The Oregon State Giant Killers and Billy Main – Part II

Note:  If you are reading this on your mobile device, click on the title above so that you will see all of the images in the proper format.

In the first post on the story of the newest Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, I related how Billy “Rabbit” Main, who had his sights set on playing college football for the California Golden Bears, ended up instead as an Oregon State Beaver and member of the 1967 OSU Giant Killer Team.

He was a starting wingback from 1967 to 1969 for the Beavs and their beloved coach, Dee Andros – The Great Pumpkin – whose 5’10’ frame carried 310 pounds.

The first blog post highlights Billy’s outstanding football career – not only as a running back, but a pass catcher, blocker, kick-off return specialist and even holder on PATs and field goals.

Rabbit – not just a runner but a pass catcher – one of eight against the Dawgs in 1969….

The prior post also features a tribute Billy wrote for Duane “Thumper” Barton, his football teammate, our shipmate in the Navy ROTC program at OSU and my SAE fraternity brother.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/05/11/tucker-william-billy-main-beerchaser-of-the-quarter/

But as I mentioned in the first post, Billy wanted to emphasize the team aspect rather than his own story – a key attribute of the members of that team:

“Don, please make sure you focus on my other teammates as we go forward.  I remain to this day, in awe of many of them; Jesse (Lewis), Dude (Hanneman), Enyart, Preece, Foote, Vanderbundt, Houser, Didion…the list goes on and on.”

And if you want to learn more about the Giant Killers, check out the wonderful, comprehensive narrative with great pictures and historical documents developed by OSU alum and long-time friend of Billy Main’s – Jud Blakley.    https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

Jud as Student Body President at OSU

Beaver alums remember these years as part of the rich tradition of Oregon State Football including the Civil War Game with the University of Oregon – it goes back 126 years to 1894.

 

 

 

 

Thebeerchaser also covered this story in May, 2018 at https://thebeerchaser.com/2018/05/20/the-1967-osu-giant-killers-beerchasers-of-the-quarter-part-i/      .

Gone But Not Forgotten

So, we will start by remembering the fifteen players and coaches from the 1967 team – including Coach Andros who passed away in 2003 at the age of 79 – who are deceased but still remembered in the hearts and minds of their teammates – brothers – who defeated two nationally ranked top ten teams (No. 2 – Purdue and No. 1 – USC) and tied the number two team (UCLA) .

“In a four-week period, the Beavers became the only team to ever go undefeated against three top two teams in one season since the inception of the AP Poll, earning the nickname ‘Giant Killers.”

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Oregon_State_Beavers_football_team

Players

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides instilling the commitment to team, Dee Andros also demanded individual accountability. This was a key factor contributing to their success on the gridiron and also why so many of the members of those teams went on to meaningful careers after graduation.

He illustrated this accountability with a narrative entitled “Man in the Glass” which you see below. This was a poem originally entitled “The Guy in the Glass” written by Peter Dale Wimbrow in 1934 – an American composer, radio artist and writer.  The Great Pumpkin’s version is slightly different and reads:

The late Coach Dee Andros (19– 200 “The Man in the Glass”

Billy Main – Part II — After College

As I mentioned above, Billy, did want to focus on himself in this or the previous blog post and I’ve tried to honor that request.  Nevertheless, he is an integral part of the overall story of the Giant Killers.  So I asked GK historical expert and Main’s friend, Blakely, for his advice in structuring the posts. Jud e-mailed me the following:

Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member, Dr. Bob Gill, Blakely and Main outside the Angry Beaver in 2018

“Don, the Giant Killers did what they did because they were ‘All for One and One for All.’ They may not have all ‘liked’ each other but they sure as hell all did love each other. And so, no member of that brotherhood will single himself out for acclaim or for attention.

Steve Preece – Fox

The GKs had leaders on both sides of the ball – Preece was alpha leader on offense. Steve will never endorse that.  He will name other guys whose leadership was essential. 

Same on defense –  Lewis, Sandstrom, Easley––each of them will name other guys. Like them, Main will deflect and Main will diminish his role.  Do not buy it.  Tell the story.” 

Jess “Froggie” Lewis – Giant Killer and always to be remembered for “the tackle” of O..J. Simpson

Therefore, read on:

Besides football, Billy was also enrolled in the two-year Navy ROTC program.  I would see Billy in the Navy Armory because both of us were in NROTC.  He was in the two-year program and one-year ahead of me.

After playing Rook football in 1965, he was red-shirted the next year and when his military deferment was eventually continued because of NROTC, it enabled him to play in the 1969 season.  He was then scheduled to report for Navy flight school in the spring of 1970.

Billy said: “Between NROTC, football and regular academics, those were the most intense two years of my life.”  

One benefit of NROTC which he used for both work and leisure for many years afterwards, was getting his pilot’s license at the nearby Albany Airport – the Navy paid all of it.  “I love to fly and I flew for over 25 years – over 2,000 hours logged.” 

The account below of his college experience as a midshipman below is interesting and worth reading, as is the Appendix at the end of this post – a remarkable and entertaining account of the culmination of summer training at the end of his junior year at the Naval Air Station – Pensacola.

“As I look back, 50 years ago to the 1960’s, I can say with total clarity and perspective that the Vietnam War was probably the single factor that most affected my life, the career path I chose, and the quality of life I enjoyed.

My draft board was in Richmond and at that time the Army desperately needed recruits to replenish the pipeline of daily fatalities in Vietnam. I was a sophomore at OSU and was redshirted in 1966 because of Bob Grim, from Red Bluff, maybe Oregon State’s greatest wingback, my mentor, and a spectacular athlete and role model.

