The Bold, Brave Men of Archbold 1956: Boston U. |

The Bold, Brave Men of Archbold 1956: Boston U.


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
In the days of old, when knights were bold
Every city had its warrior man.
In the days of new, when fights are few
You will view them from a big grandstand.
In our college town one has great renown
If the game of football he should play.
With his pig-skin ball he is cheered by all,
He's the Saltine Warrior of today.
Chorus: The Saltine Warrior is a bold, bad man,
And his weapon is a pigskin ball,
When on the field he takes a good, firm stand,
He's the hero of large and small.
He will rush toward the goal with might and main
His opponents all fight, but they fight in vain,
Because the Saltine Warrior is a bold, bad man,
And victorious over all.

We are early in a new era in SU football- the Scot Shafer era. 64 years ago, another era began- the Ben Schwartzwalder Era, during which SU rose from its greatest depths to its greatest heights, and then all the way back down again. It was the era into which I was born, the one I remember from my youth. I can still recall listening to the games on the radio and waiting until Tuesday to see the grainy black and white films of the previous Saturday’s games on the local news. The music played over these highlights was not “Down, Down the Field”. It was “The Saltine Warrior”. My Dad thought he knew the beginning of it and would sing “The Saltine Warrior was a bold, brave man”. I later found that the line was “bold, bad, man”. But that’s not the way I learned it and it’s not the way I like it. My heroes were not “bad” men. They were “brave” men. They were the “Bold, Brave Men of Archbold”.

(My primary sources for this series is the Post Standard Archive, which also includes the Herald Journal, various publications I have collected, including Street & Smiths and the NCAA Guide, Ken Rappoport’s The Syracuse Football Story and The Nittany Lions, The Terrapins by Paul Attner, Syracuse University Football by Michael Mullins and various internet sights, as noted.)

“Boston University…Penn State…Holy Cross….Colgate….Can one of the four stop the Syracuse march toward the eastern football season’s glittering goal- the Lambert Trophy? Each will have a chance. The Orange took a giant stride toward the trophy Saturday when it defeated a stubborn Army eleven, 7-0.

Boston University next weekend should provide an easier foe. But the Penn State team that edged Ohio State 7-6 this weekend is a different story. Holy Cross is tough, too and Colgate is always fired up for the traditional season-ending clash with Syracuse.”

The Terriers, still coached by old Schwartzwalder rival Buff Donelli, had an odd record. They opened with a 19-6 win over Massachusetts, then tied both William and Mary and George Washington, (strange bedfellows!), before losing 13-27 to Villanova. They were thus 1-1-2.

Ed Coffin would miss the BU game with a leg injury but Gus Zaso was back just in time to replace him. Don Althouse was out for the game due to a knee injury and tackles Terry Cashman and Chuck Strid as well as fullback Ed Coffin had ‘bad charley horses, (meaning that Charley’s horse had a ‘lower body injury’) Cashman also had a couple of loose teeth and spent “an uncomfortable Sunday”. Tom Stephens was being moved back to end to replace Althouse but he had competition from Nick Baccile and Dick Aloise. Thursday’s paper suggested Baccile might have the edge, despite his size, (5-10, 172). But it was a time for small, quick linemen. Ed Bailey, a 195 pound guard, was named the Associated Press’ lineman of the week, primarily for his role in the goal line stand against Army.

Syracuse quarterback Chuck Zimmerman originally matriculated at Forham but transferred back to Central New York when that school, (temporarily, as it turned out), gave up the sport that it had made such a name for itself in. Two halfbacks, Jimmy Dean, (no not the by now deceased actor or the future sausage king), and Bill Courville, had gone from Fordham to Boston U. “Dean, 185 pound speed boy, is rated particularly outstanding”. Syracuse scout Les Dye said “One of these games, Dean is going to turn in a really great game. It could be against us this week.” Courville joined his brother Jim, who was already playing halfback at BU. 5-8 185 Larry Fennessey was the Terrier’s leading rusher with 131 yards in only 22 carries. Frank Chiera had a 60 yard TD run against the Orange in 1954.

