’39 UCLA Bruins – Statless In Seattle

On the subject of sports photography on display in contemporary newspapers of the late 1930s, it was certainly not uncommon at all for local editors to enhance the reader’s visual experience by identifying many, if not all, of the different individual players appearing in any given game photo. The above exhibit showing UCLA Bruins right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28) turning the corner on his way to a 22-yard run during the first quarter of the Pacific Coast Conference contest against the University of Washington Huskies that was played in Seattle on October 7, 1939, would be just one example. For the purposes of historical research, such ‘labeled game photos’ are oftentimes quite convenient for what should be obvious reasons.

The Bruins’ landmark 14-7 victory over the hosting Huskies on the first Saturday of October in 1939 was actually rather noteworthy for a variety of different reasons. For starters, this occasion marked the very first time in history that a visiting UCLA squad had ever defeated a host Washington team in Seattle, this after having endured consecutive shutout losses by the combined score of 36-0 on two previous trips to the upper Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, it was this very same game that effectively served as the NCAA Division I breakout party for one Jackie Robinson, the highly touted incoming transfer from Pasadena Junior College who certainly lived up to all the preseason hype by amassing more than 150 total all-purpose yards on rushes, receptions and returns for the Bruins at Husky Stadium.

Regrettably, as noted in a recent article, the ’39 Washington vs UCLA contest is especially conspicuous because it is the only one of the ten “Game Reports” from that historic Bruins season on file here at this blog that does not have a breakdown of the individual rushing statistics for the Warriors of Westwood. The Los Angeles Times newspaper first began to publish thorough reports detailing the individual rushing statistics for UCLA Bruins’ games during the 1932 NCAA season although there would be some notable exceptions to this policy in the immediate years that followed. The Daily Bruin and Berkeley Daily Gazette, the two other contemporary media publications which can be cited as sources for individual rushing statistics in the Game Reports presented here at this blog, are also of no assistance in this particular matter.

As explained elsewhere in previously published articles here, from various other sources (including the archives at the official UCLA football website) it is known that UCLA left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON racked up 142 rushing yards on 25 carries and that Robinson added 45 yards rushing on six attempts in that PCC game against the Huskies in October of 1939. Washington and Robinson’s combined total of 187  net yards rushing is extremely thought-provoking considering that the UCLA Bruins, as a team, ended up with a net rushing total of ‘only’ 159 yards in that historic 14-7 victory over the Washington Huskies.  Almost needless to say, simple mathematics demand that there must be losses to account for and, indeed, as gleaned from various contemporary newspaper sources and then referenced in the applicable Game Report published here, the Bruins certainly did concede some considerable amounts of real estate on at least two of their possessions during that contest in Seattle.

https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/1939-washington-vs-ucla/

The early first quarter fumble from UCLA second-string left halfback CHUCK FENENBOCK that was recovered by the Washington Huskies defense on the Bruins 4-yard line actually culminated a backwards march which had commenced on the Bruins 33-yard line! And it is also known from contemporary newspaper reports that UCLA, after moving the football down to the Washington 14-yard line thanks to a Fenenbock to Robinson pass play that covered 43 yards, once again the Bruins went in the wrong direction before surrendering the ball on downs at the Washington 32-yard line. So from just those possessions alone, it can be correctly determined that the visitors accumulated nearly fifty yards worth of losses and that sum right there could adequately explain how Kenny Washington & Jackie Robinson’s combined net rushing total could have possibly exceeded that the entire UCLA team as a whole.

But, as the legendary college football coach and television analyst Lee Corso would be wont to say, “Not so fast, my friend!” It is also well documented that, on a razzle dazzle play which involved multiple backwards lateral passes and gained a total of 52 yards altogether, two UCLA interior linemen, tackle DEL LYMAN and guard JACK COHEN, collectively advanced the football 32 yards after originally getting the pigskin from Robinson. And this particular sum, of course, must be accounted for in the Bruins’ net rushing total, as well.

