SUN LAKES, Ariz.
My 75 years as a diehard Yale football fan began was I was 10 years old in the 1930s during the Great Depression. A neighbor asked my mother if he could take me to a Yale game. Mom said yes, but I had to have new clothes and shoes. It was exciting. Thereafter I listened to the games on the radio. My family knew my mood depended on whether Yale won or lost. Losses to Harvard were hard to take.
After discharge from the Army, serving three years in North Africa and Europe during World War II, I married my schoolgirl sweetheart. We saw most of the games at the Bowl. She became an avid fan, and when our kids came along, my dear friend Herb and I went to games as rope guard so we could get in free.
In 1963 I left New Haven for a position elsewhere, but I continued to listen to games on the radio and watch on TV until this day, 75 years later.
My all-time Yale hero is Clint Frank ’38. He did it all, playing positions on both offense and defense. He was truly a rare one. The honors he received, both for his football and later in his professional and personal life, are proof of that. I believe he was a pilot during World War II.
Levi Jackson ’50 was a great story. After a stellar football career at Hillhouse (my old school), he was encouraged to apply to Yale, and he proved to be a great leader. He is No. 2 on my list. I believe he was a vice president at GM.
Gary Fencik ’76, he was one tough guy. Calvin Hill ’69, he was an all-time great at Yale and later for the Dallas Cowboys, and the father of basketball player Grant Hill. Kenny Hill ‘80 played with the New York Giants and Chiefs. Chuck “Straight-Ahead” Mercein ‘65, don’t get in his way: He will run over you.
There are many others on my list of greats. These are just a few. There are too many more to name all.
The biggest thrill for a Yale fan is to beat Harvard in their own stadium, and I had that. On Nov. 24, 1951, my wife and I and two other couples climbed into my new Plymouth. We drove to Cambridge in a very heavy rain storm. We got to our seats. The game began, rain stopped, heavy clouds remained. Yale stunned Harvard, 41 to 14. After the last touchdown, Yale sent in a little guy whose name and number were not listed. He ran into the end zone and caught a pass to score. It was the team manager-water boy. Game over. Heavy rain started again, and our windshield quit, but we made it home anyway.
Why did I write this? Yale football means a lot to me, as it does to so many people. Carm Cozza, in my view, was the best Yale coach ever. So I was delighted when Yale named Tom Williams the new football coach. He has youth, brains and all the other qualifications necessary. Yale’s recent record against Harvard is unacceptable. I predict this will change.
Go get them, Tom!
Frank Pascale is a New Haven native who now lives in Arizona.