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.”