Mike Vance and Marty Crane
The Tale of Two Coaches
January 10, 2020
The Tales of Two Coaches
What do you get when you bring two legendary coaches together? Some really great stories!
Fish sat down with former Beecher High School coach, Marty Crane, and Flint Central’s Mike Vance. They not only presided over two legendary programs, they got to see the best of the best, in Flint history.
Growing up, Marty Crane wanted to be a baseball player. Somehow, he became a world class and legendary track coach.
His grandfather was a catcher. His dad was a catcher. And Marty was a catcher. Baseball was his passion--that is, until one day, in 7th grade, when he was catching for his junior high team. Kearsley High track coach, Harry Burnett, happened to stop by and catch the action. In watching Crane on the baseball field, Burnett saw the makings of a track star. When Crane backed up first base, he would beat the runner.
Marty wanted to be a state champion, and didn't think he could be a state champion in two sports. He picked track over baseball. Crane went on to a track career, winning that state championship he coveted.
When Marty decided to become a coach, he helped scores of other athletes win state track titles in his 34 years as Beecher's head coach. His teams went on to capture 10 State Team Championships, and numerous individual crowns--staggering accomplishments.
Along the way, he mentored dozens of top-tier track superstars, including Carl Banks, Lonnie Young, Thad McFadden, and Courtney Hawkins, long before they embarked on successful NFL careers.
Marty was also an original participant and long-time coach, consultant and supporter of the Flint Olympian and CANUSA games. His story about being pulled over by the Michigan State Police, while riding in the Beecher team bus, to be handed the State Championship, is one of the best Flint sports stories ever!
The long-time coach, and then Athletic Director, at Flint Central has been involved in virtually every element of the Flint sports scene. He’s also been a member of the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors. During his long tenure at the school, he presided over some of Flint’s best cross country and track teams, winning City, Saginaw Valley and State titles.
His Flint sports knowledge is encyclopedic, as he coached and interacted with some of the best athletes and coaches the city has ever seen, including Al Sigman, Stan Gooch, Carl Kreiger, three sport phenom Ed Greer, ultra fast Derrick Leonard, All World athlete George Washington, one-handed megastar Jimmy Abbott, and Herb Washington, once known as “The World’s Fastest Man’. Herb went on to become Major League baseball’s first and only Designated Pinch Runner, and then helped the Oakland A’s to a third straight World Series Championship, in 1974.
Like Marty, Vance is a committed volunteer with both the Flint Olympian and CANUSA games, and a passionate supporter of Flint and Genesee County sports. Together these two offer up a very special dose of local sports and cultural history. It’s a rare treat X 2!
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