 

From the statistical information that is available, it is known that the Washington Huskies punted the football eleven times, threw three forward passes that were intercepted by the defense and took advantage of that early first quarter turnover to score its one and only touchdown. Therefore, after factoring in the two kickoffs which come at the start of each half, it is easy to conclude that the UCLA Bruins had a grand total of fifteen possessions over the course of that entire contest that was played in Seattle. But just two of those possessions actually resulted in touchdowns, the first of which only came in the latter part of the third quarter after Robinson had returned a punt 64 yards to set up a short scoring run by Kenny the Kingfish, so clearly there is plenty of room for still even more negative yardage futility on some of the Bruins’ thirteen other offensive possessions.

Fenenbock, the versatile junior from Pittsburg who had demonstrated potential during the 1938 NCAA season by rushing for 312 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore, is definitely on the hook for at least some of the UCLA negative rushing yardage versus Washington in question here as a result of his disastrous fumble early in the first quarter. It should be noted that Fenenbock’s production on the ground dropped off dramatically during his junior season in 1939, as evidenced by his paltry rushing total of just 69 yards in the Bruins’ nine other games that term against teams not nicknamed the Huskies. Indeed, after averaging 4.22 yards per carry on 74 rushing attempts as a sophomore in 1938, Fenenbock averaged only 2.65 yards on a mere 26 rushing attempts as a junior in 1938.

It is strongly suspected by this blog’s production staff that the Washington Huskies were actually able to tackle Fenenbock while the UCLA second-string left halfback was attempting to pass on at least a few occasions. It should probably also be mentioned that, just one short week later, the Bruins’ would be consensus All-America left halfback, Kenny Washington, lost 28 yards on one single play when he was “sacked” by the upset-minded Stanford Indians. The bottom line is that it is this blog’s belief that Fenenbock’s individual rushing statistics from the Washington vs UCLA contest in 1939 simply are not pretty.

 

 

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Kenny The Kingfish & His Beloved Golden Bears

On the subject of the uniforms that the UCLA Bruins football team unveiled to begin its landmark 1939 NCAA season, the above International News Photo shows soon to be All-America left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) modeling the ‘new’ threads in the midst of his 35-yard touchdown run against the intra-state rival University of California Golden Bears during the Pacific Coast Conference clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 4th. Looking on in the background of the picture is fellow UCLA senior WOODY STRODE (# 27), the soon to be All-PCC end whose 22-yard touchdown reception from Washington in the third quarter hammered the final nail in Big Brother’s 20-7 coffin. Interestingly enough, towards the bottom center of the photo lies an unidentified Bruins blocker whose helmet has been separated from his head — according the the rules of the collegiate gridiron game enforced nowadays, any player losing his helmet on the field for any reason whatsoever must sit out for at least one play although application of that very same standard during the late 1930s would have been especially punitive given the existing regulations at that time regarding ‘limited’ substitution.

Tom Sawyer’s unique “Southern Branch” blog on UCLA football has done (and continues to do) all the heavy academic lifting with respect to the relationship between the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles. Suffice to say, the legislative connection between the two schools directly translated into an on-field rivalry that was fierce, if originally one-sided, right from the outset. The Golden Bears refusal to meet the Bruins on the gridiron until 1933 – seven full seasons after all UCLA athletic teams had formally joined its Big Brother as members of the Pacific Coast Conference – certainly did not do much to tamp down the overt intensity.

With this in mind, in it is most thought-provoking to note that, of the three Pacific Coast Conference member institutions located in the State of California, Bruins star left halfback Kenny Washington had the most career rushing yards in NCAA games against the historically strong Golden Bears than the perhaps oftentimes more highly regarded USC Trojans. This despite the fact that Cal posted back to back ten-win seasons and registered an overall record that was very comparable to that of Southern Cal during the exact same period spanning from 1937 through 1939. As it was, for whatever reason, “Kenny the Kingfish” actually piled up more yardage on the ground in three games against the Golden Bears than he did in a combined six games against both the Trojans as well as the Stanford Indians, easily the least successful of the three California-based PCC teams during that specific era in question here :

