Just home from some minor surgery this morning–everything went fine but I’m feeling weirdly (although not unpleasantly) disoriented. I’m still alert enough to have remembered this off kilter picture, though. It’s actually not the photo itself, which features the great Eddie Wojecki taping ankles, that’s out of whack. (This is quite a popular scene for photographers, by the way. We have many versions of it in the files. There must be something irresistible about all those partially dressed athletes lying around in casual poses.) Rather, it’s the caption. Zoom in for a look:
If I were compos mentis I’d look up the year, but I’m not so I’m going to take a nap.
I believe that Rice defeated Tennessee in the 1947 Orange Bowl. The score was 8-0/
Eikenberg, Charles, ’48
Magee, J W, ’48
Anderson, Don, ’48
Keeney, Huey, ’49
Russ, Carl, Jr., ’46
Williams, Windell, ’48
Watson, hmm. No Laverne Watson in our system. But I’m not going to worry about searching middle initials or names. I see 3 in the latter 40s, and the one for ’48 never made gifts to Athletics, so I’m thinking that he’s not the one. Think that you have the dates that you need. And I notice a 46 at the end of the line of the caption, so wonder if that’s intended to be a year in that code.
Watson’s full name may be Joe (Joseph?) Laverne Watson. This clever profile appeared on page 2 of the Oct. 23, 1948, Thresher:
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Who’s What in the Rice Field . . .
here’s low down
on the man over
by Colletta Ray and Camilla Grobe
In 1925, Grayson County, Texas, produced 14,440 bales of cotton, 1,414,861 bushels of corn, and one Joe Laverne Watson. The growing season of the county, according to the Texas Alamac (sic), is 238 days. The new Watson baby didn’t know this, so he grew 365 days of each year and therefore made quite a space filler between right and left guard.
While Joe could still count his age on his fingers and before he began using his toes for arithmetic purposes, he heard that his family was moving to Bell County “where Jim and Ma Ferguson lived.” He brought to Temple a little razor back pig he kept for a pet, just because, as he put it, “I love the feel of a pigskin.” In Bell county the chunky lad won the reputation of being the best coon hunter in the county. The other boys said that the Watson boy could rove about the woods and smell a coon a hundred yards away. This was the first time Joe was ever called a roving scenter.
Temple Junior High had an elementary course in football and Tubby Watson was their fullback. When this Junior High played another team in those days, Temple was allowed only ten men when Joe was playing. It was in Temple High that the big boy’s fame as a gridiron wizard spread throughout the county and spilled over its borders. See back of
this page. Coaches from far and wide came to tell the young man of the advantages offered by their college. One told how a good football player could go through college taking only chapel, dinner, and recess. Joe turned him down—he wasn’t interested in chapel and recess.
Watson’s vocabulary is interesting when he talks about girls, even though he shows he is really mixed up. He says he likes for a girl to be dressed chic, and explains that chic means anything with a hat to match. Joe likes for girls to use perfume, but he looked puzzled when he asked, “Why do they wear it when they are bluffing?” At one time he attended Arthur Murray to learn “dancing and etiquette”—he says etiquette is yawning without opening your mouth. The effects of his dancing lessons are still evident when he kicks off during a game. Watch him next time and note that skip step he uses when he approaches the ball. When he kicks he makes a perfect reverse arabesque….
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(Source: https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/65884/thr19481023.pdf?sequence=1 )
Watson was the 5th pick in the 1950 NFL draft. He played one season (8 games) with the Detroit Lions, making one interception and recovering a Lions fumble (http://www.profootballarchives.com/wats01400.html).
After his death in November 2006, Watson was remembered in this Rice sports news release:
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Dec. 5, 2006
As they begin preparations for their first bowl game in 45 years, the Rice Owls football family also salutes the memory of one of their greatest players who led the Owls to a win in the Cotton Bowl in 1950, Joe Watson.
Watson, who passed away last month at the age of 81, earned All American honors in 1949 and won the George Martin Award as the Owls MVP. He was a three-time, All-SWC selection in his career.
The 2006 Owls enter the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl with a six-game winning streak, the longest in school history since Watson’s 1949 Owls won eight straight after splitting the first two games of the year. Those Owls then went on to beat North Carolina 27-13 in the Cotton Bowl to finish the season 10-1 and ranked fifth in the nation.
After completing his playing career, Watson, who came to Rice after serving with the Army Air Corps in World War II, spent 37 years as sales engineer for Gulf Oil and Chevron and was an active leader with the Boy Scouts. He was awarded the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame and Distinguished R Man Award in 1973.
For a shocking contrast, look up the score of Tennessee at Rice in 1968…
The link in your previous post on Froggy Williams provides the answer (http://www.riceowls.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/062415aaa.html): “Originally from Waco, Williams came to Rice in 1946 and saw action as a freshman on a Rice squad that shut out Tennessee 8-0 in the 1947 Orange Bowl.”
“Group of Huskies”???
Yep! It’s old-school sports publicist slang for heavy linemen.
This was an Associated Press wirephoto, and used as is (with caption) in papers in Sarasota, Fla. (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19461201&id=-OMcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=nmQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2189,5319070&hl=en), , Harlingen, Tex.(http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/43065489/), Burlington, N.Car. (http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/52169358/), and the University of Iowa (http://dailyiowan.lib.uiowa.edu/DI/1946/di1946-11-27.pdf).
I had no idea!
I was in English 100 with with Virgil Eikenberg, Wendall Williams, and J.W. Magee and others from the freshman class of 1941, Coach Jess Neely and his staff did an outstanding of recruiting in 1941. Like many in the class of ’48 Virgil, Wendall, and J.W as I did, returned to Rice after WWII. Don Anderson, Huey Keeny, Carl Russ, and Joe entered later to all be a part of the great team of ’48. I have forgotten the game Wendall caught a touchdown pass from Virgil and ran in to the fence around the field on the southwest corner bounced back temporarily dazed, still holding the ball, the bend in the fence was named after Wendall. Two great ends named Williams Wendall being the first Froggy the second.
My father, Harold Tate, was on that team, but not in this picture.