Charley Trippi

Charley Trippi
I've played in a lot of outstanding games during my career, but the (1943) Rose Bowl will always stick out being the greatest thrill I ever got out of football.

Transcript of Interview with Charley Trippi

Intro

This is a Going Back: Remembering UGA interview with Mr. Charley Trippi, conducted by Fran Lane on December 5, 2006. Today we are at the University of Georgia Visitors Center in the Four Towers Building on College Station Road in Athens, Georgia.

Thank you for being with us today, Mr. Trippi.

Charley

Thank you for being with us today, Charley.

That is better …

You know, I understand that there is a Charley Trippi stadium in Pittston, Pennsylvania. What an honor!

That is correct.

And how lucky for the people of Pittston that you are a native son.

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Early Life

 

Please tell us a little bit about your early days.

Well, I grew up in an anthracite mining community where everybody worked awfully hard at mining coal and it was a dangerous job really. To start with a lot of people got killed there because of that. Of course, I grew up during the Depression, which in my case gave me inspiration to do something out of my life, because I did not want to ever work in the mines. Regardless of what happened, I would never stay there. So I had to pursue something that would enlighten my career. So at an early stage I was playing baseball and football with people much older than me. I was playing semi-professional baseball when I was in high school … so I learned to adapt myself to sports and it paid off, because if I stayed there I don’t know what would have happened, so I am very fortunate in a way.

Now tell me how you got from Pittston, Pennsylvania to Athens, Georgia.

That is an easy question to answer because when I was in high school, I played on an undefeated football team. I only weighed about 160 pounds. I wanted to pursue football at the college level. I was turned down by four different colleges before I got an invitation to visit Georgia. It so happened after four failures, this gentleman, his name was War Eagle Ketron, who was a former alumnus of Georgia, and a football player from Georgia, came to my house one Sunday morning and asked me … he said, “Son, would you like to go and visit the University of Georgia?” I had never heard of Georgia, you know. I always knew Georgia Tech, but I never realized there was a Georgia affiliation. I said “Sure, I would go any place then.” So he said, “Well, I am going to send you with three other athletes and I have a coach that is going to escort you.” I said fine. He said,“I am going to send you during your Christmas vacation.”

So the day came that we were leaving. Our first stop was Penn State. I spent 24 hours at Penn State, and I have yet to meet a coach. I had no contact at all, because I was with three other fellows who were over six feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds, and here I am at 160 pounds trying to get a scholarship … so I was completely ignored, which I took for granted that maybe I was not a viable candidate for a scholarship. So our next stop, we went to Georgia. When we got to Georgia, we received a very good reception, and they took us all to dinner at Poss’s Barbecue. I remember that. They were very cordial and, of course, very excited about having all these fine athletes there with me. So they asked if we would work out. I said “Sure, I would be glad to work out.” So they gave us equipment to dress out and work on the football field … and of course I punted for them, I threw passes and they timed me in the 40 yard dash to see what kind of speed I had. And prior to leaving Georgia, I received a commitment from Georgia. They said we would like for you to come and be one of the football players. I said I would be glad to when the time came after I finished high school. So after we left Georgia, we went to West Virginia. We stopped there, and, of course, the same thing happened there that other schools did. They couldn’t do enough to entice the three other fellows I was with, and I was there in the background more or less. Prior to us leaving, one of the coaches came to me very apologetic and says, “I don’t think we can give you a scholarship.” I say, well, fine. I feel like I already have a commitment to Georgia. So I left and when I got home, my backfield coach by the name of Paul Shebby said “Charley, I have a scholarship for you at LaSalle Military Academy if you would like to take it “… which was in Long Island, New York. I says, “Yes, I would like to go, because I think a little bit more experience and if maybe I gained a little more weight, I would be a more viable athlete than I am right now.” So I went to prep school, and while there I gained ten pounds, because they had a dinner menu that they gave you all you can eat buffet style food and I ate real good…. and I gained ten pounds in the period of time I was there. I played on a very good football team, and I made the All Metropolitan Team in New York. Any time you do anything good in New York in athletics you get a lot of good exposure, and that I got. As soon as that happened, Notre Dame came to my house. They didn’t send one coach, they sent two coaches, and tried to induce me to go to Notre Dame. I says “I already committed myself to Georgia.” And while I was waiting to go to Georgia, I had a job with Mr. Ketron, the alumnus from Georgia, who played at Georgia. He was the manager of a Coca Cola plant, and he says, “Son, as long as you go to Georgia, you will always have a job here with the Coca Cola Company.” So when I graduated on Friday, that Monday morning, I am driving a Coca Cola truck and I have a route, and I am making more money than my dad. (laughter) My dad back then during the Depression was on WPA, making $90 a month supporting five children, and I was making between $25 and $30 a week. I am making more money than my father, plus I was playing semi-pro baseball and I was making $5 every Sunday playing with the team. They paid me to play. I says, “good!” So of course...