The Terriers had plenty of halfbacks but they also had plenty of quarterbacks, which was a problem. Charlie Fiorino was more of a runner, Phil O’Connell and Lenny Hill better passers. O’Connell was 10 for 20 for 183 yards while Hill was 15 for 38 for 251. Bob Knight and Frank Regan were the leading receivers.

Dye reported “This is a solid team, one that can rock and sock. And I heard enough talk in Boston that to know that they’re making Syracuse their big objective this season.” Buff Donelli said “I don’t try to make any particular games ’objective’’ ones but if the boys want to do it, I won’t try to stop them….We know Syracuse has a fine football team. We know we have to stop Brown when he goes around end, off tackle, through the line and anywhere else he wasn’t to go. We now have to stop Ridlon on the other side and Coffin up the middle. If we could narrow the field about 50 yards, we’d have a good chance.”

Ben was concerned with his passing attack. “Our passing was adequate only in the first game. In the other three games we haven’t even been holding our own in that department. We’ve got to do something to break up those nine man lines we’ve been trying to run against…If we’re going to beat Boston University, we’ll have to be right, physically and mentally. Our kids make a lot of errors but they do hit hard and they’ll have to keep it up to offset our lack of team speed. Buff Donelli always manages to give us a rough tough game, as you can tell from the recent scores. He never uses the same defense twice. Last year he used about 12 defenses against us and yet we’ll probably have to look for something different this time. “

Arnie Burdick had a man-crush on Dick Lasse, who told him “Weight lifting is the big reason why it feels so good to be out there this year. I try to lift weights every day in order to build up my shoulders, legs and chest. Football is a game of legs, with shoulders a secondary consideration. These must be strong and kept strong or injuries will result.“ Burdick: “This perfectly-conditioned physical specimen is a coach’s dream for he never has to be told how to get in shape. He’s always ready to play, 365 days a year. He smokes not at all, drinks less. This summer, after he finished his nine hours of tough, heavy construction work, Dick would either run five or six miles or drive 30 miles to a friend’s house where he would lift weights…When taking laps at the end of a tough day’s practices on Hill, Lasse, like Nashua, (a leading race horse of the day), is almost always in front.” Dick didn’t have any weights to lift at his place- and neither did the University.

“Actually, this 200 pound, six feet one and one half inches of MAN is a frustrated fullback. In his words, ‘I went out for fullback my freshman year in high school but they switched me to end. I really love to carry the ball. That’s why when I grabbed that fumble in the Maryland game and ran for a touchdown I felt so good. I like to catch passes and run with the ball, too. But I do like to play end. I feel that it’s the best all-around position in football. You’re required to do so much. You have terrific blocking and defensive responsibilities and, of course, you get a chance to carry the ball, if you’re REAL lucky.”

Lasse was also an “eater to reckon with” who, according to Ben Schwartwalder was “the best doer we’ve ever had with a knife and fork”. Arnie told the story of an outing win which “Lasse wolfed down a few dozen shrimp, four large chicken drumsticks and 15 steaks” which he washed down with several bottles of pop. Lasse: “Well, those steaks were small!”

Meanwhile there was a proposal reported to form an “Transcontinental Conference” featuring Army, Navy, the new Air Force Academy, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Southern California and UCLA. When asked about it, Bud Wilkinson said it was the first he’d heard of it. Also the last. But there would be other proposals over the years for a national conference of top powers.

Jim Brown and Jim Ridlon, before leaving for Boston appeared at an “I’m a Chief pow-wow” along with Carmen Basilio, Dolph Schayes, Paul Seymour, Johnny Antonelli and Jimmy Piersall, among others, trying to get people to sign up to be Chiefs stockholders. The original Chiefs franchise had been moved to Miami. This was an Eastern league Syracuse Chiefs that operated in 1956-57 min hopes of getting back in the International League. The effort failed but the Chiefs would eventually return in 1961. Still, wouldn’t you like to have been there?

