Tar Heels and Touchdowns and Tigers, Oh My!

Note from Elizabeth: This latest post from JACK HILLIARD is certainly timely, though not in a good way, given the negative national attention currently being drawn to UNC’s football team. Here’s hoping the Heels can rise above the mess this Saturday in their latest match-up with LSU.

It’s being billed as the “Daytona 500 of College Football.” The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game will match two projected preseason top-25-ranked teams: UNC’s Tar Heels and LSU’s Tigers. The game, scheduled for 8 PM on Saturday, September 4th in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, will be a nationally televised event on ABC Sports and will be the first game in Carolina’s 122nd season of college football.

UNC will be meeting LSU for the seventh time, but the Tar Heels have won only once during the series which dates back to 1948 . . . and that ’48 game is the one win.  Following that win, UNC Head Coach Carl Snavely said, “Best game since Texas!” (referring to Carolina’s win over Texas to start the 1948 season).

LSU’s Tigers came into Kenan Stadium on October 23, 1948 to meet a Tar Heel team that had won 11 straight games and was ranked 3rd in the country. From the opening whistle, it was apparent that Coach Snavely had the Tar Heels ready to add a 12th game to the string. Charlie Justice and company were brilliant, much to the delight of the 41,000 fans on hand. Among them, in his special place along the Carolina sideline was photographer Hugh Morton. Once again, Morton captured on film that afternoon a classic photograph of Justice — an image that would be reproduced often in books and magazines when the Justice story is told.

When the dust settled on the Kenan turf, the final score was Tar Heels 34, Tigers 7. Carolina would go on to win four more games in 1948 and finish the season undefeated. A trip to the ’49 Sugar Bowl was their reward.

One year later, almost to the day, on October 22, 1949, Snavely’s Tar Heels were in Baton Rouge for a return engagement with the Tigers. The Tar Heels were still riding a 20-game regular season win streak. It was a night game, one of three during the Justice Era. On Friday afternoon Snavely put his troops through a vigorous workout that went into night. The lateness of the hour may have triggered a chain of events that played a part in the Tar Heel loss.

According to LSU Head Coach Gaynell Tinsley, it was the custom for the LSU grounds crew to water down the field following the visiting team’s practice, but since the Carolina practice lasted so long, Coach Tinsley told the crew to go on home and do the watering early Saturday morning.  But after Carolina finished its workout, the LSU team managers took it upon themselves to go ahead and water the field. When the grounds crew came in on Saturday morning, they did as they had been told and watered the field also. By the time the Tar Heels arrived for the game, Tiger Stadium was under two inches of mud and water (according to Charlie Justice in a 1989 interview).

Ironically, the weather forecast for the Thursday before the game had been for rain, and Coach Tinsley, in his weekly news conference, indicated the Tigers would have a better chance on a muddy field, saying his players were better “mudders” than most teams. Well, it didn’t rain on Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. Justice said it was “sunshine hot.” Sports writer Bud Montet wrote in Saturday’s “Baton Rouge Morning Advocate” that the Tiger turf was in perfect shape, adding, “if no further rain . . . Choo Choo Justice will have as fine a field to run on as he’s ever seen in his college career.”

Needless to say, Justice, Weiner & Company had problems keeping their footing on the slick field, much to the delight of many of the 43,000 in attendance. LSU, as predicted, played much better on the wet turf and snapped the Tar Heel winning streak by a 13 to 7 score.

“How wet was the field?” One Sunday morning daily jokingly put it this way: “There was a three-inch drop in the Mississippi River over the weekend.” And when the 1950 Yackety Yack came out, the lead sentence for the game read: “On a muddy field in a city where it hadn’t rained in a week, the Tar Heels dropped their first game in 21 appearances.” John Lardner, writing in Newsweek magazine, titled his column “The Water-Sprinkler Blues.”

The Tigers continued their winning ways when they came to Chapel Hill in 1961 for Homecoming, and haven’t looked back since, winning  in ’64, ’85 and ’86.

The 7th game in the series could be the charm for the Heels. At least the field will be dry inside the Georgia Dome!

