On the blackboard just inside the door of the Varsity Club someone had left a message for Dick Clasby. It read, "Dick Clasby: Call Jordan Olivar." I puzzled over that for a long moment and then charged it off to an over-anxious secretary who had gotten her Jordans crossed. "Dick," I said as I walked into his room, "'I think Coach Jordan wants you to check in with him." Clasby, seated reading a book, only smiled. "Do you mean that message for me downstairs? Forget it. The guys are kidding me again." Such humor, three days before the Yale game, was lost on me, but I learned long ago that football players are a funny breed. I got to the reason for my visit right away.
"Did you know," I asked, "that you are the second-leading ground gainer in the country." Clasby smiled again. "Really? That's swell." I don't know what reaction I had expected, but I suppose that I had figured to throw the tailback for a little loss at least. "You're only 38 yards behind the follow that's leading, somebody from Detroit. Everything depends on how you do Saturday" I said I detected Clasby's eyes harrow. Any reference to Saturday, by someone not a member of the team, is greeted by silence these days. Strange things are going on at Soldiers Field this week, it seems.
I tried another approach. "When did you find out that you had broken Kazmaier's record last Saturday," I asked. "Not until long after the game," he said. "Funny, I didn't think I had gained enough ground to do it that afternoon," he said. I mentioned something about this being the second Kazmaier record to have been broken in as many weeks. I said I was inclined to credit Homer Smith's record-breaking performance against Harvard almost entirely to the massive Princeton line. "A good line certainly helps," he said. "Look what it's doing for me." He seemed aware of the distinction I was trying to set up, and he didn't agree. "I really don't think enough people appreciate the good job our line has done. Believe me, a ball carrier can't run unless there's blocking ahead of him."
Apparently, I had miffed No. 40, so I switched the subject to something I was to learn Clasby enjoys talking about. "Your brother Ed was quite a quarterback at B.C. a few years ago," I said. "That's right," he said, "made the All-Eastern team in 1948."
"Why didn't you go there?" I asked.
"I always wanted to go to Harvard," he said. "I don't know why--I just did. For me, the only question was being accepted."
To put things in a lighter vein, I asked Clasby what his biggest sports thrill at Harvard has been. "Which sport?" he asked me back. I had forgotten that I was questioning the man who will probably be Harvard's first major sport nine-letter winner in many years. I specified football, and he thought for a moment. "I guess it would be that 96-yard run against Washington," he said.
"That's the time you looked around and almost got caught from the rear, isn't it. Why'd you do that?"
Clasby grinned in embarrassment. "I really don't know. It's just one of those things you can't explain. I've been chewed out for that plenty." The only way to understand what had made him do it, he suggested, would be to run 96 yards in the Stadium. I said thanks, but I didn't feel up to it.
Somehow, we got back to Clasby's family and it looked like a long afternoon. There was only one way to turn him off, I decided. "Say Dick, about this Saturday . . ."
He glanced at his watch. "I'll be late for practice if I don't get moving. Which way you heading?"