Bob Grim

Then one day I received my induction notice from the Richmond draft board, and my life changed forever. I had one week to respond, and was expected to report at Ford Ord, CA. at some point. My OSU football career was over. I called my Pop and he suggested I talk to the Navy ROTC. 

The CO there in Corvallis was a Navy Captain named John Hitchcock, who, as fate would have it, was a huge football fan.  In a matter of days, I took the oath and joined the Navy ROTC program, allowing me to graduate in 1970 as an Ensign, subject to (2) summer camps in Los Angeles and later, Florida. I could continue playing football.

After taking the proverbial oath and effectively ducking the Richmond draft board, ROTC classes represented one 3-hour college-credit class a week and it quickly became serious business. I was very impressed with the organization, the structure, and the discipline, which was completely aligned with my experiences in football, from High School through college

Current-day Oregon State NROTC middies drilling

We had drill one day a week for 3 hours, in full uniform. I remember vividly marching with my weapon around Gill Coliseum parking lot adjacent to the football players’ entrance.

I’d finish drill around 3PM, and then go to football practice.   I was one of a few players in ROTC – Tight-end, Nick Rogers, was in the Army ROTC with a similar draft board story, so we were able to commiserate. (Duane Barton and Rus Jordan were also NROTC and played football.)

Eventually, the day when all the 50+ ROTC members at OSU were called in to a meeting room to declare their preference.   My time to declare arrived and my subconscious mind overwhelmed my conscious mind!  Without realizing it, I said, ‘aviation.” To this day, I cannot reconcile how it happened.  For the record, Pop (who served in World War II on the USS Porterfield) was pleased with my choice and I think he was proud as hell of me.

NROTC Armory at Oregon State

When we went to Pensacola the next summer, there were 15 midshipman in our aviation cohort. We were then asked by the US Marine Corps Gunny Sergeant, who was our “shepherd” during that training, to declare what division of aviation we preferred – Fixed Wing, Helicopters or Jets.

Fixed-wing preference

Thinking fast, I preferred Fixed Wing (propellers) like the E-2 radar picket planes. Jets, of course were sexy and being a ‘jet jockey’ was appealing. (The later movie “Top Gun” with Tom Cruise brought back many memories of my summer cruise as a Midshipman on the aircraft carrier, USS Lexington)

So, the Gunny says…’How many of you opt for Jet’s?’  9 hands go up enthusiastically.   Next, ‘How many of want Fixed Wing?’  6 more hands go up enthusiastically – mine included.   Finally, ‘How many of you opt for helicopters?’  No hands go up.

(Remember, the Vietnam War was losing a lot of US helicopters on an ongoing basis and horrible stories were circulating about POW pilots being tortured by the Viet Cong.  One of the 15 in our group – Bill Scott – actually flew in Vietnam and he is a good friend to this day.)

Then the Gunny smiled broadly, and said the words I will never forget:  ‘Well, gentlemen, you are all officially going Helicopters, that’s where the action is.’  And my life changed forever.   As we filed out of the room, stunned and disillusioned, the Gunny said…’Welcome to the US Navy, gentlemen!'”

“You will go helicopters. And you will enjoy it!”

After the 1969 football season ended, Billy took a number of courses in upper level economics and graduated with an Econ degree which he said had an impact for the rest of his life.

To fulfill his military obligation for NROTC, he was set to go to Navy Flight School back in Pensacola and prepared to serve six years as a Navy pilot after commissioning.  But the winding down phase of the Viet Nam War in 1970, meant the Navy’s need for pilots was significantly less.  His dream was to fly and when given the option to serve aboard a ship or return to civilian life, he chose the latter and the remainder of his service obligation was waived.

Based on his athletic achievements at OSU, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and went to training camp in the fall of 1970.  They wanted him to play running back and wide receiver and he made it to the last cut. 

He then was a member of the taxi squad for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League for two weeks but was never activated – also not enamored with the $12,500 annual salary.   Main also felt that he’d been a football player long enough and retired even before his NFL career got going.

When he returned to Corvallis, reality set in.   He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, but needed a job to eat and pay the rent.   Fortunately, Kenny Ross, the owner of the fabled Beaver Hut – the favorite watering hole of many OSU students and especially athletes (Still operating for take-out orders and growlers) hired him – as a night janitor or “swamper” where he cleaned the Hut between midnight and 4 AM each morning.

Still operating on NW 16th Street in Corvallis

After a while he started bartending and really enjoyed it and thought, “This could be a great business.”   But he didn’t want to work for anybody else, so he returned to his home state. 

Main’s mixologist skills were refined in San Francisco.   He planned a bar in Chico.  The idea was to create the Beaver Hut concept for the students at Cal. State University – Chico.

A Corvallis concept in Chico?

Unfortunately, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union did not want to see another bar in the city and one near the college campus – even one owned by an All-Pac 8 football player and opposed the license.  It was never opened.  Main was not one to give up easily, however and Jud Blakely continues the story:

“Soon enough (1973), he opened his own seafood place in Half Moon Bay named The Shorebird and made a big success of that venture, and was off and running in the world of food…this time with no blockers out front clearing the way.”

This successful venture led to another establishment named The Sandpiper in Chico, which he opened in 1979 and sold in 1986.  Billy then opened his hospitality consulting firm, Bill Main and Associates and Blakely continues the career story:

“Sought after for his advice in the hospitality (ie, food and drink) business, The Rabbit is sought after, too, as an expert witness when the owners of a restaurant—or restaurant chain—get tangled up in a dispute that lands in court where millions of dollars and countless jobs are at stake.  His diagnosis of the issues is highly prized and reflects the impeccable arc of his long career.” 