–Jack Hilliard

The Grey Fox and Sunny Jim, part 2

Note from Elizabeth: this post from JACK HILLIARD continues a two-part tribute to two Hall-of-Fame UNC football coaches: Carl Snavely, a.k.a. the “Grey Fox” (head coach from 1934-1935 and 1945-1952; see part 1) and Jim Tatum, or “Sunny Jim” (head coach in 1942 and from 1956-1958), who passed away on July 23, 1959 at the age of 46.

Three seasons after Carl Snavely left UNC, a charismatic character arrived from the University of Maryland. During the 1955 season, when Maryland was undergoing some administrative changes, head coach Jim Tatum would often spend Sunday nights having dinner with Charlie Justice. (Justice was in the area because he was doing color commentary on the Amoco Redskins TV Network each Sunday afternoon). Charlie believed that Tatum was the answer to UNC’s coaching problems and tried to talk him into returning to Carolina. Tatum had been a UNC assistant coach from 1938 to 1941 and head coach in ’42, plus he played for Coach Snavely in 1934 and ’35. Whatever the reason — Tatum’s unhappiness as both head coach and athletic director at Maryland, or Justice’s convincing ways — he returned to Carolina in 1956. Said Tatum, “I’m like an old br’er rabbit going back to the brier patch.”

The front-page headline in the January 9, 1956 Washington Post read: “Tatum Goes To North Carolina.”

Since “Sunny Jim,” as many called him (others called him “Big Jim,” and his players called him “Bullmoose”) had been so successful at Maryland with three 10-game-winning seasons, five bowl teams and a national championship in 1953, Tar Heel alumni and fans thought they were headed once again for greatness. You could go downtown in Chapel Hill and get a slice of “sweet Tatum pie” at the Carolina Coffee Shop, or you could get a trademark Tatum ten-gallon hat from Monk Jennings and Bob Cox at Town & Campus clothing store.

Below is a detail from a Hugh Morton image of Tatum’s triumphant return to Kenan Stadium on September 22, 1956, for a game vs. NC State (click to see full version). But the ’56 Tar Heels struggled, winning only 2 games. It would be Tatum’s only losing season.

In ’57, thanks to “Sunny Jim’s” enthusiasm and optimism, things took a turn for the better. An early season win over nationally ranked Navy and a win over Wake Forest, despite having to suspend three players prior to the game with the Deacons (including quarterback Dave Reed), and finally a win over Duke, had Tar Heel fans looking up. A classic Hugh Morton image of Coach Tatum and an emotional Dave Reed following the game at Duke (see below) has been widely published and was a Morton favorite.

The 1958 season started off slow, but a win at Southern Cal on October 3rd had fans cheering again. Everything pointed to the 1959 season . . . that would be the year that Tar Heel football would be great again. Said Tatum, “1959 will be our year. That’s what I’ve been building for all this time.”

On Thursday, July 16, 1959, Jim Tatum played a round of golf at Hope Valley with his friends Carrington Smith, Vic Huggins, and Orville Campbell. Upon finishing the round, Tatum asked Campbell to drive him home saying, “I don’t feel good.” On Sunday, the 19th, he was hospitalized.

By now the media had picked up on Tatum’s illness. On Thursday evening July 23rd, across the state in Greensboro, WFMY-TV Sports Director Charlie Harville was just about to go on the air with his 11:20 PM sports report when he was paged for a phone call. It was Chuck Erickson, UNC Athletic Director, who passed on the news that Jim Tatum had died at 10:40 PM. Harville struggled to report his friend’s death. Jim Tatum was 46 years and one day old. The opening game of the ’59 season was 57 days away.

I remember being in summer school on Friday, July 24th. As I walked from Manly dorm to my class in Phillips Hall, the campus was silent. I don’t ever remember being on campus when there was absolutely no sound — but on this day there was nothing but silence.

September 19, 1959 was a picture-perfect autumn day in Chapel Hill. (Perhaps I should say a Hugh Morton picture-perfect autumn day). Clemson came to town and handed the Tar Heels the first of 5 defeats during the 1959 season . . . a season that had so much promise just wasn’t to be.

