Don’t believe everything you read…
One of those “Did You Know..Trivia…Fun Facts” circulating on the Internet gives a former Alabama running back, known only as “Five-Yard” Fogerty, and his Crimson Tide teammates credit for inventing the high five.
As the story goes, Fogerty carried the ball 25 times and gained exactly five yards on each carry as ‘Bama beat Washington State, 24-0, to win the 1931 Rose Bowl, finish 10-0 and share the national championship with Notre Dame. The title was the third for Alabama coach and College Football Hall of Famer Wallace Wade in six seasons.
Fogerty and his teammates supposedly celebrated his Rose Bowl exploits by slapping palms — or exchanging high fives. According to the report, “Five-Yard” Fogerty later played professional football before injuring his leg in a skiing accident.
As it turns it, there’s no record of a Fogerty ever playing in the NFL, according to the Pro Football Reference. Nor is there any record of Fogerty playing for Alabama in the 1930 or 1931 seasons.
In fact, the only prominent Fogerty found in a Google search is John Fogerty, of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
So it turns out there’s no record of “Five-Yard” Fogerty. And the mystery of the birth of the high-five continues.
Now, A True Story
Contrastingly, some things that sound unbelievable are actually real.
Take the story of Joe Lamas, the late football and baseball coach and athletic director at Iona Prep, my high school in New Rochelle, NY. Mr. Lamas, as we knew him, claimed to have played in the NFL in the 40s.
There was no online football reference in those days….heck there was no online anything in the 60s….so we had our doubts about Mr. Lamas’ claim. Sometimes we joked that he played for the 1940 Washington Redskins team that lost the NFL championship game, 73-0, to the Chicago Bears. That didn’t go over very well with Mr. Lamas, especially in gym class.
It turns out Joe Lamas born in Havana, Cuba, graduate of Mount St. Mary’s College, was a 5’10″, 210-pound guard who played eight games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1942.
And Lamas even scored a touchdown on Nov. 8, 1942, when he returned a fumble 29 yards for the final score in the Steelers 35-7 victory over the winless Detroit Lions.
Lamas entered military service following the 1942 season where he fought for his country during World War II.
Eventually, he joined the staff at Iona in 1952, where he taught Latin, history and health in addition to his duties in the athletic department.
Joe Lamas retired from Iona in 1979, and passed away in 1996.
And unlike “Five-Yard” Fogerty myth, the tale of Joe Lamas is a true story.
A week or so ago, the SportsLifer went back to the future.
This past weekend the future appeared, in the person of Iona Prep junior running back Jeffrey Mack.
Mack scored seven touchdowns as Iona beat St. Anthony’s, 48-35, in the New York CHSFL AAA finals. Mack scored on runs of 50, 17, 11, 48, 71, 19 and 38 yards. And he added a two-point conversion for 44 points. He also caught two passes, giving him 400 all-purpose yards.
I had never seen someone who can make so many people miss the way he did today,” Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo said. “He was a man with boys out there.”
The championship was Iona’s first since 1967, and ended a string of seven straight league titles for St. Anthony’s. The Gaels finished the season unbeaten at 11-0 and ranked number one in the New York metropolitan area.
Mack, who stands 5’8″ and weighs 155 pounds, came into the game leading the CHSFL in rushing with 1,574 yards and 17 touchdowns.
And then he had the game of his life. Mack’s heroics overshadowed those of Ernie Nevers, Dub Jones and Gale Sayers, who share the NFL record with six touchdowns in a game. Nevers also holds the record of 40 points in a game (six rushing touchdowns and four PATs) set with the Chicago Cardinals in a November 28, 1929, contest against the Chicago Bears.
No More Turkey Bowl: One of the great traditions of Thanksgiving Day, the Iona-New Rochelle game, is now history. For years, the two arch-rivals battled every year on Thanksgiving morning, but the high school playoff system put an end to the game several years back.