Consultant and expert witness

And as you might expect based on his upbringing, Billy was also a family man.  He married Nancy in 1992, a registered nurse with a Masters Degree, and while he was managing restaurants and consulting, she was working as a pediatric RN and teaching nursing at the college level.

Jud Blakely with granddaughter, Nylah Rose

Consistent with the previous years you’ve read about, nothing was ever dull or routine in Tucker’s William (Billy) Main’s life and I’ll wind down the story with a final quote from Martin Jud Blakely:

“Billy “The Rabbit” Main – #22 in your program but #1 in being a great and unwavering friend of so many—was the cover boy for Street & Smith’s 1969 West Coast football preview.  He was second-team as a Pac 8 all-star, a record-setter on the field…and then (one remarkable day in 1995 (when he was 44 years old and his wife was 42) they became the parents of triplets (WHAT!)”

Sierra Exif JPEG

Nancy, passed away from cancer in 2010, but they raised a wonderful (and great looking as you can see below) family.   The triplets are now 24 and all are embarked on promising careers.

Jack Main – second from right – on break from Special Forces training with colleagues

His son, Jack, graduated from the US Naval Academy and is now in Special Forces training.  Daughter, Kim, is following in her mom’s footsteps and is scheduled to graduate from Azusa Pacific University in nursing and will be commissioned as a Navy nurse.

And son, Steve, is following his dad’s footsteps while living in San Francisco.  He went to bartending school and now has a great job in a San Francisco restaurant and bar.  Billy stated, “He’s an idea generator and has a passion for process.   He can be a great success in that industry.”

Steve, Kim and Jack Main

And so Beerchaser followers, this ends my characterization of the Billy Main story and the continuing legacy of the 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers.  But stay tuned, there are a lot more wonderful stories surrounding this fabled team you can read about in future posts of Thebeerchaser.

Appendix – “Nine Yards and In!”

My first summer camp as an ROTC Midshipman was at UCLA in Los Angeles, the summer of 1967. There were about 60 of us from all over the western US universities. Duane Barton (nickname Thumper) was my OSU football teammate and was also going Naval Aviation.

Thumper – Naval aviation colleague

He was #2 fullback behind Bill Enyart, (Buffalo) and a real character. That 10-week summer in Los Angles was heavily classroom and PT oriented and was intended to fast-track flight school.

Flight School was normally 18 months in Pensacola, but the US was losing pilots in Vietnam so fast that the Naval Aviation ‘new pilot pipeline’ had to be accelerated while still allowing the NROTC guys to stay in school and complete their degrees.

One particular event that summer sticks vividly in my mind. We were assembled on the football practice field and told to ‘pair off’ by weight. We were assembled in a long line, smallest guys first. Then a Gunny went down the line, asked each candidate their weight, and then re-ordered accordingly.

After this process was completed, I found myself, at 190 lbs, being #59. The biggest guy, at 230, was last. He was a big baby-faced guy from the University of Washington, I think, and a very nice guy named Kyle.

All of the 2-man teams were then paired off in the end zone. The Gunny then instructed us on how to do the ‘battlefield carry’ – meaning, placing a wounded man over your shoulders, cross wise, and carrying him to the medic.

I began to sense a ‘feeling’ among the candidates that resulted in them staring at me…and then I understood…I would be carrying a guy 45 pounds heavier that I was. Now the ‘battlefield carry’ was 100 yards, from one end zone to the other.

My stomach turned, and I felt a bit light-headed with all the candidates looking at me curiously. So, it started, one pair at a time, with everyone yelling and cheering; the emotion was palpable. Finally, my turn came. Being last, I looked down the field, 100 yards away, and saw all my fellow midshipmen lined up anxiously awaiting – watching me carry a guy 100 yards that was much bigger than I was.

Nine Yards and In??

As 1 of 3 college football players of the ’60’s, I can honestly say that we were somewhat of an anomaly and that the other midshipmen were very supportive of us (both) playing football and being in the aviation program.  The adrenaline rush I had was reminiscent of the rush I always had standing in the end zone, waiting for an opening kick-off, in front of a stadium filled with 50,000 people.

So, I threw Kyle over my shoulders, and started the slow jog towards the other end zone. I have never felt more physically challenged, and after 50 yards I was afraid I was going to collapse. I kept readjusting Kyle slightly to balance the weight on my lower body. After 80 yards I started feeling light-headed but kept going, my vision blurring, heart pounding, and breath gasping. The other midshipmen were yelling and cheering me on, but that was just a blur in my mind.

At 90 yards I remember stumbling and Kyle and I went down fairly hard, hitting the turf, my breath gasping. I remember thinking “don’t quit” but realized I was too spent to ever get Kyle back on my shoulders, so I quickly grabbed him by the wrists and dragged him the last 10 yards across the goal line on his back. Then I collapsed to a knee, gasping for breath, with dozens of my fellow midshipman around me.

Gunny – “Gentlemen, what say you about Mr. Main?”

Then the Gunny assembled us all together and informed the group that they had all passed the exercise except me. Technically, I had failed…it was 100 yards, not 90 yards. He then said…’gentlemen, with a your approval, I will ‘pass’ Mr. Main for this component of the exercise….only if you all agree’…there was a huge roar of agreement by the midshipmen, and dozens of guys slapped me on the back as if I had just returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

During my time at Oregon State, during the season, we had a ritual called ‘9 yards and in’ which simulated the red zone game specific circumstances. Needless to say, that term always had special significance to me based on my Navy experience dragging poor Kyle the last 9 yards

Training for the Buddy Carry!

