Three seasons to remember

There have been three very special Husky football teams for me. Before discussing the particular teams, let me create the context for making them special.

In 1950, at the age of 12, for some reason, which has disappeared in the passage of time, I became a staunch Husky fan. Our family had lived in the Seattle area for three years by 1950. As I traversed Jane Addams Junior High and Lincoln High, my keen interest in the Husky footballers maintained itself, but I never attended any of their games. There was sufficient social and sporting activity in my life that I didn't think about not attending Husky games. I was happy to follow them through the newspapers.

After missing one year because of military obligations, I started my undergraduate degree at U-Dub in the Fall of 1957. Suddenly, I was attending the school, which fielded my beloved Huskies. I really wanted to go to the games but, alas, my financial requirements meant I had to work. I had a wonderful part-time job. Standard Records and Hi-Fi in the Roosevelt District allowed those of us who were students to select whatever hours we wanted to work as long as we there on Friday nights and Saturdays. Since the games were on Saturday, I was prevented from attending any games. Since I worked in the back area much of the time installing equipment in cabinets, I was able at least to listen to the games.

Enter team number 1 - I was a junior in the Fall of 1959 and viewing the upcoming season with my usual mixture of optimism and skepticism. It was Jim Owens' third year at the helm and the 3-7 record from 1958 did not give me great hopes even though the 1958 team was young and had gems ready to burst onto the national stage. The 1959 team started the season 4-0 making me believe they had a chance to end the long Rose Bowl drought. The fifth game was at home against USC and much to my great disappointment USC won 22-15. These were the days of the AAWU which had only 5 teams. However, the team bounced back and finished the season with 5 consecutive victories. The last 2 wins were shutouts of California and Washington State.

The Huskies were off to their first Rose Bowl in 16 years. Two friends and I decided to go to the game. We were able to get tickets and my first in-person Husky game was going to be the Rose Bowl! We took one of the charter buses filled with students and arrived in Los Angeles in time to spend New Year's eve there. The three of us were jazz fans and decided to make our way to a club where the legendary Wild Bill Davison, one of the original Chicago sidemen and an Eddie Condon regular, was playing.

We discovered a phone number we could call which delivered accurate information on how to use the LA transit system. We carefully worked out a route to the club and headed off to hear Wild Bill. Upon arriving at the club, we discovered he wasn't going to be opening until three days later. Swallowing our disappointment we went in anyway. After all, it was New year's Eve and we might as well have spent it there. Inside we discovered we were three of about six customers, and there was a rather nondescript group playing. We managed to coax drinks from the waiter to accompany our conversation. About twenty minutes later in walks Wild Bill. He's come to take a look at the place.

The waiter must have told him we were there to hear him so he came and joined us. We had a great time talking with the first famous musician any of us had met. He was funny and a real conversationalist. He also scolded the waiter for serving such watered down drinks which resulted in all of us getting more potent refreshments henceforth. To top off the evening, he went and sat in with the group on stage and we got to hear him play two sets anyway.

The next day was the game with favored Wisconsin. As I recall, none of the local papers gave the Huskies a chance. I think they also were upset by the fact USC would have been in the game had they not been on probation (at least that is what I recall). I didn't know what to think about our chances going in. Of course, the result is well documented and the current Husky media guide has a description of the 44-8 victory. I enjoyed every minute of it in spite some people beginning to feel sorry for the Badgers. What an outcome for my first in-person game. Yes, that 1959 team was very special.

Upon finishing my graduate degree in 1966 and moving to Vancouver, BC to take up a position at Simon Fraser University, I purchased season tickets and have continued to do so ever since.

Enter Team number 2 - In the Spring of 1991 I told my wife I would like to go to all the games that year. I said the team could be something special and it would be fun to attend all the away games. She said to go ahead so I did. Everyone reading this knows about the 1991 Huskies. The team was so much fun to watch. I particularly enjoyed the games in Lincoln and Berkeley. The Nebraska fans were very gracious after watching U-Dub come back in the second half and beat the hometown boys going away. The first half was very frustrating because of a non-trivial number of big offensive plays by the Dawgs which were nullified by holding calls. It seemed as if the referees were part of the opposition too.

The game in Berkeley was the closest call all year. A big touchdown run by Beno Bryant played a key role and the game went right to the wire as Cal was threatening on the last play of the game but we prevailed.

That 1991 team was very special for Husky fans. It certainly was special for me as that is the only season I went to all of the games.

Last year's team is the third team I have to add to my very special team list. It is so recent that there is no need to reiterate what was achieved last year. I cannot recall more drama than last season, or more achieved by what seems to have been the will of one player. It most certainly was a team effort, but what a competitor we had leading the team.

I hope to add more teams to my very special list. And, by the way, I have told my wife I would like to go all the games again in 2002.

You can take that however you like.
Brian Alspach is a mathematician and columnist for Poker Digest, which is published bi-weekly in Las Vegas.

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