A special commemorative issue Friday, September 3, 2010
Football, more than a game
History in the making The new player joined the team on Tuesday and played in the game two days later. He had quite an impact on the outcome of the game. Football fans know this player as Prentice Gautt, the first AfricanAmerican to play in an All-State game and the first African-American athlete at the University of Oklahoma. Page 4
It was called the Ice Bowl Through the years, the Sooners have provided fans with memories to last a lifetime. Among those was Bedlam, 1985
+ The Merkle Boys: 1896
The oldest, Joe Merkle, top row, second from left and Fred Merkle, center with his hand on the ball.
Video: Barry Switzer and Steve Owens remember OU
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
McDonald poured it on, even in a game of touch
Brian Bosworth Brian “Boz” Bosworth was a consensus All-American in both 1985 and 1986. He set the OU record for tackles in a game with 22 against Miami in 1986. The only collegian ever to win the Butkus Award twice, he led the Sooners in tackles during 1984-86 along with being named All-Big Eight each of those years. He also was an Academic All-American in 1986. In 1987, Boz was drafted first in the supplemental draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Please see stories, Page 12
By Lynn Foreman Norman
A group of maybe eight of us at Norman High sometimes met at the OU practice field on Saturday mornings for a touch football game. One day we were about to begin and were joined by some OU football players. They were playing catch and loosening up. They split up on each side and I found myself across from a young man about my size. He was wearing football shoes with cleats. I wore tennis shoes, so he could take off quicker than me. I was pretty quick at NHS or so I thought. Their team snapped the ball and this man across from me went past me like I was standing still. I asked an OU man, “who is that guy?” He said, “Tommy McDonald.” I told this story to OU
Tommy McDonald was named to The Associated Press All-America teams in both 1955 and 1956. During the 1955 season, the two time all-conference selection became the first OU player to score a touchdown in every game of a season. McDonald was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1985. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles during the third round in 1957. He was inducted into the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1998. Source: www.soonersports.com
Coach Barry Switzer and he said, “Yeah, he went past a lot of guys.” Lynn Foreman is a member of Norman High School, Class of 1951.
Provided photo by Jean McCasland
‘I’ve felt the elation for 60 years’ By Ed Frost Norman
OU 34, Texas A&M 28 Other games have come close, but none has matched it. It was October 7, 1950, and Oklahoma was on its way to its first national championship. I was 11 years old and couldn’t remember a game OU had lost. My attendance had begun in 1949, and we didn’t lose any that year. My family had season tickets: row 54, on the 35-yard line on the west side. When we settled into our seats after the national anthem, nobody was prepared for what was coming, unless it was Bud Wilkinson, who always saw the best in an opponent. I still have my program from the
game. It cost 25 cents. Most importantly, it was graciously signed by Claude Arnold — more than 50 years after he quarterbacked the frantic, winning drive of 69 yards in the last two minutes. Arnold passed the Sooners down the field and then lateraled wide to Leon Heath for the touchdown with 37 seconds remaining. It was a bona fide miracle that turned Owen Field and Memorial Stadium into one big madhouse for a full 15 minutes after the final gun. Visiting with Arnold years later and having him explain the last drive with a twinkle in his eye was icing on the cake. Jim Weatherall’s crucial miss of the extra point that would have tied the game 28-28 made many misty-
eyed, especially when the big tackle came off the field crying and Bud put his arm around him on the sideline while the crowd cheered Weatherall and resigned itself to defeat. OU had other ideas. Forcing a punt, the Sooners got the ball back on their 31 and went to work, with no margin for error. Arnold hit passes to Billy Vessels, Heath, and Tommy Gray. Everyone did his job. Afterward, fans threw things, including a cushion that landed near my grandmother’s feet outside the stadium and sounded like a linebacker meeting a fullback. The thud startled us for a moment, but then we were smiling again — OU had found glory.
Silver anniversary celebrated all season long with Sooners By Sylvia Sawyer Norman
On June 4th, 1997, we celebrated our 25th. My husband, Tony, wanted to do something very special and suggested we take our first cruise. We were emerging from a long recession and, although a cruise sounded wonderful, I was reluctant to charge so much to our credit card. I suggested this alternative: We
were big OU fans and held season tickets but were unable to afford any away games — why not go to all the away games. We could travel, have fun and continue to celebrate our anniversary. Our 16 year old daughter responded — "Mom, only YOU would chose football over a cruise" and shook her head. Well, that season under Blake didn't turn out so well. We loved going to Chicago to
play Northwestern at historic Soldier Field, but we lost. Our trip to Lawrence was quite interesting in that we traveled by bus with other Sooner fans, but we lost that one also. We enjoyed going to Dallas and the state fair but once again suffered another loss to that team from Austin. I won't mention how badly we lost to Nebraska — suffice it to say, I lost any remaining hope of ever
fielding a Top 10 team that day and started grieving for the loss of something truly special that had meant so much to me. We chose not to go to the San Diego State game due to the cost of travel — we lost that one, too. Our final game was in Lubbock. On the way we stopped at Palo Duro Canyon and then in Lubbock had our picture taken at the Buddy Holly statue. At lunch before the game I started
to cry, trying to explain to Tony that I didn't think I could bare to watch us lose another game. His response: “Sylvia, it's just a football game.” Well, to everyone's surprise OU won! We went down on the field and Tony took my picture with Stephan Alexander, our TE from Chickasha. Yes, indeed, it was a very special way to celebrate our 25th anniversary!
