One of my fondest childhood memories was going to sporting events with my father, uncle and cousin. For many years, our families had season tickets to Dodger baseball and University of Southern California football games.


Our Dodger seats were right off third base, and we would eat peanuts, Carnation chocolate frozen malts and Dodger dogs while watching Don Drysdale or Sandy Kofax pitch. What beats that?


The Day family first started attending USC games long before I was born. In fact, my grandfather started the family's 50-year history as season ticket holders before my father, Larry Day, was born. "Papa," as we called my grandfather, first became a season ticket holder in 1923, when the Coliseum was built.


With his father and siblings, my father attended other sporting events as well. One year, after Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin, my father watched Owens run the sprints and 440-yard relay for Ohio State in a track meet against USC. Later, he saw Earl Meadows and Bill Sefton of USC set a new pole vault world record with a height of 14 feet, 11 inches — while using poles made of bamboo.


On Sundays, they would go to Gilmore Stadium, near where the CBS TV studios are now located, and see Loyola College play football. They also would drive to Wrigley Field, which was located at 42nd Street and Avalon, to see the the Angels of the old Pacific Coast League.


Recently my father, who turned 80 last summer, wrote an 11-page account he titled "Spectator Sports with My Father and Brother" that he shared with a group of Los Angeles gentlemen who gather every month to share talks about L.A. and its history. He passed along a copy of his talk to me, so I thought I'd share some of it with our readers.


"He [my grandfather] would take my older brother, our sister and me to hundreds of events, especially USC football and Rose Bowl games. Going to the games was always exciting for us."


It was seeing the USC games, however, that resonated most with my father. Often the USC teams would earn the privilege to play in the Rose Bowl, which was played every New Year's Day, except on Sundays.


In his written account, my father concentrated on those special Rose Bowl games he attended. Here are some of my father's most memorable games, as told by him:


 


LARRY DAY'S MOST MEMORABLE ROSE BOWL GAMES


1937, Pittsburgh 21, Washington 0 — My father, brother (16), our sister (13), and I (8), went to the game, which was my first. We had good seats, on the sunny east side, below the tunnel level. This was the era of the "single wing" offense, mostly running plays. Passes were only occasional. Pads and helmets were leather. Pitt had an All American running back in Marshall Goldberg, but sprained ankles made him ineffective. Goldberg's back-up had an unforgettable name: Bill Daddio. Daddio ran well, and became the player of the game. Pitt dominated and won, 21 to 0. 


1938 California 13, Alabama 0 — I had a cold and I could not go to the game, so I listened to it on the radio, and Cal beat Alabama 13 to 0. 


1939 USC 7, Duke 3 — This was really unforgettable. We had great seats, west side, backs to the sun, about the 40-yard line. The Duke team wore their home blue uniforms, SC wore their whites.


We knew we were going to see a very good Duke team. Not only was Duke undefeated and untied, but also unscored-upon that season. And, the previous year they were undefeated and untied. 


Duke had a great All-American player in Eric Tipton. He was Duke's everything. On offense, he was the signal-caller, the left half, the passer and the punter. On defense he played safety. Also, he received punts and kickoffs. 


SC had four good left halfbacks in Granny Lansdale, Amby Schindler, Ollie Day (no relation) and Doyle Nave. Joe Shell was a great blocker, and SC had a very good left guard in Harry "Blackjack" Smith. The first half of the game was a punting battle, with Eric Tipton's long punts pushing SC back. In the second half, Duke got close enough to score a field goal. It remained 3–0 until the clock wound down with only a couple of minutes left in the game. SC had the ball near mid-field and took a time out. 


We found out later that the phone communication between the SC bench and the assistant coaches upstairs in the press box was not good, in-and-out, staticy. Upstairs, their job was to call the plays. Down on the bench, those coaches were waiting for the play calls. Upstairs, Braven Dyer, a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, shouted something to the effect that "they ought to PUT IN NAVE, DOYLE NAVE". HE CAN PASS." 


