Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rick Cleveland: Red & Blue v. Maroon & White

I have on my desk a perfectly preserved game program from the Mississippi State-Ole Miss football game played Nov. 24, 1945. On page 1, it tells us about school colors: “For Ole Miss, Red and Blue; for Mississippi State, Maroon and White.”

That hasn't changed. Most everything else has.

We begin with the price of the program: 25 cents. Compare that to the $10 an Egg Bowl souvenir program will cost 71 years later. That's an increase of only 4,000 percent.

Then, as now, you find the lineups in the foldout of the program's middle two pages. Yes, but the lineups back then were sponsored by Chesterfield cigarettes “for more smoking pleasure.” Besides giving you the starting lineups, the centerfold also gave you photos of three smiling, cheerleader-looking women giving you the ABC's of the Chesterfield brand: “A, always milder; B, better tasting; and C, cooler smoking.”

Compare that to the back page of ad from Philip Morris, “America's FINEST cigarette.” You could not make this up. The ad tells us “Phillip Morris' superiority is recognized by eminent medical authorities.” And that, “This finer-tasting cigarette is also far more considerate of your nose and throat, scientifically proved far less irritating to the smoker's nose and throat...”
Toward the back, there's another ad for Old Gold cigarettes with still a different pitch. “Why be irritated?” it asks. “Apple honey helps guard Old Golds from cigarette dryness.”

Full disclosure: The program also contains several ads for milk, including one from Pyron's Dairy on College Drive. “Milk is health,” it tells us. “Milk, you know, has long been a must item on training table menus of the leading football teams – because milk gives the gridiron greats the sturdy bones, radiant health and vital energy they need.”

Perhaps, but seems to this observer, both teams should have consumed lots more milk, and not skim milk.

The heaviest player on the State roster was 215-pound tackle S. J. Carroll of Greenville. The current Bulldogs have running backs and wide receivers who weigh more. Only six of 41 Bulldogs listed in 1945 weighed in at 200 pounds or more.

The heaviest Rebel was 210-pound tackle Joe Gary of Byram. Gary was one of two Rebels who went 200 pounds or better. Center Charles Sinopoli of Gulfport was all of 5 feet, 8 inches and 160 pounds. Today's Rebels don't have male cheerleaders so small.

The rosters are dotted with future Mississippi Sports Hall of Famers. Those Rebels included 180-pound lineman Roland Dale and 190-pounder Bernard Blackwell, future coaches and administrators. One of the Bulldog running stars was Harper Davis, the future Millsaps coach, who weighed 170 pounds and wore number 43.

Interestingly, there's an ad for the midnight show at the State Theatre later that night. The featured film – “Hitchhike to Happiness” – starred Al Pearce and Dale Evans. Evans was 13 months from marrying Roy Rogers, who would be her fourth and final husband. Ernie Pyle's “Story of G.I. Joe,” starring Burgess Meredith, was scheduled to start on Monday. There were no movies on Sunday, of course.

Remember, this was Nov. 24, 1945, roughly three months after the Japanese surrender in World War II. The program's cover featured a poem from the famed sports writer Grantland Rice:

They hit the line – and they hit it hard –
And they ran the ends of fame.
They passed and kicked to the distant goal,
When they starred in the college game.

But they heard the bugles of war that called
To a rougher and tougher test,
And now they sleep under foreign sod,
The stars who have earned their rest.

They played the game in the good old way
That led to the bayonet's thrust.
They led the charge to the final goal
Which covers their golden dust.

The 1945 Egg Bowl program includes just about everything, except, of course, the final score. The Rebels won 7-6, an upset, one of only two Ole Miss victories that season, compared to eight for State.

Rick Cleveland is a syndicated columnist and historian of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. His email address is


Anonymous said...

This is what punting looks like. Out of ideas? Write a piece about how in 1945 they had cigarette ads in the Egg Bowl program.

KF, I'm sure Rick is a nice guy and it's awfully human of you to give him a way to fill his spare time, but these articles just don't fit the blog. Lengthy articles about Billy Joe Mathers, legendary coach of the Noxapater Blue Stockings during the interwar period, do not mesh with posts about Stokes' shenanigans and Farish Street boondoggles.

That's why people come here - to discuss and vent about the jackassery that infests this city. I'm not certain pieces like this add anything. No offense to Rick Cleveland intended, honestly.

Anonymous said...

I thought people just came here to complain about everything.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up, Francis.....

Anonymous said...

9:36 needs to get laid.

Anonymous said...

Rick and his brother have always written in a fair, unbiased, and entertaining way. There are not many writers I can say this about. Please keep him and remind the small-minded you do not have to read his column.

Anonymous said...

Many readers enjoy rick's columns. Please keep them. If 9:36 doesnt like them, dont read them. Its not complicated.

Kingfish said...

I enjoy them. The one he wrote last week was really good. I pay for these columns so guess what? They are staying. There is never going to be a post on this website that is 100% liked or hated. I enjoy the changeup, it's sports, and I actually do get tired of reading my own stuff. Mr. Crawford's column goes up tomorrow.

I'd post more sports columns but frankly, there are very few sports columnists in Mississippi.

Blue Balls and a Tiny Mind said...

It's really hard to be biased when writing about what was playing in November 1945 at the Starkville drive-in and listing out the weights of various football players. It reads like a Jr. High essay that elaborates on minutia to meet the 500 words the teacher demanded.

But how dare anyone suggest that these aw shucks pieces about ancient game day programs and long dead assistant trainers are anything but Pulitzer-worthy journalism! Such people are small-minded virgins, because that's the only explanation for why someone visiting a political blog wouldn't revel in creaky tales from the MS Sports Hall of Fame.

You people are so insightful! I'll go nail a hooker and shop at Whole Foods. That'll really set me in the mood to read post-war ad copy from an Oktibbeha County dairy.

Anonymous said...

Rick is a good writer. The only beef I have ever had with him was his man crush on Sylvester Croom. He thought Croom was the next Bear Bryant. He would have column after column praising Croom's coaching ability. His paper even made up stuff to prop Croom up.

Anonymous said...

I suspect kingfish knows what fits on his own blog and what people click on.

-W said...

Rick leaving/forced to leave the clarion ledger is the reason I do not have a subscription. Ace, Rick, Bobby, Tyler, are all the finest people you could imagine. They are of the utmost pedigree and represent the best parts of Mississippi. The part of Mississippi they represent are Jackson Metro, Reservoir, Madison/Ridgeland, and Hattiesburg yet they write in a way that affects all of Mississippi. Rick writing about sports legends is a fine addition to this blog. I love it. It is a refreshing contrast to the same old story: Jackson Leaders suck, they continue to suck, and people vote for sucky people in jackson.

Anonymous said...

Rick is a good writer. It was an interesting nostalgic look back at college sports. Why some yahoo has to be critical is beyond me. Evidently there exist a cadre of individuals whose intellect and sophistication are far superior to us common folk.

Anonymous said...

Rick is a good writer. Nothing else to say, just wanted to repeat what everyone else was saying.

Raymond Babbitt said...

Rick is a good writer. I'm an excellent driver. Kmart sucks.

Anonymous said...

4:07, get with the Konservative PC program. You're supposed to say that Target sucks.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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