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
5-year-old witnesses history in the making By Buzz Jensen Norman
It was a typical hot August evening in 1956 that I witnessed history in the making. The setting was Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City, and the North All-Stars were about to meet the South All-Stars in the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State football game. I entered the stadium somewhat disappointed because I usually got to watch football games from the sidelines next to my father who was a coach and my hero. The South, I was told, was a heavy favorite to win the game especially since the North squad had experienced a rash of injuries during their practice sessions. The most pressing need for the North was in the backfield. They "It was just two were in need of players, and the coach of the North sought permission from the Coaches Association to pick up a years after the Brown v. Board player, who at the time of All-State selections was ineligible to participate because his high school was not a member of of Education the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. decision to inte- Later that year, his high school, Oklahoma City Douglass, grate schools. It was admitted to the Association. was not the most The new player joined the team on Tuesday and played popular thing to in the game two days later. He had quite an impact on the add a black to outcome of the game. In the second quarter, he broke that dynasty. He loose on a 23 yard gain to stake the North to a 7-0 halftime lead. (Coach Bud The second half began with the South kicking off, and Wilkinson) was this new addition to the team ran the kick back 90 yards for the elixor of a touchdown. This touchdown sealed the victory for the opportunity for North All-Stars, and the final score was 33-9. me." This new running back for the team, with only two days of practice, was named the most valuable back in the game. Prentice Gautt, Football fans know this player as Prentice Gautt, the first as quoted by African-American to play in an All-State game and the first Kevin Flaherty African-American athlete at the University of Oklahoma. Gautt later led the Sooners in rushing for two years, was source: an Academic All-American, and MVP in the 1959 Orange http://web.ku.edu Bowl. He played in the NFL for seven years, became an assistant coach at the University of Missouri, and an academic counselor and counseling psychologist with his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri. In 1979, Gautt joined the staff of the Big Eight Conference and then the Big 12 Conference as an associate commissioner. In 1999, the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents named the athletic student life center after him. You might wonder why a 5-year-old boy from Claremore, Oklahoma, would remember this game. The answer is very simple. The coach who recruited Prentice Gautt for that historic game was Lester “Bear” Jensen, an Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame Coach, who is my hero and my father.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Fan going strong after more than 70 years Zee Howell became an OU football fan in 1938 and remains one today. He’s seen the game change much over the years, everything from the fans to the stadium to the ticket prices. The changes haven’t kept him away, though. This season-ticket holder arrives each Friday before the game to tailgate in his RV by the duck
ponds. (For the unitiated, tailgating starts with the Friday noon whistle.) “Tailgating is a big part of it,” Howell said. “It makes a good, long weekend of it.” Hear more of Howell’s story online at: www.normantranscript.com/glorydays.
Being Oklahoma’s football coach isn’t easy. Barry Switzer knows something about that. He guided the Sooners to three national championships (1974, 1975 and 1985) and a dozen Big 8 Conference titles. He shared some memories on video.
In his early teens, Steve Owens and his family would make the long drive from Miami to Norman to watch Oklahoma play. When he goes to games now often he has to pass by a statue in his honor commemorating the Heisman Trophy he won in 1969.
— Aaron Wright Gray, The Transcript
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
Ice Bowl: Bedlam 1985 Only heartiest of souls No fair-weather fans, these saw the game to its end By Ivanell Meek Norman
By Ragan Harris Norman
In 1985, my friend Bob and I went to the OU vs. OSU game in Stillwater, which was either the third or fourth of December at 6 p.m. I drove to Stillwater on Friday without checking the weather forecast, and brought only a trench coat. When I woke up on Saturday and looked out the window, I found it was gray and overcast, with a light drizzle. This prompted to me turn on the TV, and checkout the forecast. Which, to my alarm, included freezing rain and sleet, and 20 degrees Fahrenheit at game time. Realizing that I was inadequately prepared for such conditions, I went to T.G.&Y., with my girlfriend, who lived in Stillwater. She had a ticket to the game, but being more intelligent than Bob ( who drove from Norman on Saturday) and I, decided that perhaps watching the game on ESPN was a better idea, than attending in person. I bought every stitch of extra clothing I could possibly hope to fit on my body, plus large clear pieces of plastic, generally used for painting. I knew we were in trouble, when there was no one to take our ticket at the gate. We simply walked in! When I attempted to walk up the ramp, I found it was frozen over, and I had to pull myself up by the rail. Surprisingly there appeared to be about 30,000 people there, about 20,000 in orange, and 10,000 in red. The first quarter wasn’t bad, but in the second quarter the freezing rain and sleet came down in earnest, and the temperature plunged. We pulled out the plastic sheets, and about 10 seconds later we heard these voices behind us, asking if they “could get under the plastic with us.” We said, “of
course, as there was plenty of room,” they also brought two extra pairs of hands, to keep the plastic from blowing away in the wind. About five minutes later, my glasses started to freeze, like the windshield of a car. I spent most of the second quarter asking Bob, “who has the ball & what’s happening.” I was ready to go back to my girlfriend’s house, and watch the game on TV, but Bob said, “we have to stay, as we’ll be bragging about this the rest of our lives” and he was right, I’m still bragging about it 25 years later. At the half, I went to the restroom, and was able to thaw my glasses out, and fortunately the precipitation had stopped. When I returned from thawing my glasses out, I noticed something interesting, most of the orange was gone, while most of the red was still in place. The OSU band was completely gone, while many hardy volunteers from the OU band remained. The OU contingent spent the second half chanting, “we’re still here” at the OSU football team, who had to think they were on the road. OU won 13 to 0, and went on to win the National Championship. Bob and I stayed until the last minute, and then walked across the street to call my girlfriend, and ask for a ride home. When I reached a pay phone at a convenience store, and attempted to call, I found I was unable to remember the phone number, which I had called three to four times a week for the last year. I had to borrow the phone book and look it up. After I thawed out, it occurred to me, I had been the victim of hypothermia, which can impair memory and cognitive function. I have been telling this story to everyone who would listen, to this day. And, have heard from several members of my family, that the story was interesting the first 10 times they heard it, but the last 100 times were getting a bit boring!!!
My husband and I have been OU season football ticket holders for 38 years. We’ve seen many exciting games in Norman, Texas and Stillwater. However, the “Ice Bowl” on Nov. 30, 1985, at Stillwater, will always be the one we talk about the most. Never have so many harsh weather conditions come together in one game!! Lightening, freezing rain, ice, wind and bitter cold were the fare for the evening game. The stands were almost empty by half-time because people had taken shelter under the stadium. By this time the ramps were so icy that the people couldn’t get back up to their seats from under the stadium. The band had to leave at the beginning of the second quarter, because the members of the wind section's lips were freezing to their instruments. My husband, our two friends and I
continued to sit and shiver on ice covered bleachers. The rain felt like icy needles hitting our faces. One woman actually stuck to the metal bleachers (don’t ask WHY she stuck .... well, she couldn't make it to the restroom.) We poured hot Toddy on her to loosen the ice. Seriously. In the third quarter a photographer came around and took all of our pictures. He couldn't believe people had stayed. We were definitely NOT fair weather fans. The memories of this game have outlasted the picture that he took. We can’t find it after it sitting on my husband’s desk for all these years. OU won with a score of 13-0. When the game was all over and our hot toddy was all gone, we realized we had stayed the whole game in the end zone. There was absolutely no one in the 50 yard line seats and no reason for us to be in the beggar seats.
