Hard Times for Harvard Football

Harvard at Army, 1948: The Black Knights won, 20-7. The ball carrier is Chuck Roche ’50.

Bolstered by war veterans enrolling under the GI Bill, Harvard’s 1946 football squad was hailed as the best in decades. Yet the next four seasons brought a mounting series of defeats, attributable in part to bad scheduling, bad coaching, bad breaks, and in one instance—a 44-0 loss at Stanford Stadium—bad footwear. Those Crimson teams did not lack fighting spirit, but the seasons of 1949 (1-8) and 1950 (1-7) were the worst in Harvard annals. Administrators weighed giving up football, but opted instead to help form an Ivy League athletic conference as a corrective to the excesses of big-time college football. Those arduous years are recaptured in “The Old Timers”: Harvard Football, 1946-1950, a video documentary scripted and narrated by George Abrams ’54, LL.B. ’57. A Boston attorney, art collector, and diehard football fan, Abrams made the 45-minute DVD as a tribute to a band of former players who call themselves the Old Timers and gather for fall reunions. Ex-gridders of that era include Howard Houston ’50, Phillip Isenberg ’51, M.D. ’55, and Carroll Lowenstein ’52, who respectively captained the teams of 1949–1951; place-kicker Emil Drvaric ’49,  M.D. ’53, and John Coan ’50, M.B.A. ’53, rugged linemen who lettered three times; Chester Pierce ’48, M.D. ’52, the first African American to compete against a major Southern team; and Hal Moffie ’50, M.A.T. ’59, who still holds the record for Harvard’s longest punt-return touchdown (89 yards versus Holy Cross, 1948). 

The “Old Timers” DVD is available for $20, including shipping, from Play It Again Video Productions, 31 Fremont St., Needham, Mass. 02494 (tel. 800-872-0986).

Sub topics

You might also like

“Edifying and Beautiful”

Botanical illustrations on display at Harvard’s rare book library

Sarah Ganz Blythe New Art Museums Director

Assumes Harvard post in August

Taking Climate Action at Harvard

Focusing on prime polluting industries, plus politics and policy

Most popular

Crimson En Garde

Eight Olympics-bound Harvard fencers

Taking Climate Action at Harvard

Focusing on prime polluting industries, plus politics and policy

“Edifying and Beautiful”

Botanical illustrations on display at Harvard’s rare book library

More to explore

Architect Kimberly Dowell is Changing Her Profession

Kimberly Dowdell influences her profession—and the built environment.

Harvard Professor on Printmaking

An art historian analyzes an overlooked medium.

Dream Renovations to Harvard Yard Libraries

An ambitious plan for the next century of learning