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View Full Version : Zags Player & Coach Seeks Support to Retire Jerry Vermillion's Number



rijman
10-08-2013, 07:13 PM
Tom Mulcahy played 3 years of basketball with Jerry Vermillion and is looking for support to get Jerry's number retired. Jerry holds GU's record for rebounds with 1,670, Elias Harris is 2nd with 972 rebounds, and is also one of GU's all time high scorers with 1,547 points.

About Jerry Vermillion:

The following comments on Jerry are from a GU website: http://www.gozags.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205174041

After Vermillion completed four outstanding varsity seasons at Gonzaga, a local sports columnist described him as "one of the smartest, toughest reboundingest basketballers the Zags ever had." Vermillion demonstrated his toughness early in life by overcoming a major back injury suffered in a riding accident. Unable to play high school basketball until his senior year, he led Fort Benton to the Montana State Tournament championship game. In 1951 he enrolled at Gonzaga in time to help coach Hank Anderson register 19 wins in his first year. Hank was appreciative. "He carried the load in my first four seasons. Jerry's right up there among the best players in my 21 years at Gonzaga." Before he graduated, the lanky Vermillion held virtually every individual record for scoring and rebounding. Nearly 40 years later Vermillion was still among Gonzaga's all-time scorers with 1,547 points and remained first in rebounds with an all-but-unmatchable 1,670.

Keep in mind Hank Anderson also coached Frank Burgess, GU's all time scoring leader and 1 of only 2 retired jersey's, when he referred to Jerry Vermillion as one of the best players he coached at GU.

This is from an Amazon page selling Jerry's Book, "Jerry's Ledger: A world Gone By" http://www.amazon.com/Jerrys-Ledger-World-Gone-By/dp/1463446039

Jerry was recruited by Gonzaga University during the summer of 1951. His thirty-year run as a basketball player, coach, and diversified educator in Washington State began in September of that year. The new coach, Hank Anderson, led the team on a long march to becoming the great nationally recognized basketball program that exists at Gonzaga University today. Jerry's memoirs show his enormous appreciation for Gonzaga University and his pride in being a part of that beginning greatness. Jerry started as a freshman on the first Anderson team. During four years of competition, he amassed an incredible 1,670 rebounds. Sixty years later, that record still stands! Unbelievably, the next-closest player is 760 behind. This is a record that might never be broken! He is still in the top ten in scoring and a member of the over-forty-point club. At one time, he held all the scoring records. His standing jump was 11'1'' For those who don't know, that's 13 inches above the rim. At 6'4'' he jumped center for Gonzaga in over one hundred games and controlled 90 percent of them!

In summary, Jerry was an exceptional athlete with an 11'1" standing jump reportedly winning 90% of his tip offs and the all time rebounding leader by a wide margin in addition to being a top 10 all time scorer most of his life. Jerry's 1,547 points puts him ahead of GU players such as Casey Calvary, Derek Raivio, John Stockton and Jeremy Pargo. Regarding Jerry's total GU rebounding stat, 58 years later no one has come within 697 of his record. Jerry Vermillion was inducted into Gonzaga's Athletic Hall of Fame in the Class of 1991.

About Tom Mulcahy, Tom played basketball and baseball 4 years for Gonzaga and went on to pitch in the minor leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He left baseball to join the Jesuits where he was ordained. Tom taught in prep schools in Spokane and coached at Gonzaga. Tom is a member of Gonzaga's Athletic Hall of Fame, inducted in the Class of 1991. Tom has closely followed GU sports for 63 years and still attends men's basketball games every season.

If you have any suggestions or pull and interest in helping with the retirement of Jerry Vermillion's jersey, Tom and some of his fellow teammates would appreciate your assistance. Tom will receive information posted here.

bartruff1
10-08-2013, 07:30 PM
IMHO he is more deserving than anyone else...

Zagdawg
10-08-2013, 08:02 PM
Thank you for sharing-- I just visited our friends at Amazon and bought his book to become better educated about this gentleman.


Go Zags

jim77
10-08-2013, 11:42 PM
The better question should be why has it taken this long? What the heck is GU waiting for? While there at it they need to hang a #3 right along side it.

zag67
10-09-2013, 06:12 AM
I also have to agree. It is time. Do it because no one is ever going to beat that record.

bartruff1
10-09-2013, 06:17 AM
I also have to agree. It is time. Do it because no one is ever going to beat that record.

I cannot remember and haven't looked it up..but I am thinking that those records may not have been against Division 1 competition ?? Doesn't anyone know ?