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Georgia Football

When I came to Georgia I didn’t know what really was going to transpire because I heard a lot of bad things about Georgia. I had one failure. Some fella came to Georgia and told me, “Boy, when you go to Georgia,“ he says, “it is like a meat house and they just scrimmage all the time, and knock the hell out of you,” and everything like that. He kind of discouraged me. But when I came to Georgia, I have a job to do, because here I am playing the same position as an All American, Frank Sinkwich, you know, and who was touted to be a Heisman Award winner … and I said to myself, “Boy, I have got a job to do here.” So my sophomore year...

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Championships

I was having token playing time the first three games of the season in 1942 … but apparently what I did during that period of time, the coaches were impressed. So I did probably something that the team never experienced… they put me in the backfield with Frank and Frank moved to full back and I was the tail back … And, of course, we went on to win ten out of eleven games that year. We ended up in the Rose Bowl. When we got out to the Rose Bowl, Frank came up with two bad ankles … and the day before the Rose Bowl Game, Coach Butts corners me and says, “You know, Charley, you are going to have to go all the way, cause Frank cannot play. “ I says, “Well, I am ready to play. I says, “Whatever happens, I don’t know, but I am ready to play.” So I did play 58 minutes of that game, which is very unusual today. Back then we played on both sides of the football, we played offense and defense. Coach Butts had a philosophy in football. If you can’t play defense, you can’t play offense. So we adapted to that sort of system and to me … I played in a lot of outstanding games during my career, but the Rose Bowl would always stick out, being probably the greatest thrill I ever got out of football. While I was at Georgia I played in three Bowl games. I played in a game in Montgomery, Alabama, North-South Game. I played in that. Then I played in four college All-Star games. I am the only guy that ever played in four college All-Star games in Chicago. Back then, they didn’t have rules when you were in the service. I would always allocate my furlough to play in the game, which I did. I also played the fifth time in the All-Star game as a pro. When you won the championship game, then the next year you played the college All-Stars and that is what we did,…

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Pro Ball

So I had a fabulous career. I earned a lot of good things from it and, of course, I was paid very well. I know when I went into professional football, the perception back then was you know, if you could get a good contract back then, you were very fortunate. But it so happened when I negotiated my contract, I was negotiating with a new football league that was organizing, the American Football League. They had two different pro organizations, and, of course, I was negotiating between both of them. I was negotiating with the New York Yankees and the Cardinals. I went to New York to discuss the contract, and I was kind of a little apprehensive about their dealings, because I was in the market then to play both professional baseball and football … so in 1947 Earl Mann came to see me play, and signed me up to a contract. He gave me a $10,000 bonus. He says, “Charley, this is the most money I have ever given a ball player to play in AA Baseball. “ He says, “Ya know, it is going to be a lot different playing then you had playing in college baseball.” I said, “Mr. Mann, you can’t give me enough money for me to go to Atlanta and embarrass myself.” I says, “I am going there because I know I can play, because I played in the service with major leaguers and I competed on the same level with them and did quite well.” I says, “I am signing with you because I know I can play,” and that I did. I hit .335 for him, and the next year he wanted to sell me to the Boston Red Sox. But I had such a lucrative contract playing football, I didn’t want to give that up. So when I signed up with the Cardinals, I signed a four-year contract for $100,000. Back then, that was way out of line. People didn’t realize that you could make that much money playing professional football, but today I am embarrassed to say I only made $25,000, because now they are making millions. I never dreamed that anybody playing professional football would ever make a million dollars, which is occurring today. So...

