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June 5, 2019 - Brandon Marx

Muhlenberg Mules. Vanilla Thunder. Beer Pong.

Any of you actually reading this are probably more confused than you’ve ever been from that title.  However, when I read it, I see nothing but a travesty for a life’s worth of hard work and dedication only to be mistaken day in and day out for a Kirby Vacuum Salesman. Where in the hell is this going you ask? Well, let me explain the nuts and bolts to start.

MUHLENBERG:

Private liberal arts college in Allentown, Pennsylvania founded in 1848.

MULE:

is the offspring of a donkey and a horse (strictly, a male donkey and a female horse), typically sterile and used as a beast of burden.

VANILLA THUNDER:

As far as urban dictionary goes, this is generally a white male who represents superior awesomeness, the life of a party and usually pretty obnoxious.

BEER PONG:

Where all former “great” high school and collegiate athletes go to die and attempt to relive their so called glory days one last time.
 

From Dream To Reality

“Vanilla Thunder”, “Special K”, “The Dog”, “Bam-Bam” and “Dynamite” could easily be the lineup for an all-night rap concert.

Actually, those are the nicknames for Muhlenberg College men’s basketball players Mike Gramer, Ernie Koschineg, Mike Rooney, Chris Bedell and Donny Smutko, who, along with their friends, did their performing on the hardwoods, taking the Mules to the top of the charts during a solid-gold season.

And it all started with a dream.

This is an excerpt from an article written on March 30th, 1995 by “The Morning Call”.  It was written after this team ended on an 18 win season and their first conference title in 47 years.  You can read the whole article here

Who Is The Vanilla Thunder?

By now you might have guessed it.  From the list of players above there should only be one name that is recognizable.  Mike Gramer!  I know, the shock displayed on your face right now says it all.  It’s a very consistent reaction for anyone who only knows Gramer directly through beer pong.  I mean, look at the poor soul, he looks as if he’s one bad hip away from the local Nursing Home 1k instead of the World Series.

How did he get this unique nickname you ask?  Well, in another excerpt from an article written by Don Bostrom in 1994, it states how this came about.  You can read the article in it’s entirety here.

The Morning Call:

Vanilla Thunder? “All of our starters are given nicknames,” explained Gramer. “They don’t have to mean anything. They just have to sound good.

“Last year I had always come off the bench,” Gramer added. “I finally got a start and we were scrambling to get me something before the introductions. Darryl Dawkins was ‘Chocolate Thunder.’ Since I’m white, they decided to call me ‘Vanilla Thunder.’

Gramer can sky, but he’s never had a dunk in a collegiate game.

“Just messing around, I dunk all the time,” Gramer said. “But I’m still looking for that first one in a game. Everyone is waiting. So far I’ve either been too tired or never had a clear chance.”

Numbers Don’t Lie

During his stint as a Mule, Mike Gramer built up quite the resume as a collegiate basketball player.  He’s been named Lehigh Valley College Basketball Player of the Month as well as finishing 2nd for Centennial Conference Player of the Year in 1995.  Aside from these, Gramer has also secured his legacy within the record books at Muhlenberg.  

  • (40) 6th highest scoring single game point total in school history.  It’s also the single highest in the last 24 years since the 1994-95 season.  44 points is the highest in school history.
  • (7) 2nd highest steals in a single game in school history.
  • (138) 5th in career steals in school history.
  • (60) Single season steals leader in school history.  He also owns the second best season with 55 steals the following year.

This man was a menace on the defensive end who also would ignite the spark needed to get his team rolling on the offensive end.

Why Are We Here?

Vanilla Thunder is a legend.  There’s no denying this.  Legends are never supposed to die but if they aren’t properly rewarded for their accomplishments can they really survive?  The travesty we mentioned in the opening paragraph is where we are right now.  Mike Gramer has yet to be included in the Muhlenberg’s Hall of Fame.  He’s never even been nominated!  What’s even more outrageous is that his wife was a bigger stud than he could ever dream of and she too has been given the shaft.

So, we have taken the liberty to investigate this matter and have came to a conclusion to right these two wrongs.  I’m asking the community to band together and help complete the most awesome task we could possibly ever do as a group.  Get Gramer and Lori into the Muhlenberg Mules Hall of Fame.  We can do this by simply filling out a “HOF Nomination Form”.  We will provide the link and information needed to fill out his form.  You can simply copy and paste or feel free to write your own reasonings as you see fit.

Before we get to that part, I would just like to share Lori’s accomplishments below:

Lori Milot

  • (742) 29th in career points.  In 1996 it was 9th all time.
  • (227) 12th in career free throws.  In 1996 it was 3rd all time.
  • (282) 9th in career assists.  In 1996 it was 2nd all time.
  • (93) 19th in season assists.  In 1996 it was 1st all time.
  • (78) 30th in season assists.  In 1995 it was 4th all time.
  • (10) T6th in single game assists.  In 1996 it was T2nd all time.
  • (96) 1st in season steals in 1995.  Still stands.
  • (70) 4th in season steals.  In 1996 it was 2nd all time until 2015.
  • (63) 7th in season steals.  In 1994 it was 1st all time until she broke it each of the next two years.
  • (272) 1st in career steals.  The next closest is 222 was just accomplished in 2018.

Conclusion

If you’d like to double check or see any of this information for yourself, feel free to follow the link for Men’s Stats here and Women’s Stats here.

For the nomination form, that can be found HERE.

The information they ask for is pretty straight forward(Your name, email etc…)  The important information is Name of Nominee(Mike Gramer/Lori Milot), Graduation Year(1995/1996) I believe that’s correct but not a big deal if not.  Sports nominated for(Men’s Basketball/Women’s Basketball) and most importantly “Qualifying information for nominee”.  A lot can be said for either of them, or simply a link to this article will be enough for the committee to make a decision.  If any of you have a statement that you think would do each of them justice, we would love to hear it in the comments.  If the community likes one more than the rest, we’ll toss it in here for easy access for everyone.

There’s been a lot of drama the last few months and it looks like it’s all finally behind us for the time being.  Let’s take a moment, get everyone on the same page that we all can support regardless of viewpoints and do something great for these two deserving individuals!

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