That might or might not have any effect, after all, you can only play against the people you play against.

zagmantis2001
10-09-2013, 08:04 AM
Jerry: Si.

What about Jim McPhee? Second all time leading scorer and all around great individual.

MDABE80
10-09-2013, 09:20 AM
I cannot remember and haven't looked it up..but I am thinking that those records may not have been against Division 1 competition ?? Doesn't anyone know ?

That might or might not have any effect, after all, you can only play against the people you play against.

GU wasn't D1 then. Still.............thid is a great athlete...all time numbers nd a terrific man. He should be in...............like 20 or more years ago. I don't know the process but this guy should have his jersey in the rafters.

Fonebone
10-09-2013, 09:20 AM
Without doubt he has an amazing, probably unbeatable rebounding record. But my gut reaction is that the way Gonzaga has approached retiring numbers, Jerry doesn't fit their approach.

Jerry must have been a truly amazing player, but I don' think he rises to the same level as a Stockton or Burgess. I would be interested in what others think the current criteria is. My guess is that it is some combination of what a player has meant to the program, the degree of national recognition during their college career, and also how their life after Gonzaga played out. Based on his Gonzaga career by itself, Stockton probably would not qualify - we have had a number of players with much more spectacular careers. So, John probably got his retired based primarily on an unbelievable pro career.

Burgess had a fabulous college career, much greater national recognition and accomplishment than Jerry, and I think that his tremendous professional career helped also, to a minor degree.

As we say.....just my opinion.

Fonebone

former1dog
10-09-2013, 09:21 AM
The better question should be why has it taken this long? What the heck is GU waiting for? While there at it they need to hang a #3 right along side it.

I think there a couple of housecleaning issues to clean up before #3 is hung in the rafters. First of all, he should be a graduate in my opinion. I'm glad to hear he's working on that.

guniverse
10-09-2013, 11:57 AM
If you have been a fan long enough to know what recruiting was like before Adam and to a lesser extent Dan, you should say retired for sure. The foundations need to be celebrated as well as the institutions landmarks aka Ronny. These numbers should be retired, if nothing more than for my children to walk in the Mac one day and ask me why is that number up there and that one and that one. I rarely post but read every day and feel strong on this issue.

rijman
10-09-2013, 03:34 PM
I cannot remember and haven't looked it up..but I am thinking that those records may not have been against Division 1 competition ?? Doesn't anyone know ?

That might or might not have any effect, after all, you can only play against the people you play against.
One article mentioned the Zags playing in the NAIA in the 1940's. An online obit for Hank Anderson indicates Hank coached the Zags to the NAIB national tournament in 1953 and GU joined the NCAA Div 1 six years later, so 1959.

I have been told GU played many division 1 teams in Jerry's era including Oregon, Washington St, Siena, Seton Hall, Creighton, Idaho, etc.

FYI- I believe Jerry's jersey number was 36.

SWZag
10-11-2013, 12:01 AM
My thought is, like someone has already said, "why has this taken so long?"

SWZag

rijman
10-11-2013, 07:25 AM
My thought is, like someone has already said, "why has this taken so long?"

SWZag
I agree, but then recognizing GU's past players doesn't seem to be a high priority for the current administration.

Consider this, the GU Athletic Hall of Fame apparently hasn't inducted anyone since 1995 and John Stockton isn't listed as a member in the GU HOF pages in their website:
www.gozags.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205183214
www.gozags.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=26400&ATCLID=205183215

Perhaps GU hasn't updated their web pages to reflect more recent HOF inductees including John Stockton?

If GU is dropping the ball on HOF inductees it would stand to reason they aren't spending much time worrying about whose jersey to retire next.

jim77
10-11-2013, 10:23 AM
I think there a couple of housecleaning issues to clean up before #3 is hung in the rafters. First of all, he should be a graduate in my opinion. I'm glad to hear he's working on that.

Agreed about the diploma. Also, great to see him back with the Zags again. Great for the players.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AmY-BXzMc5g

rijman
10-13-2013, 11:07 AM
A Wikipedia page ranks the NCAA men's all time career rebounding leaders, Jerry would be 13th on the list with 1,670, although he is not listed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NCAA_Division_I_men%27s_basketball_career_ rebounding_leaders

Jerry's 1,670 rebounds ranks ahead of such notable players as;

Bill Russell (1,606)
Elvin Hayes (1,602)
Tim Duncan (1,570)
Elgin Baylor (1,559)
Ralph Sampson (1,511)

DixieZag
10-13-2013, 12:34 PM
I like the idea. In part, b/c it is overdue and in part as an overall attempt to recognize that BB at GU didn't start in 99 (or 95).