“One of the top crowds in college football this year”- 30,000 were expected for the game at University Field, which used to be Braves’ Field when the National League baseball team was in town. It’s now called Nickerson Field but has been total renovated into a football stadium and all-purpose athletic field. The weather was expected to be cloudy and cool but dry.

Instead of 30,000 only 12,182 people showed up for the game and the Syracuse team didn’t initially seem to be among them. “A Syracuse team which got hot just long enough to wrap up the decision and which got a lot of bad football out of its system notched a 21-7 victory over battling Boston University at the old and dilapidated ball park formerly owned by the Boston Braves today….The Terriers, gaining well between the 30 yard stripes and particularly effective against the Orange second team, notched 15 first down to 9 for Syracuse. The losers gained 121 yards on the ground and 122 yards on eight pass completions in 17 tries. In contrast, Syracuse gained 125 yards on the ground and 37 through the air. The winner tried five passes and completed two. ”

Basically, both teams tried to give the game away to the other team and Syracuse took better advantage of their opportunities. “On the game’s first scrimmage play, Boston fumbled and Cashman recovered on the BU 42. But, after Al Cann plunged for 13 yards, Ridlon politely fumbled back to the Terriers….Fiorino promptly hit wingback Fitzgerald for a 36 yard gain, brown and Ridlon bringing him down. Fiorino to Regan made it a first down on the orange 19. But Syracuse stiffened but grounded two passes to take over on its own 14.”

Syracuse was forced to punt and Jim Ridlon’s boot “fell dead on the BU 43”. The Terriers went 57 yards on 14 plays to score. On one of those plays Fitzgerald fumbled and Ernie Jackson recovered but Syracuse was called for holding- an odd call since the ball was in neither team’s possession at the time of the infraction. “Hill turned Syracuse’s left end for the score, (from the 3) as the quarter ran out.” Pat Sullivan kicked the extra point to make it BU 7 SU 0.

Syracuse drove to the BU 49 where Cann fumbled the ball away again. But the Orange defense forced a punt and SU got a big break when the snap to the punter sailed way over his head. Hill got a hold of it at the 25 but was “swarmed over” by SU defenders. Jim Brown swept to the 10. An offside penalty pushed the ball to the 5. Brown closed out the drive with a one yard plunge and then kicked the point to tie the score.

The winning score was soon to follow. Bill Brown blocked a BU punt and Jerry Cashman “scooped up the ball and took two strides before slipping” on the 8 yard line. Ridlon ran it to the 4 on a sweep and then Jim Brown “dug for the score” and “cracked over” from the four. His conversion gave SU a 14-7 lead at the half.

Big Jim returned the second half kick-off 30 yards to the SU 37. After running the ball for 5 yards Jim took a pitch-out and tossed a log pass that seemed to be over Dick Lasse’s head. “Lasse jumped high for Jim’s high toss and took the ball away from Boston’s Chuck Fiorino on the Terrier’s 31.” #44 got the ball three more times in six plays, the last a three yard plunge for the game’s final score, aside from Jim’s third conversion.

And that was it: Jim Brown 21 Boston University 7. He’d scored all three touchdowns and every point. He’s rushed for 87 yards in 17 carries, completed a 32 yard pass and returned an interception for 40 yards. ‘Brown’ was named both the offensive and defensive player of the game- although the defensive POG was Bill Brown, not Jim. What can Brown do for you?

One headline read “OFFICALS LOSE CONTROL OF GAME SEVERAL TIMES”. Bill Reddy: “This was a roughly-played, bruising scrap, in which players on both sides were carried off regularly while the officials let the game get away from them several times. It was the most poorly officiated game I’ve seen this season, although the indecision and mistakes by the whistle-blowers apparently had nothing to do with the outcome.”