 

The 1967 OSU Giant Killers – Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

The Great Pumpkin and the 1967 Beavs

Nothing captivates a state or geographical entity more than a team labeled as an “underdog” which whether by adrenalin, good coaching, mental toughness of team members or a combination thereof, not only exceeds expectations, but also establishes a legacy – a story that will inspire future generations.  The team is usually remembered not only for its achievements, but the character and stories of its individual members and coaches.

In Oregon, I can think of a few that fit this category.

The 1937 Bellfountain High School Basketball Team – this unincorporated Benton County berg with a high school attended by twenty-seven students had a basketball team of eight boys, none over 6 feet tall. Burton “Bill” Lemmon coached the Bells to a 17 and 1 season which included two wins over the Willamette University freshman team!

Bellfountain High School in 2009

In a fascinating Portland Tribune story about the season, George Edmonston Jr. (also the retired editor of the OSU Alumni Magazine) tells the story of how “The Giant Killers” won the State Championship when all schools regardless of size played in the same tournament.

In the semi-finals Lincoln defeated McLoughlin and Bellfountain cruised to a 39-13 victory over Portland’s Franklin (still known as “The Quakers” at least then…..)  The Bells then beat Lincoln 35 to 21.

“To realize the size differential between the two contenders, consider that Lincoln High in 1937 had almost twice as many teachers as Bellfountain had students. Lincoln’s student body numbered 1,580, who attended classes in a building that had 45 rooms and occupied an entire city block.”  http://pamplinmedia.com/nbg/144-features/247929-116273-tales-from-the-grubby-end-oregons-version-of-hoosiers

The 1964 Portland State GE College Bowl Team – The Portland State College team, led by its captain, Jim Westwood (Beerchaser of the Quarter in March 2013) and coached by Professor Ben Padrow played the upset role by defeating their opponents for five straight weeks on national television before they retired as champions with the sum of $15,275 in scholarships – a large sum at the time.

Jim Westwood (second from left) and the PSC Team with Padrow (right)

“The 415 points scored in their final match ties them for fifth-highest single-game total achieved, and their 1725 points total set a new record at the time and is fourth highest overall.

The March 26, 1965 issue of Time has an article on how the College Bowl victories helped change Portland State’s image as “the flunk-out school” for University of Oregon and Oregon State drop-outs…” (“Portland State Alumni Association News” article by Kathryn Kirkland, May 2, 2005)

The 1967 Oregon State Football Team aka “The Giant Killers” – This post will be followed by two additional Beerchaser narratives on the story of the greatest magnitude in the State’s athletic history.  It’s personal to me because I was at OSU as a sophomore in 1967, attended the games and lived with ten members of that fabled team in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Gary Houser #89…Billy Main #22…Nick Rogers #79…Roger Stalick #74…Donnie Summers #21…and Coach Sam Boghosian.

You will see why this story deserves commemoration, but to put the season into perspective before getting into the details:

“In a four-week period, the Beavers became the only team to ever go undefeated against three top two teams in one season since the inception of the AP Poll, earning the nickname ‘Giant Killers.’  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_Oregon_State_Beavers_football_team

The Giant Killer Legend

The Beaver team, led by the late coach, Dee Andros – also known as “The Great Pumpkin” – compiled a record of 7-2-1 that year.  As a sophomore standing in the student section, I can still remember the electricity in the air and history in the making as the fourth quarter ticked down when OSU was ahead of No.1 ranked USC 3 to 0 on a November Saturday afternoon.

But one has to remember that this victory was only the apex of a tale that not only captivated the State of Oregon, but garnered the attention of sportswriters and coaches throughout the nation.

The soon to be Giant Killers started their journey in West Lafayette, Indiana where 60,147 fans saw the unranked Beavers topple the No. 2 ranked Purdue Boilermakers 22-14.  Keep in mind that this game was after two disappointing back-to-back OSU defeats to the Washington Huskies and BYU (at Parker Stadium in Corvallis).

Purdue had won nine straight games including nine consecutive wins at home.  Many of their fans wondered why their Boilermakers were playing this Podunk team from the West Coast.   Starting defensive back, Larry Rich, remembers Purdue students ridiculing the Beavs as they walked through campus wearing their team blazers.

As they got to the locker room quite a bit before they had to dress-down, the Beav’s Equipment Manager brought out a bunch of pads for players who might want to lie down and rest before the game.  Rich said that the manager was promptly chastised for suggesting that they recline on the same pads that the Notre Dame Irish had used a few weeks before.

After the Purdue triumph, the Beavers had a record of 4 and 2.

One of the great stories from that game involves the late long-time Beaver sportscaster, Bob Blackburn, who broadcast the Beaver games on KEX Radio.

The late Bob Blackburn in his tux

He was also the announcer for the new Seattle Super Sonics basketball team and on October 21, broadcast their maiden game at home with the Houston Rockets.   Black-tie was the appropriate dress for the evening.

