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If you've read this issue's cover article, you know that the coaching and training of college athletes has become increasingly professionalized--even at Harvard. But how many Harvard graduates, you ask, have made their names as professional athletes?
Well, it's probably safe to say that the total exceeds the number who've sat on the Supreme Court bench.
Walter Clarkson '03, the premier college pitcher of his day, may have been Harvard's first pro. In his fifth year at the University's Lawrence Scientific School--and his second as Crimson baseball captain--Clarkson accepted a bonus to sign with the newly formed New York Highlanders, thus forfeiting his amateur status before the all-important series with Yale. Shame on him. In four American League seasons, Clarkson had a won-lost record of 20-17.
Edward Leslie Grant '06, LL.B. '09, owns the Harvard record for longevity in the pros. As a collegian, law student, and practicing lawyer, "Harvard Eddie" Grant played in 992 big-league games (including the 1913 World's Series) from 1905 to 1915. An infielder with the Indians, Phillies, Reds, and Giants, Grant was killed leading a mission to rescue the famous "Lost Battalion" late in World War I (Harvard Magazine, November-December 1993, page 83). He was the only major leaguer to die in the war.
When the American Professional Football Association began in 1920, four Harvardians were among the combatants: backs Charlie Brickley '15 (Massillon Tigers); Richard King '16 (Rochester Jeffersons); Eddie Casey '19 (Buffalo All-Americans); and lineman Harrie Dadmun '17 (Canton Bulldogs). Brothers Ralph Horween '18, LL.B. '29, and Arnold Horween '21 joined the Chicago Cardinals the next year, playing under the name McMahon to avoid embarrassing their mother, who regarded pro football as déclassé. The APFA became the National Football League in 1922, and over the next decade half a dozen more Harvard gridders played for pay. When Ralph Horween died last May at the age of 100, he was the NFL's oldest ex-player.
George Owen '23, who won nine Hs in football, hockey, and baseball, might have played professionally in any of those sports. He was an all-American in each. Owen picked hockey. As a 27-year-old rookie, he got a record bonus of $25,000 to sign with the Boston Bruins, then owned by Harvard treasurer Charles Francis Adams, class of 1888. Owen captained the Bruins, leading the team to its first Stanley Cup championship in 1929. He played for five seasons.
Captain Wyndol Gray '46, who led Harvard basketball to its only NCAA tournament appearance, in 1946, played for the revived Boston Celtics and for St. Louis. Saul Mariaschin (later Marsch) '47 was also a Celtics starter. George Hauptfuhrer '48 was the first man selected in the National Basketball Association's first player draft, but he chose law school instead. A broken hand ended the pro hopes of Ed Smith '51, a draft choice of the New York Knicks.
Latter-day football players who have done creditably in the pros include defensive back John Dockery '66, who appears on our cover (New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, six seasons); end and punter Pat McInally '75 (Cincinnati Bengals, 10 seasons); and tackle Dan Jiggetts '76 (Chicago Bears, eight seasons). Dockery and McInally both played in Super Bowl games. Dockery now does sideline commentary for NBC TV.
In racquet sports, Mike Desaulniers '80 dominated the pro squash tour in the early 1980s while working as a Wall Street commodities broker (Harvard Magazine, May-June 1983, page 49). Albert Chang '92, Michael Shyjan '92, Michael Zimmerman '92, Andrew Rueb '95, and Gina Majmudar '97 are among recent Harvard tennis stars who've tried the professional circuit.
Ted Donato '91 and Don Sweeney '88 are currently following in George Owen's skate tracks as members of the Boston Bruins. Donato signed a million-dollar contract this summer. Ted Drury '94 plays hockey for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Pro baseball may be the sport in which Harvard alumni have seen the most playing time. A full listing of major leaguers would range from such legends as Ulysses J. (Tony) Lupien '39, who hit .268 while playing first base for the Red Sox, Phillies, and White Sox from 1940 to 1948, to James Royal (Bud) Mains '45, a pitcher who tossed (and lost) one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in the woeful wartime season of 1943, and later toiled for Utica, Elmira, Toledo, Little Rock, and San Antonio.
And let's not forget George Allen ("Iron") Davis, LL.B. '16. He pitched for the Yankees as an undergraduate at Williams College, had a 1-4 season, and was traded to the Boston Braves. Graduating from Williams, Davis enrolled at Harvard Law School, devoting his summers to baseball. On September 9, 1914, with the "Miracle" Braves in first place after the most amazing stretch drive in baseball history, Davis threw a 7-0 no-hitter against Philadelphia. It was the National League's only no-hit game that year. Three weeks later "Iron" was back in the classroom, giving his full attention to torts and contracts.
~ Primus IV
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