Why ’62 Nominated the ’53 Football Team for West Point’s Hall of Fame

The Reasons for 62’s Nomination

After the Navy Game —- He ordered the door secured and as he turned to speak his eyes were misty. “I have never coached a team that give me more than you did. I never have coached a team that has given me as much satisfaction. Considering all the conditions since 1951, you have done more for football at West Point than any other team in the history of the Academy”.

One of the reasons for development of the ’62 web site devoted to Army Athletes 1890 to present was the perceived need for today’s Cadets to know what went before. When the Class of 1962 entered the Academy in the summer of 1958 the accomplishments of the 1953 Team were instilled in us by the upper classes. This initial orientation was further reinforced with The Military Psychology and Leadership Department’s block of instruction, which centered on the Army-Duke Game of 1953.The first story in the Army Lore Section of the ’62 web page is of Bob Mischak’s game saving and season saving rundown of speedy Duke halfback, Red Smith, in the closing minutes of the Duke Game. As information was gathered relating to the Fall of 1953 it became apparent that there was far more to that Season than Bob’s magnificent play in New York City’s Polo Grounds the afternoon of 17 October 1953. Seeking that history resulted in the copying of the AOG article on Vince Lombardi on to the web site, and then the reading and extracting material from the book — “A Return to Glory”. (The story of the crowning achievement of the 1953 Army football team in the rebuilding years following the 1951 cheating incident inspired the title and the writing of the Korean War history of the Academy — which was selected as a Bicentennial Book) In the end, the team’s marvelous history of performance in one of the most trying periods in Academy and Army Football History overwhelmingly argued for the only reasonable course — the nomination of the entire team for West Point’s Sports Hall of Fame. Bob Mischak who played and coached in many games after Graduation, including 3 Super Bowls, 8 AFC Championships and numerous Playoff Games states in a January letter to the Selection Committee –As many reports have stated, the 1953 team “Returned to Glory” with the defeat of the nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils at the Polo Grounds in New York City. From a player’s stand point, that was the epitome of any game, team, and student body support that I’ve been associated with – bar none.

A major contribution was made by the 1953 team to resurrect the honor and glory of the United States Military Academy, its students and service personnel. Naming the 1953 Team to the Army Sports Hall of Fame, would be a reward that acknowledges that fact and could be considered as an Army “Unit Citation”.

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1954/mischak-letter

As members of the Classes of 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957, do you remember —

The major change in NCAA substitution rules between the 1952 and 1953 seasons, which sharply limited substitution and lengthened playing time – causing a return “two-way players” and what had been called years earlier “iron man football”? (That Earl Blaik had to completely revamp his previous 2 years of rebuilding?)We are sure you remember that Quarterbacks and Linebackers had to call most of the plays. Col Blaik called the first 8 plays — normally runs. Then the Quarterback was on his own, although Vince Lombardi would help from the coaches booth high above the stadium. He would not send down explicit plays , but sent down play series that appeared to be good against the defense. Typically the series would be to setup a specific play that should go for long yardage or six points. These would go through Col Blaik. The Quarterback always made the final decision based on the defense he was facing. Certain defenses could not stop the belly series, others could not stop the down and out while others could not stop the deep crossing patterns.Do you remember that Lowell Sisson and Bob Mischak started every Game in ’51, ’52 and 1953?

That Navy’s Coach Eddie Erdellatz said after the Game “”Pete”was the best quarterback we ran into all year.”? When pressured to compare Vann to Notre Dame’s great Quarterback Ralph Guglielmi, that he said “Yessir. Vann is a better ball handler than Guglielmi. He passes very well and I though he called the plays very well today. He did a wonderful job.” Do you think that Peter had listened and done what Vince Lombardi had told him to do? Do you believe he played Quarterback the way Vince Lombardi wanted?

That Bob Farris played every down in 2 games including Navy and all but 3 minutes in 2 other games?That first score against Navy — Vann slamming the ball into “Gerry Lodge”‘s midsection, following your fullback for a step into the center of the line, withdrawing the ball, and handing off to Pat Uebel? Do you think Peter had listened when Vince Lombardi demanded perfection?That “Leroy Lunn”, ’53 Captain played his greatest game as a Cadet against Navy?

