Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Mystery Of History

When he wasn't busy rooting against Pete Carril, TigerBlog was a history major back in his days as a Penn undergraduate.

TB isn't quite sure why he majored in history beyond just the most simplistic of "it is interesting."

And it was.

TB took some great classes at Penn, studying a wide range of historical eras, cultures, locations and such.

His focus was American history, and among his teachers were now-Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust (who taught in the American Studies department and with whom TB had two classes on the American South) and Walter Licht, who earned a Ph.D. from Princeton and who has through the years hit his old student up for tickets.

If he had to pick his single favorite class, he probably couldn't come up with just one. History of the 1960s was a good one. Anything about the Cold War. Or the Civil War. Or World War II. Or 19th century European history. Or the history of labor unions.

It was all pretty great stuff.

One of TB's professors was a man named Bruce Kuklick, who in addition to being a professor wrote a book on Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium that was pretty interesting.
In one of Professor Kuklick's classes, the subject turned to Alger Hiss, a member of the State Department in the 1940s who was accused of being a Communist spy and was subsequently convicted of perjury, for which he spent 44 months in prison.

Of course, the case against him was dubious, and it was one of the highest profile cases during the time of the fear of Communist infiltration of the U.S. government.

Anyway, Professor Kuklick told the class that years later he saw Alger Hiss in 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and went up to him, introduced himself and said that he had been teaching a class involving his case for years at Penn and had one question for him: "Did you do it?"

Looking back on it, maybe TB should have gone down the path of getting a Ph.D. of his own and being a professor. Nah. That wouldn't have been his style.

In fact, he found a career that has a great blend of the historian to it, and that is the athletic history of Princeton University.

TigerBlog considers himself an expert on the history of Princeton athletics, and that is why he was so shocked to see a newspaper clip that was forwarded to him about the 1974 football game between Princeton and Rutgers.

According to the story from the Daily Princetonian of Sept. 30, 1974, Princeton and Rutgers tied at 6-6 because Princeton was unable to attempt an extra point after a late touchdown. And why?

Because the Rutgers students tore down both sets of goal posts at Palmer Stadium to prevent it.

Walt Snickenberger scored with 22 seconds remaining in the game, but there were no goalposts left on the field. Princeton suggested kicking without goal posts or putting up backup ones (which apparently would have taken five minutes), but the refs were a no-go on either idea.

Ultimately, Princeton was forced to go for two and was unable to convert.

At first, TB figured this had to have been from a joke issue, no? And even now, he's not 100% sure he's not being tricked.

But the article does have accompanying pictures of the goal posts being torn down and of an irate Princeton head coach Bob Casciola.

It also has this line from writer Peter Seldin: "The game's electrifying final minutes were a wholesale departure from the sleep-inducing events of the first 40 minutes of play."

TB was also taken by the visual Seldin creates of Casciola postagme: "It's an unfortunate thing, an unbelievable thing," said Casciola, resignation written all over his face as he slumped back in his chair in the Caldwell Field House lounge.

For that matter, TB is pretty sure the same chair is still in that lounge.

Anyway, Princeton apparently had no recourse and was somewhat robbed, something that Rutgers coach Frank Burns even admitted. 

It's a fascinating story, one that TB had no idea ever happened. Assuming of course, it did happen, ad that he isn't being taken in by a joke.

It makes him wonder what else is out there in the Princeton annals that he's missed to this point.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you mave have missed this years spring football.