A Spirit of Sportsmanship

In 1941, Andy Landforce was student body president of Oregon State College and a member of the traveling squad for an Oregon State football team that was headed to the Rose Bowl. With a come-from-behind victory in the civil war game against University of Oregon, the Beavers had earned a spot to play against Duke University.

“This is a moment in life you’ll never forget, to play in the Rose Bowl,” Landforce says.

But then the team received crushing news. When the United States entered World War II after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the federal government issued an order prohibiting large public gatherings on the West Coast. That meant a game in the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, would not be possible.

“The game was cancelled,” Landforce says. “Everybody was down and low.”

But Duke University’s Coach Wallace Wade contacted Coach Lon Stiner of Oregon State and invited the team to play the game at Duke Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. Landforce and his teammates took the train from Corvallis to Durham to meet the Blue Devils in the only Rose Bowl game ever to be played outside of the Rose Bowl Stadium.

Though he wasn’t one of the starters who would play in the game, Landforce was able to participate as a spotter for game commentator Bill Stern, writing down the names of team members as they executed plays. The day is one Landforce remembers well — from the 56,000 people still trickling into the stadium after the game had started to Stiner’s answer when Stern asked before the game what chance he thought the Beavers had against the No. 2-ranked Blue Devils.

“Lon Stiner got up and with a great deal of good taste and courtesy recognized all the affiliations in the room and then said, ‘Mr. Sterns, we’ll give the answer to your question on the field,’” Landforce says. “And we won 20-16.”

With that victory, the Beavers claimed their first and, to date, only Rose Bowl trophy. Upon returning to Corvallis, Landforce says, the team was met by the City of Corvallis at the train station and presented with the key to the city. On campus, Landforce led a celebration in which students spent the day parading around campus rather than going to class.

Football players on the field

While he came away from the 1942 Rose Bowl victory with many unforgettable experiences, Landforce found the greatest value in the lessons he learned at Oregon State, both from football and through his student body presidency.

At Duke University, he says, the Oregon State football players were treated with hospitality that left a lasting mark on his idea of sportsmanship.

One Response to “A Spirit of Sportsmanship”

  1. Robert Cumbo says:

    The ’42 story is a story which highlights what sports are supposed to be about. It was meant to be an expression of hope and perseverance of will. It is a means of healing and triumph when no other mode feels adequate. It is why we play sports to begin with.

    This game was played by generation of students which survived the great depression and are facing four years of a brutal war. Yes, it was just a game; but we attached so much significance to the events around it. Furthermore, it is one more example of how to face adversity and to maintain one’s dignity. It is why we call them the greatest generation and we continue to remember, sometimes trivial events, as how to act when we are faced with similar daunting odds.