If they have "dropped the ball" on the HOF - then I think it is time to start making up for lost ground while people that enjoyed the actual play are still able to see it recognized and that younger people like me who never saw them can hear the stories (I would not have known had I not read it here) and say thank you.

As for other points, NAIA? I don't think it should matter, Zag is a Zag.

Adam? Yes. Tough call on the grad question, glad it's becoming moot.

Bogozags
10-14-2013, 07:54 AM
A couple of questions regarding Jerry Vermillion's career at GU:

Does his individual records include his freshman season?

How many games per year did GU play back in the early 50's?

It is evident I don't have the expertise to locate any team/individual records from the time period Jerry played for GU. I am hoping one of you might be able to assist.

If his individual records are only for three years, and GU played 25 games per year, then he averaged 20 points and 22 rebounds per game. These numbers have not been seen since Allan Bristow played for Virginia Tech (1970-1973) as he was the last D1 player to accumulate 20-double/double.

If his records included his freshman year (four seasons) then he averaged 15 points/16 rebounds per game, which is still a notable accomplishment.

From his status as a player at GU it would appear he warrants special status.

rijman
10-14-2013, 09:03 AM
A couple of questions regarding Jerry Vermillion's career at GU:

Does his individual records include his freshman season?

How many games per year did GU play back in the early 50's?

If his records included his freshman year (four seasons) then he averaged 15 points/16 rebounds per game, which is still a notable accomplishment.

From his status as a player at GU it would appear he warrants special status.
I believe Jerry's records include his freshman season, so 4 years.

One online source reporting Hank Anderson's record indicates the team played 117 games from 1951-52 through 1954-55 during Jerry's 4 seasons. I have no record of how many of those 117 games Jerry actually played in. A reliable source recalls Jerry averaging apx 16 rebounds per game for his career, which would indicate he played in apx 104 games.
http://statsheet.com/mcb/coaches/hank-anderson

rijman
10-16-2013, 08:01 AM
A couple of questions regarding Jerry Vermillion's career at GU:

Does his individual records include his freshman season?

If his records included his freshman year (four seasons) then he averaged 15 points/16 rebounds per game, which is still a notable accomplishment.

From his status as a player at GU it would appear he warrants special status.
I have clarified Jerry Vermillion's stats with the man himself, this is what he confirmed:

1) he did not start the season with the varsity team his freshman year, he joined them the day after Christmas and played in every game thereafter except for 2 when he was sick in his junior year.

2) his 1670 rebounds only include his varsity games.

3) GU played 117 games during Jerry's career, but he only played apx 104, which he cannot positively confirm but believes to be accurate due to joining the team late as a freshman and the 2 sick games his junior season.

Jerry says his goal each game was 18 rebounds and he was disappointed in anything less than 16.

CDC84
10-16-2013, 08:17 AM
#21 also needs to be retired.

For a school like Gonzaga, any player who ends up a consensus first team All American at any point in his career should have his number retired. It just doesn't happen that often. Dickau elevated Gonzaga's program to another level.

The tough one is what to do with #13. Olynyk was a consensus first team All American, but I still feel that JP Batista was as good as any big man to ever play at Gonzaga, regardless of what has happened in his post-Gonzaga career. This is the problem that you have when you don't retire numbers early. Other players come along who take the same number, and sometimes you end up with 2 or 3 great players with the same jersey number. What is Gonzaga going to do....hang three jerseys with the number 3 on them one day?

Zagdawg
10-16-2013, 08:40 AM
I am in the camp of honoring the player --not the number on their back.


Hang the players jersey in the rafters--- don't worry about the number they wore.

Then you don't need to worry if you have 2 great players that had the same number-- you honor the player.

75Zag
10-16-2013, 09:26 AM
"If such a thing can be deserved, it'd be Alcindor and Walton. But I don't think it would be anyone else,"

John Wooden.

Go Bulldogs!

Zagpower
10-16-2013, 09:31 AM
I am in the camp of honoring the player --not the number on their back.


Hang the players jersey in the rafters--- don't worry about the number they wore.

Then you don't need to worry if you have 2 great players that had the same number-- you honor the player.

That's always been my feeling as well.

