Monday, December 3, 2012

My '55-style card honors Tommy Lee Jones' college football career

It has been several months since I added a custom card to my 1955 Topps All-American-style set. The latest is Tommy Lee Jones.

It was only in recent years that I discovered that Jones had played college football at Harvard. And, while suitable photos are readily available, I just hadn't given the card a high priority. Perhaps the impetus to finally create the card came from Jones' appearance in the current Lincoln movie.

I've enjoyed Jones in many roles over the years, none more so than his portrayal of Texas Rangers Capt. Woodrow Call in the TV mini-series Lonesome Dove. Jones has shown the great range that I use as my benchmark for considering a person a great actor.

You can google-search TLJ all day, so I won't rehash his biography here. I'll just share a few of the highlights that I found especially interesting.

Jones was an offensive lineman on the Harvard varsity teams of 1967-68. In 1968 he played in what many consider to be the most famous game in Ivy League history, "The Tie." 

Both teams were 8-0 when Yale visited on Nov. 23. The Bulldogs held a 13-point lead in the last minute of the game when Harvard scored two touchdowns in the final 42 seconds for a tie. The student paper, the Harvard Crimson, headlined its story "Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29".

At Harvard, Jones was a roommate of future vice president Al Gore. Their pal Erich Segal later claimed that elements of both Jones and Gore went into the character of Oliver in his novel, Love Story. One of Jones' first movie appearances was a small part in the 1970 movie adaptation of Segal's book.

While I imagine his active participation has slowed a bit now that he is in his late 60s, Jones was a serious polo player and has gifted Harvard's polo team with a number of ponies and annually hosts a "spring training" for the squad at one of his Texas ranches.

Now that I am in my winter quarters in Western Pennsylvania, I hope to be able to spend more time on custom card projects that have been back-logged.

1 comment:

  1. In the 1968 Harvard-Yale football game, was played at our venerable Harvard Stadium on North Harvard Street, in Allston, MA, which is located across the river from Harvard's main campus in Cambridge, MA.

    Yale came into the game with a 16-game winning streak and its quarterback, Brian Dowling, had lost just one game, as a starter, since he was in the sixth grade.

    Led by Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill, Yale relatively quickly got up 22-0. With less than one minute to play, Yale still led 29-13. As the final seconds ticked down, Harvard, however, superbly coached by John Yovicsin, whose Harvard tenure spanned 1957 to 1970, where he compiled a career record of 110–53–5, tied the game, scoring 16 points in the final 42 seconds. At the gun, however, the miracle final score was Harvard 29, Yale 29.

    Calvin Hill would go on to become the very first Ivy League football player selected in a 1st Round NFL draft.
    Not to be outdone, Harvard's quarterback, Frank Champi, who had the better passing arm than first string QB Frank Lalich, played a superb game, after he suddenly got the nod from Coach Yovicsin, who was confronted by the looming 22 point deficit on the big board.

    The "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29" mantra comes from the front page banner headline featured on The Harvard Crimson student newspaper's next day edition. In 2010, ESPN ranked this game #9 in its list of the top ten college football ties of all time. And this game stands as the final tie in Ivy League play; subsequent rule changes have eliminated ties from college football.

    See the movie by the same name, it's superb, and will introduce you to my teammates. You should've been there; the roar of the crowd was deafening and it could be heard over the pounding of your heart!


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