Even if they can no longer play on Turkey Day, Iona and New Rochelle owe it to their students, alums and fans to continue the tradition and play each year. Why not make Iona-NRHS the opening game of the football season? No playoff conflicts there.
Just like the Doc and Marty McFly, the SportsLifer went back to the future.
Went back to the future today. Went back to my old high school.
It was raining, pouring. Almost didn’t make it.
But then I said to myself, did a little rain stop Marty McFly or the Doc?
No. There were no rainouts in Back to the Future. And no rainouts today.
So I went back to New Rochelle, to my old high school, to watch unbeaten Iona Prep.
Worth the trip. Got there at halftime to find the Gaels holding on to a slim 14-12 lead.
Iona promptly scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and went on to win, 42-27.
So the Prep is now 10-0, ranked # 1 in the New York metropolitan area, and will play next weekend for the perfect season and the CHSFL AAAA title.
The last time Iona was unbeaten was 1967, my junior year, the first year in the new school on Wilmot Road.
That team, led by quarterback Howie Burke, finished 8-0. We beat both Stepinac and St. Francis in the final seconds and blanked arch-rival New Rochelle, 13-0, in a cold, driving rainstorm on Thanksgiving morning to complete the undefeated season.
Now, 41 years later, Iona goes for another perfect record.
Back to the future.
My friend Matty and I have known one another since the ’60s. We’ve gone to some great sports events together, including the Super Bowl, World Series and the Olympics.
For the most part , we cheer for the same New York teams. We’ve seen a few wins, but more often than not, we’ve seen the ugly side of New York sports.
We came to call it simply The Jinx. When Matt and I go to games together, bad things happen to our teams.
Take for instance December 27, 1997. We went to the Garden for a matinee game, which the Knicks lost, 97-94, to the Toronto Raptors on a buzzer-beater by Doug Christie.
Meanwhile, at the same time, on the TV in the suite at MSG, the Giants are frittering away a 19-3 halftime lead and losing to the Minnesota Vikings, 23-22, in a playoff game at Giants Stadium.
That day clearly demonstrated the power of The Jinx.
The Jinx Top 10
- Super Bowl XXV, Tampa, Ravens crush Giants, 34-7, 2001
- Red Sox shut out Yankees 1-0, 6-0 at Shea Stadium, 1975
- Red Sox beat Yankees 2-1, 1-0, Fourth of July, 1973
- Knicks lose to Raptors on buzzer-beater at MSG while…
- Giants blow 19-3 lead, lose playoff game to Vikings, 1997
- Giants lose to Cowboys, 30-29, on missed extra point, 1985
- Mets lose playoff game to Houston, 3-1, Shea Stadium, 1986
- A’s blow out Yankees early, 13-5, Yankee Stadium, 1987
- Red Sox beat Yankees, 8-3, on 50th birthday party, 2001
- Iona Prep loses, 60-6, to St. Francis, 1966
As the North Carolina Tar Heels crashed and burned Saturday night, so did my chances of finishing in the money in Comms Before the Storm, that famous NCAA pool. No consolation points for leading going into the final weekend of the tournament.
How could a team as talented as UNC fall behind 40-12 in the first half? That’s incomprehensible. When I was a sophomore at Iona Prep, we once lost a game 112-26 to Rice High School in Harlem. We considered it a moral victory when we lost to Rice 83-33 in our gym later in the season.
But unlike the Tar Heels, those defeats were understandable. The Rice team was far better….they had Dean “The Dream” Meminger, pictured left, a future All-American point guard at Marquette University and number one pick who later played in the NBA for the Knicks and the Hawks.
Al McGuire, his college coach, once said Meminger was ”quicker than 11:15 Mass at a seaside resort.”
Give credit to North Carolina for coming back in the second half and cutting the lead to four at one point. But as Bill Parcells once said, they don’t give medals for trying.
So Comms Before the Storm comes to this — if Memphis wins, the title goes to a guy named Christopher Blogger. If Kansas survives, it might as well be Dorothy.