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Coaching

 

When I finished negotiating those contracts, of course, the first year I go up with the Cardinals we win the world’s championship, the National Football League, we win the championship, and you know, of course, then people start realizing that I was worth what I was getting. So I managed to put all that together….. and as life went on, I played nine years with the Cardinals, and ended up coaching five years with them. So I spent fourteen years with the Chicago Cardinals. After I finished coaching with the Cardinals, I coached with Coach Butts five years here at the University of Georgia. But when I started coaching with Coach Butts, it was a different sort of atmosphere because for the longest time I never could confront Coach Butts and be comfortable talking with him until I started coaching with him … but when you coach with a guy and you spend fifteen hours a day on both football field and then meetings and everything, then you got to know him real good. The funny thing about Coach Butts is … we were playing Florida one year and we got down near the goal line. We had fourth and about 10-12 yards to go to score on the fourth down. I says, “Coach, don’t you think we ought to kick a field goal?” And his answer was no … he says … “You don’t ever win football games with field goals.” I just got back from professional football and I knew what field goals did to a football team, so I didn’t answer him, because I never talked back to Coach Butts. Whatever he said was the scheme of the day. We had a good place-kicker back in 1942, Leo Costa. He was a good extra point kicker. Would you believe he played three years in Georgia and never kicked a field goal?? That is almost impossible to believe, and in the era you see today, the field goals. I watched a football game the other day and the score ended up 9 to 6 and they kicked five field goals in that game, so if Coach Butts was alive today, he wouldn’t believe what was actually occurring on the football fields.

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Other Coaches

Charley, talk some more about some of the other coaches you had. I know Coach Whitworth ---

When I coached at Georgia, Coach Whitworth was the line coach. I was the backfield coach. We had a guy by the name of Gregory who was the end coach and Paul … oh, I can’t think of his name, he ended up coaching at Auburn. He was one of the line coaches. Paul … I can’t think of his name…. but back then we had staffs that I think each position, we had a coach for each position, with the defensive coach, a defensive line coach, an offensive line coach, Wyatt Posey was the offensive line coach, and I was the offensive back coach, and then we had somebody for the defense coaches. It was well organized, and you see that today. They have a coach for almost every position. I imagine they must have about ten coaches on the staff today, at least that many, yeah.

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Life at UGA

Talk to us. Let’s go back to your arrival on the campus. What was your very first impression? You said you had a very nice welcome, but coming at Christmas time down to Athens from Pennsylvania, what was your impression of the physical appearance of the campus?

Well, my impression wasn’t too good when I left Pittston, because when I got on the Greyhound bus and it took me a-day-and-a-half to get to Athens…

You were worn out, huh?

But I wanted to get there. Even if it took a week, I wanted to go there because that was the only chance I had in my life to improve my life. Because I wanted to play football, I wanted to make a contribution to the program wherever I went. It happened to be Georgia, and that is where I ended up.

You were at school here at a tumultuous time. War interrupted your schooling. What was life like on campus? I know …

Yeah. Well I think we only had about 2,500 students, and we got to know each other a lot easier than it is today. I guess they got 35,000. I don’t know whether I would be comfortable in a school that has 35,000, but we had good relationships back when I first came to Georgia. We got to know everybody, and you know we spent a lot of time on the campus talking, or going into a drug store (Moon-Winn’s), or having a Coke or something like that, but the relationship back then was a lot closer than it is today. Nobody had any automobiles and nobody had any money. When I came to Georgia, my scholarship was … I got $10 a month and they did my laundry. That was it. $10 took care of everything that I had to do — if I wanted to buy a Coke, if I wanted to go to the Varsity, if I wanted to buy shaving cream or anything of that nature, that was it. That is what I lived on.

That is amazing.

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Football, First Year

But my first year Christmas. See I established myself as a football player my freshman year. You know they were quite happy with me, and the team was going to the Orange Bowl that year, and Coach Butts asked me if I wanted to go and I said no, I wanted to go home. He says, “Well that is up to you.” So when it came time to go home, I didn’t have any money to take the bus, so Coach Hollis was in charge of things back then.

That is Howell Hollis?

Yeah, and I went to see Coach Hollis, and I says, “Coach, I need money to go home. I need a bus ticket. I don’t want money. Just give me a bus ticket to go home and come back.” He says, “Well, we can’t do that.” I says, “Well …” He says, “I can only give you a one-way ticket.” I said, “Fine, if you want me, come and get me. I’ll stay home.” He said, “Wait a while. I will give you the other ticket.” I knew right then and there, they wanted me to play football at Georgia because I already established myself as a freshman. So I says, “If you only want to give me one way, fine. If you want me back, come and get me,” so he finally agreed to give me a bus ticket to go both ways.

