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Oklahoma football: More Notre Dame recollections

by Berry Tramel Published: October 26, 2012

Man, what a week. We’ve been writing our butts off about OU-Notre Dame, and the history of the series has prompted all kinds of memories and recollections from readers. We’ve written about some of them, but some didn’t really fall into a category, so I thought I would share them with you.


Thanks for your Monday “offerings.” Just what I wanted to see. My dad was a worshipful OU fan and I used to listen to OU games with him in his little grocery store in a place called Centrahoma (southeast of Ada) — a town where I also delivered a paper called The Daily Oklahoman. Just had six customers.

In 1957 I was in my third year of service to Uncle Sam and happened to be at Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. Sometime or other I had discovered that if you looked enough you could discover “foreign” newspapers in places like the newstand in Times Square. So I remember one Sunday morning riding from Brooklyn from my ship over to Times Square where I bought a Daily Oklahoman and riding back I learned to my horror that the hated Notre Dame had defeated OU. I took a lot of abuse that day. I did make it back to Oklahoma and graduated OU pharmacy school in ’63.

“In New York City, the paper sold for $2 weekdays and just a little more on Sundays. I think they were $3. Outrageous!”



On Nov. 16, 1957, I was a freshman in the Pride of Oklahoma band. I will never forget the deafening silence at the end of that OU/Notre Dame game.

About thirty years later I was working in the Personnel Department in a public school district in Orange County, Calif. One of my responsibilities was to interview prospective teachers.

One day a young woman came in and sat down at my desk. She had just graduated from college so had been born at least 10 years plus after that game. As usual, I broke the ice by asking where she had gone to college. When she said “Notre Dame,” I looked at her with my most serious expression and said “I went to the University of Oklahoma.” She gave a little jump and said in a trembling voice, “I’m so sorry!” Evidently, the story of Notre Dame ruining OU’s winning streak back in 1957 is legend there, also. Thought you might get a chuckle out of my story.



Can’t wait for this weekend. As a 16-year-old in 1957, I rode a school bus to Norman with several Hugo High School football players. We would buy a 50-cent ticket and sit in the south stands of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Not on Nov. 16, Statehood Day. Notre Dame had arrived, attracting 500 Catholic priests and nuns in the east stands. They would be loud enough to wake the echoes.

Under leaden skies, I muscled through the milling throng outside the stadium and found Cecil Samara, OU’s self-proclaimed No. 1 Fan. Garbed in crimson and cream, he stood by his Model T, The Big Red Rocket. I pleaded my case. He stared, then lifted his bull horn and barked a command.

A rich guy in a 10-gallon hat walked up. For $5, I bought a ticket to history.

Bud’s Boys were favored, but the Fighting Irish drove 80 yards in the closing minutes. When Dick Lynch scored on a sweep, the 500 priests and nuns screamed like 5,000.

The Fighting Irish had broken our 47-game win streak. And our hearts. I walked on the field through the milling players. Someone, seeking a piece of history, ripped the tearaway jersey from Bill Krisher’s back. The All-American guard from Perry continued walking, glassy-eyed.

Now, over half-a century later, the Fighting Irish return. They had beaten us again in 1966, but I was living in Florida and missed the game. On Saturday, holding a more expensive ticket, I’ll watch the Fighting Irish revisit.

Cecil is gone, his Big Red Rocket parked somewhere in history. Yet the priests and nuns will be back. Will 80,000 Sooner fans wake the echoes?


BURREL WOODRING, Yucaipa, Calif.

After looking at the repros of the Daily Oklahoman sports pages on the 1957 Notre Dame win, I recalled an interesting fact.

I was in my second year at Central State and my first year as a copy boy at the Oklahoman. My job was to take copy from the sports desk to the composing room and proofs back to the desk. I was working Saturday night when Notre Dame won the game. One of the sports make-up editors wanted to put a black border around sports page one. John Cronley was sports editor, and if I remember right he wouldn’t allow it, but he did allow them to put a 24 point border around the game picture page. Seeing that repo page in today’s paper made me remember the incident. Usually, in those days, a black border was reserved for the Pope or the President.

I can only think of the impact that 9/11 had on us to describe the feelings in that sports department that evening. We just could not accept it. That Bud’s string had ended was just unacceptable. Granted they started another the next Saturday.

After they started televising, on OU football Game Day Saturday, the whole south side of OKC and points south would shut down. Other than the beer joints, you couldn’t find very many retail stores open.

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,...
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