the best athlete from Bremerton, pre-World War II.
TONY CANADEO – Football
Tony Canadeo was from Chicago but played football at Gonzaga before the school dropped the sport in 1941. He is the last Gonzaga player to play pro football and he did it well enough to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
From his Hall of Fame induction bio:
“Tony Canadeo from little-known Gonzaga University was an unsung ninth-round choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1941 but it wasn’t long before he earned the reputation of being a budding superstar who could – and would – do anything on a football field.
He played offense and defense, ran with the ball, threw passes, caught passes, returned punts and kickoffs, punted and intercepted passes. In 11 years, he rushed for 4,197 yards, passed for 1,642 yards, recorded 69 receptions for 579 yards, gained 513 yards on punt returns, 1,736 on kickoff returns, and scored 186 points.
Altogether the versatile Canadeo gained 8,667 multi-purpose yards. Putting it another way, he accounted for almost 75 yards in each of the 116 games he played. Add to that, he also intercepted 9 passes and punted 45 times during his remarkable career. Green Bay from 1941 through 1944 was one of pro football’s premier football teams. During that period, Tony initially served as an understudy to veteran quarterback Cecil lsbell. Then in 1943, he became the Packers’ No. 1 passer. That year he was also named to the official All-NFL team. In 1945, World War II interrupted Canadeo’s pro career.
When he returned from the Army in 1946, the Packers no longer were contenders and Canadeo’s role was significantly different. For his final seven seasons in the league, Tony became a heavy-duty running back and, predictably, came through with flying colors. In 1949, he became only the third player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He won All-NFL acclaim for a second time.
Small by pro standards, Canadeo was neither particularly fast nor elusive. Because he was prematurely gray, he was popularly known as “The Gray Ghost of Gonzaga.” But Tony employed the attributes of most great athletes – determination, courage and tenacity – to attain Hall of Fame stature.”
GEORGE BURNS – Baseball
George Burns was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1926 when he batted .358 and hit a record 64 doubles for the Cleveland Indians. He played first base and batted .307 with 2,018 hits in his career.
Burns turned one of just 15 unassisted triple plays in Major League history in 1923 while playing for the Red Sox.
After his Major League career, Burns played five seasons in the Pacific Coast League including three with Seattle, leading the league in RBIs in 1932. He was a player-manager in Seattle in 1932, 1933 and 1934. He later became a King County sheriff’s deputy for over 20 years. He died while living in Kirkland in 1978.