A round trip ticket. Found a way to do that to get you back.

Yeah, to come back. Yeah.

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Education & Goals

What was your major in college?

I started out in business school. I believe my first two years I was in business school. Then I went in the service. Then I got out of the service in October around the end of October, and I was already one month behind in my education to pursue a business education, so I switched to Phys. Ed. Where I knew I could probably pass my work then. I was afraid if I pursued a business education, I was so far behind that I might flunk out, and I didn’t want to do that. I mean, there is three things I wanted to do when I left home -- number one, I wanted to get a college degree; number two, I wanted to make All American; number three, establish myself where I give my family a decent standard of living, which I accomplished, and that is what I wanted to do.

You reached all your goals.

Yes. Yes.

Do you remember a favorite professor?

I had one. I think his name was Armstrong. He was quite a sports fan and he was a golfer, and I would communicate with him, and I had him when I first was taking business under him. I think it was, oh, business six or something like that. He always had a worksheet to fill out and everything of that nature, and I was always business oriented, and I enjoyed the business aspect of my education, but as I said earlier, I got so far behind when I got out of the service, I was afraid to pursue it because I might flunk out, and I didn’t want to do that.

No, I understand.

I mean I didn’t ever want to go home as a failure. That was one thing, when I left home I was going to come back as a form of success in some way -- either in education, athletics or in business or something like that. I just never want to be a failure in anything.

You more than did that.

Well, I tried to do that, yeah.

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Campus Life

What was life like on campus? I know social life you were in a fraternity.

Well, I was a Lambda Chi because they paid for me to be one. I didn’t have the money to join the fraternity back then. There was a gentleman out of Alabama. Oh, I forget his name. He was a big Lambda Chi man and says that we want you in our fraternity, and we are going to take care of all the expenses. I said, “Well it is a good thing, because I haven’t got the money. I only have $10 a month” And that is the only way I got into the fraternity, because they paid for it.

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Sanford Stadium

Where did you live on campus? Did you live on campus or off campus?

No, we had a football dormitory, Payne Hall. That was our football dormitory, and the basement there was our dining room, and we eat our meals there and go to class from there.

And the stadium was right behind there.

The stadium was right there. Yeah, and talking about the stadium, I have always said the worst possible scenario you can ever have in football is to have the practice field next to the stadium, because if things didn’t go to suit Coach Butts during practice, we would move into the stadium, put the lights on and end up eating dinner at 8:30 at night.

Practice some more, huh?

Practice had to be perfect for him to say well, okay, we’re finished. If it didn’t we would move into the stadium. So I tell everybody don’t ever go to college where they have the practice field next to the stadium.

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The Best

Well, the New Georgia Encyclopedia, as I did a little research on you, said that Coach Bear Bryant said that Trippi was the greatest college football player ever.

Well, that is debatable!

Well …

I don’t know.

Well, I think …

I had good days, I guess. You know a lot of time when you have a good day against a team, the coaches and press, like Bobbie Dodd said the same thing. Course, I guess Georgia Tech, course I had very unusual days against them, because the three years I played against Georgia Tech we scored over 100 points and they only scored 7 in three years, which doesn’t seem possible, but that is exactly what happened. Of course, when you have big days against certain coaches, they get impressed and they make statements like that.

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Fun Times

You mentioned earlier that probably the Rose Bowl was the thing that is most memorable to you.

The Rose Bowl has a certain mystique about it. You know when you step on there the adrenaline just works up to a pitch that you can’t wait for the game to start. I know we went to practice the day before the Rose Bowl game and, my gosh, you could feel the adrenaline pumping, and, you know, you just can’t wait for the game to start. And as I said earlier, I really got my money’s worth. I played 58 minutes of that game, which was great. Actually, if they said sleep here tonight, I would have, because you don’t get that opportunity to play in a Rose Bowl game but once in a lifetime and that was the making of my career really playing in the Rose Bowl.

Talk about the festivities, all the things that when on when you were out there.

Yes, Paramount had a luncheon for us. They had all the movie starlets, and I sat between Barbara Britton and Susan Hayward, the two stars.

Not a bad seat.

