At present No. 44
is living on a $900 Elmer J. Gedeon Memorial Scholarship, the terms of which
roughly parallel those of the Yost award (which pays him nothing). He saved
$350 last summer out in South Dakota where he worked in a playground and also
played baseball in an amateur league made up mostly of college players like
He is the 1955
captain of Michigan's baseball team and has been scouted by a number of major
league organizations. There is a Michigan alumnus who is "interested"
in No. 44 and who recently invested some money in stocks for him, which brought
No. 44 $240. His parents send him money now and then, but there was a time?in
his freshman year?when he waited on table for his meals.
certainly doesn't overpay," he observed matter-of-factly. "Financially
speaking, it was the worst offer. I could have been making money going to other
schools." There never was any question in his mind that he would play
football in college and that football would pay for his education?there were a
brother and sister his parents intended to send to college, too, and that
entailed a financial burden No. 44 fully appreciated. At the end of his junior
year at Brockport High School (where he was a letter man in four sports, to say
nothing of being a sectional champion in skiing), No. 44 deliberately
transferred to Aquinas Institute in nearby Rochester which, in the football
business, has the reputation of being a sort of Eastern farm for the big
colleges and maintains a stadium seating 25,000 people, for a showcase.
football there for a semester, returning in the spring to Brockport to get his
diploma. He was approached by, among others, Indiana, Cornell, Rochester,
Villanova, Yale and Brown, No. 44 said "One place," he said,
"offered me room, board, tuition, books, three trips home by plane every
year and spending money. They came after me even after I'd entered
Michigan." He also received a Congressional appointment to the Naval
Academy, but turned it down because there was no certainty that he could pursue
a medical education there. At Brockport, he was graduated third,
scholastically, in his class. At Michigan he has maintained an average that
fluctuates between a high C and a B. His instructors?this year he is taking 15
hours of philosophy, speech, zoology, anthropology and geography?regard him as
alert and intelligent. "I couldn't make it any stronger than that," his
philosophy instructor said not long ago. "He's not just a lunk?he follows
what's going on. At crucial times?when I've asked questions?he's had an answer.
I'll put it this way: he's no Einstein, but neither am I."
football practice, which takes place every afternoon until about 6 o'clock, No.
44's academic week varies little from that of any other student enrolled in the
university. He attracts no unusual attention in the classroom. He must do his
studying at night, and generally goes to the library to do it. Recently, when
he has returned late to his fraternity house, he has taken to rousing the
sleeping brothers by reading items off a bulletin board at the top of his
voice. The brothers are tolerant of this behavior: they don't think he's
crazy?just blowing off steam, releasing the tension that builds up between
games. He neither smokes nor drinks ( Ann Arbor is dry) and he seldom has dates
during the week, though he may take in an occasional movie.
So it is football
that dominates No. 44's life and it is even, quite literally, the stuff his
dreams are made of. On the Wednesday night before the Indiana game he composed
himself for sleep before 10:30, as usual, and as usual at that time of week,
began to dream about football. This time he dreamed that Michigan had kicked
off. The ball described a low arc, hit an Indiana man and dropped dead. No. 44
picked up the ball. He remembers lateraling it to a tackle named Art Walker,
and then the dream trailed off into something else he is unable to recall. His
sleeping fantasies are of a type psychiatrists call "examination
dreams," that is uncomplicated dreams of passing some forthcoming test.
They are never, as No. 44 put it, "dreams of glory," but rather
defensive ones, "dreams of trying to stop the other team, of capitalizing
on their mistakes." If he is carrying the ball it is always in short line
bucks, if he is passing it is usually for short gains over center. "I guess
it's because the coaches try to impress us with the rock and sock of power
football," he has explained. "Single wing is power football. It's the
fundamentals and rules we've learned that come out in the mind, like tackling
hard, being sharp, knowing the rules, charging for that extra yard like they
want us to."
44 sees in football a good many analogies to his daily life. "You get a
sort of enjoyment in doing your part," he said, "in accomplishing an
objective as part of a team. It seems like there are more obstacles to overcome
than in any other game. You can't do it all on your own and you've got to come
to realize that. You take it and you dish it out. Other games, you get mad, but
you can't do anything about it. You can't make that contact, you can't get your
shoulder in there. This releases?well, I guess you'd call it inner
At the time No.
44 said all this he was getting ready to call on his girl, a pretty blonde
named Jan Garrett, who is a sophomore and waits on table and has even served
No. 44 at training table. Her picture stands on a shelf in his bedroom, and the
sight of it apparently stirred some other thoughts in his mind. "You
know," he said, "I felt awful lost as a freshman. This way, you're not
just another student. People meet you on campus and you've got something to
talk about with them. When you go to a school like this, when you walk down a
street or into a store, a lot of people know you. You get a kick out of that
and you want to do well for that reason. Another thing: I won't forget the
first touchdown I made. It was last year's Ohio State game. It was an
off-tackle play and I went over standing up. I got kind of a glow and warm all
over, like when you hear the band play 'Hail to the Victors.' It's never the
same after that. After that, it's like practice."