FORMER SUBWAY ALUMNI LEADER REFLECTS ON HIS "NOTRE DAME ODYSSEY"


Herb Juliano
(1922-1998)

In Herb's Archive this month, a couple of excerpts from Herb's files on Notre Dame football in 1909.

Harry "Red" Miller of Notre Dame (far left) breaks into the open field in the monumental 1909 game at Ferry Field, Ann Arbor. (Detroit News-Tribune, November 7, 1909)

Harry "Red" Miller of Notre Dame (far left) breaks into the open field in the monumental 1909 game at Ferry Field, Ann Arbor. (Detroit News-Tribune, November 7, 1909).

 

The following are excerpts from Herb's file on the rememberances of Harry "Red" Miller, one of the heroes of the Michigan game, and father of future Notre Dame star, All American and Hall of Famer, Creighton Miller.  Interestingly, in 1942, in only the second game played since  the 1909 victory, Creighton Miller had a career day, gaining 159 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns. I'm pretty sure old Red was at Michigan Stadium in '43 to see his sons big day...

From Herb's file on "Red" Miller:

"That 1909 Notre Dame conquest of Michigan's Paladins happened four years before the so-called "unknown little Hoosier school" came out of the West to humble Army and startle Eastern critics - which explodes that fallacy! The truth is that every football follower in the Midwest recognized Notre Dame as a formidable grid power long before Rockne and Dorais collaborated to ambush the unsuspecting Cadets.

Indeed, Rockne didn't even originate the system which bears his name, though he did dramatize it. Rock himself always credited the hike shift to his coach, Jesse Harper, a disciple of Alonzo Stagg."

"The forward pass, incorporated into American football back in 1906, was old stuff by the time Dorais began pitching to Rockne. Brad Robinson, first of the super passers, completed heaves of sixty-seven and sixty-five yards for St. Louis University in 1906. Robinson towered 6 foot 4 inches and grabbed the pigskin by its pointed end as though it were a baseball. Dorais couldn't have taught that guy anything about tossing a pass."

"Among the pre-Rockne era football stars who gleamed brightly at Notre Dame from 1887 to 1910 were Cartier, quarterback; Cusack, halfback; Mullen, end; Dimmick, tackle; Philbrook, guard; Shaughnessy, end; Cullinan, tackle; H. Miller, halfback, and Salmon, fullback. Even Coach Frank Leahy, abundantly supplied with material though he was this fall, could have used some of those "antediluvians.""

If Eastern football authorities had never heard of Notre Dame before the Irish exploded that barrage of passes against Army in 1913, it was because the smug Brahmins of the Atlantic coastal sectors never bothered to look beyond the Allegheny Mountain barrier."

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"The 1906-1909 period saw a revolutionary change in football paraphernalia, and the beginning of better and proper protection against injuries. The shin guards disappeared in 1906. The nose guard, a suffocating device, was last seen in a few instances in 1906. Throughout the next four years the union suit with the vest attached to the pants gradually gave way to just pants. By 1909 only four or five players on a team were wearing the combination. The union suit as well as the pants with their thick padding and splints and papier mache' were heavy and burdensome, and became more so with sweat or rain or dampness. I recall that quarterback Don Hamilton in 1908 removed all the padding and papier mache' in his pants and fashioned light knee pads. Others followed suit. Shoulder and elbow pads were sewed on the jerseys and offered poor protection compared with present pads. Headgear was made of felt and offered little protection. In fact headgear then was a nuisance. I never wore one. In comparison with present day helmets, that headgear from a protection point of view just didn't exist. Shoes were much heavier, and no attention was paid to the worn-out cleats. Many a good gain and touchdown were lost by the failure of poor cleats to hold. The monogram sweaters awarded then were wonderfully well made, very thick and very heavy and with a long turtle neck. I still have, in excellent shape, the one I won in 1906. The V-neck sweater followed by the sweater coat became optional in 1908."

"The spectators at Notre Dame out of town games in those days never numbered more than 9,000, which was then considered a very large crowd. At Notre Dame the crowds were much smaller. There were no automobiles then and the college alumni interested in football was quite limited."

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

"Coach Longman's system was entirely different from Place's. His plays were simple and comparatively few in number. He had a team of old, experienced players who knew the science of football well and were masters of their positions and of all tricks of the game. It would have been impossible to have picked one as the star of the team. They were all stars. Each had the great confidence that comes with knowledge and ability; and in each football instinct was greatly developed.".

 

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