  • California Golden Bears …….. 53 att … 258 yards … 5.38 avg … 2 tds
  • Stanford Indians ……………….. 56 att … 132 yards … 2.36 avg … 0 tds
  • Southern Cal Trojans …………. 49 att ….. 91 yards … 1.86 avg … 0 tds

As for the UCLA vs California contest that was played on the 4th of November in 1939, this particular Bruins vs Golden Bears tilt turned out to be one of the most productive NCAA games of Kenny Washington’s entire three-year varsity career in Westwood. Aside from 141 yards and one touchdown rushing, “General Washington” also had a key 27-yard pass reception on a fake punt which directly led to another score. On top of that, the UCLA star left halfback also threw two touchdown passes and was a tireless force on the defensive side of the football just for good measure.

Washington’s combined total of 168 yards from scrimmage via runs and pass receptions was his career best on behalf of the UCLA Bruins, a scant four more yards than what had been accumulated (entirely on the ground) against the Montana Grizzlies only two short weeks earlier.

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Jackie Robinson’s ‘Unusual’ UCLA Uniform Design

This series of photographs featuring UCLA Bruins first string right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON showing off his ‘swivel hips’ move in a practice session specifically staged for the benefit of a contemporary local journalist armed with a so-called “Miracle Eye” camera appeared in the Los Angeles Times on October 28, 1939, and is most fascinating for two very specific reasons. To begin with, Robinson appears in a certain distinctive style of uniform that UCLA stopped wearing at the conclusion of the 1938 NCAA campaign, one season before the would be Major League Baseball Hall of Famer actually arrived on the Westwood campus following his much ballyhooed transfer from Pasadena Junior College. And then there is the publishing date, itself, which just so happens to be very same day that Robinson scored his first two career touchdowns for the Bruins in spectacular fashion during a 16-6 victory over the visiting Oregon Ducks at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Now, it was not uncommon at all during the late 1930s for college football players to appear attired in game day uniforms as part of staged ‘action’ shots taken in practice sessions, oftentimes for the specific purpose of distribution via the national wire service. The photograph that appeared with this blog’s very recent post on the subject of individual game participation for UCLA’s 1939 season, the one showing Bruins third string right halfback Clark George flashing a stiff arm while doing some high stepping, would be just one such example. As one might have expected given his high profile transfer from Pasadena, there were many such staged action shots featuring Jackie Robinson taken all throughout the fall of 1939, many of which have already been posted here at this blog in conjunction with previously written articles.

The above exhibit, which appeared in the Oakland Tribune on October 11, 1939, would be yet another example of a contemporary press photograph featuring a staged action shot. In this particular photo, Robinson also shows his stiff arm technique while wearing the ‘new’ uniform design that UCLA unveiled at the start of the 1939 NCAA campaign, the one that dispenses with the stripes and instead displays little patches of a Bruin sewn onto each of the two arm sleeves (even if they are basically impossible to see in this particular shot). Indeed, other such staged press photos from that same season reveal Robinson passing the football, punting the pigskin and even taking a handoff from another player – but none of the other numerous other staged action shots from that year showed the skillful Bruins right halfback adorning the game day uniform that UCLA had discarded after the 1938 NCAA season had finished.

As for Robinson’s efforts on the 28th of October in 1939, that was the date that saw the highly touted junior college transfer dash 83 yards from scrimmage on a reverse play to score one touchdown and then catch a long pass (one from Bruins left halfback Kenny Washington that reputedly traveled fifty-two yards in the air) to complete a 66-yard scoring play for another during UCLA’s convincing triumph over Oregon.

https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/1939-ucla-vs-oregon/

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Updating Landmark ’39 Bruins vs Horned Frogs Battle

As far as the aforementioned “updates” to the articles on the 1939 UCLA Bruins gridiron campaign already posted at this blog are concerned, perhaps the most exciting, if only to the production staff here, would have to be in the category of individual statistics with respect to that very successful season; readers of this blog are encouraged to notice that the “Game Report” for the UCLA Bruins’ season-opening evening contest against the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University now contains the individual rushing stats for first-year head coach Babe Horrell’s ball club :

http://www.lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/1939-ucla-vs-texas-christian/

Previously, eight of the “Game Reports” from that 1939 season already published at this blog had all contained the individual rushing statistics that were taken from the “California Daily Bruin”, the official school newspaper of UCLA. The individual rushing statistics for the Texas Christian University game, on the other hand, come from the Los Angeles Times. To date, the only remaining “Game Report” on display at this blog that does not contain the Bruins’ individual rushing stats would be the UCLA vs Washington tilt – although research in ongoing, as always.

