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Friesell's admission of error could not change the score, however. But Cornell president Edmund Ezra Day, athletic director James Lynah and head coach Carl Snavely agreed that such a victory was not worth keeping. Lynah wired Dartmouth athletic director William McCarter "relinquishing claim to victory."
The Big Red's unbeaten streak was over, ended not only by an opponent but by noblesse oblige. Walter Okeson, chairman of the National Football Rules Committee, announced that the score would go into the official record books as Dartmouth 3, Cornell 0. But Cornell and, by association, the entire Ivy League had emerged from the fiasco with honor.
Friesell, as one might expect, became "Fifth Down Friesell." He even received mail addressed to "Fifth Down, Pittsburgh, Pa." And he had a horse named after him. But his reputation scarcely suffered from the boner. And neither did his psyche. The next season, he officiated in the NFL until a broken leg put him on the sidelines. He became a successful real estate agent. Friesell was elected to the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, and in 1963 he donated the shoes he wore and the whistle he blew in 575 college and professional games to the NFL Hall of Fame. And far from being embarrassed in the company of Dartmouth and Cornell people, he attended reunions at both schools for years. He died in 1974 at the age of 80, "having really enjoyed life," says Murphy, who, ironically, became Friesell's good friend.
As for Murphy, a hero for but a day.... "Well, I was really bitter right afterward. I was only 21 at the time, and it was a big thing to me. But upon reflection, I'd have to say what happened was genuinely good for football. And it was good for me, too. You know, when I was working as vice-president of a large liquor-store chain in New York, I got my biggest account ever because of that game." He laughs. "The customer was a Dartmouth man."
It's just one of those awful things you have nightmares about.
Boners, we know, are not the exclusive property of the incompetent. They strike down the skilled and unskilled alike, the legendary and the unknown. But of all the famous figures in this goofball sweepstakes, none has enjoyed a more distinguished career in his field than Bill Shoemaker, the winningest jockey in history. And yet, in the 1957 Kentucky Derby, the Shoe pulled a boner for the ages.
Shoemaker was actually a replacement rider in that race. He had been called in by Texas oilman Ralph Lowe, owner of Gallant Man, to ride the colt in place of his regular jockey, Johnny Choquette, who had been suspended for that week for rough riding. Lowe and trainer Johnny Nerud were convinced Gallant Man had a chance for the roses, so they wanted the best rider around, and that was indisputably Shoemaker, a 25-year-old legend-in-the-making who had won the Derby two years earlier on Swaps. He and Lowe hit if off famously.
The night before the race, the oilman took the jockey to dinner in Louisville. There, half jokingly, he told Shoe about a dream—a nightmare, really—he had had the night before. In the dream Gallant Man was winning the race down the stretch when, suddenly, his jockey mistook the 16th pole for the finish line and stood up in his irons too soon, losing the race. Shoemaker laughed uneasily. "Maybe, just maybe, a seed was planted," he says now.
The Derby favorite had been Calumet Farm's Gen. Duke, but he was scratched on the eve of the race because of a bruised hoof. Gen. Duke's stablemate, Iron Liege, was still in the running, and Bill Hartack, who had been Gen. Duke's regular rider, was shifted to him. Most experts agreed that with Gen. Duke out, Bold Ruler, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, was the horse to beat. Whitney Tower, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's racing savant, gave Iron Liege a look and then wrote, prophetically, "The one who will win it is the one who can best take advantage of breaks, mistakes and racing luck. One mistake will be fatal. One break could be decisive."
Iron Liege got off beautifully and, through the far turn, was never more than a length and a half behind the speedy front-runner, Federal Hill. At the head of the stretch, Hartack moved his horse into the lead past a tiring Federal Hill. Bold Ruler, inexplicably, had faded and would finish fourth. But Gallant Man, running seventh with only a quarter mile to go, was making his move. With a furlong left, he caught Iron Liege. The Derby had become a two-horse race. On they came, running as one, with Iron Liege on the inside, Hartack whipping him lefthanded. The colts were nose to nose at the 16th pole, Gallant Man seemingly the fresher of the two, when, to the astonishment of those who saw it (and not everyone did), Shoemaker stood up in his irons for a split second, acting, Tower wrote, "for all the world as though the race was over." Shoemaker had in that instant transformed Lowe's nightmare into shocking reality. He recovered quickly, but Gallant Man had lost a precious stride. The two horses raced across the finish line, Iron Liege a nose ahead.