“His wife Pat, remembered after the game, ‘I rushed him to the airport so he could get to Purdue to do the Oregon State football game, and he didn’t have time to change out of his tuxedo.'” (Feedback Radio.com 1/8/15)

Blackburn, when asked about it stated:

“Upon seeing me in the tux, Andros said that if Oregon State won the game, I would have to wear the tux for the remainder of the season…..As luck would have it, Oregon State, a 14-point underdog, upset Purdue.  And, of course, I had to wear the tux for the next seven games.” (The World 10/23/2003)

The first time the Beavers will face Purdue after that 1967 victory will be in 2021 when they play their season opener at West Lafayette. It will be followed in 2024 by a rematch at Reser Stadium.   (Oregon Live 12/5/17) 

After Purdue, OSU racked up another victory at home over Washington State.  Then on November 4th, they traveled to Los Angeles to take on another No. 2 ranked team – UCLA in Memorial Coliseum with an attendance of 50,172. The Bruins were led by quarterback Gary Beban, who was to become the 1967 Heisman Trophy winner. The OSU strategy was to keep the ball away from the Bruin offense. The end result – a 16 to 16 tie and Beban ended with 21 net yards on 16 carries.

Reporter Jack Rickard wrote in the November 6th Corvallis Gazette Times, “It wound up as a stalemate on the scoreboard.   Prothro once said that a tie is like kissing your sister…..That’s not bad if your sister is No. 2.”

The next weekend was filled with anticipation as the Beavs returned to Corvallis in a game attended by Governor Tom McCall and California Governor, Ronald Reagan along with  41,494 fans on Veterans’ Day who witnessed a 19-gun salute at the start of the game.

Gov. McCall won a case of oranges that day from Gov. Reagan

The governors, as grand marshals, had both ridden horses in the traditional Veterans’ Day parade in Albany which always draw thousands.  They made the 14.5 mile trip to Parker Stadium in Corvallis in a Model T.

“Cars moved at the proverbial snail’s pace, and at one time were backed up for five miles on the freeway north of Albany. It took some Corvallis residents who drove to the game an hour to get home following the game. Some out-of-town visitors didn’t arrive at Parker Stadium until half time.”  Corvallis Gazette Times 11/13/67

Reagan Celebrating victorious gubernatorial campaign BUT no victory in Corvallis!

When thinking about orange juice, it was usually in the context of what the less restrained OSU kids slurped out of their vodka-infused oranges they “smuggled” into Parker Stadium for consumption during the games.

But that Saturday, “The Juice,” contemplated was O.J. Simpson, who started the game with two spectacular runs.  The field was muddy although it did not rain during the game.  At halftime, however, the game was a scoreless tie:

“The start of the second quarter marked perhaps the most famous defensive play in the history of Oregon State football.   O.J. shook off a tackle at his own 37-yard line, bounced to the outside, and found himself with an expanse of open field and three blockers to lead the way.   

Safety Mark Waletich was the only Beaver who seemed to have a chance to bring him down, but with three Trojan blockers to contend with, the odds were not in his favor. 

Jess Lewis – legendary tack

Simpson slowed to set up these blockers, not realizing that Beaver defensive tackle Jess Lewis was coming up fast. Never giving up on the play, Lewis quickly closed the gap and made a touchdown saving tackle at the Beaver 32-yard line – over 30 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage.”  (BeaversEdge.com 11/11/67)

As Mike Chamess, now a Portland insurance consultant, but then a freshman reporter and later Editor of the OSU newspaper, The Barometer, stated in a recent e-mail:

Mike Chamness – then a freshman reporter

“…my Dad, Art, and my brother, Danny, came down to the USC game when we ‘squeezed the Juice’ for  3 to 0 win.  My dad told stories about going to that game for the rest of his life until he passed away in 2012 at the age of 97!”

And was the game exciting?  Definitely, to a tragic extent. In fact, Quentin B. Zielinskis, a 48-year old professor of horticulture and according to the Gazette Times, “an ardent sports fan” died of a heart attack at the game.  (Yes, Oregon State was an aggie college…..)

At that time, freshmen could not play on the varsity and the rook team was playing Treasure Valley Community College after a long bus ride to Ontario, Oregon.   As future All-American and then NFL defensive lineman, Craig Hanneman, stated in an e-mail:

“We were playing that same day at the same time in Ontario and were getting updates when we’d come off the field during possession changes.  Someone, I presume, had a transistor radio in the stands and was relaying the 0-0 score and then the 3-0 update down to our bench.  It was pretty cool when we heard the final score.  Anyway, I was already at OSU, but just couldn’t play varsity.  Jess was, of course, a big factor in why I came to Corvallis and pledged SAE.” 

Dirt and “The Dude.”

USC went on to win the Rose Bowl against Indiana 14 to 3.   O.J. Simpson was the most valuable player.Their only loss was to the Giant Killers.   USC ranked first in both the final AP and Coaches poll and outscored opponents 258 to 87.

Any OSU alum, or for that matter, any Oregonian interested in one of the great historic athletic tales of the State of Oregon, should visit the website below developed by Jud Blakely for the complete story.  It is a labor of love by this OSU alum and I consider it the War and Peace equivalent to sports websites.

https://www.oregonst67giantkillers.com/

Jud, was Oregon State Student Body President in 1964-1965 and also a member of SAE.  After graduation, he served as a Marine Corps Officer for thirteen months as an infantry platoon leader in Viet Nam – being awarded the Bronze Star and earning two Purple Hearts.  He has spent years researching, documenting and gathering statistics, video and stories from newspapers and the players themselves on the 1967 OSU team.

As Jud stated in the dedication to the players:

“The Giant Killers of Oregon State. Epic. Recalled so often––and honored so often––for all the right reasons.  You were ‘grace under pressure’ again…and again…and again.  You were the Laws of Physics in action again…again…again.  You epitomized the marvel of a ‘team.’