Arnie Burdick: “The game was marred by inefficient officiating, which resulted in several injuries to both squads. Charles P. Kelly of Cranston, RI, a new referee in major eastern football circles, continually used a slow whistle which resulted in a good deal of piling on and roughness after the ball carriers were obviously down.”

Among the wounded were Joe Krivak, with a dislocated shoulder, Rudy Farmer, “who was jumped on by two Terriers after making a vital tackle” with an injured ankle and tackle Dick Anderson for Syracuse. For Boston, Chuck Fiorino, tackles Art Krozy and Ed Pautauskas and Chuck Wanosky, who hed been responsible for the bad snap that got SU going, were all injured.

Photographic coverage of the contest was more limited than for a home game. But then there were fewer highlights. The Post Standard had a large shot of “Orange’s First Touchdown”, showing Jim brown “smashing” for the first touchdown. The picture is confusing. It looks like Jim is being tackled along the sideline and is straining for the goal line a couple of paces in front of him. But there apparent sideline is labeled “goal line” and on the other side of him is a sign saying “10”, apparently indicating the yard line. I think the “goal line” is mislabeled in the picture. One guy is falling after trying to knock Jim to the side and another is diving in front of him, trying to trip him up.

The next page shows Nick Baccile leaping to catch a pass right at the now properly labeled goal line but headed for the corner between it and the out of bounds line. He was unable to stay inbounds and the pass was ruled incomplete.

On page 36 there is a picture of “The Go-Ahead Tally”. The caption reads: “Jim brown smashes through four Boston U. defenders on a 4 yard bolt to his second touchdown in the second quarter.” Jim is about at the 2 ½ yard line. One Terrier has grabbed at the back of his legs. Another is in front of him but looks as if he’s being run over by a train. A third is coming in from the left, to no avail.

The herald had a head-on shot of Ed Ackley who “Shreds BU Line” for a first down in the third period. On the full picture page, Jim Brown is shown making an interception that stopped a BU drive. He returned it 40 yards to the Terrier 36 but Syracuse was unable to capitalize on it. Jim is out in the open, maneuvering past a couple of prone Terriers. To the right is another shot of Jim’s second touchdown. He’s taking on a defender, shoulder to shoulder while brushing off another. “John” Stephens, (that would be Tom- we didn’t have a John), runs for “Short Yardage” before being “stopped by Larry Fennessy (21) and unidentified tackler after picking up a small gain through the line.” Stephens is upright and past the line of scrimmage and looks like he has running room but the two Terriers are bent over and honing in on him. Below that Ackley is shown straight-arming a BU defender in a picture captioned “Outa My Way, Bub”. He picked up a first down in the third quarter on the play. Next to that is “Brown on the move” showing Jim, with his shoulders hunched up and his arms swinging, running past BU’s John Regan for a first down “as quarterback Ferdie Kuczala comes over to block”. Kuczala does not appear in the picture. The only other figure is a referee. Rudy Farmer is show being taken off the field on a stretcher in another shot.

The Old Scout was “still sweating” when he visited Arnie Burdick. “It was the kind of game I was afraid Syracuse was going to play…and they did. Their tackling was wanting and their blocking was worse. And for a team that was supposed to be developing a passing attack all week, they certainly forgot their lessons. The Orange coaches say they can’t get their kids interested in playing Boston University. No doubt this is true for that’s the kind of a ‘let down’ performance it was.”