Boomer Sooner Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner Boomer Sooner, OK U!
Oklahoma, Oklahoma Oklahoma, Oklahoma Oklahoma, Oklahoma Oklahoma, OK U!
I’m a Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die, I’ll be Sooner dead Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma Rah Oklahoma, OK U!
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THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
Notre Dame crushed some dreams By Jeff Tidwell Norman
It was a cool cloudy day that Nov. 16, 1957. Notre Dame was here to play the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners were riding a 47-game winning streat that, ironically, began in South Bend with a big OU win over the Fighting Irish. OU fans, sports writers, odds-makers all just knew that OU would win number 48. Most were predicting a rout. Notre Dame came to play and play they did — DEFENSE. The Sooners, too, came to play — DEFENSE. Coach Wilkinson’s famous “Split T” got OU inside the Notre Dame five yard line on four separate occasions. The Sooner fans were straining with the team to punch it in. Crowd noise was deafening. OU failed all four “goal to go” times. Notre Dame had scouted OU’s option plays, and try as the Sooners did, Terry Brennan’s Irish did not yield. Even today, that cold November Sat-
urday is talked about. OU fans talk about how stunned they were at the outcome. Both defenses were exhausted. Penalties cost OU one score, but that was not an excuse. Time and again the Sooners outdistanced Notre Dame. As the game drew to a close, Notre Dame scored on a simple shovel pass to their running back from inside the 10-yard line. TD: Notre Dame. With seconds left in the game, OU tried desperation passes to know avail. Final: Notre Dame, 7; OU, 0 I still remember that; 65,000 fans stood in silence — you could have heard a pin drop. We could not believe what had happened. Notre Dame stopped our win streak, dashed our third-straight National Championship and derailed Clendon Thomas’s first-team All-American hopes. Yet the fans of the Crimson and Cream watched their beloved Sooners go the balance of the season victorious. It is not surprising that OU just doesn’t like Notre Dame.
Clendon Thomas Clendon Thomas was named a consensus AllAmerican in 1957. He led the Sooners in scoring during both 1956 and '57, also leading the nation in the category during the 1956 season. He was a key to Oklahoma's national titles in both 1955 and '56. With his nine touchdowns during his senior season, Thomas set the three-year scoring record at the University of Oklahoma. Against Notre Dame in 1956, Thomas returned a Paul Hornung pass for a touchdown. The two-time all-conference selection was drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1958. Source: www.crimsonandcreammachine.com
A little savvy saves the day By Dave Henry Back when newspaper budgets were a tad more generous, I returned home to cover a couple of OU home games every season. I covered the Oct. 28, 2000, game against Nebraska. It was hardly the Game of the Century, but it marked the return to prominence of the Sooners as OU upset the top-ranked Huskers, 31-14. It also marked a great career move, personally. Writers are generally allowed on the field in the final minutes of a game. When it became apparent the Sooners were going to pull off a monumental upset, fans began congregating in the south end zone area, preparing to storm the field and tear down the goal post. Seeing what was coming, I retreated
Dave Henry was a 1991 OU grad, 1986 Moore High alum, student intern for The Transcript and currently is Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News assistant sports editor.
early to the media room. Smart move. A few of Norman’s finest peppersprayed revelers in the end zone and near the sideline, creating a mini-fracas. I don’t remember whether the goal post survived, but by beating an early exit, I avoided shedding tears unrelated to the joy of victory. There were more than a few Sooners fans that can’t say the same.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Revelers put fear in hearts of travelers who lost their way By Jeff Tidwell Norman
It was the Friday night before the OU-Texas game in 1956 in downtown Dallas; the celebrations were at their peak. The crowds were getting larger and louder. Meanwhile, there was an elderly couple from Georgia that got confused when driving east on U.S. 80. They got turned around at the traffic circle at U.S. 80 and Harry Hines Boulevard. The driver took Harry Hines into downtown Dallas. When they drove into the crowds at Main and Akard, these people from Georgia couldn’t believe what they drove into. They were frightened and didn’t know how to get out of downtown.
The noise, the riotous activity they witnessed, their confused and surprised state of mind made the couple think there was but one thing to do — call the police. The husband did just that — he told the Dallas Police Department, “I want to report a riot.” He reported people were yelling and screaming, calling others names — some were saying they would “kill ’em tomorrow.” The police responded and told the passers-through that this is OU-Texas weekend. The police dispatched a car to these poor, uneducated souls and escorted them out of town, much to the relief of the strangers from Georgia. PS: OU, 40; Texas, 0
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
Big gamble hinges on timing and faith By Andy Rieger Transcript Executive Editor
The big game with Nebraska was coming and the Sooners of 2000 were looking like national championship candidates. Nebraska, ranked No. 1, would be a formidable opponent. It was Bob Stoops’ second season and expectations were high. The idea for a special post-game Saturday edition came from our circulation manager Dealton Brown. In a Transcript staff meeting, he said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the Sooners beat Nebraska and became No. 1, and we put out a paper that people could take home right after the game.” Then, he mentioned something that caught my attention. “Maybe we could get a paper to Lee Corso who would hold it up just as OU was winning.” It was a challenge for both the sports department, the circulation department and advertisers. The plan was to have the paper ready to go with everything but the front page done. Merchants bought ads with the promise that they wouldn’t publish or pay unless OU won. In the press box, sports editor Justin Harper had the toughest assignment. He was to write a story at half time with the Sooners winning the game. He described how play was progressing at the half. He described the significance of beating Nebraska and how it would propel OU to No. 1. It had everything but the final score, 31-14. Our photo staff took shots during the first half and transmitted them back to the office where a crew built the page with the “No. 1.” In the third quarter, with the Sooners leading. Publisher David Stringer and I were in the stands but called to give the go-ahead to start the press with the “No. 1” edition. Circulation employees were to take the
