Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Comedy Linebacker

Mike Tree

Columbia is among four Ivy schools who have reportedly made an offer to Brophy College Prep lineback Mike Tree. Tree comes from the same high school as rising Lion junior lineman Brandon "Moose" Veldman.

Scout.com is reporting that Tree visited Princeton last weekend and is going to Dartmouth this weekend. There's no information on whether he's headed to visit Columbia or Brown, in the coming weeks.

But Tree is already to jump into the New York City comedy scene. He's the star of a series of YouTube sketches he and his friends at Brophy produced called "Campus Linebacker." They're a takeoff on the "Office Linebacker" Reebok commercials from a few years back.

Rich Skrosky

Coach Skrosky Promoted

Former Lions offensive coordinator Rich Skrosky has been made a top assistant at Elon College in North Carolina. Skrosky was a popular figure in the Columbia football program, and he was the only one of Ray Tellier's assistants to make the transition to Bob Shoop's staff. We wish him well.

Page one of the 1961 Columbia-Penn program

Now back to our page-by-page look at a vintage piece of Columbia football history: the 1961 Columbia-Penn game program.

The first page of text in the program sets the scene for the game and was written by the program's editor, Philip J. Burke. Burke was a prototypical "sports information director" of his time, but I believe he only handled football for Columbia, starting in 1960. I don't know much about how Burke came to Columbia, but I know he left the Lions in 1965 to do public relations for the old Roosevelt Field Raceway on Long Island, (now it's just a mall), and then got his call to "the show" as a PR director for the New York Rangers. He died in 2000 at the age of 85.

The top of the page features two small inset pictures. On the left, we have an "in action" shot of running back Tom Haggerty, one of the leading heroes of the '61 squad. Haggerty came into the game with 482 yards rushing and a gaudy 5.3 yards per carry average. He also had 9 TD's through 7 games and one two-point conversion.

The small picture on the right is of the Lion statue in front of Chrystie Field House.

Also on the top of the page is an interesting note that the game that day would be the 557th intercollegiate football game for the Lions. That brings us back to the question of just how many games Columbia has played since 1870 and when exactly was our 1,000th game.

If the Penn game was game #557, then game 1,000 was the 2008 season opener against Fordham. I mistakenly thought it was the game against Dartmouth in late October.

Having more than 1,000 games in the history of your program is pretty impressive, but the way the BCS loads up the schedules these days most big-time programs will soon be playing 1,000 games every year.

Now I don't like to speak ill of the dead, and I'm sure Mr. Burke was a totally fine man, but I'm not the biggest fan of the copy he wrote to set up the game. It's a kind of a flowery piece hinging on the title of a hit song from the late 1950's called "Now is the Hour." It's a very general look at the successful 1961 team, giving most of the credit to Coach Donelli and his staff.

I guess it's likely the piece is just dated; something that may have been better appreciated by a 1961 audience. Today's fans are stat and personality obsessed, and other than a deliberately modest listing of the graduating seniors on the team, there is little a modern fan can sink his teeth into.

But the style reminds me of the little set-up voiceovers Howard Cosell used to do for Monday Night Football. If you take the copy from Burke's piece and put it in Cosell's excited voice, it kind of works.

On the bottom of the page, we have a tale of contents on the right and some publication information on the left. We learn that Burke's associate editor was Bill Shannon, who is often referred to as a "Columbia historian," but I don't know what his official titles were. The pictures were taken by an "M. Warman." (A reader tells me he was named Manny Warman and he took the official pictures for Columbia for many years).

The program was peddled for national advertising by Spencer Advertising and published by Robert W. Kelly Publishing. Both companies are now defunct.


At Tue Jan 13, 11:51:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

M.Warman was the "official" photographer of the Columbia athletic department for many years. His first name was Manny(sp).

At Tue Jan 13, 11:54:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

Thanks for that!

At Wed Jan 14, 12:05:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Manny Warman was a fixture at Columbia. He was in the background from a student's point of view, but seemed very dedicated to Columbia. I recall him as always in coat and tie. Was he not also a photographer for the University, or at least the College, as well as athletics? I think his name was the credit on many Columbia College Today and university photos in years gone by.

I would be interested to learn his official capacity with the University if anyone knows it.


At Wed Jan 14, 06:06:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger cathar said...

Around this same time, and for quite a few years afterward, the "official" photographer credited for all of Columbia's fraternities' yearly composite pictures (which of course included the football player-heavy Chi Rho and Beta houses) was one Henry Verby, whose studio was on Broadway at about 113th. I remember that he had a very distinct limp, and could often be found at either the West End or the Gold Rail or the Marvin Cafe.

You sure know how to elicit comments from relative old-timers, eh, Jake?

At Wed Jan 14, 08:30:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I only started reading your blog within the past year or so and love it. the historic stuff is a great periodical that you do with it, too.

Have you ever written about Frank and Wyatt (don't know their last names), the two greatest equipment managers ever and two of the greatest characters CU can brag about.

Also, we had a ball boy in the early/mid 80's we called Mikey who grew up in the immediate neighborhood. I remember running into him at a homecoming several years later when he was in college somewhere.

Anyway, thanks for the memories and the great coverage of CY football and CU sports!

At Wed Jan 14, 11:36:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frank Dobbins and Wyatt Webb are the names of the two longtime Columbia football equipment managers. Both of them were of great assistance to me when food was short by providing cans of liquid food supplement (can't recall the name of the supplement). Both are long deceased.

At Fri Jan 16, 10:05:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's them! I can't recall the supplement either but they kept it in cases of 24 and the cans were white with red labeling...

Jake, someday you must write about these two, they truly are an important part of CU's athletic history.

At Sat Jan 17, 01:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote an earlier post but it wan't added?? BUT Frank Dobbins was recognized in the second Columbia HOF class. His writeup is on the website. Him and Wyatt were a big part of Columbia football for many many years and two great men.....


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