Some of this year's Silver All-Americas were superb football players whose feats moved spectators to hysteria; others set no records, scored no points, just played on the team and got their letters and their knocks. All, nonetheless, enjoyed playing football, and found—later, if not while nursing bruises after practice—that they profited from its discipline, anguish and hard work. Their achievements in college and, more important, their achievements since—in the community, in business, in law, in medicine, in the military, in sports, in good works—were the basis for the selection of these 25 men. All earned their football letters in college, all graduated in 1938 and all eminently deserve the silver goalposts symbolizing the award. If a phrase can be used to describe the postcollege careers of the award winners, it is that they have done and continue to do their chosen work quietly and well.
Sixty college and university presidents, among them the superintendents of the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, were each asked to nominate a single football letterman of outstanding leadership both during and after his athletic career. From these, a panel of 12 judges, having studied the citations, selected the 25 who had most distinguished themselves in their fields and who best represented "the human values in which athletics and education are joined."
Award winner Brigadier General James B. Tipton, now commander of the Washington Air Defense Sector, finds this link between athletics and postgraduate achievement: "Competition in sport develops a spirit that drives you to do the best you can, in any field, within the rules." His teammates on the Silver Anniversary All-America, one is certain, would agree.
Vignettes of the winners appear on pages 78 and 79, while their recollections of their most memorable feats (or disasters) on collegiate football fields are graphically depicted on pages 80-83. (A quality all 25 share is an admirable sense of perspective.)
Two of the elected men were the best football players of 1937: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Byron (Whizzer) White, unstoppable Colorado halfback, Rhodes scholar and professional player with Pittsburgh and Detroit; and Clinton Frank, Yale captain, pinpoint passer, Heisman Trophy winner and, later, founder of a highly successful Chicago advertising agency.
Justice White (whose views are set forth in some detail beginning on page 84) and Adman Frank, along with the doctors, lawyers, military people, college administrators, industrialists, businessmen, the minister and the coach who comprise their 23 teammates, acknowledge that the fall of 1937 was a period that seems to grow more placid on reflection. For most of them it is a happily remembered time. It was, however, a year of "recession" (but not, praise God, Depression). The long foreshadow of World War II perhaps was visible, but there were only a few who saw it. "Today," says Dr. Franklin Lynch, pediatrician and former Dartmouth quarterback, "we're more aware of what's happening in the world, are more uneasy and more easily frightened." Yes and no. Dr. Lynch may have forgotten that the following year millions of Americans were scared out of their pajamas by Orson Welles's broadcast about an invasion of Martians.
It was a time of romance, too. The former Edward VIII married Mrs. Wallis Simpson, and clucking readers wondered if, given the opportunity, they would have made a similar sacrifice. Dancers weren't twisting then, but they did go truckin' on down to the Big Apple. President Roosevelt was accused of trying to pack the Supreme Court. Gershwin and Ravel died. So did Erich Ludendorff, German strategist of the World War (as it was then called). The Hindenburg, filled with inflammable hydrogen, caught fire at Lakehurst, N.J., and everybody suddenly lost interest in rigid airships.
The Japanese began a serious war in China, but even when the U.S. gunboat Panay was sunk in the Yangtze by Japanese naval planes there wasn't much American reaction. The Spanish Civil War, begun in 1936, dragged on, with General Francisco Franco getting increased aid from Germany and Italy.
Amelia Earhart Putnam disappeared in the Pacific. Spectacular dust storms continued to hit the northern and southern Great Plains, Montana and Oklahoma suffering most. Floods in the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi river valleys drowned 900 and left 300,000 homeless. Despite the New Deal, eight million Americans were unemployed. Sit-down strikes, notably against the auto and steel industries, became rougher. It was the year of President Roosevelt's "a plague on both your houses" remark. Americans laughed at the movie Nothing Sacred, pondered the Townsend Plan, ruminated over the play You Can't Take It With You and were shocked at Of Mice and Men.
Jake Kilrain, last of the bareknuckle fighters, died. Joe Louis beat the Cinderella Man, Jim Braddock, for the heavyweight championship. Pittsburgh had the best college football team, Colorado was Rocky Mountain champion, Alabama was best in the Southeast, Fordham in the East. Slingin' Sammy Baugh flung the Washington Redskins to the professional title, the center jump was eliminated after goals in basketball and Don Budge beat Baron Gottfried von Cramm in a Davis Cup match, agonizing Hitler. The Yankees beat the Giants in the World Series. War Admiral was Horse of the Year.