……..One concern is the slow, steady, historical ‘fading out’ of a unifying sense of respect for a Great Thing.  But the fact is…few Great Things have survived the passing of time in their original form……This website is an interactive home for many of those details—videos and audios, game programs, photos, and other resonating pieces of the puzzle of what drove you to become Great and memorable.

And so…I wanted to step off on a mission of discovery in 2002 to begin to gather up your words of recollection and cautious pride…and to craft a faithful story of what you lived 50 years ago, which is as fully alive and exuberant in you now as then.”

Craig Hanneman (right) on Mount Everest Climb

This blog periodically names the Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter and past recipients have included athletes (and mountain climbers including Craig “The Dude” Hanneman), war heroes, authors, academics and media personalities.

They may or may not have anything to do with bars or beers, but have made a contribution to society or have an interesting story which bears telling.  Even the crew of the USS Constitution was named in 2012 for their legendary 1798 war cruise.

Jud, himself, has a compelling personal history which I narrated in 2013 when he was named Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/09/16/beerchaser-of-the-quarter-george-m-jud-blakely-iii/

Jud after patrol in 1966 at Than Thrah Viet Nam

1967 on the OSU Campus

The Memorial Union – a classic structure at the center of campus

These were days when college life was a really enjoyable, albeit protected, environment – largely insulated from the growing conflict in Viet Nam that had begun taking the lives of our former high school classmates.   Although we liberal arts majors occasionally wondered how we were going to make a living after college and males would ponder the end of student draft deferments, those four years were a time to grow, meet people and receive what was a solid education.

The term “lottery” was not associated with the video games that the State of Oregon has used since 1984 to supplement its revenue budget, nor the NBA rookie draft lottery commencing in 1985.

The lottery in the minds of most males over eighteen during those years was the military draft lottery which commenced in 1970. If you got a high number, you would essentially escape military service unless you otherwise volunteered.   And even if one had a low draft number, college enrollment meant you were deferred from conscription – until you graduated or flunked out.

On that December 1, 1969 night when Roger Mudd of CBS interupted Mayberry RFD to broadcast the drawing from Selective Service headquarters in Washington D.C., many young men around the nation gathered around TV sets hoping they would not “win the lottery!”  After the capsules were drawn, September 14th was 001 and my May 4th birthday was No. 276 although for NROTC guys, the issue was somewhat irrelevant. 

Trial by (or over) fire for Blakely

Oregon State, not being an urban university and largely an “aggie college” in the peaceful berg of Corvallis, was not on the forefront of current global affairs.   This would change to some extent in the years following the Giant Killer victories, but in 1967 fraternities and sororities were at their heyday and “dead week” usually the only time of reckoning for students.

We participated in activities such as the Rook Bonfire – notwithstanding Jud Blakely’s foray with  two buddies three years prior, where in an unsuccessful effort to surreptitiously light the pyre early during his senior year, they were arrested for  “maliciously and willfully starting a fire.”  Although the municipal judge reduced the charge to “burning without a permit” and fined them $15 each, he was stripped of his OSU Student Body Presidency!

There were no online courses, social media, cable television channels or iPhones.  (Because long distance was pretty expensive, we called home – collect every few weeks – usually after 11:00 PM or on Sundays when rates were much lower)  And if you filled up your car driving back to Corvallis, there was a good chance that you would get a bunch of green stamps and even a glass from the gas station.  (Gas was $.34 per gallon in 1967.)

The SAE entry to the IFC sing – Whitney top left and Bartons (Gary and Duane) third and second from right end bottom row)

Other campus activities such as the Rook/Sophomore Picnic at which there was an annual Powder Puff Football game, the Inter-fraternity Sing, Joe College/Betty Coed court (see below – it would not be politically correct these days) were popular and had campus-wide participation.

Freshmen coeds had a curfew labeld “Closing.”  Larry Rich met his future wife, Mariellen Lorenz, when they were on “the court” for Joe College and Betty Coed at a photo-shoot at the MU in December 1967.  They were selected and were married two yeas later and will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year. The couple now lives in Lincoln City.   Mariellen, in response to my question about closing for coeds wrote:

“OSU regulated the innocent freshmen women who had to live in one of the dorms on campus their first year. I recall a curfew in the dorms of 11:00 weekdays and Sunday and 1:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. We couldn’t wear pants/jeans/slacks to class until my junior year and the skirts and dresses were cold in the winter!  And we didn’t wear shorts anywhere on campus, but very short skirts were the trend.”

Janet Williams and Mariellen and Larry Rich in Lincoln City

Closing, of course, could be easily circumvented by staying out all night and returning to the dorm for breakfast!.  One has to wonder the rationale for discriminating by gender on the curfew.  Did the OSU Administration think that Rook males were more mature and therefore should have the requirement waived?

Dad’s Weekend.   Larry Rich and his dad, Scooter – third from left bottom two rows and my dad, Duane and me – back two rows on the right

Mom’s and Dad’s Weekends were always a highlight and drew a lot of parents.

Mom’s Weekend.  My mom and I are sixth from the left in first two rows.

 

Gill Coliseum was also a concert venue

And we went to concerts by such groups as The Mamas and Papas, Three Dog Night, The Association and Lou Rawls (see below) which drew full houses in Gill Coliseum which was converted to an auditorium without great acoustics —  we didn’t care……

Rick Gaffney, one of the SAE frat bros, chaired the Sophomore Cotillion events on the weekend when the late Lou Rawls appeared in concert.  His concert was not well attended although all who went were thrilled with his performance.  

