Afternoon about 4, a curious group gathers at Soldiers Field to watch varsity football practice. Many are there to watch and to report, a few just to watch and, at least one, just in case. They range from doctors to deans, from doddering "H"-men to varsity athletes, from regular sports writers to "stringers," as the local correspondents for the Boston dailies are known. All have one thing in common: a buff-colored card signed by W. Henry Johnston, director of sports information. This card is to prove to the sophomore managers guarding the gate that the bearer is not from Princeton.
The other afternoon, a typical group perched atop "Critics' Roost," the three-tier bench at the side of the field. Besides Mr. Bolles, Dean Bender and assorted Boston sports writers, the "regulars," stringers from the Post, the Globe, the Associated Press, the New York Herald Tribune, the Alumni Bulletin and the Breakfast Table Daily, were present.
Watching and Waiting
Conversation strayed from national sports to politics and back again. The speakers kept their eyes riveted on the field as they talked. Discourteous, perhaps, but understood by all. Too much was happening on the field to look away.
The Rock was lucky to stop Jersey Joe (". . . he was way ahead on points"), it was agreed, and when someone mentioned that the Yanks had taken the Red Sox twice (". . . they're wearing black in Cleveland tonight"), the New Yorkers were conceded the pennant. Hardly had the question of whether Dick should give back the dog been raised, when a yell focussed attention on the near side of the field.
Dick Clasby, working at safety man, apparently had injured himself in lunging for a pass. He stumbled and rolled over. The coaching staff maintained its composure as it walked over to the fallen Clasby, but the sight of a doctor, a trainer, two coaches and a manager converging lent gravity to the scene.
Suddenly, Clasby bounded up with a grin. He was all right.
Jordan then ordered a special running drill. Each player had a chance to carry the ball for his particular unit in a relay race. The sight of Jumbo Jennings and Nick Culolias making like halfbacks brought chuckles from the Roost.
The Fun Begins
When the scrimmage began, the stringers began checking starting lineups for the next day's papers.
"Who's that linebacker next to Lemay?"
"Is he going both ways, too?"
"What do you think?"
By now, the shadows had lengthened and only the bitter-enders, Johnston and the stringers, remained. Jordan pointed towards the field house. Another day of practice, quite average, was over.
The stringers stamped their feet as they got up to leave. It gets cold at Soldiers Field around 6:30.
"Say, Hank, when are you going to get us that stove you promised once. That's the least you could do."
"Stove?", grinned Johnston, his hands on his hips. "You're getting paid, aren't you?"
Some said yes.