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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Adverse elements make for football weather

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sudden changes in the weather are common in the Ozarks, and like politics, it's not always for the better.

It looked as if Thayer's homecoming parade on the afternoon of Oct. 16. might get rained on, but it only drizzled and then stopped as soon as the parade was over, leaving decent weather for the football game that evening.

It started me thinking about bad weather games I knew about years ago.

Late in the year in 1942, Thayer, by winning the South Central Association (SCA) football championship, was invited to play in the prestigious Ozark Bowl against Neosho at SMS (now Missouri State).

It was the first time a Thayer team had ever played under lights and unfortunately, the Bobcats were beaten by a very lopsided score.

There are two versions of why the game got away from the Bobcats in such dramatic fashion, both probably true.

One explanation was that Neosho had a speed demon that no one could catch and another was that the weather turned bitterly cold late on the day of the game.

The Thayer players rode to the game in the bed of an open truck. It was said that the players were so cold that they wanted only for the game to end.

A game that some will never forget was when Thayer played at Mountain View in the fall of 1951.

It began raining early in the evening, then the temperature dropped drastically, covering the field with a sheet of ice. The players could not, nor anyone else for that matter, stay on their feet -- it was a skating match.

The coach of the home field Pirates had a local shoe merchant go to the store and bring his team rubber soled tennis shoes which they changed into at the half. With the footwear advantage they beat Thayer for one of their few SCA wins in that era.

There have been several mud games that people have talked about through the years.

The most awful one I remember was at Rolla, around 1950. There had been a heavy snowfall earlier in the week which had been shoved into piles at the edge of the field. On the day of the game, the sun came out and melted the snow, which left standing puddles on the field.

Those places on the field turned into mud pits when the players ran and wallowed in them. The referees carried towels, not only to clean the ball (this was before they had people pitching clean balls out on the field) but to wipe players helmets to tell which team had the ball and who to call an infraction against.

By 1950 there were only a few of the green heavy canvas hooded jackets left from the ones that came with the new uniforms in 1948.

On cold nights, the subs on the sidelines literally fought over them. I know a guy who has an electric suit he plugs into his Harley-Davidson. There's an idea for a football uniform, I'll bet the New England Patriots would buy them.

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