Share “Reliving Notre Dame’s upset”

Berry Tramel  


Reliving Notre Dame’s upset

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm •  Published: November 13, 2007

This week I wrote about Notre Dame’s 7-0 victory over Oklahoma in 1957, ending the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak. And I got some very interesting feedback. I thought I would share some of the stories.

The first is from Ross Porter, the long-time Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster who grew up in Shawnee, went to OU, worked at WKY-TV (Channel 4) and then was hired away by a Los Angeles station. Porter is a class act all the way and shared some great memories:

“Hi,  Berry. Really your  reminiscing  about  November  16, 1957.  It  brought  back  a  lot  of  memories.  That  was  my  junior  year  at  OU,  and  I  was  working  as  a  student  intern  on  Harold  Keith’s  sports  publicity staff  with  some  guy  named  John  Brooks and  another  named  Jim  Jones,  who  went  on  to  become  an  Oklahoma  congressman  after  he  was  LBJ’s  press  secretary. Mr. Keith  assigned  me  the  job  of  writing  the  pre-game  story  for  the  OU-Notre  Dame  football  program  that  focused  on  the  50th  anniversary  of  statehood  that  day.  I’ve  still  got  it  in  my  office.  OU  was  an  18-point  favorite.

“My  other  assignment  on  game  day  was  to  cover  the  Notre  Dame  dressing  room  after  the  game for  quotes  to  be  handed  out  to  the  reporters  in  the  pressbox.  Do  they  still  do  that? (Yes.)  I  left  the pressbox  after  Dick  Lynch  scored  (with less than four minutes left in the game) and  made  my  way  on  the  concrete  walk  between  the  south  end zone  and  the  scoreboard  to  the  east  side  of  the  stadium  where  the  visiting  team’s  dressing  room  was  then  located.

“When  I  walked  in,  there  was  not  a  single  person  inside.  About  three  minutes  remained  in  the  game.  There  was  a  large  chalkboard  at  the  front  of  the  room.  It  looked as  if  someone  had  taken  an  eraser  and  wiped  out  the  X’s  and  O’s  from  the  coach’s  halftime talk.  Instead,  the  only  words  in  chalk  on  the  board  were,  “WE  WON  THIS  ONE  FOR  ALL  THE CATHOLICS  IN  OKLAHOMA.”    I  don’t  know  whether  a  student  manager  or  a  priest  or  who  knows who  else  ran  in  after  Lynch’s  touchdown  and  grabbed  the  chalk.  Or,  whether  it  was  written  as  the  Irish  were  leaving  the  room  at  halftime.  Berry,  the  words  on  that  board  must  have  been  erased  as  soon  as  the  team  reached  the  dressing  room  after  the  game. That  one  line  on  the  board  was  never  reported  by  anyone.

“My  recollection  of  what  I  heard  Jack  Ogle  say  on  the  public  address  system  when  the  game  ended  differs  with  what  someone  told  you.  The  crowd  of  55,000  was  98%  Sooner,  and  the  silence when  the  clock  hit  0:00  was  eerie.   I   heard  Jack  say, something  like,  ’Folks,  if  this  team  has  given  you  any  pleasure  or  joy  in  the  last  five  years,  let  it  be  known  now.’   And  at  that  point  the  crowd  stood  and  roared  as  the  OU  team  left  the  field.  The  feeling  of  shock  that  day  and  for  several  days  after  that  are  still  etched  in  my  memory.  Thanks  for  your  column.  It  relived  an  eventful  day  in  my  life.”

A reader named David thinks of his mother every time he hears about the 1957 Notre Dame game:

“My mom was always a big football fan and picked a great time to go to OU: 1952.  My grandfather (her dad) had just won his state senate seat from Guthrie, and dad says they used to stop by the state capitol on the way to the football games and pick up four tickets on the 45-yard line at Owen Field.  Mom never mentions that because it would sound a little too much like bragging, I think.  Dad wasn’t a big football fan, but his law school years kept them in Norman through the ’57 season; so mom witnessed all the home games of the streak.

“Well, mom says the image she remembers most about that time was after the ’57 Notre Dame game.  She says it wasn’t just the silence, but that no one left their seats.  People just continued to sit there.  There was no crying, it was just this stunned feeling of disbelief.  It was the longest time it semed before people began to file out — as if to get up and leave would be the final acknowledgement that the game was over and OU had, in fact, lost.

“Mom is one of those people who never has an unkind word to say about anyone or anything.  About the closest she’ll come was when my young nephew, who knows little of the history of the game once asked at Owen Field why the fans were cheering a Notre Dame loss on the stadium scoreboard.  ‘Why would we care about Notre Dame losing?’  My mom just just turned to me and said, ‘Tell him, David.’ She wouldn’t express ill will toward Notre Dame, but she was perfectly happy to let me do it on her behalf.

“If I ever booed at a football game, I risked mom’s look of disapproval.  Our season tickets are all together, so I prepared her before this year’s Miami game that I would boo the Canes with gusto.  I just told her, ‘You know, Miami is my generation’s Notre Dame,’ and she understood immediately.  I didn’t get the look.”

And finally, we hear from a military perspective: 

“I was all of four years old then, but my mother has told us this story through the years. My family moved to Norman in 1956 as my father was a Navy pilot who was located to the Naval base in Norman. Yes, many people don’t know the North Base was home to Navy pilots during that era. My father’s commanding officer gave him two tickets to the Notre Dame game on the 50-yard line, three rows away from where the governor was sitting. Well, my dad should have known better as my mom grew up as a Chicago Catholic listening to Notre Dame on the radio.“Mom wore her kelly green suit to the game and was screaming and yelling for Notre Dame amidst the OU fans. Dad kept tugging on her sleeve, saying, ‘Rosemary, sit down!’ Needless to say, my mom ruled the day. That remained the first and last time my Dad and Mom attended an OU game.  While Dad passed in 1986, Mom still likes OU third after Notre Dame and Navy.”

4 Show / Hide Archive Comments

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
+ show more


  1. 1
    KTEN Texoma: Missing boaters found safely on Lake Texoma
  2. 2
    Cystic Fibrosis Ireland welcomes potential new treatment
  3. 3
    Research says weight loss surgery more helpful in treating Type 2 diabetes compared to lifestyle...
  4. 4
    10 Reasons Why Taylor Swift’s Fourth of July Ruled America
  5. 5
    Princess Charlotte's christening will have Diana at its very heart
+ show more