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Richard Max "Rick" Leach (born May 4, 1957 in Ann Arbor, Michiganmarker) is a former college football player and professional baseball player. He played quarterback at the University of Michiganmarker from 1975 to 1978. Leach later played in Major League Baseball for four different teams primarily as a backup outfielder and first baseman from 1981 to 1990.

In 2008, Leach was elected to the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

College years

Leach was a star quarterback at the University of Michiganmarker from 1975 to 1978 under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. A left-hander, he was given the starting job before his freshman year and held it until he graduated four years later. In his freshman year, with the Big Ten championship and a berth to the 1976 Rose Bowl on the line in the Michigan-Ohio State game, Leach threw an interception that was run back to the Michigan 3-yard line by Ray Griffin and set up the winning touchdown in a 21-14 Buckeye victory. However, Leach and the Wolverines never lost to Ohio State again in his career. One of the finest athletes in Michigan history, Leach was named All-Big Ten as a quarterback three times and also placed in the voting for the Heisman Trophy three times. He was co-MVP of the 1979 Rose Bowl, his last game as a Wolverine.

Leach shattered all Michigan's career passing, total offense and touchdown records. He set an NCAA record for most touchdowns accounted for (82) and broke Big Ten records for total offense (6,460 yards), total plays (1,034), and touchdown passes (48). In 1978, he finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy, behind Billy Sims and Chuck Fusina.

A standout on the diamond as well as the gridiron, Leach won the Big Ten batting championship as a junior and won the rare honor of being named All-American in both football and baseball.

Professional baseball

He was selected in the first round by the Detroit Tigers in the 1979 amateur draft. Leach was also drafted by the NFL's Denver Broncos in 1979, but he opted for a career in baseball. In a 10-year career, Leach played for the Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, and San Francisco Giants, mainly as a part-time outfielder and DH. His best season came in 1986, when he hit .309 in 110 games. In 1990, he was suspended for sixty days by Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for a positive drug test and underwent league ordered drug treatment.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated published a list of "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan" (in all sports), and ranked Leach 22nd. "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Michigan," Sports Illustrated, December 27, 1999. Other University of Michigan football figures on the list were Bennie Oosterbaan (#3), Ron Kramer (#7), Fielding Yost (#9), Fritz Crisler (#31), Harry Kipke (#40) and Gerald Ford (#50).

Controversy

On October 15, 2009, Leach sharply criticized former Michigan head football Lloyd Carr for mingling with University of Iowamarker athletic personnel during Michigan's 30-28 loss at Iowa on October 10th. During a phone call to Ann Arbor sports talk radio station WTKAmarker, Leach said "Our ex-coach flipped a huge middle finger right in our current coach's face". Ask people to investigate that, there will be a lot more there". These comments have fueled debate on how much tension and division there is within the Michigan football community over the hiring of Rich Rodriguez as head football coach. The segment with the Rick Leach phonecall is available at WTKA's website.

Sources

  1. Ex-Lions Moore, Murray among Michigan Sports Hall of Fame inductees
  2. *
  3. NY Times Reference: Leach Suspended
  4. Former Michigan QB Rips Lloyd Carr




See also




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