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I TAUGHT BUD WILKINSON TO PLAY FOOTBALL
Patty Berg
November 08, 1954
One of America's greatest golfers recalls her childhood days in Minneapolis when she was quarterback of the 50th-Street Tigers and Bud Wilkinson, now the coach of the University of Oklahoma Sooners, was the right tackle. Patty takes no credit for Wilkinson's success at Oklahoma, but she does feel that plays she ran over him may have contributed to his education
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November 08, 1954

I Taught Bud Wilkinson To Play Football

One of America's greatest golfers recalls her childhood days in Minneapolis when she was quarterback of the 50th-Street Tigers and Bud Wilkinson, now the coach of the University of Oklahoma Sooners, was the right tackle. Patty takes no credit for Wilkinson's success at Oklahoma, but she does feel that plays she ran over him may have contributed to his education

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The "50th-Street Tigers" competed in everything from kick the can to bobsledding all year long. In hockey, I was a forward, Bud was goalie. In baseball, I was an outfielder, Bud pitched (and argued with his catcher, one William Wilkinson). In football, I called the plays, and that's where Bud really learned the game. The huddle conversation would sound something like this:

Berg?"Roger and Stanley go out for a long pass. John, you take out that big guy with the green sweater. Okay, now, Boots, you hike the ball back to Marty when I say '22.' Marty fakes a long pass, see, and heaves me a lateral instead and I'll go through right tackle. We need the yards. Remember, you guys. '22.' "

Wilkinson?"Are you coming through me again?"

Berg?"That's what I said."

Wilkinson?"What's the big idea? You been carrying the ball off right tackle all afternoon. Aren't you bright enough to go someplace else for once?"

Berg?"Now look, Bud. You just shove your man out of the way and lemme through."

Wilkinson?(nothing for Berg but a nasty look).

But time after time, he would open those wide holes. He blocked hard and consistently gave me the safest running room on the field. I ran where it was padded the softest and that was always the path behind Bud. A couple of years ago, I visited him at Norman and he drove me out to watch the Sooners practice at Owen Field. He gathered them around and said:

"This is the kind old lady who taught me how to play football. She did it merely by running right-tackle slants so often I had to learn to block opponents to keep her from trampling me."

Most of the Tigers, 14 of us, lived on one block of Colfax Avenue South, between 50th and 51st streets, in Minneapolis. I was the only girl and I knocked the stuffings out of any kid who said I couldn't play. (I was the one who lived at the corner of 50th, which is why we weren't called the "Colfax Tigers.") This must sound as though we were being raised in the midst of an unshaven, slouch-cap, slum area. Colfax South actually was pretty fashionable.

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