Long lost football team recalled by its star lineman

Long lost football team recalled by its star lineman

[Lineman and linebacker Lucian “Ace” Waddell, Haverford College ’62, missed the advent of female cheerleaders by one year. Peppy, pom-pom-wielding cheerleaders at Haverford? You betcha! The troupe pictured here is made up of Bryn Mawr College gals who answered a call from Haverford to cheer at football games. Clad in letter sweaters borrowed from the team and skirts they purchased themselves, the group, according to a 1965 Philadelphia Inquirer article about them, was first launched in 1963, had 20 cheerleading routines, and distributed mimeographed sheets of the cheers before games, which included this “Erudite incitement to ferocity”/Circumvent the tacklers!/Pass when ’tis propitious!/Run with great celerity/But most of all, be vicious! (haver.blog)]

Recently, I learned that my friend Lucian Waddell Professor emeritus of English (Monroe Community College, 1970-2005) played four seasons of football at Haverford College, 1958 – 1961, as a lineman and linebacker.

Lucian performed as Chaucer in the first ever MCC musical, Canterbury Tales. (The Monroe Doctrine, 12/13/73)

While Lucian is an athletic guy, I never picture him as a jock per se. Maybe a tennis player but not a footballer. I also learned from Lucian that Haverford ended intercollegiate football in 1972, despite being one of the very first colleges to play the sport.

With the aid of Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, PhD (College Archivist and Records Manager, Haverford College Libraries), I found Harverford’s now-digitalized yearbook, The Record from 1959 – 1962. The analog version of the yearbook from Lucian’s senior year (1962), as well as his Haverford Football Varsity Letter — both perhaps not looked at in many, many decades — remains buried somewhere in his attic.

The yearbooks prompted in Lucian a bit of that Proustian wave of memory, perhaps made more poignant by the absence of Haverford football for fifty years now. Lucian offers a few recollection on his football career (below).

Football began at Haverford in 1879, commencing one of the fiercest rivalries in college football history: the Haverford Fords vs. the Swarthmore Garnets in which, since 1941, the winner gained points towards the Hood Trophy. By 1972, however, Haverford football was in sharp decline, cancelled its season and never played again.

1970 Haverford football team (Haverford College facebook page) In 1970, Swarthmore defeated Haverford 28 – 18, winning the 1971 Hood Trophy 8 – 1.

In“Gridiron Woes: In 1973, Haverford College considered reviving its football program—and passed.” (MainlineToday,7/10/08) Mark Nixon reviews the demise of Haverford football.

First, the program was handicapped when college football rule changes in the 1960s established the two-platoon system and the coach’s right to substitute players at will. College rosters ballooned, but Haverford was unable to recruit more players. The undermanned team tired over the course of a game, while their opponents—by sending in substitutes—always seemed to remain fresh. From 1959 through 1971, Haverford football never won more than one or two games per year, dampening enthusiasm.

Last hurrah for Haverford football who beat Swarthmore 22-21. 23 Nov 1971 Delaware County Daily Times (Chester, Pennsylvania) AS the band played on.

Furthermore, when Haverford admitted female transfer students in the 1970s and created women’s sports teams, some of the amenities provided to the football team were cut and funneled to the women’s programs.

Significantly, the decline of the team coincided with protests against the Vietnam War, especially on college campuses. Given that Haverford is a Quaker institution with a pacifist tradition, anti-war activity was common. Haverford President John Coleman’s (1967 – 1977) activism included recruiting dozens of other college and university presidents to sign an antiwar statement and organizing buses to take hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni to a May 1970 Washington, D.C. protest following the shootings at Kent State.

Files from Haverford’s counseling services for conscientious objectors from 1969-1971. See The War at Home: Haverford During the Vietnam War

Some students were turned off by football, equating the violence of football with the violence of war.

The end came meekly in September 1972. In the last game of  the 1971 season, the Fords had gone out with a bang by beating arch rival Swarthmore 22-21. In the fall of 1972, however, just 21 players turned up at training camp. Head football coach Dana Swan had expected 29 players, but eight dropped out over the summer—five for unhealed injuries. Of the rest, five were freshmen including one had never before played football.

Then, in a preseason scrimmage against less-than-powerhouse Cheyney State University (a Pennsylvania HBCU), Swan lost three of his better players to injuries. The team was down to two guards, both of whom would have to play both ways, and lacked a defensive end.  After the Cheyney game, Swan was left with thirteen able bodies. Ten days before the regular season was to start, Swan — realizing he could not field a healthy squad — mercifully pulled the plug and cancelled the rest of the season.

