Friday, October 5, 2012

77 Years Ago Today

The great Knute Rockne was killed in a plane crash in Bazaar, Kansas. Rockne, a convert to Catholicism due to the witness of his players and Holy Cross priests, was the head football coach at Notre Dame in the 1920s and early 1930s. His record of 105-12-5 is unsurpassed in college football history. He lived a couple blocks from where I am typing this. Though flawed in some ways, he was known for his great love for people. I got the following list from a blog named Fighting Irish Thomas. He has an very interesting post on Rockne. It is linked by the headline above.

Top Ten Telegrams/Eulogies Mourning Knute Rockne's Death

10 "Mr. Rockne so contributed to a cleanness and high purpose in athletics that his passing is a national loss."—President Herbert Hoover

9 "One man like Rockne means more to our country than a million reformers, and if football produces one Rockne in each generation, the nation can ill afford to curtail football."—James L. Knox (President of Harvard)

8 "He was a king among men. We have never met a man with greater personal magnetism, not even William Jennings Bryan."—North Carolina Christian Advocate (Methodist)

7 "I read that youth has no idols nowadays. But they had one at Notre Dame."—Sportswriter Westbrook Pegler

6 "Knute Rockne was a strong moral force and an inspiration to the youth of our land. Fourteen hundred orphan children of Mooseheart Illinois will always remember his timely and inspiring talks to them."—James J. David, President of Mooseheart

5 "When I heard of Rockne's death, something unusual happened; tears came into my eyes that I thought long ago had shed all they could hold. Now I know I was only one of a multitude who never spoke a word to Rockne but loved him. Rockne was Sorin without a cassock or breviary."—Rev. Francis Clement Kelley, Bishop of Oklahoma

4 "In the past generation, it was Buffalo Bill. For this generation, it was Knute Rockne. The boy had a profound respect for Knute Rockne, and Rockne for the boy. Each read each other's minds, and they were heroes to each other. Millions of boys (and men, girls and women) bow in grief at the news that Rockne is dead, because for millions he was greater than the president."—Cleveland Press

3 "No other death could have brought more universal sorrow than this. Knute Rockne's name was a household word. Boys who could not yet read could tell you about Rockne ... there have been big figures in sports but none who have attained the size of Rockne ... the game has ended, but in every department of play, Knute Rockne has won."—The Denver News

2 "We thought it would take a president's death to make a whole nation, regardless of age, race or creed, shake their heads in real sincere sorrow ... Well, that's what this country did today Knute for you. You died a national hero ... Notre Dame was your address, but every gridiron in America was your home."—Will Rogers

1 (tie) "Knute Rockne has had a wider influence in developing the ideals of fair play than any other man in his generation, and he did it under the banner of the Mother of God."—Rev. John F. O'Hara, University of Notre Dame

1. (tie) "What was the secret of his irresistible appeal to all sorts and conditions of men? I do not know the answer. But in this hour of piteous loss and pained bewilderment, I find myself recalling the words of Christ, 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart ... and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' Knute loved God and neighbor with a genuine deep love, and his case verifies the Christian paradox—he has cast away to keep, he has lost his life to find it."—ND President Charles O'Donnell, from his eulogy at Knute Rockne's funeral Mass

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