Our class of SAE’s rented a room at the Town House Motor Inn on 4th Street in “downtown” Corvallis for pre-functioning and post-functioning – also because we weren’t yet 21 and could not go to a venue that served alcohol.  (The motel is now the University Inn and one can still get a standard room with a king-bed for $70.39 if it not on a weekend with a home athletic contest.)  

Gaffney, (who was also a NROTC midshipman) invited Lou Rawls to our party at the motel, after the show, never thinking he’d actually come.  When he arrived, we offered him a beer — he asked if we had any “hard stuff.”    The only thing other than Olympia Beer in our inventory was Sloe Gin, which made Rawls guffaw.

Homemade Sloe Gin

Why Sloe Gin?  It’s a “red liqueur made with gin and ……drupes a small fruit relative of the plum. Sloe gin has an alcohol content between 15 and 30 percent by volume.” (emphasis supplied –  Wikipedia)
Rick Gaffney relates how he ran into Rawls again at Kona Village Resort where he worked as beach captain in the mid-70’s.  He was there with actress Brenda Vaccaro (“Midnight Cowboy”, etc.).
When  Rick re-introduced himself and reminded him of the Sophomore Cotillion show he did at OSU, he looked Gaffney right in the eye and said, “Sloe Gin — All you had was Sloe Gin.”   They both had a good laugh….. (Gaffney later became the owner of a successful charter-fishing business in the Islands.)  
Larry Rich and his date, Mariellen were there and Larry remembers Rawls sporting a fabulous, large diamond-studded ring with the initials “LR” and Rich said that he told the singer if he ever got tired of the ring, he would be glad to buy it “at the right price!”

“LR” initials rang a bell

And speaking of Giant Killer stories, Keith (Sweeny) Swensen, another one of the SAE’s there that night, relates another Lou Rawls story involving defensive back, Don Whitney:

“I remember the look on Don Whitney’s face when he came out of the bathroom singing a Lou Rawls’ song only to walk right into Lou Rawls, himself.   Whit turned bright red but then Lou complimented him on his singing.  After that, I don’t think Whit said a word for the next 10 minutes.  He just sat there with a shit-eatin’ grin on his face.”

One of the good things about OSU, which even now is still not a large school with 2017 enrollment (grad and undergrad) of 30,400, was that it was a closely-knit campus – you knew a lot of people regardless of whether you lived in a frat, a dorm or a co-op. This is in contrast to schools we played that year such as UCLA – 44947, USC – 45,500 and Washington – 45,600 (enrollment figures are from 2017).

And most of the Beaver athletes did not live off campus or in their own athlete-only dorms.  They were an integral part of campus life – you attended classes with them, saw them at the Memorial Union and lived with them.   (Maybe during the off-season, you might even raise a discrete mug with them at Prices, Don’s Den or the Peacock!)

For example, in the SAE fraternity, I lived with the following members of the Giant Killer Team – Larry Rich, Don Whitney, Roger Cantlon, Duane Barton, Jess Lewis, Jim Blackford, Don Welch, Chris Wahle, Clyde Smith and Jim Scheele.  In our freshman year, Rich and Whitney got up each weekday morning at 7:00 A.M. and did “rook chores” at the frat each morning like the rest of their classmates.  And we were not a jock house.

The SAE House in 1966 – (Scheele 3rd right back row – Blackford, Lewis, Whitney – back row right- Barton 3rd row five in from right – Wahle second row fourth from left with bandage! – ) Rich, Smith, Welch and Cantlon not present)

To further illustrate the point, as a member of NROTC, I would see Giant Killers Duane Barton and Billy Main (and later Rus Jordan) at drill each Tuesday for an hour when we paraded around the concrete parking lot – they were upper-class midshipmen. Midshipman and ROTC cadets were also required to wear our military uniforms to class one day each week and we did so without incident notwithstanding the growing national agitation about Viet Nam.  (One would often cross the street, however, to avoid having to salute an ROTC officer……)

That mood was to change in my senior year when the NROTC unit was firebombed.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  In an incident that still makes me chuckle, I also remember walking into a Russian History Class with my girlfriend who was also enrolled in the course.   It was the day of the week that 1/c midshipmen were required to wear uniforms on campus.   We were somewhat disruptive because we tried to slink in but were 15 minutes late and it was not a large classroom.  The professor stopped his lecture looked at me in my uniform and sarcastically stated, “And to think that the defense of our country is going to lie in the hands of people like you……..”

1970 NROTC First-Class (Senior) Midshipmen. (Note only males at that time. Women were first enrolled in 1972).

And as a freshman, I sat next to starting safety, Mark Waletich, in CK Smith’s “History of Western Civilization 101” class – one of those required courses in large (for OSU) classrooms with about 75 students.  Dr. Smith, in order to take roll to see who was skipping class (I thought that didn’t happen once you reached college) had us sit in assigned seats – in this case in reverse alphabetical order.

King John signs the Magna Carta

So I sat right next to Mark in the first row in front of the professor in a morning class.  In the first class, Waletich said “hello” and cheerfully asked me to nudge him if he fell asleep – he did a few times (evidently not very interested in the Magna Carta…..) and I would always give him a friendly elbow.

While we as college students attended class, hit the books, went to keggers and house dances and were thrilled by the amazing OSU Football Team, what was going on in the world?

In 1967, the average new house sold for $14,975 and the average income was $7,844.  Annual full-time tuition, room and board at OSU was about $2,500 although for our four-year after-graduation obligation, the Navy paid tuition, books and a $50 monthly stipend. (Main and Barton would have a six-year requirement because they opted for Naval aviation.)

