Equipment Manager, Maybe Late ’40s: You Can Almost Smell the Cigar

Every once in a while someone will pop out of one of these photographs with amazing vividness and immediacy, as if they had actually walked into the room. Here’s one of those people:

Athletics Equipment manager 50s

I’m afraid I know nothing about him. I dug around in athletics department records to absolutely no avail. I’m guessing late ’40s because I think he’s in the old stadium but really it’s just a guess. Anyone know anything?

Bonus: This door is in the back stairwell of Fondren, at the 4th floor. The reason for the arrows drawn on it is that there used to be doorknobs on the doors rather than pulls and there was no rhyme or reason to which direction the knobs on each floor turned. At some point somebody got tired of always turning the wrong way and drew the guides. They aren’t needed anymore, obviously, but there they remain. I feel like that sometimes too.

Door handle Fondren back staircase

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15 Responses to Equipment Manager, Maybe Late ’40s: You Can Almost Smell the Cigar

  1. C Kelly says:

    I’ll confirm this with my football buddies, but I think that’s Mr. Fritz, who was quite a character.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Fritz? Was that a nickname? It seems too perfect.

      • C Kelly says:

        I’ve got confirmation that it’s Mr. Fritz, although I’m not certain if that was a nickname or his real name. During Longhorn week, he’d play “Texas Fight” as loud as his old record player would allow. Apparently, he thought that was a good way to fire up the Owls before playing their mighty foe.

  2. Lawrence Cook says:

    In the 1950’s, while living at the corner of Sunset & Hazard, we 3 brothers would ride our bikes over to Rice to go swimming. All were required to wear issued swim wear, we guys khaki like trunks. The man in the picture looks like a younger version of the man who I believe issued us our trunks.

  3. Bill Barksdale '73 says:

    His name was John J. Fritz. He was famous for playing a record of Texas fight songs very loud before the UT game, tattoos on his knuckles spelling out “Hate Japan” and “Hate China”, and hanging out at “The Poor Man’s Country Club” in the village. He also took liquid vacations to Galveston, and got fired for doing so in 1971 by Coach Bill Peterson. See “Saturday’s Children” by Giles Tibbets.

  4. Bill Barksdale '73 says:

    correction: Giles Tippette

  5. almadenmike says:

    Link to a photo of Mr. Fritz from a 1971 game program:

    • C Kelly says:

      I forgot that I posted that picture of him. Actually, it’s Bill Barksdale’s media guide, I think.

      • C Kelly says:

        Well, I guess it was a game program, but I can’t remember which one. I know Bill has a media guide, too.

  6. Melissa Kean says:

    You guys are awesome. I truly appreciate your help.

  7. There’s an excerpt from _Saturday’s Children_ on the Sports Illustrated Vault site.

    Holy cow. This is kind of a big deal. Who knew that there was such an unvarnished account of a Rice football season? Well, aside from Bill Barksdale?

  8. Bill Barksdale '73 says:

    Does anyone know where old John J. is buried? He had his faults, but he hated to lose., and he hated losers. His contribution to Rice Athletics was to get under the athletes skin, and get them fired up. He always had his game face on.

    Did Jess Neeley hire him? He seems like a Jess Neeley sort of guy.

    HIs firing by Bill Peterson was a disgrace. He deserves something better than Rice gave him.

  9. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Worked here from the 40’s to the ’70s, maybe a veteran, and fired summarily by a first-year football coach?

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      Peterson was a jewel alright. Like always, the freshman athletes were randomly assigned to the colleges so we got a few from his first recruitment effort in 1971. It was really sad to see the difficulty those freshman had in fitting in.

      1) There was a rumor that he had promised them during their visit the Sid Rich was going to be the atheltic dorm
      2) They had to take their meals at the training table which reduced their interaction with the rest of the College. They also had the special athletic tutoring sessions which further isolated them from the rest of the College
      3) Many were small town athletes and used to the audulation that football players received in rural Texas. They were then thrown into an environment that did not think highly of them and was already in the process of classifying an entire group of people who were at the academic top into a curve (in which those people were no longer top academic dog).

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