The Nation's Football Rivalry
By JACK CLARY
The New York World-Telegram and The Sun (now defunct)
On a cold, clear early December afternoon in 1899, a workman climbed to the top of Franklin Field's wooden stands in Philadelphia and hurled a huge batch of tickets to passersby walking below. He yelled to them to pick them up and come in and see Navy play football.
Two years later, 25,000 persons jammed into the same wooden stands. Most were there by receipt of a printed invitation but many paid scalpers from $25 to $50 per invitation to watch the Army-Navy game.
Times have not changed much in the ensuing 63 years. Tickets for the Army-Navy game are just as hard to get as ever, even this year when both teams have a losing record. But never is the apparent tide of battle to be gauged by a team's season record.
History has proven a stern teacher.
In the series' second game, Navy had a 6-0 record and Army, in its first full intercollegiate season, was 4-1. Yet the Cadets lacked the experience of the Naval Cadets who had won 24-0 the previous year. Final 1891 score at Annapolis: Army 32,Navy 16.
In the most recent game, Navy, ranked second nationally and with its finest team in history, was a 13-point favorite to beat the Cadets last year in Philadelphia. After 59 minutes and 58 seconds, Army finally succumbed to a roaring cauldron of noise from 102.000 persons, a cruel clock and a tough Navy defense to lose 21-15 in what many consider the most exciting finish in the series' 64-game history.
Exciting? Absolutely. But this is the heart of the Army-Navy history- -thrills, color, pageantry, military precision and an indominatable desire to do the impossible.
The 1948 Navy team had not won a game when it faced unbeaten, untied Army. But a pair of old hands who had almost beaten the great Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis juggernaut of 1946-also to be stopped by a clock brought the Middies a 21-21 tie.
Seven years later, an All-American named Don Holleder entered Municipal Stadium as a beleagured, badgered and much- criticized quarterback. He threw only two passes that day missing both-but brought the Cadets an astounding 14-6 victory over a once-beaten Navy team that had won in the Sugar Bowl the previous New Year's Day.
Upsets, surprises are as commonplace in the series as astounding individual enterprise. Take the field goal kickers. In Navy's 1910-11-12 victories, Jack Dalton and Babe Brown scored all the Middies points on field goals. Clyde King did the same thing, 6-0, in 1919. Slade Cutter booted what many feel is the most famous field goal in the series' history for a 3-0 Navy victory in 1934, its first since 1921. Ed Garbisch did an about-face for Army with his four goals in 1921 and a 12-0 victory in Baltimore.
The all-time football performers from each school took particular delight in each renewal, starting with Red Emerich who scored a series' record 20 points In the 1890 opener, to Roger Staubach and his unbelievable passing and running heroics the past two years.
Army's Lou Merillat paced two victories in 1913 and 1914 and Elmer Q. Oliphant scored Army's points a 14-0 victory the following year and nine of 15 in a 1916 victory. During the Roaring Twenties, Army rode to victory behind Light Horse Harry Wilson and Chris Cagle in 1927 after Wilson had he1ped the Cadets to a 1925 victory. Both combined to ho1d Navy's national champions to a 21-21 tie in Soldiers Field in 1926.
Blanchard, Davis, Arnold Tucker & led the Black Knights from a five-game losing streak in the series from 1943-46 after Middie stars such as Ben Martin, now Air Force Academy coach, Hal Hamberg and Bill Busick, present Navy athletic director, had led the Middies resurgence.
Since the erd of World War II, the game has stayed in Philadelphia where Bob Zastrow led Navy's amazing 14-2 upset in 1950; where Red Blaik brought his team from the shadow an alleged cribbing scandal; in 1951 to a 20-7 victory in 1953; where the 1954 Team Named Desire put Navy in the Sugar Bowl; where Pete Dawkins and the Lonesome End Bill Carpenter got Army's last win in 1958; and where Joe Bellino and Staubach have ruled since.