That Ralph Chesnauskas played the entire game against Duke, calmly kicked both extra points to give the winning margin, and was one of the players who had to have their Triple A t-shirts cut off after the game as they had adhered to the skin?Did you know that Peter Vann had badly sprained his ankle the week of the Duke Game, and that Coach Lombardi and Col Blaik stood on each side of him as the Team went through drills at the Polo Grounds — to catch him if he fell? Did he look like he was in pain as he directed the Army Attack and played ruthless defense?In the 2d half of the Dartmouth Game, in the 1st offensive play, Center “Norm Stephens”‘ bolting from the huddle, and rushing – almost sprinting to the ball, with the team pausing, realizing what had happened, then charging to line of scrimmage after him – and the Corps’ roar of enthusiastic encouragement?The rally at noon meal on Thursday before the Duke game, in which “Coach Blaik” intoned, “The Corps and the Team are one unit. You cannot separate them”?

That Peter Vann played the entire 60 minutes of the Navy Game?That “Rox Shain” had not even traveled to Philadelphia with the Team, but was yanked off the Cadet Train that morning, suited up to kick off as he could kick an additional 15 yards? Do you remember his opening kickoff ? Do you remember that in typical “Norm Stephen” fashion, he came down the field so fast and so hard that he had knocked the ball right out of the Navy player’s hands and right into Lowell Sisson’s hands on the Navy 30 yard line? Or did you forget, because that is just the way “Norm Stephen” played football? Do you remember the Leader, the Motivator that Norm was? Do you remember the pass from Vann to Don Holleder from the Army 30 to the Navy 25, then the run of 7 yards to the Navy 18? Do you remember that 2d score in the 2d quarter, the one in which Peter again slammed the ball into Lodge’s gut, withdrew it and gently handed the ball to Uebel who went the 3 yards untouched into the end zone? Did that backfield know how to fake? Or were you cheering so hard that you weren’t paying attention to every play?

The growing pent-up emotion within the Corps prior to the Duke game brought on by the cheerleaders’ imposed silence following the Thursday noon meal? The deceptive “belly series” when Peter Vann’s ball-handling wizardry, and “Gerry Lodge” and Pat Uebel’s excellent faking repeatedly deceived defenses during the season?

The dramatic goal line stand against Duke, when the Corps poured down out of the Polo Ground stands and stormed to the sidelines, roaring, “Hold that line! Hold that line!”? Do you really remember that goal line stand as Duke inched ever closer from the 7 yard line? Did you know that “Gerry Lodge” remembered what Col Blaik had told the team. When the Blue Devils get inside an opponents’ 10-yard line, they run the ball between their own tackles on 95% of plays? And when they get close to the goal line, they run quarterback sneaks. “Gerry Lodge” had seen, left guard “Dick Ziegler” ’54, playing magnificently all afternoon, often absorbing the energy of three Duke blockers because of his hard charges in the middle of their line. As Duke huddled for Lutz to call the fourth down play, Gerry said to Ziegler, “Remember, he’s going to try to sneak.” Lutz did, but he was met by a wall of white jerseys. Do you remember Army took over on downs, inches from the goal line, while the Corps of Cadets shouted their frenzied approval. But the game wasn’t yet over. On first down, “Freddie Attaya”, on orders from Blaik, punted from deep in his end zone. Duke had 30 more seconds and four more plays from the Army 37-yard line – all passes – all knocked away. Peter Vann batted away the last pass in the end zone, a pass thrown by Gerry Barger, Duke’s quarterback, to Duke’s All American starting quarterback Worth Lutz.Do you remember that the United States Corps of Cadets had stopped the 7th rank team in the nation on 4 attempts to smash over the Goal Line, then after the immediate punt by Army stopped them cold as they went to the air 4 consecutive times? Do you remember that first drive against Duke, 76 yards, “Jerry Hagan” quarterbacking, did you believe you were going to do it?

