Seeking a Flag-Bearer!
Who’ll carry the traditionalists’ Little Red Flag?
Have you been to more than 59 Games? You may be eligible to carry on the original tradition of the Little Red Flag, waved at the Harvard-Yale contest for more than 50 years by the person who has attended the football classic most often.
In 1884, Frederick Plummer, A.B. 1888, took a modified red signal flag emblazoned with an “H” to the Yale Game—and began a tradition. He and his “little red flag” graced a total of 59 Games prior to his death in 1949. The editor of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin (Harvard Magazine’s predecessor) then suggested that the Harvard alumnus in attendance at the Stadium or the Yale Bowl who had been to the most Harvard-Yale contests should inherit the honor of carrying Plummer’s flag. During the next half-century, eight different men carried the LRF at the Game (see “Little Red Flag,” September-October 2003, page 45).
In 2001, the Harvard Varsity Club decided upon a different criterion for selecting the bearer of the LRF, awarding it to a Harvard athletics superfan, Bill Markus ’60, who had at the time attended 12 Games and who continues to serve (see “Superfan,” September-October 2003, page 94).
So things stood until 2010, when Spencer Ervin ’54 and Stephen Goodhue ’51 decided to revive the banner’s original premise. The original flag no longer being available, they commissioned Goodhue's wife, Judy Goodhue, to prepare a replica Little Red Flag. That flag was carried at the 2010 and 2011 Games by Paul Lee ’46, then by Richard Bennink ’38 in 2013, and then again by Lee, who attended his seventy-fifth Game in 2017—exceeding the previous record of 73 Games established by Allen Rice, A.B. 1902, and equaled by Bennink.
Now, writes Ervin, a new honoree must be identified. Paul Lee did not live to see Harvard’s win last November. His son Jeffrey ’74, who has attended 59 Games himself, plans to carry the replica LRF to New Haven for the 136th duel on November 23. Before that date, Harvard alumni/ae who have attended 59 or more Games and who also plan to be at the Yale Bowl that day are invited to contact Ervin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and share their credentials.