Jim Tatum was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame with the class of 1984. Tatum’s Hall of Fame plaque was presented to his widow Edna by his friend Charlie Justice.

When UNC alumni and fans get together, often the subject of football will come up in conversation and invariably someone will ask, “What if ‘Sunny Jim’ had lived? Could he have taken the ’59 Tar Heels to the place where the ‘Grey Fox’ had taken them in ’48?”

We’ll never know.

–Jack Hilliard

The Grey Fox and Sunny Jim, part 1

Note from Elizabeth: UNC football coaching legends Carl Snavely and Jim Tatum both passed away in the month of July –  Snavely on July 12, 1975, and Tatum on July 23, 1959 (51 years ago today, at only 46 years old). JACK HILLIARD provides a two-part tribute to the two Hall-of-Famers: first up is Snavely, a.k.a. the “Grey Fox.” Keep an eye out for part 2 on “Sunny Jim,” coming soon.

A cold winter rain was falling on the UNC campus when Head Football Coach Carl Snavely arrived at his 311 Woollen Gym office on February 14th, 1946. Spring football practice was underway and Snavely was thinking about a scrimmage game with Coach Doc Newton’s Guilford College Quakers that was scheduled for February 27th in Kenan Stadium. The ring of his phone broke Snavely’s concentration. It was UNC’s Director of Admissions Roy Armstong. “Carl, I thought you’d like to know that a freshman named Charles Justice has just enrolled in the University.” Before the soft-spoken Snavely could react, Armstrong began extolling Justice’s football virtues – how he had been recruited by more than two hundred schools, as well as by George Halas and the Chicago Bears of the NFL . . . how he had been an all-state performer at Asheville’s Lee Edwards High . . . and how he had been the star of the Bainbridge Naval Training Station team during the War.

Finally, Snavely was able to get in a word. “Thank you very much, I hope Charles comes out for the team.” Suddenly that cold rainy Thursday had turned into the best Valentine’s Day Carl Snavely ever had. (And as for that scrimmage game with Guilford, Justice carried the ball one time that day – a 66-yard touchdown run to the delight of about a thousand students who had come to watch the practice).

Carl Grey Snavely, affectionately known as “The Grey Fox,” or “King Carl,” or “The Dutchman,” first came to UNC in 1934 and was head football coach for 2 seasons. Two great teams and two great players emerged from that period: George Barclay became UNC’s first All America player and Jim Tatum became an All-Southern tackle. Snavely left Carolina following the ’35 season to become head coach at Cornell; Tatum followed him to Cornell and became his assistant. It was while at Cornell that “The Dutchman” gained national prominence and during a famous game exemplified his shining ethics.

On November 16, 1940, Cornell played rival Dartmouth. Cornell had won 18 straight games, but Dartmouth was able to hold on to a 0-0 tie going into the 4th quarter. Then Dartmouth scored a field goal and led 3-0. With less than a minute to go, Cornell got the ball to Dartmouth’s six-yard line. Three runs and a pass failed to score . . . then, as confusion reigned on the field with what looked like a tremendous upset, the unheard-of happened. Linesman Joe McKenny signaled the ball should remain with Cornell for another down. Referee Red Friesell agreed. Cornell was given a fifth down. They scored. Game over, Cornell wins 7-3. When Carl Snavely reviewed the game film and realized what had happened, he sent a telegram to Dartmouth Head Coach Earl “Red” Blaik. “Cornell relinquishes claim to victory and extends congratulations to Dartmouth.” Dartmouth accepted the forfeit; final score 3-0, Dartmouth. (Snavely pioneered in the use of film for coaching and scouting, and is remembered in Chapel Hill for his late-night screening parties with vanilla ice cream).

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“Scores, Weather and Traffic, Up Next”

Note from Elizabeth: Hope you enjoy another great sports post from Morton volunteer Jack Hilliard!