According to a 1972 Philadelphia Inquirer article, most of the Haverford community responded with indifference.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 Sep 1972 By JOHN DELL Just a reminder: If you were planning to travel to Haverford College’s season opener Saturday against Hamilton College, don’t. It and the rest of Haverford’s schedule has been cancelled. A week had passed since Haverford College, which took up the game when it was only 10 years old, had cancelled out of the 1972 football season. The alumni was reacting. Old grads were calling up. Dana Swan, the athletic director who doubles as football coach, was counting the calls. In the week he had counted two. The mini-reaction didn’t surprise Mike Davis. “I sort of sensed a very bad feeling toward football ever since I came to Haverford College,” said the junior defensive back. “Football had been kept alive by the football team. “We’d have a game and it would seem like there’d be eight people in the stands your parents, some friends, people like that. Then, at the Swarthmore game the stands would be filled.” EXCEPT FOR THE YEARS OF TWO WORLD WARS (1918, 1943-45) football has been a part of the Haverford scene since 1879. In the past it was a big part of the scene. Then it dwindled down to a once-a-year thing. And once a year wasn’t enough. 

Two years later, a movement to resuscitate the Fords failed.

The Daily Item (Sunbury, PA) 10 Dec 1974. HAVERFORD, Pa. (AP) – Haverford College, which started playing football in the 1870s but gave up the sport during preseason practice in 1972, .will not resume Intercollegiate competition despite a recommendation to do so. Dr. Jack Coleman, college president, said Monday that, “Despite the favorable recommendations, I felt we couldn’t attract the type of student-athletes necessary to have a winning football program.”

Swarthmore disbanded its football team in 2000.

THE OLD PIG SKIN (Swarthmore College Bulletin)

In many ways, the yearbooks, like the long lost football team, hearken back to a gone, more innocent era. Lucian played his ball during the American post-war prosperity boom, and in his junior and senior seasons, against the backdrop of JFK’s New Frontier.

Of course, the players — like all American young men — could not know that in just a few years, they would face the Vietnam Question.

January 27, 1962 Secretary of Defense McNamara forwards a memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to President Kennedy which urges the deployment of United States armed forces to Vietnam. See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

Stephen H. Miller, who graduated with Lucian in 1962, was killed in Vietnam in February 1968.

Stephen H. Miller, 1962 Haverford College Yearbook, The Record  “While serving in the State Department’s foreign service, Miller was sent to Vietnam in July 1967 where he taught reading and hygiene in villages around Hue. On February 7th, 1968, Miller was reported missing. His body was discovered in a shallow grave in a Hue Cemetery.” (Congressional Record, 1968) “For serving his country and his fellow man in South Vietnam while taking part in village development as a member of the United States Information Agency, The Stephen H. Miller Memorial Award is presented in his honor.” (Haverford College Catalog, Political Science)

To give a flavor of the era, I include timepiece images from the Timeline of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of Greater Rochester in Highland Park inscribed with events occurring right after and during the 1958 – 1961 seasons.

January 1, 1959 Cuban dictator Batista flees after losing his struggle the revolutionary forces of Fidel Castro, See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

Recalling his four seasons as a Haverford Ford, Lucian writes:

When I saw the yearbooks, that chapter in my life feels like eons ago. After the team disbanded in 1972, Haverford football drifted out of my consciousness. I did look for my varsity letter, unsuccessfully. Like Haverford football, that laurel seems lost to history.

At Haverford, academics were far more important than sports. Haverford did not offer athletic scholarships nor had separate admission standards for athletes nor treated athletes differently if they fell behind in their studies. Our practices were limited and our season short, only seven games. The only concession I recall was that during the football season, faculty refrained from scheduling classes during prime practice and game hours.

David pointed to a 1972 manual for incoming Haverford students that characterized the athletic program as “relaxed.”

A 1972 manual for new students describing the athletic program.

The manual pretty much sums up my experience. Football was just another social activity, like joining a foreign language club or a musical group or even the required Thursday Quaker meeting.

My freshman year was certainly memorable when we trounced Swarthmore 28 – 0 and won four of seven games. For most of the Haverford community, the annual grudge match against Swarthmore was the only game on the schedule that mattered.

The next seasons were not so favorable, a harbinger of a decade of decline culminating in demise. In 1959, our scoreless tie against Swarthmore felt like a victory. David explained that new rule changes around 1960 handicapped our undermanned team. We tired over the course of a game, while our opponents always seemed to remain fresh. I guess I’ll accept that alibi.

