Hill-IJ Game Then and Now

The real passion of the Hill-IJ Game started from the legendary game of 1958 when the Hill was down six runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning with little hope at hand.  What happened next is the stuff of lore as the Hillmen scored seven runs in the final stanza to win leading to the cheshire grins of Hank Aberman, Ducky Kauffman, and Connie Chalick in the photo above.

(Click to read Hank Aberman’s first hand account of the Hill Rally in the 1958 Hill-IJ Game)

Herb Cohen argues a key call in the '58 game-Hank is restraining an impassioned Ducky Kaufman
Herb Cohen argues a key call in the ’58 game-Hank is restraining an impassioned Ducky Kauffman

 

As you can see from the game shot below, the tension involved was riveting.  The uniforms of this era were the best that a white T-Shirt and some magic marker could create.  Hell, this was 1958 and screen printing was still in its infancy.   But when the dust had settled, the term “Hill Rally” had been midwived and conceived to live with us evermore.

Hill Team: Joel Levin, Eddie Abrams, Mickey Rothstein, Larry Abrams, and Herbie Cohen
Hill Team: Joel Levin, Eddie Abrams, Mickey Rothstein, Larry Abrams, and Herbie Cohen

 

Joe Rose, Stan Bagen, Larry Abrams, and Ducky Kauffman shouting encouragement
Joe Rose, Stan Bagen, Larry Abrams, and Ducky Kauffman shouting encouragement

 

Connie Chalick urging the troops on!
Connie Chalick urging the troops on!

The team mood after a win is euphoric as you can tell by the celebration charge being led by Herbie “Puck” Cohen busting out of the batting cage.  Also pictured are Eddie Abrams, Dave Auerbach, Joel Levin, Billy Dinerman, Jim Korman, Bob “Mayer” Kutler, Harold Levinson, Wayne Zelnick, and Danny Gottsegan.

Hill IJ Celebration 1958

1958-game-after-kids-and-counselors

By 1963 the game was taking on real significance each summer and the Hill had moved to swanky team shirts and hats.  They seemed to dominate the outcome each year and Mickey Rothstein’s pitching was a big reason for this.

Herbie Cohen was the spiritual heart and soul of the team as he anchored the corner at first base in this game.  Harvey Forman was at shortstop where he was a virtual vacuum cleaner for ground balls.  Lore has it that this was a low scoring affair and Bruce Zelkowitz had the only hit for the Hill in this victory.

1963-hill-ij-game-howie-hirschbaum-batting
1963: Howie Hirschbaum sports the matching Hill shirt and hat at the plate
1963-hill-ij-herbie-cohen-batting
1963: Herb “Puck” Cohen staring down the incoming pitch
1963-hill-ij-game-bruce-zekowitz-batting
1963: Bruce Zelkowitz who had the only clean hit in the game for the Hill
1963-hill-game-mickey-rothstein
1963: Mickey Rothstein was a fast-pitch ace with wicked stuff.  Harvey Forman supporting at shortstop behind him.

The 1964 Hill Hawk team was murder’s row-this was a collection of some of the best athletes who ever threw on a pair of Chuck Taylor’s on Hill Court and a few supporting cast hangers on.  They won the game 10 to 3 and ace pitcher Mickey Rothstein was the game MVP.

Top row: Hank Aberman, Steve Sarvin, Mike Bratman, Joe Gimbel, Young Harvey Forman, and Carl "Slive" Silverman. Bottom row: Steve "Butch" Thomas, Pete Vantine, Bob "Mayer" Kutler, Herbie "Not Puck Yet" Cohen, Mickey Rothstein, and Gary "King" Franklin.
1964 Hill Team- Top row: Hank Aberman, Steve Savrin, Mike Bratman, Joe Gimbel, Young Harvey Forman, and Carl “Sliv” Silverman  Bottom row: Steve “Butch” Thomas, Pete Vantine, Bob “Mayer” Kutler, Herbie “Puck” Cohen, Mickey Rothstein, and Gary “Kong” Franklin.
1964 Hill-IJ Harvey Forman Joe Gimbel
1964 Game Photo:  Harvey Forman leads off with advice from first base coach Joe Gimbel…..Jimmy Korman in a full prep crouch
The uniforms evolve from T-Shirts to Jerseys by 1967's 4-1 Hill victory
The uniforms evolve from T-Shirts to Jerseys by 1967’s 4-2 Hill victory

 

1967 Harvey Forman at shortstop and the winning battery of Big Stan Wexler and Herbie Cohen
1967 Harvey Forman at shortstop and the winning battery of Big Stan Wexler and Herbie Cohen

The song goes “Twice there was a ballgame….things looked mighty low…then old Herbie Cohen got things on the go”, and it was in 1968 that the lore of Hill Rally got it’s second shot in the arm when the Hill rallied from a six-to-one deficit behind the bat of the game MVP Herbie Cohen to win the game.

1968 Hill IJ Harvey, Big Stan, Harry L, Andy Stone
1968:  Harvey Forman, Big Stan Wexler, Harry Levit, and Andy Stone celebrate the comeback victory

It is not an exaggeration to say that generations of Hillmen have returned summer after summer just to be part of the tradition of this historic game.

The MVP ball from the 1970 Hill-IJ Game
Moe Dweck’s MVP game ball from the Hill-IJ Game…..August 1, 1970….Hill 4 and IJ 0

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(Click to see the scoresheet from the 1973 game-Hill 7-IJ 3)

There was a seminal change in 1974  marking the beginning of the first “Hill Blue Period”.  After having won 16 Hill-IJ Games in a row, the Hill lost 3 out of the next 4 between 1974 and 1977.