bundles and be ready to deliver them to vendors and put them in news racks. They were to listen to Bob Barry on the radio to make sure OU really won the game as we said they did. (I could just envision Nebraska coming back in the fourth quarter and winning with our “No. 1” keepsake edition on the streets. It would be one of those “Dewey Defeats Truman” collectibles that would be talked about in journalism classes for the next century.) My two daughters and their friends sold them on the sidewalks near the stadium. The papers were flying out of the racks. We printed 5,000 of them but we could have sold another 20,000. One employee’s job was to take a bundle of papers and meet one of sportswriters at the pressbox elevator with about five minutes left in the game. He handed the bundle off and just minutes before it ended, the “No. 1” papers were handed to all of the sportswriters, broadcasters and others in the pressroom. And just as our circulation manager predicted, Lee Corso held up a paper on national television and said, “The Norman Transcript just put out a special edition. The Sooners truly are No. 1.” It was just as we planned. Fans were holding the papers up on the field as the game ended. It had certainly happened before but usually at larger newspapers. But The Transcript press is six blocks from the stadium. If anyone could pull it off, we could do it. The Sooners went on to win a national championship by beating Florida State 132 in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Ruf Neks offered up a wild and wooley ride By David Boren, president University of Oklahoma
From the earliest days of my childhood, I have been a believer in “Sooner Magic.” Beginning when I turned 5, my father and I went to all of the OU home football games in fair weather, heat, cold, rain or snow. Some of those years included Bud Wilkinson’s 47 game unmatched winning streak. Billy Vessels was my childhood hero and I always said that I would be “Billy” when we played touch football in our front yard. Alas, my playing bore no resemblance to his! Billy would later be a friend and an adviser when I became OU’s president. Over the years there have been many wonderful moments involving OU football. I was so confident that Bob Stoops would be a great coach that I foolishly accepted the invitation of the Ruf Neks to ride in the Sooner Schooner after the first touchdown of the Stoops Era in 1999. The Ruf Neks, of course, lied about how fast they would take the corners. I
promised myself that if I survived, I’d never take that ride again! Perhaps my fondest memory is the victory over Texas in 2000 in the Cotton Bowl. The 63-14 victory was the highest score for the winner up to that time. We all knew that the great OU football tradition had been revived. President George Lynn Cross, my friend and mentor, was known to dismiss classes after a great victory. I was so excited that I jumped from my seat when the game was over and went straight to the press box. I seized the public address microphone to announce that there would be no classes at OU on Monday. The students were thrilled, but the faculty was furious at losing a class period. I had to promise never to do it again. Since then, the provost has placed me under observation at all OU-Texas games. Would I still do it if I could make the decision all over again? I must confess that I have no regrets. Provided photos It’s a great memory for me as well as Top photo: Jubilant Sooners celebrate at 14-3 victory over Texas on Oct. 6, 2001. Above: President David for the students of 2000-2001. Boomer Boren holds on for a ride in the Sooner Schooner. Sooner!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
They played when the game was young By Joe Merkle Norman
My father, John Arthur Merkle, graduated from OU in 1906. He just played in one football game in 1903 against Kansas. A Kansas player broke Dad's nose with his elbow and his mother wouldn't let him play anymore. Dad’s two older brothers (Joe Merkle and Fred Merkle) played beginning the second year the university played football in 1896. Uncle Joe played five years and Uncle Fred played four years and they never attended the University. In those days players were recruited from the farms and in town and didn’t have to be enrolled in the University to be on the football team. Dad said that a farmer just west of us (we lived on Main St. where Carriage Plaza is today) played 5 years and he never attended the University. I would like to know when the University started requiring that the players had to be enrolled in order to play football. I credit my grandfather (John Merkle) with starting the ambulance service for the football team. Whenever OU played an out-of-state team, he would meet the train that OU players were returning on with a team of horses and a wagon load of straw in case they were injured. The players didn't have uniforms or helmets in the beginning until Uncle Joe
The 1896 Sooners: Top row, second from left, the elder Joe Merkle. Bottom row, touching the ball, Fred Merkle. Photo provided by family had a Norman harnessmaker build him a helmet out of harness leather. Most of the other players grew a heavy head of hair to protect their heads. Grandmother (Priscilla Merkle) had a woman in town make a pair of padded pants for Uncle Joe, but she put so much padding in them that Uncle Joe couldn't bend his knees.
“This was my dad’s banner The OU hasn’t really changed that much over the years, I guess.” — Joe Merkle
“Now, I didn’t go to OU. I was an Aggie. There were two reasons I chose to go to Oklahoma State. One, I wanted to study agriculture. The other ... I didn’t want to take a foreign language. At that time, you could still get a degree at State without taking a foreign language. You couldn’t at OU.” — Joe Merkle
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
That first game remains special By Phil Cotten Norman
I could write a book, and may do so some day, on my 38 years experience as a police officer working OU football games. The many experiences have been both good and not so good. I remember the days when officers wore helmets, not for a potential riot, but for protection from flying oranges. But my first game to attend is one of my most memorable and special to me. In August of 1969 I received my “greetings” letter from Uncle Sam. At the time I was working at McCall’s Grocery at 301 W. Main in Norman. I also was trying to attend OU but the Draft Board stated I didn’t take enough college hours to keep my college deferment. I had never attended an OU football game although I had lived here most of my life. One of the regular customers at the store was Mrs. Chuck Fairbanks, the head coach’s wife, one of the nicest ladies I have ever met. She found out I was about to be drafted into the U.S. Army and asked me to be her guest
at an upcoming game. Since I always worked on Saturdays I asked O.T. McCall if I could take off for the game. He said he guessed it would be alright. I took off work at noon on the game day she selected and walked to the stadium. So I went as Coach Fairbank’s wife’s guest to a game in late September 1969. Fifty Yard Line about 40 rows up on west side. (This was well before the upper deck and suites were constructed). Just being with the wives of several of the coaches and their families was a great experience. I sat by Assistant Coach Galen Hall’s beautiful wife. You talk about an excited lady. The atmosphere was just outstanding. To watch Steve Owens run up and down the field with abandon on his Heisman Trophy season was an added experience I will never forget. From 1972 to this season I have attended nearly every home game as a police officer but that game in September 1969, my first one, as the guest of Mrs. Fairbanks, was very special to me.
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Everybody knows the coach By John Shinn
Transcript Sports Writer
Being Oklahoma’s football coach isn’t easy. No matter how many games and championships are won, expectations can only be met. Surpassing them is impossible. The bar is always going to be set at perfection. Barry Switzer knew the downside when he followed Jim Mackenzie to Oklahoma from Arkansas prior to the 1966 season. But those thoughts were buried deep in the back of his mind. All he could think about was the upside Oklahoma had to offer. “It was a job where you knew you could win,” he said. He proved that in seven seasons as an assistant and was directly illustrated from 1973-88 as OU’s head coach when Switzer guided the Sooners to three national championships (1974, 1975 and 1985) and a dozen Big 8 Conference
titles. His .837 winning percentage (157-29-4) still ranks as the best in the modern era. To the Sooners’ large and passionate fan base, he’s never been thought of as some of the coaching legends that preceeded him. Alabama fans still revere the late Paul “Bear” Bryant. Ohio State fans still pay homage to the late Woody Hayes. But those coaching legends were known for their gruff exterior and fierce competitive drives that turned every Saturday into a war. Switzer’s success endeared him to Sooner fans. But it was his personality that put him over the top. Sooner fans have always felt like they’ve known him on a first-name basis. They grew to love his big smile, hearty laugh and friendly nature.
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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Chinstrap-nabbing takes boys from OU fans to family Editor’s note: Tracy Veal made a shadow box for her nephew, Gray Ringer. The box included a chinstrap from 1963 and this story. By Tracy Veal Norman
Back in the early 1960s, my brothers, Monte and Mark, would go to the OU football games to cheer on our older brother, Ron Harmon, and all the other OU football players. You see, they were all heroes to us. Monte was in junior high and Mark and I were in grade school at the time. The most fun for Monte and Mark was to wait after the game was over and
snatch a chinstrap that belonged to one of their heroes. This particular game happened to be OU vs. Clemson, 1963. WOW! They were proud to get the chinstrap of Mike Ringer. In all the years that have passed, my brothers have saved that box of chinstraps, moving them with each move of their life. We are now passing this treasure to Mike’s grandson, Gray Ringer. We hope it will bring you as much joy as it did to us. Little did I know that one day, Mike Ringer would become my brotherin-law. What a cool thing.
We have been loyal Sooner fans since 1960, missing only two home games in fifty years. This is how it all started. After serving four years in the Navy, my wife and I decided it was time to try life on the outside. I left the submarine in Key West, Fla., and we moved to Wichita, Kansas. I had a job with Boeing and my wife was working at St. Joseph Hospital as a medical technologist. Life was great.
The best play ever? A 90-yard return for a TD By Robert Ferrier Norman
FYI On Sept. 21, 1963, OU took on Clemson at Owen Field. The Sooners, under the leadership of famed coach, Bud Wilkinson, won 31-14 before a crowd of 62,034 fans. That year, the Sooners fell only twice, on Oct. 12 to Texas, 7-28, and on Nov. 23 to Nebraska, 20-29. That 1963 season was Wilkinson’s last with the Sooners.
Devotion to the crimson started with one red light By Bennie Ellis
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Then Boeing had a large “lay off” and I was included. We decided I needed to return to school and get my degree. My choice of college would be dependent on my wife securing employment in that city. She had interviews at Central State Hospital in Norman and Stillwater Hospital in Stillwater. When we got to Norman, the vacancy they expected at Central State was not available so we started to Stillwater. We went down Main to Porter (old 77) , turned right and were headed
out of town. At the corner of Porter and Johnson we stopped for a red light and saw a sign the said, Norman Municipal Hospital one block east. I asked my wife if she wanted to check it out and she said “Why not.” She went in, applied for a job, and was accepted for employment in the laboratory (where she worked for 36 years). That's how our life started in Norman. The point of this story is: If that light had been green, we probably would have been “Aggies.” Perish the thought.
Some memories span half a century. In October 1958, Idabel hosted the Hugo Buffaloes in a Little Dixie grudge match. With 30 seconds left in a scoreless game, the PA announcer crowed that the Warriors would win on penetrations inside the 20. (Overtime did not exist.) Idabel had the ball on our 10-yard line. They could take a knee and win. Instead, their coach called a slow-developing play — an end around. Playing left outside linebacker, I slapped my shoulder pads and prayed. The end peeled back, took a handoff from the quarterback and ran laterally. Our left tackle, Vaughan Patterson, grabbed him by one arm and slung him like a rag doll. The end panicked and dumped a pass wildly into our secondary. I took the wounded duck at eye level and sprinted up the sideline. The fleet Warrior quarterback would surely run me down, but fate intervened. Our cornerback, the late Claude Griggs — boyhood friend and neighbor — ran by and blocked him. I saw 90 yards of green.
The best OU football play I ever witnessed At Owen Field on November 13, 1982, OU halfback Marcus Dupree took a handoff on the OU 30-yard line, bulled over defender Raymond Hairston, then outran the Tiger secondary to score, putting OU ahead 35-14 in an ultimate 41-14 win. The run displayed Dupree’s freakish combination of power and speed on the same play. — Robert Ferrier
As I sprinted past the Idabel bench, I heard an epithet. Seconds later I crossed the goal line, bent over and gasped for air. We won 6-0 on a 90-yard run in the closing seconds. The next week my parents showed me the Oklahoma City Times. Sports writer Ray Soldan had named me Oklahoma Lineman of the Week, at 5’8” and 158 pounds, the smallest player ever selected.
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Summer surprise: A visit from “Boz” By Hayden McCasland Norman
On a hot summer day in June of 1986, I received a call at work from my wife who was almost out of breath telling me that I needed to get home as fast as I could because she had just gotten a call from our neighbor, Coach Jim Donnan who lived two doors down. She said that Coach Donnan wanted to bring up a football player who was dropping by his house with Coach John Blake to visit a few minutes with our children Jennifer and Joe. The player’s name was Brian “Boz” Bosworth! Needless to say my wife, Jean, could hardly talk from excitement as the “Boz” was a favorite player of hers. It seems that Jean had often seen Coach Donnan and his wife in their front lawn in the evenings and visited a lot with them as they were friends and neighbors. Jean would often teasingly ask Coach Donnan to bring Boz by to visit if he ever came by his house. Well, she should have remembered the adage “be careful what you ask for as it just may happen.” Well, indeed it did that day. It was late in the afternoon, so I left work and drove home. I had
just gotten there and was listening to my excited kids and wife as they were preparing for the special visit! Not long after I had gotten home and started to relax a bit the kids started yelling “here he comes” as they both looked out of our dining room window. Soon the doorbell rang and Coach Donnan and Boz were standing there on our front porch! The excitement reached a very high peak. The guys came in and Coach Donnan introduced Boz to us all and politely excused himself as he said he had to meet with Coach Blake who was waiting for him at home. Well, Boz put on his best act and became very animated to the kids and signed posters, Tshirts and other football items. He took our son under his arm and gave him a “pep” talk about playing football. He then signed our daughter, Jennifer’s, shirt, posters in her room and visited for about 20 minutes posing for some pictures before saying goodbye. The kids will never forget the “visit” and I’m sure mom won’t either. This was a special visit for an avid Sooner football family of fans! This all happened on the Norman avenue named for the great Coach Barry Switzer! Pure coincidence? Most likely not. This is our football story.
Out of defeat rises life of happiness By Benton Ladd Norman
Transcript photo by Kyle Phillips
Calvin is a game-day icon If you’ve ever driven through the area from Gray to Lindsey west of Porter, you’ve probably seen Calvin Steves. Calvin has been selling The Norman Transcript for more than 38 years. Game days for Calvin are particularly ... lucrative. “On game days, I sell 300 papers,” this Norman staple said. “I usually sell out.” In addition to selling his papers, Calvin enjoys a degree of status among the tailgaters around the
stadium. On game day, there are plenty of people who watch out for Calvin. “They let me park my wagon nearby and when I get hungry, they feed me,” Calvin said. When asked if someone else could sell as many papers on game day, his answer was simple. “Nope. Everyone will tell you ‘I buy my papers from Calvin.’” — Debra A. Parker, The Transcript
Boy’s Boz cut was the boss By Brenda Graham Norman
When my son, Justin Moss, turned 5 years old in 1985, Brian “Boz” Bosworth was all the rage. Justin wanted nothing more than to be just like the Boz. So for his birthday, I took him to the same hair stylist that was cutting the Boz’s hair and stopped on the way home to have Justin’s
photograph made. A few weeks later the stylist arranged to have the Boz autograph Justin's photographs. Not long afterward, I ran into Coach Barry Switzer and he also autographed the photos for me. Needless to say, I had one very happy little “Sooner” boy! This has been a special Sooner memory for our family.
As a member of the 1957 OU football team, I have memories of the 1957 football game with Notre Dame that spanned the spectrum of emotions from high expectations of winning against an old, but much respected foe, to the doldrums of despair and defeat. On a beautiful November fall afternoon, Notre Dame had beaten OU! It was the loss that broke the longest winning streak in NCAA football history, a 47-game winning streak. I still remember the crowd of fans standing in the stands in quiet disbelief of what had just happened. No one wanted to leave. However, amid the great disappointment of losing the game, all was not lost. That night at a dinner party with fellow football players and their dates at Jack Sussy’s Restaurant, I asked my girlfriend, Juhree Gardner, to marry me. She accepted, and later that evening I gave her an engagement ring. We were married on June 27, 1958. The darkness of defeat changed to the brightness of happiness and hope for the future. After three children and five grandchildren, that hope for the future is 52 years and holding!
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
Every era has that single 3 months, $15 bucks. . .AND defining moment By Clay Hornig The Transcript
If you grew up in the ’50s, one era of Sooner football reigns supreme. If you grew up in the ’70s, it’s another. If you’re in your 20s or, yegads, a teenager brave enough to read a newspaper, it’s the Stoops era. For some, their greatest Sooner memory is nothing they ever saw, but the voice of John Brooks, screaming “Gemini Christmas” in full throttle, how else to describe the piles Joe Washington would enter, get lost within, then re-emerge, running toward the end zone? But if you saw it, on television or inside the stadium, over the course of the Stoops era, one play stands above the rest. One play, even if you’ve never really thought about it until today, must go down as the latter-day Sooners’ greatest moment. Of course, it came in 2000, the season of the Sooners’ most unlikely national championship. It was Oct. 28. Down 14-7 in the second quarter, Josh Heupel dropped back to pass and threw deep over the middle … to who? Isn’t that the way you remember it? Heupel dropped back, set his feet let fly over the middle where, somehow, every player on both teams appeared to be milling around in the secondary. Yet as the ball began it’s descent, here Curtis Fagan came running out of the traffic, catching it in absolute stride, running across the goal line as it settled in his hands. Just like the whole season came out of nowhere, Fagan came out of nowhere. The touchdown tied the game but Nebraska was done the moment Fagan caught the ball. The No. 1 team in the land, the Huskers, scored on their first two drives, almost like the Sooner defense had remained in Manhattan, Kan., site of the middle chapter of the three-game set that
later was tabbed Red October, and yet here was OU, clearly winning the game with the tying touchdown. One play. One moment. An entire season within. It tied the game, but it was 24-14 by the half, the Sooners reaping all but seven of their 31 points in the second quarter. It closed out Red October, a run that began with a 63-14 who’d-have-thunk-it wallop of No. 11 Texas, then turned to Kansas State, where the Sooners outlasted the No. 2 Wildcats 41-31, then finally came home to Owen Field, where a college football nation nostalgically went back in time in high-anticipation of No. 3 OU vs. No. 1 Nebraska. Heupel’s throw and Fagan’s catch, which led to victory, also led the Sooners back atop the polls for the first time since Barry Switzer roamed the sideline. Once back atop the mountain, they would not be knocked off. OU came back to beat Texas A&M on Torrance Marshall’s interception return, maybe the No. 2 play of the Stoops era, two weeks later. Two weeks after that, Derrick Strait broke up a pass on the last play of the game to finish Oklahoma State 12-7. Seven days after that, the Sooners survived Kansas State a second time, 2724, at what might be the best of all the Big 12 title games. Finally, made 13-point dogs, OU shut down Florida State 13-2 at the Orange Bowl, back before the BCS title game stood alone. The Sooners are still trying to match it, still trying to go back to the title game and win, still trying to claim their eighth national championship. They may yet. But the signature play of the Stoops era? Already happened, when Curtis Fagan caught a 34-yard pass from Josh Heupel 10:52 before the half. It tied things up and ushered in an era.
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Jack Duncan, OU student 1971-74, lives in Amarillo, Texas, where he is a sports copy editor for the Amarillo Globe-News.
‘Game of Century’ beats turkey any day By Jack Duncan Amarillo, Texas
I missed my family’s Thanksgiving dinner in 1971. Why? I had a student ticket to one of the many games labeled by the media over the years as the “Game of the Century.” No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 2 Oklahoma. On the line? Big Eight championship and possible national championship. I lived in an upstairs apartment on Page Street just off Jenkins, so I was close to the electric atmosphere created by the arrival of ABC and other media. The weather was ideal for walking, and that was welcomed because motorists looking for parking spots made getting out of any driveway near the stadium next to impossible. The game? It lived up to the hype. Johnny Rodgers’ punt return for a Husker TD, featuring the alleged clipping penalty that wasn’t called, remains a topic of debate. The Sooners, down by 11 In the second half, rallied behind the late, great Jack Mildren to a three-point lead. But like champions do, the Cornhuskers kept their poise during a fourth-quarter drive. “Nebraska 35, Oklahoma 31” goes into my book as the greatest sports event I’ve witnessed as a fan and a journalist. Just how significant was this game on the national stage? After the bowl games, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado finished 1-2-3 in The Associated Press rankings. That’s the only time in the 76-year history of the poll one conference has claimed the top three spots. Oh, about Thanksgiving — an abundance of good food awaited when I got home to Tulsa County that Thursday night.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Runner marvels at silence of empty stadium By Brent Harris Norman
Probably unlike most Sooner football stories, my story has to do with the summer not the fall, and with an empty stadium not one filled with cheering fans. When I was a student at Norman High School in the early ’60s, I was on the basketball team. In those days one way to keep in shape in the summer was to go to Memorial Stadium (Owen Field) and run the stadium steps. I did so with some
regularity, and on one particular summer Saturday I went to the stadium a little before noon. When I got through running, I went back to the large cyclone fence gate on the west side where I had entered the stadium. As I approached the gate, I saw that it and all the other gates I could see were locked. I guessed that since it was Saturday, the business offices in the stadium must have closed at noon right after I came into the stadium. Whoever locked the gates
probably never thought to look inside the stadium. I walked all the way around the under side of the stadium looking for someone or some way out. I found no one and no way. As I continued my search, I was beginning to feel a little concerned about how I was going to get out, but I primarily had an odd, slightly exhilarating feeling of being alone in the silence of such a celebrated place known for roaring crowds and great athletic spectacles. At long last on the southwest
side of the stadium where the home locker rooms used to be, I noticed that a fence pole placed right against the stadium wall went directly over a tall window in the wall. By climbing a few feet up the fence, I got into the window indention in the wall, squeezed around the pole, and jumped down on the other side of the fence and to freedom. Although I might be the only person ever locked inside Memorial Stadium, I’m sure my desire to get out has been shared by many a Sooner opponent over the decades.
Keeping fans healthy Kids pull a fast one to get in to witness historic heart breaker By Harry Hopkins Norman
Ken Farris, a longtime friend and an employee of the University of Oklahoma for over 30 years, was the athletic director at the time. He enlisted me as a volunteer at the OU football games to bring a nurse and set up a place for first aid and lost and found. Kay Harrison and I worked underneath the stairwell for a couple of years until the untimely death of Gomer Jones. At his passing, money poured in to establish a cardiac unit, first aid and lost and found as a memorial to Mr. Jones. The unit was as well equipped as any hospital in the area. I spent 13 great years volunteering at the games. A wonderful gentleman in his late 80s and his son were regular attendees at the games. The first few game were always horribly hot. This kind gentleman was in for about three years in a row needing to cool off and get his second wind before going back to the stands. After the third year, I called his son aside to say how worried I was about his dad. I was afraid he might just die at one of the games. We had a death often through the years that I was there. His son said to me, “Harry, that would be the crowning touch of my dad’s life, for the headline in our local paper to read: Mr. John Jones died at Norman while attending a football game.”
By Judge Doyle Arge Norman
Here is a story about my memories of the 1957 OU/Notre Dame game when Notre Dame beat OU 7-0, snapping our 47 game winning streak. My most memorable experience is not only from the game, but how my friends and I got into the stadium. Bill Long, Tom Edwards and I were approximately 10 years old as we walked to the stadium on Saturday, Nov. 16, 1957, to watch OU play Notre Dame. During that era, students could purchase a ticket for $1 to sit in the bleachers in the south endzone. However, we found that OU had sold all tickets for the game and thus no student tickets were available. We explored all options trying to get into the stadium, including a method we had used in the past of climbing the approximate 10- to 15-foot high chain link fence that ran the entire length of the south endzone bleachers. This time though, OU had three guards patrolling the fence, instead of the usual one, and thus there was no chance we could scale the fence and get into the stadium
before being caught. We thought we were out of options as we stood on the north side of the stadium watching people enter, when Bill suddenly told us to follow him. He cut in front of a couple who were entering the stadium, and as he approached the ticket taker, he pointed behind him and said that his parents had his ticket. Tom and I did the same. When the ticket taker asked the man behind us for our tickets, we ran. The security guard who chased us was no match. We ran up a ramp in the northwest corner of the stadium and blended in with the crowd. We watched the security guard come up the ramp and look around for us, before he gave up and went back under the stadium. We made our way to the south endzone where we stood the entire game. We saw Notre Dame make that long drive in the closing minutes, to win the game 7-0, ending OU’s 47 game winning streak. The crowd was stunned and I know I wasn’t alone as I stood there with tears running down my cheeks long after the game was over. I still despise Notre Dame.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
For one Hollis boy, that first time remains alive in memory By Kent Carter Norman
Growing up in Hollis, the heritage of Oklahoma football was a common topic of conversation. After all, we were the home of football players like Darrell Royal, Leon (Mule Train) Heath, Leon Manley, J.W. Cole and Bill Colvin (5 of the 11 starters in 1949), Ted Owens and Bill Cummins in basketball and Sprout Seddon in track. When my dad announced one night at supper he would be sponsoring the high school football team on a trip to an OU game, I begged to go along. It was the chance of a lifetime to watch the boys we listened to on
the radio each Saturday in the fall. The night of Nov. 16, 1962, crept along with anticipation of the adventure planned for the next day. We arose early and met the team at the school to board a school bus for the trip to Norman. The drive went quickly as I listened to the big boys talk about football, the fall cotton harvest and girls. We arrived in Norman midmorning on the clear, crisp day. As we walked on the south oval of the campus, I wondered how so many mums could grow in one place. I was surprised to hear fans talk about what a hard game it would be against Missouri. The idea of the Sooners being underdogs had not occurred to me.
