A Spartans legend, Tom Yewcic, has died, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press. The former baseball player and football star for Michigan State teams in the 1950s as the university transitioned into the Big Ten conference was 88-years-old. 

Yewcic’s place in this history books was secured by the 1951 “Transcontinental Pass,” a half-back bomb to teammate Al Dorow that sent the top-ranked Spartans through the seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on their way to a share of the national championship. Yewcic would move to quarterback the next two seasons, becoming both an All-American and leading Michigan State to back-t0-back football national titles in 1952. 

That battle against Ohio State back in 1951 was in fact a preview of the future conference rivalry, as Michigan State was voted into the Big Ten in 1948, but would not join the league until 1953. The Spartans merged into the sport’s oldest conference with a bang, winning the league outright under head coach Biggie Munn and defeating UCLA, 28-20, in the 1954 Rose Bowl. Yewcic set both the Big Ten’s single-season passing record and punting yards record in his first season, marks that have since been surpassed. 

Along the way, Yewcic also helped the Spartans to an appearance in the 1954 College World Series. Born on Conemaugh, Pennsylvania, Yecic was inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.