When I looked at the action shots, I recalled that I was actually a pretty decent player who could hold his own. I was bigger than some of the guys so I was made a lineman who, on occasion, successfully opened holes for our running backs. It’s funny, while I played a good game, inwardly I struggled with existential dread about taking a massive hit. I tended to linger on the periphery of the pile, not particularly desiring to get mangled in the melee.

Until now, I did not know that Stephen Miller was killed in Vietnam while teaching reading and hygiene in villages around Hue. Stephen’s tragic death is a grim reminder of the upheavals just around the corner after my graduation.

While I was not at Haverford during the Vietnam War era, I think students were almost preternaturally conscious of Haverford’s historic commitment to non-violence, and this aversion no doubt contributed to the waning interest in football.

1959 season from 1960 The Record

1958. Lucian A. Waddell # 36 (first in first row)

In 1958, Haverford trounced Swarthmore 28 – 0 in the annual Hood Trophy contest. The schools tied for the 1959 Hood Trophy  4.5 – 4.5

Note that by winning, Swarthmore captured the Bucket Trophy, the JV equivalent of the Ford Trophy. The “hapless” junior gridders would be a harbinger of tough seasons to come.

1959 season from 1960 The Record

October 7, 1959 Pictures of the far side of the moon are relayed back to earth for the first time by the Russian spacecraft Lunik III. See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

Fall 1959

1959. Lucian A. Waddell # 61 (second to right, third row)

Note that Haverford often played preseason scrimmages against local prep schools, in 1959 against Happy Valley Day School. Lucian might have been the “unidentifiable Ford lineman [who] rolls out the Red carpet for on-rushing Bob Ortman (32).” Ortman played two seasons of professional football, 1961 and 1962, for the Louisville Raiders in the United Football League.

In 1959, Haverford and Swarthmore played to a scoreless tie. Swarthmore won the 1960 Hood Trophy 6.5-2.5. Note the reference in the tongue-in-cheek caption to Haverford’s Quaker tradition: A host of Ford pacifists tears down the Dickinson flag on Iowa Jima.  In the article, Haverford is also referred to as the “Main Line pacifists.” Lucian does not think that it was he who the swallowed a mouthpiece in the photo of Trainer Dick Morsch and the Geiger counter.

In winter 1960, Lucian also joined the Wrestling Team.

1960 Wrestling Squad. Lucian “Ace” Waddell not pictured

Note the mention of the “shoulders of Ace Waddell, a relatively new man on the Varsity,” who displayed “inspiring offense,” even if in defeat against a much heavier opponent.  Lucian’s graduate school classmates at the University of Rochester where he studied after Haverford still use Lucian’s undergraduate nickname. The caption Gary Olsen applies a Castro hold which he learned during his recent trip to Cuba alludes to Castro’s revolution against Batista, although Olsen never actually left the United States.

1960 season from 1961 The Record

November 8, 1960 John F. Kennedy is elected 35th President of United States. At 43, he is our youngest President. Three days later, President Ngo Diem thwarts a coup attempt in South Vietnam See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

1960. Lucian A. Waddell # 61 (far right, second row ) Note the reference to “the heavy line work of Juniors Watkins, Natelson. Waddel and Fox.”

In 1960, Swarthmore defeated Haverford 14 – 0, winning the 1961 Hood Trophy 6 – 3.

1961 season from 1962 The Record

October 28, 1961 “The Twist” is the rock and roll dance craze, sung by Chubby Checker. Jet Set socialites dance in New York cafe society’s Stork Club and Peppermint Lounge, to the twist, jerk, pony, and shake till the wee hours. See In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

In 1961, Swarthmore defeated Haverford 34 – 6, winning the 1962 Hood Trophy 7.5-1.5

The next season, 1962, Joe Schulze ’63 was probably the Ford’s best player. 10-10-1962 PRESS PHOTO JOSEPH SCHULZE OF HAVERFORD COLLEGE FOOTBALL (HistoricImagesOutlet) In 1962, Swarthmore beat Haverford 60 – 6, winning the 1963 Hood Trophy 6 – 3.


In search of the missing 19 granite timepieces at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 1973 – September 11th, 2001

As the University of Rochester’s Fauver Stadium moves forward, its rich football tradition lives on

The GREAT COURSES® and Professor Arnold Weinstein gets his essay 37 years later

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts