On November 25, 1950, I was in the seventh grade at St. Joseph’s grade school.
It was a Saturday morning and our football team was playing St. Mary’s for the league championship. There were three games every Saturday morning and we were scheduled to play the third game around 11:00 — for all the marbles, a championship.
But let me sidestep this game to mention another game I did not know at the time was being played in Columbus.
Ohio State was playing Michigan at Ohio Stadium for a trip to the Rose Bowl. I am not sure back then that I even knew there was a place called Ohio State. Times were different, and when you grew up in a very German neighborhood you were lucky if you knew what went on past your city block, let alone a Big Ten game of this magnitude.
Two major weather fronts met and the Midwest eventually got around two feet of snow. Michigan won the game 9-3 on a blocked punt 47 seconds before the half. The game was played in a blizzard. The temperature was near zero, and 50,000 fan were there, but who knows how many watched the game.
OSU totaled 46 yards, Michigan 27. There were 45 punts, 10 fumbles, and Michigan did not make a 1st down. Wes Fesler, the OSU coach, lost his job because of that blocked punt on 3rd down and Woody Hayes was hired to take his place.
Michigan went on to beat California in the Rose Bowl. OSU’s back Vic Janowicz, went on to win the Heisman Trophy.
But lets get back to the real game, St. Joe’s vs. St. Mary’s.
By the time we got to the 11 a.m. game — the third of three — the field had almost a foot of snow. There were no goalposts and only one official. This poor man had already officiated two games and I remember he had a slight limp, and a large birthmark on his cheek. For some reason you never forget these things.
I quarterbacked our team and our coach was afraid of fumbling, so I ran the ball two-thirds of the time. By the end of the 1st half, I had snow packed solid inside my uniform. Obviously you could not see any line marker and I recall losing 5 yards and getting a 1st down. I loved that official.
I wrote a book, “My Pal Grubby”, about my best friend who we called Grubby — he always had dirt in his ears from practice. He became the hero of the day. He was not too bright — in fact not able to remember the plays: he had only two, dive into the 2 hole, and get the hell out of the way.
On one of my end runs, I was trapped, ready to get killed. As I looked up, I saw Grubby on the other side of the pack watching me about to get killed. I yelled at him and tossed him the ball. With no goal line visible, I know he ran all the way downtown for the winning touchdown and we took home the championship trophy.
OSU lost, but we won our snow bowl, 6-0!
Tony Lamke of Wilmington writes a periodic column for the News Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.