Redskins_staff

The Sunday afternoon weather forecast for Washington, DC and northern Virginia was for cold temperatures with sleet and snow. But that didn’t keep several thousand North Carolinians and Hugh Morton away from the Washington Redskins-Cleveland Browns football game in Griffith Stadium on December 10, 1950. Most of those Tar Heels were there to see UNC’s great All America Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice work his magic one more time. Morton was also there to see his friends Cleveland Quarterback “Automatic” Otto Graham, Redskins Halfback “Bullet” Bill Dudley, and Amoco Redskins Network announcer Harry “The Whiz” Wismer.

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Before the scheduled 2PM kickoff, the snow began falling.

It was the final game of the ’50 season and for Justice it was the completion of his first season of professional football. Cleveland was favored to win (they were 9 and 2 while the Redskins were 3 and 8). A season-high crowd of 32,000 watched the Redskins take the lead in the first quarter when Justice caught a touchdown pass from Sammy Baugh. Both teams alternated in scoring the first six of the game’s nine touchdowns with the Redskins striking first each time. At times the snowfall was so heavy, it was hard to see the players, especially the Browns who were wearing their white uniforms. Luckily, the weather didn’t prevent the halftime show.

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My Personal “Photo By Hugh Morton”

11/5/04 dedication of Charlie Justice statue outside UNC's Kenan Stadium

Note from Elizabeth: Five years ago today, Johnpaul Harris’ sculpture of UNC football legend Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice was unveiled at the west entrance to Kenan Stadium. Not only was our volunteer Jack Hilliard there, he was involved (along with Hugh Morton) in the creation of the statue. Jack shares some of his recollections in this post.

The voice on the phone was familiar. “Hello Jack, this is your friend Hugh Morton.” He was answering my request for photographic help with one of my projects. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes but as we began to wrap it up Hugh said: “I’m going to be dong something next Tuesday that you might be interested in. I’m going to take a group of Justice-era players over to Johnpaul Harris’ studio in Asheboro to check out his progress on the Justice statue. Would you like to join us?” It took me about 1/100 of a nanosecond to make up my mind. We were all to meet at the McDonald’s on Highway 64 in Asheboro at 10 on Tuesday morning June 1, 2004. “We’ll caravan over to the studio . . . I can take you there, but couldn’t begin to tell you how to get there,” he said.

When I walked into the restaurant on Tuesday morning it was like a gathering of my boyhood heroes . . . Rizzo, Neikirk, Morton, Pupa, and Cox.  A few moments later Weiner joined the group. Boyhood heroes indeed, but the thing is, I never outgrew that . . . these guys are still my heroes.

Johnpaul Harris with model of Justice statue, ca. 2004

The 10 mile drive to Harris’ studio took about 15 minutes — Highway 64 to 49 and back into rural Randolph County. Johnpaul and Ginger Harris’ home/studio is unique. (It was once described in a magazine article as a cross between “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Sanford and Son”). We were greeted and taken in to view the 8 foot 6 inch clay model. All of the Justice-era players made comments and Harris took lots of notes. Then Morton took out his camera and began taking pictures. When all of the players’ pictures had been taken, he turned to me and said, “OK, Jack, let’s get one of you.” It was like that Walter Cronkite – Ted Baxter scene from the Mary Tyler Moore Show when Cronkite tells Baxter, “you can call me Walter.” I wasn’t dressed properly for a picture, but I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to have a my very own personal “Photo by Hugh Morton.” When that photo arrived in the mail a couple of days later, it was placed in a very special scrapbook to be treasured forever.

Jack Hilliard with Charlie Justice statue at Johnpaul Harris' studio, 6/1/2004

Over the next five months I made several trips back to the studio to watch a master at work, and in the process Johnpaul and Ginger became great friends. In early September a statue dedication date was finalized.

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Majestic Kenan Stadium, A Priceless Gem

Wide-angle view of Kenan Stadium, circa 1997

Note from Elizabeth: This post was written by volunteer Jack Hilliard as a tribute to Kenan Stadium in honor of its recent facelift. For a great related article about Hugh Morton and Charlie Justice, check out this column by Lee Pace on TarHeelBlue.com.

