Army-Navy, 1952

Army fans have seen a great deal of good and spirited football played by their team over the last 50 years. Many great games have been played by the cadets over that post- war span to fill many a book but none of which for the most part captured the rich tradition and history of the Army's biggest game of any year, The Navy Game.

50 years ago last fall Army played one of those interesting, tough and competitive games with their arch-rival that will be long remembered, not so much for the quality of that contest, but the closeness of the final score in which the Mids prevailed by a touchdown.

The following is an article describing that game---

By Hy Goldberg
The Newark Evening News
November, 1952

Cadets, Midshipmen Follow President's Example in Battle of Fumbles

PHILADELPHIA--- President Truman set the pattern for the 53rd Army-Navy football game in vast Municipal Stadium yesterday. For the remainder of the bright, frosty afternoon, the future admirals and generals followed closely the example of the man who will not be their commander-in-chief by the time they are commissioned officers.

Not many persons in the crowd of 102,000 were in a position to observe the President as he flipped a coin in the presence of the two team captains, Midshipman John Gurski and Cadet Al Paulekas. The President tossed a silver dollar into the air and, as it came down, it eluded his grasp and he was forced to fumble around on the ground before he tried it again and determined that Army preferred to receive the kickoff.

If it's good enough for the President, it's good enough for us, the Middies and Cadets must have said to themselves, for they proceeded to stumble, fumble and, throw erratic passes all over the field of play. The Navy won, 7-0, but it wasn't because their opperatives didn't make a noble effort to present the West Pointers one opportunity after another. By the same token, the Navy, established by pre-game appraisers, the superior power, went through some remarkable maneuvers in an attempt to disprove it. That was true right down to the final whistle.

Perfect for the Bookies

Coach Eddie Erdelatz and the vociferous brigade of midshipmen in the stands were happy enough to win by any score, but those final seconds and last few inches were a mortal blow to any one who risked a few bob on the boys from Annapolis. The bookmakers had established a spread of six and eight points, which means the man who wagered on Navy gave eight points and any one who liked the Army took six.

The seven-point margin cut the spread right down the middle and the bookies pocketed most of the money. Or aren't there any betting "agents" left in the land these days?

As the ball squirted continually out of the hands of the young men in the moleskins, a baseball fan in the gathering. bellowed, "Let's examine the ball." That's a favorite practice of the big league managers when they suspect the pitcher of tampering with the pellet and considering how clear and dry the day was, the pigskin was a remarkably slippery object.

Before the contest was a minute old, both sides had proved they were badly in need of the electric blanket President Truman uses to keep himself warm when he encounters bona fide football weather. Mario De Lucia fumbled the ball away on Army's first play from scrimmage and Fred Franco followed suit the first time the Middies tried to run a play.

Overpowered Only on Paper

Watching in startled disbelief, the spectator was apt to murmur to himself, "Well, the boys must be given a little time to get their bearings". But, If the Cadets were overpowered- as they were supposed to be on piper-the Middles must have using a defective compass. Except for the closing minutes of the first period, when Phil Monahan plunged over for the lone touchdown, and final seconds of play, they invariably moved in the wrong direction.

When Franco and Monahan endeavored to run with the ball, they invariably encountered a couple of Cadets named Ed Weaver and Ron Lincoln. If they met the defending Army boys with a sufficiently hard jolt, they and their fellow backs obliged by dropping the ball.

Each of the succeeding three periods started very much like the opening quarter. As the second chukker opened, Don Fisher, Navy halfback, fumbled and Weaver recovered for Army. Before the half ended, Don Cameron had fumbled the ball away for Navy. Bob Mischak had done likewise for Army, John Weaver had intercepted a pass thrown by Pete Vann, Franco had lost the ball back to the Cadets and Attaya immediately had returned it to the Middles in the same fashion.

Navy's outstanding lineman all season has been Steve Eisenhauer, a guard from Sheffield, Pa., who-believe it or not-is known as "Ike." The crowd cognizant of the presence of the current resident in the White House, waited patiently for the public address system to give forth, "tackled by Eisenhauer," an announcement that could have been good for a slight chuckle.

Alas, the opportunity presented itself only on rare occasions largely because the Cadets didn't give the Navy defenders much chance to tackle them. They had possession of the ball four times in the first period-only once for as many as four successive plays.

Three Out of Four

Navy's interceptors had a better average than that during the third period. The Cadets had the ball for a total of four plays during the first 12 minutes and three Army aerials were intercepted, two of Vann's and one of Dick Boyle's. The latter's throw was snared by Charley Sieber, who had just entered the game but got the idea immediately.

Of course, the Middies weren't completely idle during that stretch. Frank Adorney fumbled the ball away once and Tony Correnti, who intercepted one of Vann's passes, promptly lost his hold on the ball-but his teammate, John Weaver, recovered with the loss of a mere 20 yards. Dean Smith, one of the Navy backs, likewise committed a miscue, but he was too close to the sidelines and. when the ball bounded outside, Navy was ruled the possessor, since Smith was the last man to touch it.

During the brief lapse between third and fourth periods, coaches of both teams must have anointed hands of the athletes with glue-or perhaps they surreptitiously skipped up to the press box on the rim of the stadium for a peek at the statistics. The figures would have been enough to shock them into deadly determination, for they showed that the Navy had lost the ball five times on fumbles, the Army thrice, that the Middies had intercepted four passes and the Cadets one. At any rate, there was no more of that nonsense. The Cadets reached Navy territory for the first time under their own power before the Middies stopped them on the 40 and Navy went charging right back.

Thus ended the annual service battle, with the 102,000 spectators finding more and more excuses in the chill twilight to reach for the hip and the athletes convinced that the football does, indeed, take peculiar bounces. Top Stories