"I'm the only Yalie in the Harvard football hall of fame." --Harvard professor Bradford A. Lee, who fumbled an onside kick in the 1968 classic.
George Owen Jr. '23, who will soon enter the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, says a victory over Yale can transform a season.
"It was the game to win then and now," recalls Owen, who completed his college career 60 years ago. "If you won the Yale game, no matter what else happened during the year, then you had a satisfactory season."
Adds Richard Clasby '54, the only other nine-letter man at Harvard: "You could have beaten everyone else, but the game that comes to the forefront is the Yale game, even 30 years later. If you lose, that's 30 years of loss to live with."
For Clasby and hundreds of others, a game played on a cold Saturday in November can easily be the single most memorable event in a long football career.
In Clasby's case, enter 1953 and a 13-0 victory over Yale.
"I was a tailback and Carroll Lowenstein threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to me that was later called off because someone on the team was offside. Well, they could take that touchdown away from me but they can never take away the thrill," Clasby remembers. "The last 20 yards your feet don't even touch the ground."
For other players, however, Harvard-Yale memories are not so glorious. Robert Drennan '46, like Clasby, says he will always remember the Game his senior year. "It was the worst defeat of my life," said Drennan of the 1946 game in which the Bulldogs dumped the Harvard 11, 31-21.
"It's so much more than a game, with all the pageantry, the emotions, the jarn-packed stadium," recalls Paul Crawley '52, who watched "helplessly while the Yale team snatched away" hopes for a Crimson victory in 1951. "There was three minutes left to play in the game and the coach decided to play it safe and kick the ball--he said he figured it would be hard for them to come 80 yards for a touchdown."
Famous last words. A short kick off the side of the punter's foot helped Yale to a touchdown and dashed all hopes for a Harvard victory. Final score: 21-21.
Don Allard '83 came into last year's stunning destruction of Yale quite familiar with such agony. After a heartbreaking no-time-left loss at Penn the week before, quarterback Allard & Co. came back to blast the Blue, 45-7. "It was the high point of my career. We were just a whole 'nother team that day. We could have done anything we wanted. We did."
In the 99th meeting between the two teams Harvard scored more p2oints (45), rushed for more yards (86), and completed more total offense than ever before against Yale.
But, as recollections from stars of yesteryear indicate, the Game is more than the results that appear on the scoreboard and enter the record books.
Owen, for example, remembers that the Thursday night before The Game, Harvard football graduates would hold a dinner for the team in Brookline. At the dinner before his senior year game, Eddie Cantor, a famous vaudeville actor of the 1920's, attended and promised the team tickets to his show if they beat Yale. Harvard proceeded to win by a 10-3 count.
So picking up on Cantor's promise, the squad went into Boston to see his show. "Afterwards we went back stage to meet the cast," says Owen. "Everyone was being so nice to us. I knew something was up." It turned out that after seeing the size of the Harvard team, Cantor had persuaded everyone in the cast to place what had turned out to be successful bets on the Harvard team.