Bogozags
10-16-2013, 10:11 AM
I have clarified Jerry Vermillion's stats with the man himself, this is what he confirmed:

1) he did not start the season with the varsity team his freshman year, he joined them the day after Christmas and played in every game thereafter except for 2 when he was sick in his junior year.

2) his 1670 rebounds only include his varsity games.

3) GU played 117 games during Jerry's career, but he only played apx 104, which he cannot positively confirm but believes to be accurate due to joining the team late as a freshman and the 2 sick games his junior season.

Jerry says his goal each game was 18 rebounds and he was disappointed in anything less than 16.

THANK YOU for this information, then the 15/16 numbers are pretty accurate. He averaged nearly NINE more boards per game than EH.

Let's consider rebounding numbers:

Harris played 135 games for a total 979 boards for an average of 7.3 rpg.

Jerry played in 104 games for 1670 boards for an average of 16.1 rpg.

Now if Jerry had played 135 games and averaged his 16.1 rpg/14.pppg, his TOTAL rebounds/points would be....2174/2012 for his career BUT Jerry only played 80% of the games Harris played!

His rebounding record alone warrants his jersey being retired...IMO

rijman
10-18-2013, 11:32 AM
Through my research of Jerry Vermillion's stats including communication with Jerry, fellow teammates and a sports writer, I have come to realize that Jerry's 1,670 rebounding record did come in a different era when the game was played a little differently than it is today, which has been mentioned previously in this forum. With that thought in mind I took a look at GU's top 8 career rebounders (I was unable to locate the stats I needed for #9 & #10 on the list, so I stopped at 8). See below with senior year, players name and total rebounds listed:

1955, Jerry Vermillion, 1670
2013, Elias Harris, 972
1967, Gary Lechman, 910
2004, Cory Violette, 880
2005, Ronny Turiaf, 859
1973, Greg Sten, 783
2001, Casey Calvary, 757
1963, Jim Dixon, 666

What I notice is that none of the other players in GU's top 8 played in the 1950's or earlier, except Jim Dixon who may have played 1 yr in the 50's, 1959. If rebounds were so much easier to obtain in the 1950's, I wonder why there aren't any GU players from the 1950's and earlier within 1,000 rebounds of Jerry's career total. I almost expected to see GU's all time rebound list filled with players from the 1950's and earlier, but that's not the case. Additionally, 4 of the top 8 listed finished playing after 2000.

ZAGLAWQB
03-01-2014, 06:32 PM
Re: era comparison comments and NAIA status ---For historic honors purposes it would seem one would be measured by the competition they played.

scott257
03-01-2014, 08:14 PM
I am in the camp of honoring the player --not the number on their back.


Hang the players jersey in the rafters--- don't worry about the number they wore.

Then you don't need to worry if you have 2 great players that had the same number-- you honor the player.

I agree completely.

doctorzag
03-01-2014, 08:15 PM
Vermillion scored 122 points in his freshman year. Harold VanRiper lead the team in rebounds that year with 224 rebounds. Jerry is listed at 6-2 in the media guide. Does not list rebounds for Jerry . Nickname was Verb and was the first freshman to make a varsity monogram since 1948.

jwalk
03-01-2014, 08:42 PM
If you have not read his book, you need too and soon! My wife thought it was amazing what he went through to be a great shooter and rebounder. If everyone read his book his jersey would be retired at the beginning of next season. Amazing story!!!

realtydog
03-01-2014, 08:57 PM
Agreed about the diploma. Also, great to see him back with the Zags again. Great for the players.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=AmY-BXzMc5g

Jim....good clip, but what the hell was adam freaking out about after the shot in the huddle for??? Pendo looked pissed

BurgessEraZag
03-02-2014, 01:09 PM
Vermillion desires the honor.
Many of the posts herein raise issues and questions which are not relevant. Here's a 6'4" player who played the post and outrebounded many opponents much taller for four years. And the Zags won with his leadership. He was hands down the leader of GU hoops for four years with a record for rebounds which will never be broken. Fr. Tommy Mulcahy, S. J., knows of what he says. Believe him. No need to compare Jerry to any other Zag. He was the face of the GU basketball until Burgess and Jean Claude Lefebvre came on board in the late 50s. Ask John Stockton's dad, Jack, of Jack and Dan fame. Jack watched Jerry play. Ask Jed Heathcote who was coaching West Valley high school in the 50s. He saw Jerry play.