He also complained about the pass protection and pass defense. “At least five Boston passes should have been picked off and two or three that were completed should have been batted away. The Orange isn’t as aggressive as it was earlier in the year. Against Maryland, every time a ball went in the air, Syracuse’s pass defense felt that it had just as much right to it as the other team. Legally, it does, you know. Our pass protection will be improved when fullback Ed Coffin gets back into the line-up this week against Penn State. But our quarterbacks aren’t ducking away and slipping some of those tackles like they might. By the way, another question: What have we done in the way of passing since the Maryland game. It’s been frightful.“ Since the Maryland game Syracuse, in four contests, had completed a total of only 12 passes for an average of 47 yards per game. “You just aren’t going to defeat Penn State that way. We’ve really got to get the ball in the air for some substantial yardage and take the heat off our running game. One thing you might tell Schwartzie for me. I’d like to see him practice his pass patterns this week on a LINED gridiron. In this way, the passers would get used to throwing sooner, rather than hitting their receivers too late and out of bounds…While I’m suggesting, put a word with the coach to throw a little this week in situations other than when the whole stadium is hollering “pass”…you know, third down and long yardage. That’s the toughest time to complete one.” Fans have been saying this ever since.

Bill Reddy focused on the officiating and the dim future of the series with Boston University, who would eventually be replaced on the schedule by Boston College. First he described a fourth down play that last about 3 minutes on the game clock. A Terrier punt on 4th and 6 was partially blocked, traveled only 15 yards and was returned 10 yards by Gus Zaso. But Syracuse was offsides, making it fourth and one. BU decided to go for it and ran for the first down. But they were offsides, making it 4th and 6 again and bringing out the punting team. Ed Ackley caught the punt and returned it from the SU 20 to the 36 but was driven back to the 28, where a BU defender slugged him. The ref not only took no action on the punch but placed the ball on the 28, not giving Ackley forward progress. “As Ackley protested bitterly, the official chided him for not acting like a gentleman.” But BU was guilty of an illegal formation. 4th and 11. Ackley caught this third punt at the 25 “and ran it in gentlemanly fashion, bowling over three tacklers, back to the Syracuse 43”.

Then there was the holding call on the fumble. “Jerry Fitzgerald cut to his right after taking a handoff and he fumbled the ball as he was being tackled. The ball rolled free and Syracuse’s Ernie Jackson fell on it. But Boston kept the ball. The referee signaled defensive holding against Syracuse and then signaled that it had been refused. Why Boston should refuse penalty against Syracuse as long as it was retaining possession anyway puzzled all observers. At half-time an explanation was sought and here’s the explanation: After the fumble, the ball was free and one of the Syracuse players held a Boston player, preventing him from entering the scramble for the free ball. The penalty, in this case, was possession and first down at the spot of the foul. Who was held on the play? Why, it was Fitzgerald, who was tackled as a ball-carrier, dropped the ball, and who, it was ruled, should have been released by the tackler so he could scrimmage for his own fumble!”

“There was wholesale hope among Orange coaches and players that this would be the last trip to play Boston University for a Syracuse team. The Orangemen obviously weren’t ‘up’ for the game, while the Terriers were high-spirited as they always are against Syracuse. It was a let-down contest after four ‘big name’ opponents and the Orange were fortunate that it got by as well as it did. It is a game that means nothing to Syracuse. Beating BU adds no prestige, losing to BU is considered a disgrace. Nowhere in the country was football played on a more horrible field than was the Syracuse-BU affair. The Braves used to own it, for baseball and since Boston University bought it more than two years ago, no effort has been made to improve it for football. The only changes have been for the worse, such as digging drainage ditches onto the gridiron. The diamond, with its humps and hollows, with drop-offs and ditches, puts players in constant danger of being hurt without being hit.”

Nonetheless the SU-BU series would continue until 1960, with two more visits to the baseball field. This actually over-lapped with the Boston College series, which began in 1958. Boston University, a school that presently has 33,000 students, dropped down to the “college division” as it was called then, (major schools were the “university division”), in 1966, then became a Division II school when divisions were set up in 193 and Division 1AA when that division was created in 1978. They then gave up the sport in 1997. The remains of Braves Field still exist, in part, in what is now Nickerson Field.

Forum statistics

Latest member

Online statistics

Members online
Guests online
Total visitors

Top Bottom