Sun Devil Athletics Mourns the Loss of Tom Futch
TEMPE, Ariz. – Sun Devil Athletics mourns the loss of three-sport standout Tom Futch, who passed away last week at the age of 90.
Once tabbed by a local newspaper writer as 'Prime Time' before Deion Sanders, Futch played football, basketball, and baseball while at Arizona State, making him one of the school's last male Varsity letter-winners in three different sports. He starred on the baseball and men's basketball teams from 1953-56, while also playing one year of football in 1955. Futch is one of only eight male student-athletes in the history of Sun Devil Athletics to play three sports.
Prior to arriving in Tempe, Futch enlisted in the Navy out of high school, carrying out his three years of service stationed at San Diego Naval base. He would go on to enjoy an incredible Sun Devil career, leaving a mark on three major athletic programs.
Futch biggest impact was felt on the diamond for the Sun Devil Baseball program. The four-year team captain played all over the field, serving roles as both an outfielder and infielder. During his debut season in 1953, Futch gave Sun Devil fans a preview of what was to come, hitting .364 as a freshman. He raised his game to another level the next year, batting at a team-high .429 clip in 1954. He was named the "Team MVP" following the 1953, 1954, and 1956 seasons.
He set several offensive records during his career, including what was then a school single-game record with three doubles. Futch left Arizona State with the career program record for doubles (17), triples (8), and home runs (17) despite offensive numbers being down due to the height of the mound and the structure of the baseball. Thanks to his efforts in Tempe, Futch signed with the Detroit Tigers following the completion of his collegiate career.
While he enjoyed plenty of success as a baseball player, Futch initially made his presence felt on the hardwood first. A three-year starter as a versatile guard/forward for the Sun Devil Men's Basketball program, Futch was a contributor for Sun Devil Athletics' legend Bill Kajikawa's mid-1950's teams. He played a vital role off the bench as a freshman in 1952-53, helping that team win nine of their final 11 games to clinch a postseason berth.
As a 22-year-old freshman due to his naval service, Futch was relied upon immediately. In a Border Conference game against Hardin-Simmons during his freshman season, Futch made 14-consecutive free throws to seal a 78-70 victory for the Sun Devils. He ended his 67-game career averaging double-figures in points per game (10.2). During a breakout 1956 season in which he was a second-team All-Border Conference selection, Futch averaged a career-best 12.4 points.
The lone season he was a member of the football program (1955), legendary Head Coach Dan Devine led the Sun Devils to an 8-2-1 record, their second-best mark since 1939. The defensive end was part of an Arizona State defense that allowed only 9.7 points per game, including pitching two shutouts. Because of his remarkable athletic achievements, he was inducted into the Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992.
After his outstanding playing career, Futch continued to make an impact in the Valley sports scene. He went on to become the first Varsity Baseball Coach at Alhambra High School (1962-65), where he also was a teacher and freshman football coach. Later in his post-playing career, he moved to Phoenix Union High School where he was a teacher impacting lives in many ways. In 1971, he became the Head Football Coach at North Phoenix High School, a role he served in for five years.
Futch was also a football, basketball, and baseball official for the Arizona Athletic Association for over 20 years. He worked with one of the top crews in all three sports and was put in charge of several Championship contests. Futch's career came full circle when returned to Alhambra to continue teaching. He finished his remarkable 27-year career as a teacher and Coach for the Phoenix Union High School District in 1989.
Services for Mr. Futch will be held at Greenwood Memorial Lawn Cemetery (719 N. 27th Ave Phoenix, AZ) on October 20. The visitation will take place from 9-10:30 am, with the service beginning immediately after.