It got through the static. On the bench, someone heard and then mentioned Nave's name to Coach Howard Jones, so Jones ordered 4th-string Doyle Nave into the game. He had hardly played all year.


Nave threw four straight completions, all to the left end, Al Krueger, a USC Junior. In the press, Krueger had the nickname "Antelope Al". This was not because of his speed or jumping ability, but because he was from the Antelope Valley. 


The first pass some gained yardage. But the second completion lost two yards. Time was running out. The third pass gained a little.  With less than a minute to go, the fourth Nave pass went over the outstretched arm of Eric Tipton, and into the hands of Al Krueger, in the end zone. Those were the first points scored against Duke that season, and Duke's first loss in more than two seasons. Eric Tipton had played the entire Rose Bowl game, all 60 minutes. 


The next day, the L.A. Times had a field-level photo, taken from behind the north end zone, which is indelibly etched in my memory.  It shows Tipton, jumping with one arm outstretched, Krueger, jumping, catching the ball in the end zone. Doyle Nave and Al Krueger were the co-players of the game.  


While driving home in the darkness, my dad commented that SC was very fortunate to have been wearing their white uniforms, because as the afternoon gets darker, the passer can see the receiver more clearly in white.  You might keep that thought in mind.


1941 Stanford 21, Nebraska 13 — My favorite football season was the 1940 season in which I saw Stanford and its brand-new T-Formation three times. I was 12. 


The first-year Stanford coach, Clark Shaughnesy, had been an assistant under George Halas with the Chicago Bears in the 1939 season. That year, Halas invented and introduced the T-formation. Shaughnesy left the Bears and brought the T-formation to the Stanford Indians (at the time) for the 1940 season.


Halas had played in the 1919 Rose Bowl with the Great Lakes Navy team that beat the Mare Island Marine team 17 to 0. He scored both touchdowns and drop-kicked the field goal. Later, he became the major owner and coach of the Chicago Bears, and did much to foster the professional game. 


My first view of the Stanford team was early in the season when Stanford beat UCLA at the Coliseum. I remember quarterback Frankie Albert, from Glendale, left handed, crouching down behind the center with his hands in a strange place, and the racy new T-formation that could be very deceptive. Stanford wore all-white uniforms. 


My second view of the Stanford team was when my father and mother agreed that I could drive with my father, just the two of us, to San Francisco, stay in the Mark Hopkins, and drive down to Palo Alto to see USC play at Stanford.


My friend Aubrey Devine, who played in that old Stanford Stadium, used to say that it was, per person, the cheapest football stadium ever built. 


But for the 1940 USC-Stanford game I was excited about the Stadium because we had 50 yard line seats. The reason for the good seats, my dad informed me, was that the tickets were from his good friend Claiborne A. Saint. I called him "Uncle Clay". He was with the R. A. Rowan Real Estate and Insurance firm in Pasadena, and he was, at the time, on the Board of Trustees at the University of Southern California, which accounted for the 50-yard-line tickets.


The game was close, 7–7 when two unusual things occurred. First, a Stanford player, whose name I do not, recall, attempted a field goal by drop-kicking. It missed. I was aware of Halas, and aware of the drop-kick, yet I have never seen it used in a game before or since. 


Second, Stanford set up a classic "stop and go" pass that worked for a 50-yard touchdown. Stanford scored once more, to beat USC 21-7. Needless to say, I had to contain my joy in front of my dad and Uncle Clay.  


The third time I saw Stanford play in that 1940 season was in the 1941 Rose Bowl against Nebraska. Stanford won 21-13. Pete Kmetovic ran for 141 yards and artfully zig-zagged a punt return for a touchdown. He was the Player of the Game. I might add that in the same 1940 season, the Chicago Bears won the NFL championship. The two championships by T-formation teams secured George Halas' invention. It became "the" offense. 


