Schulmerich and Tharp share a love for gin rummy, trout fishing and Oregon State football. They've been to every Beaver home game for 62 years. They've sat in row 34 at Parker Stadium in Corvallis for the last 35 years, though not necessarily together. They argue too much. Usually Schulmerich's wife, Cecile, sits between them as a buffer. Schulmerich tends to yell his head off, and Tharp looks on with plump-cheeked amusement.
Schulmerich might say he thinks Terry Baker was the greatest Beaver of them all. "I wouldn't go for Baker," says Tharp. "Never did like him personally."
"That isn't the object Charlie."
"He wasn't any better at his position than Leonard Younce was at guard."
"Well, that's your opinion."
They have such a boyish camaraderie that you half expect one of them to burst out singing, "Here's to good friends, tonight is kinda special." Their friendship has endured moose hunting trips to Alaska, the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and a trek across the Outback of Australia. "It keeps us young," says Tharp, who lives a block from campus with his 15-year-old apricot-colored poodle, Beethoven. His wife, Jane, died in 1979. "After the games we all come to my house for a big feed and to tip a few," Tharp says.
Schulmerich and Tharp both went to Oregon State in the '20s. When Tharp got out of college he sold Chryslers and eventually opened his own agency. He got out of the car business six years ago. Schulmerich still drives to games in the Dodge Charger his best friend sold him in 1978. "That s.o.b. has kept me broke since 1945," says Schulmerich.
"Are you kidding?" says Tharp. "That s.o.b. kept me broke every time I traded with him."
In 1927 Schulmerich turned down a $100-a-game contract to play football for the Frankford, Pa. Yellowjackets of the NFL. He kicked around bush-league baseball for a while and even played in the majors for four seasons with the Braves, Phillies and Reds. In 1933 he started in the same Philadelphia outfield with Chuck Klein. Batted .318, too, fifth best in the National League.
By then, he and Tharp were well into their string. They only go to home games, and they never go to Eugene to see the rival Oregon Ducks. "Wes and I don't like them, and they don't like us," says Tharp. "Walk down the street and they'll throw mud at ya."