All the athletes sat between a movie star, which was great, you know, and Bob Hope was there and Ginger Rogers was there, Susan Hayward, Barbara Britton; all the stars that belonged to Paramount were there, and they really put on a good show for us. After the game we were entertained at Earl Carroll’s, which featured the most beautiful women in the world where they put on a show for us and everything like that, so we were entertained. We stayed out there three days after the game and then the stars invited us to their places. I am trying to think of the Georgia girl that invited us over. Five of us went over …

Evelyn Keyes?

No, no, she used to do a soap commercial. I can’t think of her name right now. But we went to her place. She had a nice swimming pool there, and we had lunch there with them. It was just fabulous, you know. I didn’t think life could be that good.

Quite an experience.

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'42 to '45

Then the war intervened and were you Army Air Corps, is that what you were?

I was in the Air Force, yes.

Where were you, Charley ?

Well, I started out in Greensboro. I played both baseball and football there. Then I went to the Third Air Force in Charlotte and played on the Third Air Force football team. From there we went to our headquarters in Tampa, so I played football there, but I lived out of Clearwater Beach, so what we did, most of us lived out there, so we would commute back and forth. We would go to practice in the morning at the base. We would have lunch, and then we would go home. That was our job for the day. We had no duties at all. All we did was practice football and go home, and go to the beach.

So you represented the Air Force on a football team for your years?

Yes. That is all I did in the service. I never held a gun. I never went to bivouac. I never did anything. All I did was play baseball and football. I didn’t feel like I was in the service really.

And you all won too, I bet?

Yes. We had good teams, yes.

You returned to Athens for part of the 1945 season, was that right ?

Yes, as I expressed earlier, I was a month late. They had already played five games when I got here, see.

But they were able to work you into school and onto the field before the end of the season, right.

Yes.

Was that the season you went to the Oil Bowl?

Yes, we played Tulsa in the Oil Bowl, yeah.

Then in 1946, you were the captain of the team.

That’s right.

And it was an undefeated season.

Undefeated and we went to the Sugar Bowl.

SEC Championship?

Yes.

Another memorable year while you were there?

That was a great year because it was my last year and I was the captain of the team and I wanted to leave on a good note, you know, and get ready for professional football.

What were some of the highlights of that year. Was Johnny Rauch the quarterback?

Johnny Rauch was the quarterback, and a good quarterback. Johnny Rauch started out as a freshman and played in four bowl games as a quarterback, which is a record you know. Normally, you know, freshmen are to be seen and not be active on the football field, but he did the job and quite well.

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Today's Players

Those freshmen quarterbacks, as we have seen this fall, can make a difference, can’t they?

Yes, they can, if they are good.

That’s right.

Normally, you know, you don’t want to play them to quick where they lose their confidence. You want to build up their confidence if anything, and play them accordingly to the situation of the game, but this kid Stafford is going to be a good quarterback, because he is big and strong, and he has got a good arm and the experience he got this year, he is going to be a lot better next year, and he will progress each year he plays.

That sounds good coming from you to the rest of us, so…

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Pro Ball & Coaching

You played, you indicated earlier that you decided not to go into professional baseball, but to concentrate solely on pro football.

That is true, because I already made a commitment with the Cardinals as I said. I had a contract that baseball could not match really. Back then, baseball wasn’t a really high paid profession, unless you established yourself in the league and played three, four years, then you could command a pretty good salary, but if I started out in baseball back then, I would have probably made about $10,000 compared to $25,000. I could see the difference.

Talk to us. Describe the Dream Backfield of the Chicago Cardinals. You did win the NFL Championship that first year. Talk about that.

The Dream Backfield was a group of men that we all pulled for each other. We had a good chemistry between us, and we enjoyed watching each guy do good on the football field. And we always felt, regardless who scored, the team scored, and we never looked back and say one guy won the game or lost the game. We were a team, and that is the way we played as the Dream Backfield, and as I said, we enjoyed watching each of us do good on the field, and, of course, when you win the National Football Championship, that is about the best prize you can get in professional football. And the following year, actually, we had a better team in ‘48, and we lost in the championship game in Philadelphia. We played in a foot of snow almost. You couldn’t even see the lines, and the officials improvised the game as we went out. They would say first down. So what? So what? You couldn’t say measure it, because you couldn’t see the lines. So it wasn’t really a football game actually. What the commissioner should have done then, and he was there, he should have called the game off and said this is not a football game. Here we are, we played all year to reach that point and then play under those conditions, and the fans got cheated too, because it was really a push and pull, and we lost that game 7-0 and it really wasn’t an exhibition of football.

