The Bootleg Remembers: October 30, 1981

The Bootleg remembers the amazing plays, the fantastic finishes, and the great victories, but we also remember the individuals, the human beings that have comprised our sports programs over the years. With all the wonderful moments come some awful ones. One such instance came on a tragic early Friday morning, 30 years ago on this very same date. Two very young men lost their very promising lives.

The Bootleg Remembers: October 30, 1981


It was a fateful Thursday night and a tragic early Friday morning, back on October 30, 1981. 30 years ago, on this very same date, two very young men lost their very promising lives.

A night of partying at "The Golden Spike" restaurant at the Stanford Barn, site of what is now the California Café, led to a tragic automobile accident. Four Stanford students, all of them members of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, were jammed into the back of a Datsun 240Z sports car on their way back to campus. It was late and some of the guys had had a few too many, certainly too many to be behind the wheel.

Let's face it, so many drivers have been in a similar position at some point in their lives. Errors in judgment were made. This was one time when the boys would lose a gamble. Their vehicle ran head-on into an immovable Eucalyptus tree on Campus Drive near the Stanford Medical Center.

Junior Kevin MacMillan, a popular starting free safety on the football team and his friend and fraternity brother Mike Becker, a pole-vaulter on the Stanford Track team, did not survive injuries sustained in the crash. The driver was fortunate enough to live. The accident was a devastating blow to the student-athletes' families and friends, to the  football and track teams, and to the entire Stanford community. It was sad, and it was scary. Even after 30 years, recollections of the events of that fateful night remain painful.

It must be noted that the terrible tragedy could have been even worse. Thankfully, the fourth passenger, Garry Shumway, had the good sense to get out of the car less than a minute before the crash. Shumway, a  400-meter track man whose 49.20 time from 1982 stood as a Stanford school record for nine years, is today a successful attorney in Chicago. He attended homecoming earlier this month.

MacMillan had starred at Grant High in Portland, Oregon, where he had been an all-state athlete in three sports. The 6-1, 185-pound quarterback-turned-defensive back would end up starting at multiple positions in the defensive backfield for the Cardinal from 1979-1981. During his sensational freshman season in 1979, he finished sixth in the Pac-10 conference with three interceptions and was named first-team freshman All-American at cornerback by Blue Chip Magazine. 

In 1980, in one of his finest performances in a Cardinal uniform, McMillan tallied 12 tackles and came up with Stanford's lone interception in a home loss to USC, the same game in which John Elway memorably scrambled all over the field before launching a famous 65-yard throw that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown pass to All-American wide receiver Kenny Margerum, who beat fellow College Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott for the score.

So, a cautionary tale....let's all use our heads and be safe. Too much life to live, too much love to give.

It is tough to have to bring up a sad piece of Stanford Football history on the heels of such a spectacular triple-overtime win against USC. But these fine young guys deserve to be remembered and we are pretty sure Kevin and Mike had a "heavenly" upper-deck view of Saturday's epic comeback victory and were loving every minute of it!


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