I learned the visitors had an AllAmerican end named Conrad Hitchler who would be hard to contain. (I have visited with Conrad the past two times Missouri has played in Norman. He remains an imposing, yet gracious, figure.) We entered Owen Field during warm ups and took our seats in the south bleachers. The red jerseys with white pants and helmets for our Sooners were a stark contrast to the still partially green grass on the field. Bud Wilkinson appeared like royalty in his wool blazer and fedora hat stalking the sidelines. His confident command of the game gave my dad and the other adults a sense of control that impressed
OUcareer full of memories
me. As the game began the Sooners were playing well, and we cheered each play. The wind suddenly picked up and starting blowing from the north directly into our faces. My light jacket was not keeping me warm. As the clouds rolled in, sleet began coming down in waves. My face was numb, and I began to hold my hands over my face between plays. At halftime some of the high school boys left to go sit on the bus. My dad made me go along. I cried to stay, but I think he might have been more afraid to take me home sick than to endure a few of my tears. We listened to the bus radio and cheered as OU won the game
’50s ritual can’t be repeated By Ronnie King
By Lois Gates (Brown) Lenz Norman
After our marriage in New York City, Lew Brown and I returned to OU in 1948. Brunette Shanklin remarked one day that I would be a fine secretary for President George Cross! It was a momentous day for me when I was interviewed and got the job! I had worked at the University of Oklahoma Press for Savoie Lottinville, and in New York at Henry Holt & Co. with Joe Brandt. But Dr. Cross taught me to be an administrator and to trust my intuition! That was when Bud Wilkinson was coach! We adored him! Dr. Cross had a favorite cartoon of a big, swanky car that belonged to the football coach, and a little sedan that belonged to the president of the University. We had just installed pale green carpet in the president's offices, when OU beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Monday morning it rained, and I was alerted to the fact that a huge contingent of the study body was coming down the North Oval, celebrating and intent on asking for a school holiday. I went into Dr. Cross’ office and waited until he looked up. I told
him that half the students were on the way to see him. He took his pipe out of mouth and calmly said, “Well, tell them to wipe their feet.” I must add a story about attending a football game. Before it started, we were sitting up in the bleachers when Phelps Manning, a good friend, saw a fellow student far below whose nickname was Bugs. Phelps began calling his name — which was picked up and amplified by all of the students in the stands! It got his attention, and he looked up in amazement! It was a spontaneous action, which I have always remembered fondly. It was a time of football heroics, with Darryl Royal, a wonderful team, outstanding coach and a revered president. An anecdote about his wife, Cleo Cross, who asked me once, “Lois, are you Greek?” I responded drily, “No. I'm English, Irish and German.” We had a good laugh over it. I am 83 now, and those years are treasured! I still get excited with our football team! Friends and family know NEVER to call me during an OU football game! It is good to be home once more!
13-0. My dad, the coaches, and the rest of the players climbed on the bus with red faces and wet clothes. They commented about how cold it got in the second half of the game. The ride home was filled with satisfaction. The experience helped my dad and me to connect on a level that has remained long after his death and into my relationship about OU now shared by my own son. It is a magical bond that transcends generations of coaches, players and fans. Although I have seen the Sooners play in many places and in more important games, that first time set the stage for decades of memories and enjoyment.
I grew up in small town Norman, on Brooks Street, just west of Berry Road. During the mid-1950's, in Bud Wilkinson's Golden Era, my father had a “OU Football Game Ritual.” This particular ritual cannot be duplicated in the Norman we know today. Let me tell you why. You see, each Friday evening before a home game, my father would ritually drive one of our two family cars east on Brooks Street, and park it overnight near Owen Field. Hmm, you ask, what's the big deal? Well, here's the kicker. Back in those days, Brooks Street was open to traffic through the heart of OU’s Campus. One could literally drive up to the front doors of Bizzell Library, pass on to Adams Hall, the Zoology Building and the Armory before reaching parallel parking spaces adjacent to Owen Field. Of course, such an excursion cannot be completed nowadays, because the portion of Brooks Street between Elm
Street and Jenkins Avenue was closed decades ago and reconfigured as a campus pedestrian mall. As I mentioned, my father’s ritual was parking overnight on Friday evenings, thereby securing a highly coveted space in front of Owen Field. My mother followed behind and drove him home in our other car. The next morning — OU GAME DAY — my mother chauffeured my father, my older brother, aunts, uncles and friends to be dropped off for the contest at Owen Field. As the game's final gun sounded they'd all scurry to the conveniently parked vehicle, located just steps from their stadium seats. The car-full of fans then cruised a few blocks west on Brooks Street, back to our house where they joined my mother and me for “5th Quarter Food and Socializing.” This is a 1950’s OU Game Day Ritual from my childhood. I will always remember my family, relatives and friends from that era of so many, many years ago.
More Glory Days memories are in Friday’s Transcript.
THE NORMAN TRANSCRIPT
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010
Memoriable day with dad capped by late rally, big win By Mike Gentry Norman
I grew up in Shawnee in the 1950s, and I soon adopted the Oklahoma Sooners as “My” team. I was in awe of their young, articulate coach, Bud Wilkinson, who spoke like a college professor and who coached athletes who almost never lost and who almost always graduated. From 1952, until mid 1957, Oklahoma had lost only 2 games (both to Notre Dame) and tied Colorado. Both were on the home schedule for 1957. In October 1957, my dad, as a special treat, told me he and I would go to the OU-Colorado game. He worked six days a week, but he arranged to take off especially for this game. I had never been to an OU game with Dad before, and going to games was a rare event in my non-sports minded, blue collar family. Colorado was OU’s toughest conference challenge in the 1950’s. They had big, fast players who played Oklahoma down to the wire in each game. I knew this year would be no different. We arrived in Norman full of anticipation. We walked to the stadium across the railroad tracks where the “Football Train” from Oklahoma City had parked and took our seats in the old south end zone wooden bleachers. The game was a cliffhanger. Colorado led 13-7 late in the fourth quarter. My dad got disgusted with OU’s lackluster play, and I defended them. Clendon Thomas ran the kickoff back to midfield, and that ignited the team. When Thomas scored around the end, and Dodd kicked the goal to win the game, I went wild and my dad sat there with a smile on his face. When I take my son to an OU game, my thoughts often go back to that bright fall afternoon so long ago, when hope was dying, but the Boys of Fall found a way. In these hard times, maybe we could take a lesson from them. Thanks for taking off, Dad. Boomer Sooner!