A Look Back in Cougar Football History

Oct. 26, 2006

This story originally appeared in the Sept. 16, 2006 football game day program and was reprinted with permission from the KXLY Group. Story written by Richard B. Fry.

Will somebody please get these guys on a GPS?

Washington State and Baylor have met four times since their football rivalry began 54 years ago; they still haven't found Pullman!

The Sept. 16 game in Seattle's Qwest Stadium marked four different venues in five meetings. Along with two games on the Golden Bears' home turf in Waco, TX. (1952 and 1967), the teams have met in Spokane's Joe Albi Stadium (1966), and in San Antonio, TX., for the 1994 Alamo Bowl.

It has been a hotly-contested series. Except for the opener down in Waco on Oct. 4, 1952, no more than seven points has separated winner from loser in this gridiron rivalry. So why should we talk about that opener, when the Bears whupped up on the Cougars, 31-7? Well, for one thing, because it was historic--and there couldn't have been more sideshows!

Remember, they were still flying 'prop jobs' in those years. WSC was chartering DC-4s with Alaska Airlines. (You WW II vets here today will remember that as the old C-54 used on the 'Hump,' and also the 'Berlin Airlift.') The Cougars had two long charter flights in that '52 season--to Waco and to Stillwater, OK., on Nov. 22 to play Oklahoma A. & M. (now Oklahoma State). They had to stop for re-fueling on both trips

'It was long and it was rough,' sophomore tackle Ted Brose recalled. 'When we bumped down in Denver (to re-fuel), we dented the underside of the tail! Arnie Pelluer got sick. Buck Bailey (listed as 'Assistant Line Coach' on the manifest, but actually just along to visit some homefolks over from West Texas) had a great time pointing out his hometown. It was really hot at the Waco airport when we got there.' (It was 91 and humid the next day.

Quite a few people became airsick on the flight. Some--including his seat-mate Director of Athletics Dr. Golden Romney--blamed it on the cigar Buck was smoking.

Ed Barker, the Cougars' great end (1950-52), couldn't eat for 24 hours. Barker recalled that Alaska had painted its charters green, and thought he probably matched that when he got off that old DC-4 in Waco after the eight-hour flight from Lewiston, ID.

Phil Gardner, the Cougars' watch-charm guard (at 5-10, 180), said 54 years later of the Baylor game, 'I rode the pine.' (Didn't play.) Just shows you how rough a trip it was. The Seattle Times' game story reported Gardner started!

In 1952, no black had ever played in Baylor Stadium. Washington State had four black players on its roster--three of them starters, Ends Howard McCants and Bill Holmes were lettermen, and Duke Washington, a sophomore defensive back against USC and Stanford in the Cougars' first two games of that season, got his first start on offense, at a halfback, and led WSC in rushing with 77 yards on 20 carries. Rudy Brooks, a sophomore halfback, was the fourth member of the black contingent playing for the Cougars.

If you follow Cougar football history at all, you know that Duke Washington became the first black to play in Memorial Stadium at the University of Texas. That was in 1954, two years after the Cougars broke the color line at Baylor. But the interesting--and disheartening--part is that it was another 12 years, 1966, before any black player represented a Southwest Conference school on the football field. And Washington State had a piece of that history, too.

In 1966, when Baylor came north to play the Cougars--their first meeting since that 1952 series opener in Waco--a young man name of John Hill Westbrook, an ordained Baptist minister, was on the Bears' roster at halfback. He ran 12 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that put Baylor ahead 20-7 and cinched the victory for the Bears.

(Ammon McWashington returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards 'behind a crunching block on the corner by Dave Middleton,' to make the final score 20-14.)

The black players could not stay with the rest of the team in their hotel. They were booked into a 'motel' in another part of the city. But both Washington and Holmes remember the trip as being without incident. 'We fraternized in the black community and were treated well,' Duke recalled.

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