Brighton Names Baseball Field for Program Builder, Longtime Leader

By Tim Robinson
Special for

May 4, 2023

BRIGHTON — Mark Carrow didn’t know what to expect April 22 when he arrived at Brighton High School’s baseball field, where he was the guest of honor for a ceremony officially naming it Carrow Field.

Mid-Michigan“I remember back in October, when they announced this would happen, I told my wife, Mary, that there will be probably 60-70 people here, because there are 18 players on each team and their parents,” he recalled. “We pulled up here and there were all these people, and these young men who look older now.”

Dozens of Brighton alumni, some of whom Carrow hadn’t seen since their high school days nearly a half-century ago, were in attendance for the ceremony held before a doubleheader with Ypsilanti Lincoln.

Carrow retired in 2006 after 34 seasons as Brighton’s baseball coach, recording 823 wins, now eighth on the state’s all-time list. He also was an assistant football coach and coached both boys and girls middle school basketball.

He came to Brighton a year after graduating from the University of Michigan, where he played baseball for the Wolverines, starring at third base.

“My dream was to coach baseball at Ann Arbor High,” Carrow said of his high school alma mater, now Ann Arbor Pioneer. “That was my dream.”

But he had applied to Brighton Area Schools as well, and after a year teaching in Grand Rapids, he and Mary both were offered teaching positions.

“Wouldn’t you know it? We were in school for two days and Ann Arbor calls me up,” Carrow said. “They had a phys ed job open. I’d have been the JV football coach, and I knew the baseball coach was on his way out. It was everything I wanted, and I went to (administrator) Bob Scranton and said, ‘Here’s what’s happening.’ He told me to think about it over the weekend and come back Monday.

“My wife and I talked it over, and we were so grateful to Brighton for giving us a chance to be near our hometown that we felt we owed them a year,” Carrow said. “In November, we bought a house that we lived in for 22 years.”

Brighton’s sports teams weren’t the dominant squads of today. The football team had had two winning seasons in 20 years, and the year Carrow arrived went 0-9.

“We played in six homecoming games, including our own,” he said. “Everyone wanted to play us.”

The baseball team wasn’t much better, having gone decades without a winning season.

But the Bulldogs were 12-12 that first spring under Carrow’s leadership, and never finished below .500 during the rest of his tenure.

The Carrow name stands tall atop the scoreboard at the field named for the longtime coach. The Bulldogs joined the Southeastern Conference the next year and got off to a 7-0 start before losing at Lincoln.

“The kids were crying on the bus ride home,” Carrow said, “and I knew right then that Brighton had turned a corner, that it meant something to win and losing wasn’t acceptable anymore.”

Brighton took off, winning 20 games or more in all of his last 23 years as a coach, and a total of 13 league titles, 12 District titles, three Regional crowns and while making two trips to the Semifinals.

The talent was there, too, including 16 all-state players and two Mr. Baseball Award winners in Ron Hollis and Drew Henson.

Carrow earned national and Michigan Coach of the Year honors three times apiece and was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1992.

The field was renamed in his honor after the Brighton school board changed its policy to allow the renaming of facilities to honor living persons less than two years ago.

But Carrow is quick to cite the reasons for his success.

“The players are the ones who made this possible,” he said. “I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I never threw a pitch or hit the baseball. I got 800 wins, but it was because of them.

Carrow has a photographic memory, which came in handy while chatting with former players.

“It was funny, because with each kid I remembered an incident about them,” he said. “Jeff Bogos, who I hadn’t seen since he graduated in 1979, came out and I said, ‘Do you remember when we were at Milan and your knee went out (of place) in the middle of the field?’ It happened twice. He said, ‘How do you remember that?’ And I said, ‘How could I not?’”

Carrow moved to Florida after his retirement, where he and his longtime assistant, George Reck, meet up a couple of times a week. He makes frequent trips north to watch U-M football and to visit his son, Chris, who lives in Chicago.

Baseball is firmly in his past.

“I think I’ve been to one high school game since I went down there,” Carrow said. “I hated the way the coach was coaching, and Mary did, too. She said, ‘We don’t have to watch any more high school baseball,’ and I said, ‘You’re right.’”

When he retired, Carrow said he would likely be forgotten in a few years.

Seventeen years later, his legacy is assured and his memory will be invoked any time one looks at the scoreboard in left-center field that has a “Carrow Field” sign on top of it.

Not bad for a coach who was in the right place at the right time.