What two things do each of the following have in common: opera star Norman Cordon, Hollywood actress Georgia Carroll, CBS News correspondent Charles Kuralt, UNC Football Great Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, actor-comedian Andy Griffith, Rev. Billy Graham, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Rameses VI, NC Governors Terry Sanford and J. Melville Broughton, Hall of Fame football coaches Carl Snavely and Jim Tatum from UNC and Wallace Wade from Duke, musician Arthur Smith, and Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy?

Need a clue?  There is a UNC-Chapel Hill connection . . . Each appeared and/or performed in Kenan Memorial Stadium, and Hugh Morton photographed them in that majestic venue.

The 1966 UNC Football Media Guide called Kenan “A Southern Showplace.” Built in 1927 for $375,000 on the outskirts of the campus, the arena now sits nearer center campus following 82 years of campus growth. Over those years, it has been the stage for July 4th fireworks displays, concerts featuring Bruce Springsteen; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Grand Funk Railroad; Joe Cocker; and Chapel Hill favorite James Taylor. In mid-May, UNC graduation ceremonies are held in the stadium with speakers like Bill Cosby, Madeleine Albright, and Desmond Tutu.

Air view of high school band competition at UNC's Kenan Stadium

The Stadium has played host to high school marching band competitions (see above), campus beauty contests, homecoming and reunion celebrations, and two U.S. Presidents (John Kennedy in 1961, and Bill Clinton in 1993). During World War II (when the entire campus welcomed the Navy Pre-Flight School), the Stadium was the home for military graduation parades. A memorial was held in the Stadium for FDR in April, 1945 and for JFK in May, 1964. Around that same time, a popular campus rumor was that the Stadium might need to be used for Dr. Robert B. House’s Classics 31 class and Dr. J. Primrose Harland’s Archeology 85 because they were so large!

But, most people think of Kenan Stadium as a football arena. It is indeed that — the home of the North Carolina Tar Heels.
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Tar Heels are going bowling…again!

Note from Elizabeth: This post was written by someone whose name will be familiar to readers of this blog: our knowledgeable commenter Jack Hilliard. Hilliard is a North Carolina native, UNC-CH alumni (1963) and retired television producer/director (primarily for WFMY-TV in Greensboro). Hilliard got to know Hugh Morton through legendary UNC footballer Charlie Justice, and they worked closely together on the 2004 campaign for the Justice statue that stands in front of UNC’s Kenan Football Center. Hilliard now works as a volunteer for UNC Libraries, helping us identify Morton football images from the Justice era.

Butch Davis and his 2008 Tar Heels are headed to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte on December 27.  It will mark Carolina’s first bowl appearance since 2004, and will be their overall 26th. Hugh Morton covered several of those games over the years.

UNC’s first bowl game was the 13th Annual Sugar Bowl Classic (link to archival film of game) in foggy New Orleans on January 1, 1947.  That game was billed as the “Battle of the Charlies.”  Leading Coach Carl Snavely’s Tar Heels was freshman sensation Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, and leading Coach Wally Butts’ Georgia Bulldogs was senior All America Charley Trippi. The Bulldogs were unbeaten, untied and ranked number three in the country.  Carolina was 8-1-1 and ranked number nine. The game lived up to its advance billing.  Carolina led 7-0 at the half, but Georgia came from behind twice in the second half to take the game 20-10.

UNC 1947 Sugar Bowl starters

The game was not without controversy. Two second half calls (or really one no-call and one call) went against the Tar Heels. An interception-lateral play was allowed to stand and put Georgia into scoring position and a Carolina interference call nullified a Tar Heel touchdown. (The interception-lateral play would be reviewed today, but since there was no replay in 1947, the call stood). When the 16mm film was developed and shown the next week, both plays were shown to be questionable — too late to help the Heels.

When the game ended, 75,000 fans stood and cheered both teams as the two Charlies shook hands at mid-field. That friendship would continue as both Justice and Trippi would meet as opponents seven times during their NFL careers between 1950 and 1954 — Justice with the Washington Redskins and Trippi with the old Chicago Cardinals. (Ironically, Justice’s first and last games as a professional, on 10/22/50 and 12/12/54, would come against Trippi and the Cardinals).

