Michigan State

Dr. James A. Hinesly
(Game Worn)

When you think you will never find another helmet of its kind, just be patient for 15 years and it might just pop up.  Jim lives less than three miles from Michigan Stadium. But each time he passes that house of horrors, he smiles. Second-generation Spartan Champions can do that.  James Arturo Hinesly had a fabulous role model that way. Twenty-two years before he starred in Michigan State's 24-15 win at Michigan in 1978, another James Hinesly, his dad, was a hero in a 9-0 win in Ann Arbor. The Spartans' MVP in 1956 forced a fumble, then pounced on the ball to set up the only touchdown in Duffy Daugherty's first win over the Wolverines in three tries, triggering a 9-1-2 stretch of series dominance.  The elder Hinesly wore No. 90 before George Webster and still wears the satisfied grin of a 1955 Co-National Champion and a player with a Rose Bowl win on his resume.  His son never got to play in Pasadena. But he did two things his father didn't - share a Big Ten title and earn consensus All-Big Ten honors as the top lineman on one of the best offenses in league history. Ironically, the younger Hinesly nearly played for U-M and spent three years in grad school there. A strong attachment to MSU's coaches saved the day and prevented who knows how many sacks of star quarterback Eddie Smith.

"Coming from Detroit Country Day, I was sort of a big fish in a small pond," Hinesly said. "I was the first player from my school to play Big Ten football and could've gone to Michigan or Northwestern. All my friends wanted me to play for Bo Schembechler. And I'd pretty much made up my mind I would do that. But when I visited and met with him, I got a bad vibe. I knew I wouldn't enjoy playing for him."   Maybe there was just too much green blood in Hinesly, who remembers being 5 years old and meeting Daugherty for the first time. Or maybe the connection with head coach Denny Stolz and position coach Ron Chismar was too strong to ignore.  "I'd been up to State's games my whole life," Hinesly said. "I'll never forget Duffy telling me, `You're going to play for the Spartans one day!' And I became a huge Denny fan, part of his last recruiting class."  As a freshman who lettered on special teams, Hinesly traveled for the first time when MSU stunned Notre Dame 10-3 with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. His heads-up play might have saved the victory, though his dad saw it differently.

"We were a man short on the punt team, so I went in, made a block, then ran down and made the tackle," he said. "When I came off the field, the coaches said, `Good job, Hinesly!' Later on, my dad said, `What were you doing? Why weren't you paying attention?' He thought I was supposed to be in there all along."  It was after that game that Hinesly learned how the Spartans really felt about their intrastate rival. In the midst of a wild celebration, someone wrote the word "MICHIGAN" on a chalkboard. Instantly, defensive end Richard Washington dove through the board, gashing his arms. Assistant Ed Youngs ripped through the rest of it.  That enthusiasm didn't pay dividends immediately. The following winter brought NCAA probation, costing Stolz his job and preventing TV and bowl appearances for three seasons.  Enter Darryl Rogers, the first coach in Big Ten history to win with a pro-style passing game. And when Chismar was retained on Rogers' first staff, the transition from drive blocking and option football was easier than it might have been.  "That helped in terms of continuity," Hinesly said. "But I barely knew who Eddie Smith was when Darryl was hired. He'd been buried on the depth chart for two years. Suddenly, he's our starting quarterback. By my junior season, we were almost unstoppable."

An inadvertent timeout cost the Spartans a share of the Big Ten title in 1977. And despite Smith's broken wrist in the '78 opener, only the NCAA could stop MSU en route to a Big Ten-record 41 points a game. But Hinesly had to worry about another number first.  "I wore 61 as a freshman but was told no offensive lineman had worn that number for four years without having a major injury," he said. "That's when I switched to 73. We had three different helmet designs, but 73 was good to me my last three years."  At 6-foot-2 and no more than 255 pounds, Hinesly was light by today's college standards. He was also a solid run blocker and an excellent pass protector, relying on balance, great technique and smarts to keep Smith off the ground.  That was never more important than on Oct. 14, 1978, when most of a crowd of 105,132 sat staring at the field in stunned disbelief. With four tailbacks moving the sticks and Smith hitting All-Big Ten targets Kirk Gibson, Eugene Byrd and Mark Brammer, the Spartans built a 17-0 halftime lead and were the victors valiant for one afternoon. "Michigan has trouble rushing the passer, and we knew right away we could move the football," Hinesly said. "We had great balance (248 yards rushing and 248 more through the air). Eddie called a lot of audibles. And I kept whispering plays I wanted him to call."  The one play he'll never forget was a TD smash by fullback Alonzo Middleton. After warning Michigan linebacker Jerry Meter that the play was coming directly through him, Hinesly delivered on that promise. At long last, so did his team.

After being cut by Seattle as an 11th-round pick in the NFL Draft, Hinesly moved on to dental school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., then took his orthodontic classes in Ann Arbor. After 11 years of college and more on-the-job training, he opened his own thriving practice in Tecumseh, a 4,000-square-foot establishment.  Meanwhile, his wife, Mary, another Spartan, is a top administrator for U-M's Ross School of Business. But living in Ann Arbor isn't like pulling teeth.  "I was back in that stadium for an Ohio State-Michigan game and couldn't stand up for that fight song," Hinesly said. "And I've been to a couple of MSU games there. After winning in that stadium, the animosity is gone. . . . Oh, wait! My wife said it isn't."  -MSU

If interested in any of these MSU helmets please click on the photos below.