“My dream was fulfilled, and rightly so,” Carrow said. “And, believe me, I made the right decision. I couldn't have had better kids to teach or lived in a better community. It couldn't have worked out any better.”

PHOTOS (Top) The Carrow family stands together in front of the welcome sign to Carrow Field – including daughter Tiffany (front left), Mark and Mary (second from left, front and back) and son Chris (far right). (Middle) The Carrow name stands tall atop the scoreboard at the field named for the longtime coach. (Family photo by Daniel Collins.)

No Runs, No Hits: East Jordan Aces Toss 4 Straight Shutouts, 3 Straight No-Hitters

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 17, 2024

Playing shortstop this year for East Jordan High School admittedly has become rather boring at times.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThere hasn’t been a whole lot of action at what’s usually the busiest spot in the infield — no matter who is playing it.

Junior Eli Burns knows that better than anyone. He is the Red Devils’ regular shortstop. He also pitches.

Ryder Malpass knows what it’s like to play short this season as well – he’s normally in the spot when Burns is on the mound.

But he also has a feel for how little the shortstop does regularly for the Division 4 No. 16 Red Devils from his usual spot at catcher – receiving behind the plate for a pitching staff averaging almost two strikeouts per inning. 

Just recently, East Jordan put together three straight no-hitters and four straight shutouts.

“It’s good,” Burns said of playing short. “When you have confidence with your pitchers you don’t have to worry about the ball being hit to you that much.”

Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. Malpass, a junior, started the shoutout string himself with a 4-0 win over Bellaire last week, when he earned the win throwing 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and RBI. Junior Korbyn Russell closed out the game.

Then Burns started the no-hitter run in the second game that night with Bellaire, a 6-0 Red Devils win. Burns had 10 strikeouts and just a single walk allowed. He also tripled in the game.

This week the no-hitter string continued with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Boyne City. Russell and senior Lucas Stone threw the Red Devils’ third and fourth no-hitters of the season.

Stone threw a perfect game across six innings. He struck out 12 batters on just 70 pitches and also went 2 for 3 with an RBI against the Ramblers. Russell earned the 1-0 win over Boyne City with 5 1/3 no-hit innings behind 11 strikeouts and with just a lone walk allowed. Stone followed Russell to pick up the save for the Red Devils, now 13-9-1 overall on the season and 6-4 in Lake Michigan Conference play.  

Russell is 6-2 on the season with two saves. Going into Thursday’s game with Charlevoix, he had struck out 92 batters over 42 innings while compiling a 0.86 ERA. Stone is 5-2. Before suffering his second loss of the season to the Rayders, his ERA was 1.17 and he had fanned 38 in 36 innings of work. Burns has racked up 17 strikeouts so far in just over 14 innings.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of something not many teams can do,” Russell said. “We have a special group of pitchers to get the job done.”

Stone credits the Red Devils’ defensive play for the pitching staff’s success.

“Our defense has helped the pitching a lot because they don’t make a lot of errors,” Stone said.  “It makes it a lot easier when you know they are going to make plays behind you.”

Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch.East Jordan came into this week beginning to approach the state records for consecutive shutout innings and games. That ended yesterday in twin bill losses to Division 3 No. 11 Charlevoix. But the Red Devils still can chase the national record of nine no-hit games in a season. (No official record is kept for no-hitters by a Michigan high school team in a season.)

There is also no known record of any East Jordan team racking up three no-hitter wins in a row.

“I don’t think there’s been any stretch with three no-hitters in a row, so that is pretty special,” noted East Jordan coach Adam Grybauskas. “We’re kind of picking up where things were last year and trying to build on last year’s success and make it even better this year.”

The Red Devils captured a Division 4 District championship in 2023 and then a 9-6 Regional Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. The season came to an end in the Regional Final with a 2-0 loss to Painsdale Jeffers.

Russel, Stones and Burns were on the pitching staff last year as East Jordan made that run. The Red Devils will host the District tournament this year as familiar opponents Bellaire, Central Lake and Ellsworth will vie to stop East Jordan’s attempt at repeating as champion. The doubleheader loss to undefeated Charlevoix ended the Red Devils’ hopes of sharing the LMC title with the Rayders.

“I think we’ve played a little bit better competition this year,’ Grybauskas said.  “Our focus this year is taking each doubleheader at a time, and try to get better each week.

“It’s really been game by game and week to week,” he continued. “You’re always looking to do better than last year so obviously that will be something we’ll talk about in the future.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) East Jordan’s Lucas Stone winds up during a game. (Middle) Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. (Below) Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch. (Photos courtesy of the East Jordan athletic department.)