Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kobler on Corn

Page 10 of our 1961 Columbia-Penn game program is a treasure trove because of the article's subject and its author.

The author is Arthur Kobler '62, who in 1961 was the student sports director of WKCR radio. He would go on to establish a tremendous career in broadcasting, but not in sports broadcasting.

First, he was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, where he began learning to become fluent in Chinese and Vietnamese.

Then he had a distinguished career as a diplomat in the Foreign Service for nearly 25 years. He held a number of key posts in the State Department and U.S. missions in Asia. He was an advisor in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam war; Economic Officer in Saigon during the final evacuation of the American Embassy; Economic Counselor in Beijing; Deputy Consul General in Hong Kong; and Deputy Chief of Mission in Singapore.

He left government service in 1992 and went on to become President of AT&T China. He is now an independent consultant based in Hong Kong.

Kobler's article that November day in 1961 was about long-time Baker Field P.A. announcer Bud Corn, Jr. '34, who was about to work his final game behind the mic. Corn was a beloved personality at Baker, coining terms like "It's 3rd down and a millimeter," ("millimeter" was an exotic word back then), and providing some comic commentary when there were some inexplicable stoppages in play.

He only missed one home game in his career, that was in 1957 when he was detained by the Venezuelan government while doing an exposition in Caracas, (shades of Hugo?).

Corn was leaving the P.A. job to focus more on his full-time business as exposition architect, a job that was becoming in demand as New York prepared for the 1964 World's Fair.

As a student, Corn worked on the Varsity Show with the great Herman Wouk, and opened his business at first on West 130th Street, not far from where the current Columbia sports information and marketing offices stand today.

But whatever happened to Mr. Corn in the years after 1961 are unknown at least to me. While we have the extensive details about Kobler's career, it's hard to find out more about Corn.

As far as I know, no one has come close to working the P.A. at Columbia football games for as long as Bud Corn did. And in honor of that, I'd like to propose that a plaque in honor of Corn be placed on the mic stand at Wien Stadium currently used by P.A. announcer Marty Collins. I'd be happy to donate the first $50 for that plaque, by the way.


At Thu Feb 26, 08:06:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art Kobler and his classmate, Mike Hunter, who, if I remember correctly was from Wyoming, were part of a dedicated cast of student announcers and sports writers who provided tremendous support to the 1961 Football team in their successful quest for an Ivy League Championship. Those were the "Golden Days" for WKCR sports which covered all of Columbia's football and basketball games with great professional skill and gusto. One of the most memorable events WKCR broadcast during the "Golden Period" was the wrestling meet between Cornell and Columbia in March, 1961 when Columbia won the Ivy League Wrestling Championship before an incredibly noisy capacity crowd in the old University Hall Gymnasium. Columbia gridder, Lou Asack, pinned the Cornell heavyweight in the final bout of the day, after his older brother, Bob Asack won at 191.

At Thu Feb 26, 08:42:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who wrestled at Harvard , Lee Freeman (now a distinguished Chicago lawyer), claims that he wrestled Bob Asack that year by stepping up from 167. The story he tells is that he won the match against Asack on points even though Asack outweighed him by 30 or more pounds. Can anybody out there verify this story?

At Fri Feb 27, 09:00:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot verify attorney Lee Freeman's story, but have no reason to doubt him. Bob Asack was an incredibly strong, super athlete and very nice, unassuming guy, He competed in three sports at Columbia--football (four years), crew(as a freshman) and wrestling(one or two years). If I recall correctly, Bob was an All-American football player in high school before attending Columbia He was an outstanding football player at Columbia, a dominant offensive lineman, on the 1961 Championship Team that had other several other outstanding linemen as well. Bob was so strong that he pushed back some lineman five or ten yards off the ball and others simply ran away from him. The same thing happened in wrestling. He had very little experience and knowledge of the sport, but was so strong and made such an imposing physical presence when he first came out of the mat, that some opponents (including the Cornell 191) were simply paralyzed with fear. Keep in mind that Bob pulled something like 35 pounds in maybe six weeks to wrestle in the 191 pound class at Columbia. That also allowed his younger brother, "Little Lou Asack," a giant of man then at 6'5" 245, to wrestle heavyweight. Bob and Lou won the final two bouts in the big triumph over Cornell in 1961. However, college wrestling then and now, takes an enormous amount of skill, so it is not unusual for a very talented, highly experienced wrestler, to defeat someone who is bigger than him, and that certainly might have happened in Lee Freeman's match with Bob.


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