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When Endicott (Chub) Peabody '42 stood outside Soldiers Field campaigning as the Democratic candidate for Governor a few Saturdays ago, several hundred in the hurrying football crowd shook his hand, took his literature, and wished him well. Twenty-one years earlier similar crowd would have mobbed him. For in 1941 Peabody was a phenomenal left guard on one of the best lines Harvard ever fielded. Because of his fierce tackling and superb blocking he was named to every major all-American team in the country, the last Harvard football player to gain this honor.
Then the 21-year-old son of the Episcopalian Bishop of Syracuse, Chub Peabody was described by Dick Harlow as "the finest guard I've ever seen" in his lengthy career as football coach at Harvard.
For three years Peabody held down the left guard slot on the varsity line. In 1951 the line kept Navy, with its all-American quarterback Bill Busik, to a scoreless tie, bottled up Army, as the Crimson won, 20-6, and stopped Yale cold in a 14-0 Harvard victory. After giving up 19 points in their first game to the University of Pennsylvania, the line allowed only 24 others in their seven remaining contests.
Although usually mild and somewhat serious, Peabody toughened considerably on the gridiron. Writing in the Alumni Bulletin, Harlow said:
"There was something about his eyes that I'll never forget. If you looked into Peabody's eyes off the field they were open and friendly and, set in that boyish face of his, reminded you a little of a baby's. But once the whistle has sounded, those eyes concentrated into slits. A sort of green flame seemed to burn in them, and you knew you were up against man who wasn't fooling."
"As a freshman," Harlow wrote, "Peabody was not strong and he was awkward. By following faithfully the exercises we gave him he added two inches to his neck in a single summer and had to throw away all his shirts... By the end of his career, Peabody was practically indestructable and played fifty minutes of the Yale game with a charley-horse severe enough to keep most football players in bed." Peabody had also raised his weight from 165 to 195 pounds.
Grantland Rice, choosing Peabody for his Collier's Magazine All-American team, sung his praises more colorfully:
"The guard who stood out above the field this season was Endicott Peabody of Harvard who might be described in Kipling's "Fuzzy-wuzzy" phrase as an "inja-rubber idiot on the spree" or a big, fast-moving beggar who broke practically all the hostile squares.
"As coach 'Swede' Larson of the Navy put it: 'Peabody hit you so many times and he hit you so hard you thought he was four or five men.' Or as several officials said: 'Peabody wasn't only the best guard of the season. He was the best guard of 20 seasons."
Larson spoke from bitter experience for Peabody forced Busik to fumble twice with savage tackles, and on one of these plays recovered the ball himself.
Besides Rice's All-American team, Peabody was given a place on All-Americans selected by the Associated Press, United Press, International News Service, and Fox Movie-tone News.
In the balloting for the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually by the Sportswriter's Association to "the outstanding college football player in the United States," Peabody received 153 points. This was greater than any lineman had received previously and enough to rank him sixth in the poll.
Predictably, this accumulation of honors was accompanied by a flood of publicity, including an interview on NBC radio and a speech before U.S. Sportswriters Association in which, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Peabody was "a trifle bashful yet able to express his thoughts entertainingly."
But his concern with national politics and the outbreak of war in Europe was slight, like that of most of his friends. Most of them assumed that he was a Republican, but he seemed little interested when Roosevelt dueled with Willkie in the election of 1940. And, as isolationists, headed by the Crimson, argued heatedly with interventionists about aiding Britain after 1939, Peabody stayed away from their clubs, rallies, and pickets.
He did participate in Naval ROTC for four years and in the fall of 1941 he indicated that he would join the submarine corps. However, it was only after he was commissioned (one hour after graduation in June, 1942) that his interest in international problems quickened. And it was only in Harvard Law School, from which he graduated 1948, that Peabody began to think seriously of the political career which brought him back to Soldiers Field as a campaigner this fall
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