| Special to Detroit Free Press
The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame has unveiled its class of 2020. The official ceremony has been postponed until “it’s safe to host an event, hopefully in 2021,” according to Hall of Fame chairman Scott Lesher. Here are the nine inductees:
Team: Detroit Pistons (2002-08, 2013-14)
The word: Billups led the Pistons to six Eastern Conference Finals, two NBA Finals and the 2004 championship. Earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” for making clutch baskets.
Hall moment: Named the Finals’ Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.0 points and 5.2 assists as the Pistons upset the Los Angeles Lakers.
Team: Detroit Lions (2007-15)
The word: A six-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro, Johnson was one of the NFL’s top wide receivers throughout his nine-year career. His 86.1 career receiving yards per game ranks second all-time to current Atlanta Falcons wideout Julie Jones.
Hall moment: Led the NFL in receptions (122) and receiving yards (1,964) during the 2012 season.
Team: Birmingham Detroit Country Day (1993-97)
The word: Prior to winning the 2001 national championship with Duke and two NBA titles with the Miami Heat, Battier had a storied prep career. He led Country Day to three state championships and had his No. 55 retired by the school in 2007.
Hall moment: Named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball in 1997 while averaging 28.3 points and 13.0 rebounds per game.
Team: U.S. women’s gymnastics team (2006-12)
The word: The Dewitt native had a storied career, winning the individual all-around title and a team gold medal at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. Wieber was also bronze medalist on the balance beam in the same event.
Hall moment: Earned a team gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012, competing in the vault, uneven bars and floor despite a stress fracture in her right leg.
Team: Central Michigan (1980-2019)
The word: A Holland native, Jonker coached the Chippewas to 10 MAC regular-season titles and 11 MAC tournament championships and was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
Hall moment: Jonker was an assistant coach with the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, which won a gold medal in Sydney.
Team: Okemos (1974-81), Albion College (1983-96)
The word: Schmidt compiled a 104-27-4 record at Albion football while guiding the Britons to nine MIAA championships. Albion won the NCAA Division III championship in 1994.
Hall moment: Schmidt died of cancer in 2000 but his legacy lives on. Since 2001, the Pete Schmidt Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award has been presented each year to an outstanding scholar-athlete at an MIAA school.
Organizations: Oakland Press, Booth Newspapers (MLive).
The word: Affectionately known as “Killer,” Kowalski was a fixture on the Detroit Lions beat from the early 1980s until his death in 2011. He was also a regular presence on radio as a host and the Lions insider on local radio and television.
Hall moment: The Tom Kowalski Foundation holds an annual Christmas event that raises money for local children in need.
Freep Flashback: ’84 Tigers
Join the Free Press in this one-of-a-kind mini documentary, which chronicles that iconic 1984 season through Mary Schroeder’s photo lens and Bill McGraw’s old scorebook.
Detroit Free Press
Organization: Detroit Free Press (1979-20919)
The word: Schroeder worked for the Free Press for nearly 40 years before her retirement in 2019. She was a trailblazer in the male-dominated profession, capturing many iconic sports images.
Hall moment: Schroeder took one of the most memorable photos in Michigan sports history, the shot of the Tigers’ Kirk Gibson celebrating his homer off Padres reliever Goose Gossage during Game 5 of the World Series.
Team: Buffalo Bills (1959-2014)
The word: Wilson, who grew up in Detroit and was a lifelong southeast Michigan resident, founded the Bills as an original American Football League franchise after being a minority owner of the Lions. He owned the Bills until his death in 2014.
Hall moment: Wilson was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, the same year one of the Bills’ greatest players, defensive end Bruce Smith, earned the honor.