Reflections upon Games Canceled

A look back at the last time a Stanford football game was postponed - the 1963 Big Game. A week later, the Indians smoked cal 28-17.

Violence has, after a lapse of 38 years, once again delayed a Stanford Football Game.

We will not play San Jose State this Saturday - the game has been rescheduled for December 1st. (Note: The university has missed a remarkable opportunity to cancel the game and the series.)

On Friday, November 22, 1963 I was in my two-year old orthodontic practice on Welch Road in Stanford's professional area, when the Kennedy assassination was announced. The people of the United States were shocked that their leader could be struck down by madman or political assassin. As a life-long Republican, I had never warmed to the Kennedys, but naturally the killing transcended party politics. The loss of life was limited to three - Kennedy, Tibbets and Oswald, so that there was not the same widespread personal loss that would be shared by hundreds, if not thousands, of American families this last Tuesday morning.

Postponement of the 1963 Big Game was announced, and as a football fan, I remember initially questioning this response. If I remember my feeling at that time, it was that it would not dishonor John Kennedy to play the game on schedule. I will admit that the marvelously orchestrated funeral of the fallen president held me transfixed to our 12" B&W Zenith television set for four days, a period during which time seemed to stand still.

After a one week delay, the 66th Big Game was played before a sellout crowd of over 80,000. Cal and Stanford had served as conference doormats for the most of the 1963 season; nonetheless, the Big Game was a thrilling contest. The Indians prevailed 28-17. This was John Ralston's first Big Game on the Stanford sidelines; the former Berkeley player had been named head coach that year by Chuck Taylor, who was serving his initial year as Stanford's athletic director. Bill Walsh was a member of John's coaching staff. A nationally televised 24-14 win over the visiting Irish of Notre Dame had been the single bright moment of the season.

Highlights included three field goals by Braden Beck. (Twenty years later Braden completed his orthodontic residency at UOP's School of Dentistry, where I serve as Professor -- his hands proved as talented as had his foot!) Oddly enough, Stanford kicker Stan Lindskog had kicked three field goals the previous year. Stan's dad Vic Lindskog anchored the line at center for the Wow Boys in the 1941 Rose Bowl.

Photo Gallery:

Announcement of 1963 Big Game Postponement

1963 Big Game Program

1963 Big Game Lineup

SF Chronicle story on Stanford 28-17 win

 

 


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