Andrew Trzaska | March 25, 2013
A segment of road in Muskegon Heights will be named after a pair of athletes engrained in the history of Muskegon Heights Public Schools.
The segment of Hume Avenue from Sixth Street to Sanford Avenue running directly alongside the parking lots behind Muskegon Heights High School will gain the designation of Burton Drive. This special designation commemorates both M.C. Burton, Jr. and the late Ed Burton, brothers from the city who played basketball for Muskegon Heights in the 1950s.
M.C. Burton, Jr. was part of the 1954 Tiger squad that took the men’s varsity state championship. He was the first player in the history of the Big Ten to lead the conference in both points and rebounds in the same season, which he achieved in 1959.
M.C. Burton opted not to enter the NBA after his college career, and instead pursued and earned a medical degree. He spent time in the Navy and did play semi-pro basketball in the 1960s before retiring to open a medical practice. He was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.
M.C. Burton’s younger brother Ed “Big Ed” Burton took the team to back-to-back varsity state titles in 1956 and 1957.
Ed accepted a scholarship to Michigan State University but did not complete his course of study. He played two years with the Harlem Globetrotters before joining the New York Knicks in the NBA, later playing for the St. Louis Hawks, multiple semi-pro teams and Muskegon’s own Panthers in the 1960s.
Burton was a lifelong resident of Muskegon County and became a local businessman after his basketball years were over. Ed was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, and died in May of 2012.
As of last year, Ed and M.C. Burton still hold the #1 and #2 records for scoring in the history of the Muskegon Heights school system, respectively, separated by only 2 points – 1,143 and 1,141, respectively. These statistics are even more impressive considering varsity could only allow 10th through 12th grade, unlike today where freshmen can be considered for varsity squads.
Members of the Muskegon Heights Alumni Association originally made the proposal last month to the board during the public comment segment of a meeting.
The street renaming will take symbolic effect today upon unanimous passage of the recommendation.