The problem with Zag fans since the 1990s is there is little appreciation in these fans for history and a sense of history. I love the success GU has had in hoops since Fitzgerald and Few. But get over it.!!!! In the 1950s the NCAA did not classify schools as Div 1, 2 or 3. GU did play some NAIA tournaments, but they also competed in NCAA tournaments and as one poster noted the Zags played WSU, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Stanford, Providence, Xavier, and many other schools who then and now are Div 1. They also played Whitworth and Eastern but that does not diminish Vermillion's achievements.

Jerry's arms hung down to about mid-calf. There was no one around who could out rebound him with his reach. Coach Hank Anderson played on the Univ. of Oregon national NCAA collegiate champion team in 1939 called the "Tall Firs" of Oregon. Hank knew talent when he saw it. Hank called Jerry his best player ever until Burgess.

In the 1950s the SID at GU sent out press releases which were typewritten (you know the keyboard without a screen) and then duplicated on a memograph machine and sent by snail mail with addresses printed by an Address-o-graph machine in the basement of the Admin building. Does anyone think the East coast sports writers at the time knew anything about Vermillion? Who cares. This is a honor for a Bulldog, a Zag, a grad, an honorable man.

Retiring Vermillion's jersey would be honoring a man who was not only a great basketball for Gonzaga but a man devoted to the Gonzaga spirit and pride.

There will be plenty of time to honor Dickau or Adam or any of the other great players who have worn the Zag uniform.

How many of your know about the Gonzaga NCAA heavyweight boxing champion in the early 40s, Carl Maxey, coached by Joey August? For that matter Tony Canadeo who played football at Gonzaga in the 30s for Coach Ray Flaherty and went on to play for the Green Bay Packers?

Sorry young people. [B]Get a sense of history and appreciation for those who proceeded you and then honor and appreciate the recent grads and great players all of whom eventually will deserve similar honors.
Respectfully NG 1957

hondo
03-02-2014, 02:28 PM
Those 1950s Gonzaga teams were the very first basketball games I ever saw. BurgessEraZag has it exactly as I recall. Not only did Gonzaga play the teams mentioned but also a very good Seattle U team that included Elgin Baylor. In some years we played some of the toughest teams as many as 3 or 4 times in a season.
I have always considered Vermillion as the greatest player at GU until Frank Burgess showed up in the late 50s and have always wondered why he has not been honored as such.
Tom Mulcahy and Jack Stockton probably knows this era history better than anyone alive.

Zagtime3000
03-02-2014, 04:57 PM
I read his book last summer. It was a nice, yet raw, recount of his life thus far. I do think it is a shame he has not been included in a ring or honor.
Surely a top 5 player in the program's history.
The book made it seem like there was some unpleasantness at St. Martin's with some of the priests upon his departure. Leads me to wonder if there is a grudge of some sorts there.
Similar to the way Fitz's name is hardly whispered around there anymore.

Birddog
03-02-2014, 05:26 PM
Vermillion should be acknowledged with his name and jersey. I remember as an older grade school kid(The Frank Burgess era) looking at his pictures and reading his stats that were in the Rogues Gallery on the 1st floor of the Admin Bldg and thinking darn, I saw that guy when we snuck in to watch practices at the Boone Ave gym which in fact was still being used and which we were still sneaking into. Well at least we thought we were sneaking in, I suspect we were tolerated as long as we didn't make mischief and continued to shag the occasional errant ball.

stevet75
03-02-2014, 07:37 PM
Without doubt he has an amazing, probably unbeatable rebounding record. But my gut reaction is that the way Gonzaga has approached retiring numbers, Jerry doesn't fit their approach.

Jerry must have been a truly amazing player, but I don' think he rises to the same level as a Stockton or Burgess. I would be interested in what others think the current criteria is. My guess is that it is some combination of what a player has meant to the program, the degree of national recognition during their college career, and also how their life after Gonzaga played out. pBased on his Gonzaga career by itself, Stockton [/B[B]]robably would not qualify - we have had a number of players with much more spectacular careers. So, John probably got his retired based primarily on an unbelievable pro career.

Burgess had a fabulous college career, much greater national recognition and accomplishment than Jerry, and I think that his tremendous professional career helped also, to a minor degree.

As we say.....just my opinion.

Fonebone

I'm not sure why you think John Stockton would not qualify. He was a phenomenal player who would have received much more acclaim if he had not played at Gonzaga. In those years Gonzaga would have received as much notice as Eastern does now, maybe less, and yet John was drafted number 15 or 16, I don't remember for sure, in that years NBS draft. Also remember there was no 3 pt. shot in those days, which would have impacted John's points per game.