Who was the coach of the Cardinals, and who was in the Dream Backfield?

Well, our coach was Jimmy Conzelman, quite an individual. Sharp, sharp individual, and the Dream Backfield had Paul Christman from Missouri was our quarterback. Elmer Angsman from …well, actually, Marshall Goldberg started out as part of the Dream Backfield, but then he went to defense. Marshall played at Pittsburgh, but Elmer Angsman was a Notre Dame ballplayer. Pat Harder was from Wisconsin, and, of course, then I played from Georgia. That was the makeup of the team.

And you all ended up playing the Philadelphia Eagles…

Twice in the championship games, yes. We reached the championship plateau two years in a row.

So you thought that was the way it ought to be every year, didn’t you?

Boy, I was fooled, but you know when you win like that you become more susceptible to being beaten because everybody likes to beat a champion.

Right. It is fun to win.

You are not kidding!

You played nine seasons for Chicago?

Nine seasons and coached five years with them. So, actually, I spent fourteen years with them.

Did you enjoy coaching?

Yes, yes.

And then came to Georgia and coached here a little.

And then I coached here five years.

Now, do I have it right? Weren’t you the head baseball coach here?

Yes, two years I coached baseball.

That is great.

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Family

Talk to us a little bit about your family.

Well, I have a family, three children. My first wife died in 1971, and one of my daughter’s went to the University of Georgia. She graduated, and today she is a teacher in Cocoa, Florida, doing quite well. She ended up with a doctorate degree. My one daughter works for Thornton Brothers. She does all the administration, and I have a son, Charles, who is in Atlanta, working over there with some outfit. They work with communications and things of that nature. So I remarried, well let me see 29 years ago. I married my present wife and between us now we have six children, and fifteen grandchildren. We have a house full.

Goodness, you do!

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Hall of Fame

Well, I think, here is somebody, you were selected to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, won the Maxwell Award, you have been successful in your life, Charley, have a wonderful family,

Yes, thank you!

You know and you can get on your roof to clean out the gutters. It has been a …

That is my hobby…taking care of my house, my yard, and everything that is necessary I do.

Well, you have had just a wonderful life, and I know that we are going to look forward to more awards and outstanding things from you, right?

I don’t know. Are there any more left?

I don’t think so. I think you have won them all.

You left out — I’m in the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. The Italian Hall of Fame.

Oh, I am going to add those to the list.

Ah, I am just hall of famed out! (laughter)

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Pearl Harbor

(laughs) Do you gentleman have anything else you would like to add?

Unknown male: I have a question about the Rose Bowl, Mr. Trippi. I understand that January of ‘42, was a month after Pearl Harbor and there was some anxiety about Japanese attacking the West Coast. Did that ever play into the Rose Bowl ?

I think in 1941, it happened more than in ‘42. As you know in 1941, they played it in Durham, North Carolina, the Rose Bowl game. People don’t realize that, because of the danger when the war started. They were afraid they might attack.

Cause Pearl Harbor was December 7, 1941, wasn’t it?

Yeah

So that is was within a month.

Yeah, so they changed that game to Durham, and, of course, the following year things kind of eased up a little and we played it in California.

Anything else ?

No

Charley, we have loved having you.

I enjoyed it. I am waiting for Claude to come up with something.

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Jersey #62

I have a question? Why were you number 62?

That is a good question.

Well, when I was a freshman I got in line to get a jersey. The guy in front of me got 61, so I got 62.

Is that right? So they didn’t divide the team the way we do now with the backs having the lower numbers?

Back then, I never would ask to change, because I was always afraid. With Coach Butts you didn’t negotiate anything.

He was a tough guy.

All he wanted you to do, he wanted you to perform. If I had to do it over again, I would have started out what my number was in high school, number 10. That is what I really would have loved, so I started out with 62. Then when I got into pro football, I wore 62. Then they changed the rules. See, to play in the backfield was from — I think you could use smaller numbers like a 1, 2, or 3, and 62 would be a guard.

Right

— and 70’s were tackles, and 80’s were ends, and now if you was a defensive back, you could wear any number, but when they changed the numbers, they said now I had the option to keep 62, but in order to do that, every time I would come into the football game, I would have to report to the official. If I didn’t, we would be penalized. So I said, oh heck, on that. I don’t want to ever put my team in jeopardy because of my stupidity — not asking to play. So I changed it to number 2. I took half of it. So that is why I ended up with number 2.

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