The catching of Navy’s Jack Weaver’s punt on the your 30-yard line, Bob Farris’ viscous block, as Pat Uebel veering to his left raced down the sidelines behind a wall of your Classmates between him and every Navy player for his 3d touchdown of the day.Do you really remember that breath-holding moment when “Freddie Attaya”, standing just inside the end line, had to punt out of Army’s end zone in the last minute of the game against Duke, as Army fought to hold its 14-13 lead? That Coach Blaik had said it would take 5 years before he could field a team that could meet Navy on even terms, when after some of you had to sit through the 42-7 trampling 2 years before.

Swarming on the field at the sound of the final gun and the booming “Victory Cannon” following the Duke game, to hoist team members onto your shoulders and carry them from the field? That Pat Uebel set a record against Navy with his 3 touchdowns?

The magnificent performance of ends Bob Mischak, Lowell Sisson and Don Holleder throughout the season, and their receptions of Peter Vann’s pinpoint passing?

The hard-driving running of right halfback Tommy Bell throughout the season?There are many we have not mentioned. Normally they are never mentioned because their jerseys are always so dirty you can not even read their numbers. We do not even know some of their first names but we believe you know and you do remember what they did that Fall. They wore numbers in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. They were Lapchick, Ziegler, Krause, Sisson, Lunn, Mischak, Kramer, Zamborowski, Franklin, Bruno, Doremus, Chesnauskas, Lesey, Farris, Shannon, Holleder, Herdman, Ordway, Sullivan, Melnick, and Glock.

Backs were Cockrell, Attaya, Schwerkert, Bell, Wing, Cody, Zeigler, Wynn, Hagan, Knieriem, Ubel, Mericle, Chance, Lodge and Vann. A kicker was ShainYour Managers were – Meador, GreerYour Coaches were — Col Blaik, Paul Dietzel, Vince Lombardi, Capt. R. L. Dobbs, Carney Laslie, and Paul Amen, Plebe Coach was Capt. R J. St Onge, and Roland Bevan was Trainer Do you remember Peter Vann did not like his passes intercepted, saving the touchdown by tackling Navy’s Bob Craig on the Middie 43 after the run back of 33-yards? Do you think Peter had listened when Vince Lombardi had told him he was responsible for correcting his mistakes?

Do you remember that Bob Mischak was called to Col Blaik’s office after the season and handed his All American Certificate? Do you know that West Point does not even recognize that accomplishment?Do you remember after the Duke Game the Professors coming out to practice, standing with you in the pouring rain watching your team practice?Do you remember all that the Cheer Leaders demanded of you and of Billy’s triumphal entry into Washington Hall?

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1954/jay-gould Do you remember that Joe Franklin had his knee torn up in the 1st half of the Duke Game when Ralph Torrance and Eddie Meadows (Duke’s All American) double teamed him?

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1955/joe-franklin Do you remember Peter Vann’s switching the ball to his left hand as Eddie Meadows grabbed his right — then the wobbly pass straight to Freddie Attaya to keep the drive alive?

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1956/peter-vann Do you remember Bob’s 73 yard run down?

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1954/bob-mischak (Poor quality clips of that play are at —)

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/armylore/50 Do you remember that Bob Farris played the entire 2d half of the Navy Game blind in one eye? (even though he was Captain – as a Cow – of the 1954 Team, he was never again to play another down of football)

http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-1956/bob-farris
Do you remember what your Team accomplished in the Fall of 1953?
http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-teams/football/1953-football West Point has had many great athletes and many great teams. We do not know if your team will be selected this year or even next year. We do know that at some point they will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. When they are, we believe that as they stand on “Blaik Field” in Michie Stadium, they would like to hear one last time the Roll of the Drums, the Bugle Call and Your Thundering Chant of

Go! Go! Go!

The Class of 1962

Can Do

Selections are announced each Spring — usually in May

Induction occurs on a Fall Football Weekend

If we have failed to mention someone who we should have — Please thank them for us — Thank them for returning Army football to Greatness.

The Nomination is at http://forwhattheygaveonsaturdayafternoon.com/wp-nomination/1953-fb

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