This past weekend members of the football team of 1960, the last undefeated and untied Yale team, reunited to watch the Yale-Princeton game and celebrate their fiftieth reunion at the Yale Bowl.
But before rooting for the Bulldogs, the alums took time on Friday to give words of encouragement to the Bulldogs during practice.
After both teams sang “Boola Boola” together, one alumnus shouted from the crowd, “I think we can take you on for five or six minutes.”
Mike Pyle ’61, who captained the Elis and played as an offensive and defensive lineman, noted that he went on to captain the Chicago Bears for six years.
“Your body shows it!” one of his former teammates declared.
Fifty years ago, the Elis received the Lambert Trophy recognizing the top football team in the East and finished ranked 14th in the nation.
Though Yale has never regained such national prominence and no longer pursues the countries’ top players, the alumni did not seem to have much of a problem with the focus on academics in recruiting. “We’d like them to find the biggest, strongest, smartest people,” end John Stocking ’61 said.
Bill Leckonby ’62, who was the team’s quarterback and safety, noted a few of the evolutions the game has gone through in the past 50 years.
“Our biggest guy weighed 225 lbs,” he said. “Yale’s current starting line averages 275. I played at 190 — they wouldn’t let the skill players weightlift to maintain our flexibility. One winter we had ballet lessons for agility.”
Leckonby also said he enjoyed being able to play on both sides of the ball.
“If they sacked me I could pick one off,” he said.
He also lamented the fact that when he played Princeton and Harvard, the Bowl regularly drew a crowd of 70,000 or more. But he acknowledged that back then “there weren’t the distractions of twenty-seven games on TV.”
Mary Stocking, who dated and subsequently married end John Stocking, said that the type of people in the crowds has changed as well.
“There wasn’t a lot of ruckus cheering,” she said. “Now we have guys taking their shirts off.”
But some things, like how the team celebrated a big football win, don’t change.
“75% of the players were in DKE house,” Leckonby said. “Saturday nights we went to DKE with a good band. “
John Stocking elaborated on the drinking habits of the team.
“We made Purple Jesus in garbage cans,” Mary Stocking said.
“The drink consists of a third grape juice, third triple sec, vodka, and a touch of grenadine ‘to take the alcohol flavor away,’” John Stocking said. “Jesus is there in all colors. When you have enough of Purple Jesus your brain doesn’t function.”
On Saturday, as the alumni watched the current Bulldog team take the field against the Tigers, Stocking said that he and his teammates enjoyed reminiscing about bygone glories.
“Each drink increases the memory of our accomplishments,” John Stocking said. “Our team’s motto: ‘the older we get, the better we were.’”