The 1974 game was a 16 to 1 whitewashing carried on the arm of the IJ’s MVP Bruce Fried.  He threw a one hitter, with seven strike outs, and the Hill literally never got out of the batters box.  After carrying him on their shoulders back up the IJ Camp, Zeus I Connie Chalick, who knows from these things, shook Bruce’s hand and said “You realize what you have done here don’t you?…….You have changed a lot here”.    Needless to say it was stone silent at dinner that night in the Mess Hall.

The IJ backed it up in 1975 with another 15 to 1 victory, Bruce Fried providing another pitching gem and winning the game MVP.  Once again no Hill Campfire and no celebrating in the Mess Hall…..this was becoming a trend.

With the leadership performance of Zeus VI Murray Rosenzweig the Hill exacted some revenge in 1976 batting around the order in the first inning on their way to a 10-7 victory.

The fierce nature of this rivalry marched on as the two sides seemed to hold a grudge from the first day of camp each summer.  To the Hill’s dismay they lost again in 1977 by a 7 to 3 margin.  The IJ got fine pitching out of Brad Heffler and an excellent team performance up and down their roster.  The Hill’s Blue Period trudged on.

Winning IJ Team 1977
1977 IJ Squad that beat the Hill for the third time in four years.  Top Row (L/R)-Jay “Otto” Miller, Derry ??, Stu Issacson, Scott Surden, Larry Elman, Harvey Spivack, Ed Hicks  Front Row (L/R)-Scott Affrime, Alfie Cohen, Brad Heffler, Mitch Rosenberg, Ricky ??, Mark Paul

Finally things seemed to turn when the Hill won 11 to 2 behind the commanding pitching of Brad Heffler.  But it was 1979 that ended the Hill Blue Period,  as the Hill posted a convincing 22 to 2 win lead by the MVP pitching and hitting performance of the younger brother Curt Heffler in what the Hill has termed the “Return To Dominance Game” .

Hill Squad 1979 sports the retro look
1979 Hill Squad sports the retro look:  Back Row-Glenn Cooper-Bob Friedberg-Curt Heffler-David Doherty-Craig Brody-Jim Lewis-Hal Brooks  Front Row: Fred Hecker-Mike Press-Sid Sturtz-Perry Zimmerman-Mark Goldstone (Zeus VIII)

The tradition of the game has been shaped and perpetuated by the repeated incidents of snatching victory out of the jaws of defeat in these games.  It started in the legendary 1958 Hill-IJ Game and was repeated in 1968, 1985, and 2000.

Commemorating comebacks in the Hill Pagoda
Commemorating comebacks in the Hill Pagoda

The spirit constituted in preparation for this game is reiterated through songs and banners that are updated regularly but never wander from the central themes that define The Hill.

What is old is new...it still serves The Hill wisely
What is old is new…it still serves The Hill wisely

 

(Click to see the list of Hill-IJ Game Results and Hill MVP’s from 1966 to 2016)

 

2014 uniform with black sleeve patch-a tribute to Zeus IV-Jack Weiss who had recently passed away
2014 uniform with black sleeve patch-a tribute to Zeus IV-Jack Weiss who had recently passed away

 

The juggernaut Hill Squad of 2016
The juggernaut Hill Squad that triumphed in 2016

The tradition of the spirit for the annual Hill-IJ game has been sustained for the last 50 years, just the uniforms and the banners are much nicer now.

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4 thoughts on “Hill-IJ Game Then and Now

  1. The Hill Rally became endemic to everything we did at Saginaw-inter-camp games, league rivalries, color war varsity contests, and the annual Hill-IJ Game. It was a life lesson we carried with us well after camp, that could be employed when adversity reared its head in our everyday lives.

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  2. I will never forget playing in my first Hill-IJ game; it was a very big deal and I was nervous to say the least. It was 1970 or ’71 and I was the starting left fielder. The very first IJ batter, Mike Romano, hit a long fly ball between me and centerfielder Jeff Cooper that was much closer to Jeff than me. As I started running to my left in futile pursuit, Jeff screamed out “You got it?” Romano ended up on third, but that little bit of Hill humor settled my nerves and all was right with the world when we emerged victorious . BRIAN REDMAN

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    1. It was 1971…I remember this clearly since I was the one who delivered the hanging curve ball that resulted in this shot. Needless to say my heart was way up in my throat when that ball came off the bat but was relieved that we were able to contain the damage to a triple. As you said, the win salved all wounds.

      Moe Dweck

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      1. I justed visited Saginaw this past weekend and had very good memories of the camp. Upon discussion with a number of individuals I was told that I could go online and see the past history of the Hill-IJ games. I was surprised that even though the Hill lost both in 1974 and 1975 ( both by large scores and the Hill only having 1 run each year) a Hillman was named MVP and not an IJ member. I know the IJ named me the MVP both years. I pitched both games and in 74 struckout 7 Hillman and allowed only one hit. At first I thought only Hillman were allowed to be named but I saw in a later the IJ won and the MVP was the entire IJ team. I love Saginaw and believe the Hill rules, but I hope for history’s sake you will set the record straight. The two MVP’s you show for those years were not. Murray and I were personal friends and saw each other up to his premature passing and told me I was the star that day. Two years later Murray got his revenge and beat me and the IJ. Just thought you might want your records correct. Thanks, Bruce Fried

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