One of my colleagues in the Woodson was scanning some photos the other day and came to me with this tantalizing image:
We knew from the label that the student athlete was Edward Herting and the picture was taken circa 1926. But who’s the guy all cozy under his blanket? And why “S”?
There’s not much of his face showing but I was pretty sure I recognized him anyway. And I was even more confident that I recognized the hat. Indeed, here he is wearing it at far left with the 1926 football squad and head coach John Heisman:
His name was Joe Bedenk and he was an assistant football coach here in the mid-twenties. The reason there’s an “S” on his blanket is that he had been an All American guard at Penn State, where the letter winner’s club is called the Varsity S. The reason he was fooling around with one of the players was probably that he was only a few years older than they were.
After a couple of years at Rice, Bedenk went back to Penn State where he was most famous as a fantastically successful baseball coach. He continued as a football assistant too, interrupted by a season as head coach in 1949, until 1952.
Which means that he coached with both John Heisman and Joe Paterno.
Here’s a great story about him, well worth your time especially if you’re interested in the history of college baseball.