The year was 1933. A remarkably large number of gray-haired men still wore silk toppers, white-piped vests and worried expressions. Bread was up a cent to 6� for a one-pound loaf. You could fly coast to coast now in 20 hours, with half a dozen stops, but most travelers stuck to the good old railroads. The football still had rounded points and could be drop-kicked. The 25 men who have just been elected to this year's Silver Anniversary All-America (see box at right) were entering their last year of college and last season of college football.
Today, though their careers differ (see sketches beginning on page 88), they have one achievement in common, that of living through the wild weather of the past quarter century with success and service to America. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and the Silver Anniversary judges salute them for what they are: outstanding products of their colleges, exemplars of the tradition that men and nations are saved by character and energy, by faith and works.
Their ranks number physicians and engineers, businessmen and soldiers, leaders in advertising, film making, theology and the law. They include a judge and a geologist and an atomic scientist today busy harnessing atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Pew of them foresaw their futures, though some of the challenges they would meet were already taking shape on the world's horizons.
Berlin was in the headlines as the year began, as it is today. Roaring fire pillared up through the stately stone of the Reichstag—erasing a symbol of parliamentary government as Adolf Hitler moved to erase the reality of it. The Nazis blamed the Communists for the fire, arrested a mumbling imbecile named Marinus van der Lubbe and struck off his head. Hitler restored the chopping block for political executions, denounced disarmament talks, and pulled Germany out of the League of Nations. The French took reassurance in their new Maginot Line with underground amenities for off-duty poilus. "Comfort," said France's Marshal P�tain, "is of utmost strategic importance." In Tokyo Bay, Emperor Hirohito reviewed his fleet just back from long rehearsal games at sea. The problem to which the Japanese Navy had addressed itself: kicking hypothetical U.S. forces out of the Marshall and Caroline islands.
In the United States as the year began there were 13 million unemployed, the banks were shut, and with the help of platoons of experts called brain-trusters—who did not repudiate the designation—President Franklin Roosevelt was creating the first of a long roster of alphabetical agencies. With its Blue Eagle Symbol ("We Do Our Part") the NRA set National Recovery Administration codes for industry. In the spirit of the times, a Milwaukee couple christened their baby Franklin Delano Blue Eagle Knapinski. At Princeton, after the football team beat Yale for the first time in five years, seniors designed a fresh heraldic device for their spring beer suits in which an eagle clutched a football in one claw, a beer mug signalizing the return of real beer in the other. Beneath was the valedictory motif, "We Did Our Part." College wags suggested that NRA meant Never Refuse Alcohol. Harvard, a bit concerned about repeal, warned freshmen that liquor on the breath would be cause for expulsion.
It was a great year for undergraduate petitions. Characteristically, they urged U.S. membership in the League of Nations, military neutrality and beady-eyed control of the armaments industry. At Temple University a sheet went around in which signers pledged to decapitate themselves, and it drew 500 unwary signatures. A Cambridge, Mass. councilman named Charles H. Shea urged the town to buy six horses for the police force, crying, "We need mounted police for the Harvard students. I don't know if they are communists, bolsheviks, or nuts, but we should be ready to cope with them."
The traditional Poughkeepsie Regatta was called off for economy reasons (something that never happened again), but the University of Washington Huskies had the satisfaction of beating a strong Yale crew that traveled all the way to Los Angeles to contest East-West honors. Colonel E. R. Bradley's Broker's Tip, Don Meade up, won the Kentucky Derby from Head Play, Harry Fisher up, after a stretch drive in which Meade and Fisher belabored each other as much as they did their mounts. Handsome Johnny Goodman won the National Open golf championship over Ralph Guldahl and Craig Wood at Glen View, Ill. Pretty Virginia Van Wie beat Helen Hicks for the women's championship by coming back from four down, shooting nothing but pars and birdies for the last 12 holes. Primo Camera, boxing's pituitary giant, knocked out Jack Sharkey for the heavyweight championship. Louis Meyer won the Indianapolis "500" with an average speed of 104 mph. The great Italian driver, Tazio Nuvolari, added victory at Le Mans, in an Alfa Romeo, to victory in the Mille Miglia. Britain's Fred Perry beat Australia's Jack Crawford for the American tennis championship and set a temporary vogue for tennis victors by vaulting over the net after the final point to shake the hand of his exhausted opponent. (In Davis Cup competition, the Americans were nowhere as the British and French battled it out in the Challenge Round, with victory going to the British.) California's Helen Jacobs retained the women's title against California's Helen Wills Moody after Moody, pleading a pulled back muscle, raised her hand in a mid-match gesture of default. Kansas Bill Cunningham ran the mile in 4:09.8, the 1,500 meters in 3:52.3, was voted the AAU's sportsman of the year. And the New York Giants beat the Washington Senators four games to one with the help of a screwball pitcher named Carl Hubbell and a young outfielder named Mel Ott who, playing his first World Series game, cocked his foot and hit the ball into the right-field stands his first time up. (The New York Yankees finished second in the American League.)
Baseball yielded to football and, with little competition from the pros, the college forces took the field. Michigan under Coach Harry Kipke rumbled along toward its fourth Big Ten championship in four years. The reviving Princetons, under Fritz Crisler, went unbeaten. In the South, Wallace Wade's Blue Devils of Duke dominated the newly organized Southern Conference. But the finest football, it seemed to all right-thinking experts, was the variety played on the Pacific Coast. That was why the experts scoffed and predicted a lopsided score when Lou Little's relatively lightweight Columbia, beaten once in Ivy League play, was invited to represent the East against Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
You may remember what happened. Columbia drilled diligently and in secret with a deceptive double spinner designated KF79, called the play in the second quarter, sent Fullback Al Barabas over the goal line untouched, and stood off Stanford for the rest of the game to win 7-0. Except for Stanford fans, it was a rousing moment for America. It was one of those happy renewals of the David-and-Goliath story, and it accorded well with the recovery mood of a country which, at the moment, was whistling a cheer-up tune from Walt Disney: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
The Silver Anniversary men of 1958 met each other in a score or so of games in the fall of 1933. Princeton's (and Art Lane's) victims included Washington and Lee, Dartmouth, Navy and Yale. Navy's Chung-Hoon helped the Naval Academy beat Notre Dame (and Moose Krause) for the first time in history. Moose Krause helped Notre Dame beat Army (and Pete Kopcsak) in a rouser that made up for a poor Notre Dame season. Army (and Kopcsak) turned around and beat Navy (and Chung-Hoon). In short, it was a season not unlike other seasons, and the games are still bright in the memories of those who played them and those who watched.