A McDonald’s hamburger was 39 cents.  In 1967, the Dow Jones Average peaked at 973 with the low point at 786 and inflation was at 2.8%.  The most popular song was “To Sir with Love” by Lulu which was at the top of the charts for five weeks.  Other significant events included:

Ultra-conservative generals in Greece fear results of the elections scheduled for May. A coup led by Colonel Giorgios Papadopoulos, takes power. (This will be the last time most US citizens see the name “Papadopoulos” until Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos is indicted for lying to the FBI in 2018!)

Boxing champion Muhammad Ali has refused induction into the Army and is stripped of his boxing title. He is then indicted for refusing induction into the US Army.

In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park approximately 30,000 take part in a “be-in.” Among the participants are Allen Ginsberg, credited with creating the term “flower power,” and Timothy Leary, fired Harvard professor and LSD guru. California’s governor, Ronald Reagan, meets with FBI agents for information on Berkeley campus radicals.

The US Freedom of Information Act becomes official. To withhold information, government agencies must show its need to be classified.

The Monterey International Pop Festival opens in California and is attended by over 200,000. Featured are Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Otis Redding.

The Soviet Union has been under moral pressure from North Vietnam to help their struggle for national liberation. It signs an agreement with Hanoi to send more aid.

There is rioting over race in major cities including Buffalo, Memphis, Detroit, Newark and Cairo, Illinois.  Thurgood Marshall becomes the first black justice of the US Supreme Court.  In Cleveland, Carl Stokes is elected mayor – the first African-American mayor of a major US city.

In New York the musical Hair premiers Off-Broadway. (Admission was $8.50.)

John McCain bails from his damaged plane and falls into Hanoi’s Truc Bach Lake. He is viewed as a heinous criminal, beaten, bayoneted in the foot and groin and taken away for imprisonment and more primitivity and torture.

John McCain (front right) – a hero (in just about everybody’s book…)

Richard Nixon claims that the US must pursue the war in Vietnam to a “successful” conclusion or risk a Third World War.  Some 474,300 US soldiers are now in Vietnam.

(Excerpted from Macrohistory and World Timeline  http://www.fsmitha.com/time/1967.htm   Author Frank Smitha)

Now one thing that is a real misperception and deserves clarification is that the total focus of the 1967 Giant Killers season was the 3 to 0 victory over No. 1 ranked USC.  And while it’s true that this game (including the amazing tackle by Jess Lewis after OJ broke away) was the zenith of the season, the story transcends this one game as I will try to illustrate in the next two blog posts.

This misperception was reinforced by Portland newspaper, The Oregonian (which should have known better) when the banner headline on the September 26, 2008 Sports Page shouted “Giant Killers III.”   This was after the Beavers beat No. 1 rated USC 27 to 21 at Reser Stadium.  The accompanying article also asserted that Giant Killers II was the October 25, 2006 game in Corvallis when OSU beat the third-rated Trojans 33 to 31.

Now as you can see by the ticket stub below, I was at the 2006 game which was outstanding.  With OSU leading 33 to 10 at the end of the third quarter, USC fought back and scored a touchdown with seven seconds to go to make it 33 to 31, but the Beav’s Jeff Van Orsow knocked down the Trojan’s David Booty’s pass for a two-point conversion as time ran out.

And that was an incredible victory since it had been 39 years since the Beaver football team had beaten a team ranked third or higher in the national polls – in the aforementioned Giant Killers’ 3 to 0 victory.   On that fall 2006 victorious afternoon, as we hit the corner of 29th and Harrison Street in the ensuing traffic jam, we saw SAE frat boys standing on the corner holding beer bottles and a big sign that said, “You Honk.   We Drink!”  (We honked…..)

Now admittedly both of those games were celebrated victories especially given the woefully long drought in winning football seasons, but the Giant Killer story was and is much, much bigger and more compelling than the single victory over a ranked USC team.  The next two posts on Thebeerchaser will attempt to explain why – not a very challenging position to argue.

And by the way, we should not forget the Civil War Game in 1967 – usually the pinnacle of the season in a contest that commenced in 1894 and is one of the oldest football rivalries in the nation.   Oregon State had won the last three and traveled to Eugene for the christening of the new Autzen Stadium. Many thought that the outcome was a foregone conclusion given the Beavs spectacular wins and national ranking versus the Ducks 2 win – 8 loss season to that point.

In a game that will be described in more detail in the next post, Oregon State was losing 10 to 0 in the fourth quarter and had to come from behind to win 14 to 10.  Had the Beavers not had the fortitude to “reach back,” the season would not still be discussed and be the focus of narratives such as this one fifty-one years later.

But the Giant Killer legend lives on and as Blakely states in his website, “The Giant Killers have become a rich and precious gem.”  And it should be restated, that to fully appreciate the veracity of that statement, you should visit (and spend a lot of hours….) at his website.    http://osu67giantkillers.com/

To conclude this narrative, I offer another recent statement from former newspaperman, Chamness, who used his still good writing skills to sum it up quite well:

“As a Barometer reporter we covered events like protests and controversies.  It was depressing!  And then the ’67 Giant Killers came along and they were like an ‘Alka-Seltzer’ bringing welcome relief from the drudgery of reporting the hard news.

I don’t think any of us freshman really understood the magnitude of what our football team accomplished that season; and I’m sure none of us even remotely thought that we would be reminiscing and celebrating that season some 50 years later!  In the world of OSU football, the Giant Killers inspired us to ‘keep hope alive’ . . .  season . . . after season . . . after season . . . after season . . . . . ” 

Cheers!