1942 Oregon State 20, Duke 16 — The attack on Pearl Harbor had occurred less than 4 weeks before, and there was fear of Japanese attacks on the West Coast. The game was moved to Duke. Duke was heavily favored, playing the Rose Bowl game at home, and having 9 wins with no losses that season.


Oregon State was 7 and 3, and featured a right-handed left halfback and a left-handed right halfback. It surprised Duke, and Oregon State won, 20 to 16. I remember that three of the Oregon State backfield players were named Dethman, Durdan and Day (no relation). 


1946 Alabama vs. USC — USC had been undefeated in its 8 prior Rose Bowl games. But in this game SC gave up more points than it did in all the prior games combined. Alabama's Crimson Tide rolled over the Trojans, 34–14. 


In September, 1945, just as the football season was starting, World War II was ending. Two weeks after the Alabama-USC game, I was graduated from high school with the class of Winter 1946. Another two weeks after that I entered Yale.


1947 Illinois 45, UCLA 14 — This game was the first in the long-running Rose Bowl series between the best of the Big 10 and the best of the Pacific Coast Conference (as it was then known). 


UCLA was coached by Bert La Brucherie, who had been a player at UCLA and had coached at Los Angeles High School for a dozen years or so, so I knew him.  It was the only Rose Bowl in which I had friends playing, and who had been coached by LaBrucherie in High School.  


We sat on the west side near the north goal line, close to where Al Hoisch, who went to L.A. High, caught a kickoff after an Illinois touchdown and returned it 103 yards for a UCLA touchdown and a Rose Bowl record. It was the only happy UCLA moment of a one-sided game.


As an aside, a few months later in the spring of 1947, when I was at Yale, I saw another great 4-sport athlete like Jackie Robinson. It was Glenn Davis. A Heismann Trophy winner in football at West Point, he also played center field for Army's baseball team. I saw Davis at Yale, in a Yale – Army baseball game.  As I understand it, Glenn Davis remains the only person to earn varsity letters in all four major sports in all of his 4 years at West Point. 16 varsity letters. Jackie Robinson was not able to achieve that, for he had attended UCLA for only four years.


In that same 1947 Army – Yale Baseball game, the Yale team captain, and playing first base for the Yale nine, was a famous left-hander – any guesses – George Herbert Walker Bush. I never knew "Poppy" Bush, as he was called, although we nodded to each other, having seen each other many times between classes when I went to Yale.  He led Yale to its two appearances in the College World Series, as it is now called, losing in 1946 to USC and 1947 to Cal.


In the fall of 1947, I transferred from Yale to Stanford. Stanford's opening football game was against Idaho, which, at that time, was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference. Stanford was coached by Marchie Schwartz, a former Notre Dame halfback, but not a great coach. Idaho won, as I recall the score was 19–10, and Stanford went 0 and 9 that sad season. 


1949 Northwestern 20, Cal 14 — Pappy Waldorf, the portly Cal Coach, was 10 and 0 that season, Northwestern was 8 and 2. We sat in the southwest corner, with a view up the south goal line. In the game, there was a very controversial touchdown.  


Northwestern was marching toward that south goal line. From about the 2-yard line, Northwestern Fullback Art Murakowski plunged into the line. Just as he was about to cross the goal line, the ball was stripped from him and dropped into the end zone. Les Richter, Cal's All American linebacker, fell on the ball. All that took less than two seconds. 


The Head Linesman, opposite us on the goal line, was running into the middle from the sideline signaling touchdown, and touchdown it was. The next morning the LA Times carried a photo of Murakowski, taken from in front of us, showing our view of the goal line.  The ball was dropping near Murakowski's hip, and the goal line was clearly still in front of him, and with the Head Linesman signaling touchdown. It turned out the Head Linesman was Jay Berwanger, the first – ever – Heismann Trophy Winner in 1936, as a University of Chicago halfback. 


