It’s been a pretty rough year for Ted Shiro, the former Waterville High School and Colby College athlete who is now well into his ninth decade.
Shiro, who lives in Naples, Fla., and visits Maine during the summer, underwent open heart surgery in February and a hip operation in October after fracturing a bone in his leg.
“I’ve been going through the mill,” said Shiro, who recently turned 83. “I’ll be back playing tennis in about two months.”
Well before he steps back onto the tennis court, Shiro will watch his grandson, Aaron Murray, lead the Georgia Bulldogs against Michigan State in Monday’s Outback Bowl. Murray is the Bulldogs’ quarterback and will be playing before his hometown fans in Tampa, Fla.
“It’s about two and a half hours (away),” Shiro said. “I’ll drive over on 75, a straight shot.”
Paul McClay of Augusta and his two sons will attend the game as Shiro’s guests. They’re also invited to a reception tonight for Aaron’s family and friends.
“It makes me feel good to see somebody from back home,” Shiro said.
A sophomore, Murray is the son of Ted’s daughter Lauren who was born at Thayer Hospital in Waterville. Lauren and Denny Murray met at Florida International University where as a pitcher Denny once out-dueled the University of Maine’s Billy Swift.
Murray was a college prospect early in his career at Plant High School in Tampa where as a junior he set a Florida high school record with 51 touchdown passes. This year he set the single-season University of Georgia record with 33 touchdown passes.
“I think he’s a good prospect for the pros,” Shiro said. “They think he’s got the arm and he can move pretty fast.”
Shiro has attended a couple of Aaron’s games in person, including the Liberty Bowl in Nashville last year. When he’s not there, he watches his grandson on TV and not long after they’re over, he usually gets a call from his older brothers, Burt and Oren.
“I get critiques (of Aaron’s performance),” Ted said.
Ted is the youngest of six children, five of whom are still alive. Burt, 88, lives in Waterville, while Oren, 91, resides in Florida. He also has two older sisters, ages 90 and 96.
“I told Aaron my two older brothers were great athletes,” Ted said. “They played (football) side by side at Colby. Burt was Little All-America honorable mention and Oren was all-state and a four-letter man.”
Oren is also the oldest man to win the Maine Amateur golf title, halving Mark Plummer on the final hole at Waterville Country Club in 1979 at the age of 59.
Ted was an accomplished athlete himself. He was a key member of the Waterville High School team that won the New England basketball championship in 1944. After a year at Manlius School in upstate New York, Shiro attended Colby where he played football (for two years) as well as baseball and basketball.
He held the all-time scoring record in basketball at Colby for a few years and was later signed by the Boston Celtics in 1951. At 5-foot-9, Shiro lasted all 12 exhibition games before coach Red Auerbach handed him 50 bucks and gave him the bad news he was cut.
Shiro continued to stay involved in athletics well into his adult life. He’s the former president of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame of which he’s a member and represented Maine on the U.S. Olympic Committee for many years. Over that time, he attended several Olympic games and was on hand for the Miracle on Ice in 1980 at Lake Placid as well as the 1972 games in Munich when Israeli athletes were killed in a terrorist attack.
Shiro also took up tennis and has continued to play for many years despite having two artificial hips. He even taught tennis at Camp Androscoggin in Wayne until three years ago. Sports has always provided the elixir for Shiro’s fountain of youth and now his grandson has doubled the potency.
“I’m not just proud of him as a football player, but as a person,” Shiro said. “I’ll have a chance to see him after the game. He’s a clean-cut kid.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638