Reunion of 1947 UNC Sugar Bowl Team, at Greensboro Train Station, 12/31/1996
At 11:30 AM on Tuesday, December 31, 1996, a 20-car Norfolk Southern train pulled out of the station in Greensboro (the same way it had done on December 21, 1946) headed for New Orleans and this time for the 63rd Annual Sugar Bowl.  90 UNC players, managers, wives and special guests of the 1947 Sugar Bowl team would meet up with about 40 members of the ’47 Georgia  Sugar Bowl team. . . including the two Charlies.  Justice, Trippi, and Carolina’s 1946 Co-Captain Ralph Strayhorn took part in a pre-game 50-yard-line ceremony at the Louisiana Superdome on January 2, 1997.

Reunion of 1947 Sugar Bowl Teams, January 2, 1997
The outcome of the 1947 Sugar Bowl was settled a long time ago, but for one final time, Justice and Trippi would replay that game played 50 years before and add their own “what ifs.”  The reunion trip was truly “A Time Remembered and a Sentimental Journey,” and of course, Hugh Morton was there with his camera.

– Jack Hilliard

Turkey and Football

Turkeys in snow
I have often heard it said that turkey and football are the best parts of Thanksgiving. Hugh Morton loved to photograph both of them, so I’m sharing a few prize shots with you in honor of this week’s holiday.

The next image was identified as one of “Hugh Morton’s Favorite Ten” in the 10/1/1968 issue of The State magazine (along with this one and this one). The text that accompanied the image is included below (note that I cropped it roughly as it appeared in The State, on page 10).

Bill Dudley (UVA #35) touchdown run, UNC-UVA football game, Kenan Stadium, 11/20/1941

Morton’s most significant sports action picture is probably this one of All-America Bill Dudley running 80 yards in Kenan Stadium at Chapel Hill in November 1941 for what some University of Virginia alumni say was the greatest individual performance ever given by a “Cavalier” athlete. The picture was taken for the “Charlotte News,” and Sports Editor Burke Davis titled it “I’m coming, Virginia.”

Justice’s prayer

On an overcast November day in Yankee Stadium in 1949, UNC’s injured and idled All-American running back huddled to the ground and pulled his rain cape over his body.  Hugh Morton pulled out his camera and trained it on Justice—Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice—praying undercover for the Tar Heels, who were leading Notre Dame 6-0.  It may be Morton’s most widely published photograph from that notable contest, whose final outcome was a 42-6 defeat for Carolina.

As I mentioned in my post on Friday, I just could not dampen the festive atmosphere for Saturday’s game by posting this photograph.  Justice’s prayer was shattered in New York, but the Tar Heel victory this past weekend in Chapel Hill was “just deserts.”

Today I found a few more negatives from the 1949 game and I have scanned several of those found thus far. I hope to put up a selection in the next day or two.

The Tar Heels against the Fighting Irish in the Big Apple

Tomorrow afternoon, Kenan Memorial Stadium on campus will be in the hub of excitement that accompanies UNC football, magnified by the mystique of its opponent, Notre Dame University.  Earlier this week I wrote a blog post for our sister blog, North Carolina Miscellany, featuring photographs in the Photographic Archives made by Bob Brooks in 1949 when UNC first played Notre Dame.  That game took place in New York City’s Yankee Stadium.  And if you didn’t already know or deduce . . . Hugh Morton was there.

I cannot bring myself to include in this entry Morton’s most memorable photograph from that contest.  It’s just too heartbreaking to post amidst the anticipation and excitement of tomorrow’s game.  I promise to publish it on Monday.  Instead, here’s a festive pre-game photograph made of UNC’s mascot Rameses and fans in the lobby of a New York hotel:

Group gathered for Nov. 1949 UNC-Notre Dame football game

As usual, we’d love to hear from you with identifications if you can.

I spent a good portion of today tracking down negatives from the game (I’ve found some) and trying to confirm that a group of them are from Yankee Stadium.  The day escaped from me in the process, so I’ll post the game photographs on Monday.