1950 Ohio State 17, Cal 14. — The game was an introduction to 1950, a most eventful year. The Cal Coach, "Pappy Waldorf," brought another 10-and-0 team against Wes Fesler's 9-1 Buckeye squad. Pete Schabarum was a Bear halfback. Ohio State won on a last minute field goal.


A few days after the Ohio State–Cal game, I went back up to Stanford for my last two quarters, and for graduation.


About six weeks later I received my draft "greetings," and on November 15, 1950, I was sworn in to the U.S. Army. I was in Basic Training at Fort Ord and missed the 1951 (Michigan 14, Cal 6), and the 1952 (Illinois 40, Stanford 7) game.  


Now, jumping ahead a number of years to 1963. 


USC 42, Wisconsin 37, my 22nd Rose Bowl. — This was the first Rose Bowl game that my brother and I saw without our father, who had died nearly a year before. SC had a talented team, Pete Bethard and Hal Bledsole were perhaps the most famous. SC was ahead 42 to 14. It was getting late in a hazy afternoon. My brother and I decided to "beat the crowd". We left. We listened to the game on the car radio.


Big Mistake. We forgot who was wearing the white uniforms, Wisconsin.  In a great comeback, the Badger's QB Ron VanderKelen, and top-flight end Pat Richter, staged a flurry that almost, but not quite, overcame SC's lead. For the day, Wisconsin totaled 486 yards to SC's 367, with 32 first downs to SC's 15. Vander Kelen was 33 for 48 passing, and Richter caught 11 passes. 


1971 Stanford 27, Ohio State 17 — Leading up to this game, Woody Hayes had coached Ohio State to an 11-0 season. His QB, Rex Kern, was a three–year starter, and had been player of the Rose Bowl game as a sophomore. In this game, as a quarterback, Kern carried the ball 20 times for 129 yards. But it wasn't enough. 


Stanford was coached by John Ralston. The team had only an 8–3 season. It was Quarterbacked by Jim Plunkett. In the game, Stanford won 27–17. Plunkett was 20 for 30, and player of the game. He became the Heismann trophy winner that year, and later was a Player of a Super Bowl. 


1972 Stanford vs. Michigan — John Ralston vs Bo Schembechler. Bo's Wolverines were, the No. 1 team in the polls prior to the game, and like Ohio State the year before, were 11-0. 


The Stanford quarterback for this season was Don Bunce. It was a very exciting game. As the game was winding down, Michigan was leading 12–10. Stanford got the ball little time left. Bunce marched the team down the field and Rod Garcia kicked a 31 yard field goal to win the game 13 to 12. Don Bunce, was 24-for-44 passing, was Player of the Game, making it two in a row for Stanford against undefeated Big 10 teams.


But what interests me is that while Jim Plunkett was a Heismann Trophy winner and went on to become an All-Pro Quarterback and a Super Bowl Player of the Game, Don Bunce went on to Stanford Medical School, was an orthopedic surgeon, and later became the Stanford team Doc.  


1973 USC 42, Ohio State 17 — SC was 11-0 and the National Champs. In the game, Sam Cunningham had 4 TD's, Anthony Davis 23 carries for 157 yards and quarterback Mike Rea was 18 of 25 for 229. For Ohio State, it was the first of four straight appearances, and Archie Griffin, then a freshman, would play in all four.


1984 UCLA 45, Illinois 9 — Terry Donahue, 6-4-1 vs. Mike White, 10-1 White's son kicks a field goal. The Bruin QB was Rick Neuhiesel, who goes 22 of 31, with 4 TDs and NO interceptions.  Flanker and former Bruin Coach Karl Dorrell catches two Neuheisel's passes. 


2000 Wisconsin 17, Stanford 9 — The year 2000 was my 40th, and last, Rose Bowl. It was the 86th of the Rose Bowls. Stanford played Wisconsin, with Wisconsin winning 17 to 9. The game was not very interesting.