The Hedgmen Enlist

By NMU Archivist Marcus Robyns

Image of the starting 5

The 1941-42 Northern Basketball Team’s Starting five.
From L to R: Chauncy “Mink” St. Germaine, Eddie Olds, Norman Slough, Harold “Babe” Anderson, and Henry Lindeman

On December 1, 1941, less than one week before the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, the Northern Michigan College of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Education published a preview guide to the 1941-1942 varsity basketball season. Oblivious to the forthcoming war, the guide innocently predicted an exciting season for the Wildcat “Cagers” and their irrepressible long-time coach, C. B. Hedgcock. 

Hedgcock was finishing his twentieth year as Director of Physical Education. Known as a demanding and strict-disciplinarian, Hedgcock was also a compassionate and empathic man who often housed and fed struggling student-athletes. He avidly promoted the development of aviation and was instrumental in the establishment of Northern’s Civilian Pilot Training program (CPT) in 1940. In the fall of 1942, he took a leave of absence to oversee the transfer of the CPT program to Escanaba where it began preliminary flight training for prospective Army and Navy pilots.

With his students, Hedgcock espoused “a war-time philosophy of athletics” that sought to “develop the physical qualities necessary to meet the enemy with bayonets” but also the teamwork skills “required in the commando or aviation squadron.” This approach stemmed from Hedgcock’s conviction – oddly enough given the recent trauma of the Great Depression – that the majority of young men had lived “soft, loose-thinking, lazy, peacetime lives,” making them ill-suited for the rigors of aerial combat against an enemy “hardened and steeped in a nationalistic and fanatical conviction.”

The five star players of the 1941-42 Northern men’s basketball team were prodigies of Hedgcock’s educational philosophy. Known as the “Hedgmen,” they all enlisted in the military soon after graduation. Four became military pilots and the other became a physical education instructor in the Army Air Force.  

Forward Eddie Olds '42 BS was the star. Known as “Speed” or “The Speeder,” Olds had a hard-fighting spirit and was considered the driving force in many of the Wildcats’ hard-fought battles. He was the team’s high scorer, averaging 19 points per game. In October, 1942, Olds graduated from the Army Air Force’s non-commissioned officers’ Physical Training School. During the occupation of Japan, he was given charge of the physical education program for the 310th Tech School Squadron. Immediately following World War II, Olds played one season with the Green Bay Packers football team. In 1951, he became athletic director for Sault St. Marie High School. 

A 1937 graduate of Baraga High School, guard Chauncy “Mink” St. Germaine  '42 was the “sparkplug” or “pepper man” of the Wildcats' starting five. He was also the football team’s quarterback. An all-around athlete, St. Germaine also participated in track and field, baseball, softball, tennis and badminton. After graduation from Northern, he spent a year as the Munising High School football coach before enlisting in the Army. In 1944, he completed Army pilot training as a second lieutenant. St. Germaine would finish the war as a flight engineer on B-29 Super Fortress bombers.

Mink’s fellow guard, Norman Slough '42 BS, '44 MA, '50 MAE, graduated from Manistique High School in 1938. Standing 6'3" tall, Slough was a dominating figure on the basketball court and rarely missed a long shoot, prompting fans to shout “shoot, Slough, shoot” whenever he got the ball. Like St. Germaine, Slough participated in track and field as a “star dash man and quarter miler,” running a record 51.7 seconds in the 440 meter dash. In 1945, Slough graduated as a second lieutenant from the Army Air Force training command and qualified to fly two-engine aircraft. 

Center Henry Lindeman '48 BS was a graduate of Channing High School. He was small in stature, but “what ‘Lindy’ lacks in size he makes up in fight!” The Northern News was certain that Lindeman would “bring home the bacon.” Lindeman was so good in his freshman year that he “cinched the center spot on C.B.H.’s high flying Wildcat squint.” He would play one more season for the Wildcat “Cagers” before becoming a pilot in the Navy Air Corp. In 1943, he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Glenview, Ill. 

Munising native Harold "Babe" Anderson '43 BS, '64 MAE also excelled in football and track at NMU. According to his obituary, he served in the Army Air Force Air Transport Command during World War II, where he was stationed in Tezgaon, India, to stage fueling for C-54s flying over the Himalayas to supply air bases in southern China. Ancillary to his military duties, he played basketball for the championship team representing the China-Burma-India Theater, where his skill was tested against some of the top basketball players of his era. After his discharge from the service, he played one season of professional basketball as part of the Syracuse Nationals organization of the National Basketball League (predecessor to today's NBA) before returning to the U.P., where he became a teacher, coach and school administrator. He was inducted into the NMU and U.P. Sports Hall of Fame in the 1980s.  

C.B. Hedgcock would later hail the 1941-42 Northern basketball team as “the best ever to wear the Olive and Gold.” The team would finish the season 15-4 and score an average of 59 points per game, a school record. Hedgcock retired from Northern in 1956 and died in 1986 at the age of 99.

Handwritten letter

Letter from Henry Lindeman to Helen Ward, Editor of the Northern News. During World War II, many servicemen wrote to the Northern News requesting a subscription to the paper.

Hedgcock at the office

C.B. Hedgcock at his desk in 1942. Note the pictures of military aircraft on the wall behind his work desk