BY FRANK GRAHAM
EARL BLAIK'S STORY
"You Have to Pay the Price," written by Earl Blaik in collaboration with Tim Cohane and published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, is a fine and forthright book in which no punches are pulled and no holds barred. Anyone acquainted with Blaik knows that this is the only kind of book of which he could be capable, for in all matters, great or small, through all his life, he has scorned evasion, stuck to the truth as he has seen it and fought for it with a Spartan spirit.
The choice of the title was an excellent one, for if Earl demanded sacrifice
on the part of the football players he coached, he matched their sacrifice with his own. Football to him never was a game to be played half in earnest, half in jest. Although he is not a humorless man, he could see no light side of the sport. He coached it as he had played it, never sparing himself, never consoling himself in defeat.
The story begins with his childhood in Dayton, Ohio, and ends with his resignation at West Point. In between are his progress as a player from high school, through the University of Miami in Oxford, 0hio, and the Military Academy, his brief service as an Army officer, his experience as an assistant coach at West Point and as head coach at Dartmouth and the Point. There were lights and shadows all the way, but triumphs never softened him, nor losses never depressed him overlong.
Notre Dame ... the Expulsion ... the General
There is no intention here of telling the story. He's already told it superbly. Buy the book and read it and tell your friends about it. There is everything in it that you could expect. The younger readers will find inspiration in it. The older ones will come upon nostalgic touches that will warm their hearts.
But, just by way of pointing up some of the high spots, there are the break in relations with Notre Dame, the so-called "Cribbing Episode" at West Point , A TERM that offends Earl deeply and his friendship with General Douglas MacArthur, who wrote the forward to the book.
Of the Notre Dame break, Earl has written, in part:
"Let me emphasize at this point that nobody at West Point that I know of ever objected to that segment of Notre Dame's 'Subway Alumni' whose devotion to the school is a spontaneous, natural and healthy thing, not infected by a fanatical demand that the tearn always be victorious. What Army did find sharply distasteful was that segment of the 'Subway Alumni' neither small nor quiet, which had, in the thirties and early forties, come to regard the Notre Dame-Army game in the Yankee Stadium as a sporting event only so long as Notre Dame continued to win, it."
And of the expulsion from the Academy of 90 cadets his work demands its inclusion:
"because I realize the telling of the documented story can not, in the end, undo what was done, can not negate the tragedy. United States Army and West Point archives, however, include only an official and selected version of what took place. I never was permitted to place my own substantial record of the affair In the library of the Military Academy."
From there, Earl, mercilessly but justly slugs the Army brass at West Point and in Washington.
The First Meeting With MacArthur
Earl first met Gen. MacArthur when he was a cadet and the General, recently returned from World War I, in which he was wounded twice, decorated between times and cited seven additional times for extreme bravery under fire, became the Superintendent of the Academy in 1919. Now he was receiving representatives of the first class.
"This was a formal annual ceremony, calling for full-dress, including white gloves, with Cadets salutIng upon, arrival, standing at attention, and saluting before leaving. On this occasion, however, formality was cast aside by the General. 'Sit down, gentlemen,' he greeted us, and offered us cigarettes, Fatimas or Melachrinos, as I remember.
'That gesture did more to break the ice and endear him to our class than almost anything else he rnight have done. It was, as usual, MacArthur doing the unusual."
Through the years a friendship between Earl and the General grew and flourished: but for a letter from MacArthur to Earl being delayed in transit as Earl resigned from the Army, Earl never might have become a football coach.
"I got home to Dayton on March 17. The next day, I received a letter that had been forwarded from Fort Bliss. It had been sent there by General MacArthur. He was concluding his tour as West Point Superintendent in June and was then to be assigned to the Phillipines. He wanted me to go with him as his aide. If the General had written it a day earlier, I would have withdrawn my resignation and stayed in the Army."