Interestingly enough, Bruins right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON’s individual rushing statistics from the UCLA vs TCU game as reported by the Los Angeles Times mesh together well with the numbers that had been speculated upon in this previously published article here :

https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/1939-ncaa-rushing-leaders/

Meanwhile, on the subject of individual statistics of UCLA’s All-America left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON from the 1939 NCAA football campaign, this blog has already addressed the discrepancies that exist with respect to Washington’s season rushing total in this previously published article here :

https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/uclas-kenny-washington-claims-ncaas-total-offense-crown-for-1939-campaign/

To summarize, the three-way race between Washington as well as Michigan Wolverines left halfback Tom Harmon and Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback Kay Eakin for the 1939 NCAA Total Offense leadership was extremely close and, as a result, the American Football Statistical Bureau launched an immediate audit for the purposes of a ‘recount’ at the end of the regular season. As the proverbial dust settled, the UCLA Bruins star left halfback had his rushing total reduced and his passing total increased in order for the American Football Statistical Bureau to arrive at the official figure of 1,370 total yards that went into the NCAA record books. This is why Kenny Washington’s individual game rushing totals as listed in the individual “Game Reports” on display here at this blog cannot be reconciled with his season rushing total as recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.


ABOVE PHOTO : UCLA Bruins quarterback NED MATTHEWS (# 55) paves the way for would be All-America left halfback KENNY WASHINGTON (# 13) during the landmark season-opening triumph over the defending national champions, the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, that unfolded before 60,000 spectators at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the night of September 29th, 1939.

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1939 UCLA Bruins – Individual Game Participation

As far as the aforementioned “updates” to the articles on the 1939 UCLA gridiron football campaign already posted at this blog are concerned, perhaps the most important would have to be in the category of line-ups and substitutions with respect to each of the Bruins’ ten NCAA games played that season. Previously, the substitutions list contained in a few of the individual “Game Reports” posted were not necessarily complete (and noted as being such, of course). But things have changed considerably ever since the research here department finally gained access to the Los Angeles Times archives and, for one thing,  an even more detailed and thorough picture of UCLA’s player participation, both in individual and overall terms, for each one of the ten game reports on display here has now been (re)painted.

On the subject of UCLA line-ups and substitutions in 1939, it is absolutely imperative for contemporary readers to remember that the substitution rules during the pre-World War II era were much different than what exist today. Back in the day when Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson were terrorizing Pacific Coast Conference opponents with their own unique brand of thunder and lightning, the rules prevailing effectively required all players to participate on both the offensive as well as the defensive side of the football simply because, by regulation, any player leaving the field at any point of the contest was not allowed to return to until the start of the next quarter. Certainly, there was no such thing as either the third down pass-catching specialist coming off the bench in a long yardage situation or the extra ‘nickel’ back in coverage on defense to compensate, to speak nothing of even a specialized punter and/or placekicker.

Interestingly enough, it was not really all that long ago that the now veteran National Football League player Myles Jack pulled off what was, by modern contemporary standards, the almost incomprehensible feat of being named the PAC-12 Conference’s Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year for his work during the 2012 NCAA football season on behalf of the UCLA Bruins at both running back and linebacker.  Jack was, however, an anomaly in every sense of the word. Furthermore, nowadays, it would be inconceivable for the Warriors of Westwood to utilize fewer than twenty total players in any given contest, let alone any given game against opposition that was currently ranked among the nation’s Top Twenty … but such was actually the case back on November 18th of 1939 when the then # 11 UCLA Bruins battled the # 14 Santa Clara Broncos to a scoreless stalemate in a thrilling non-conference clash that, quite literally, went right down to the wire.

1939 UCLA BRUINS : Overall Participation

  • 26 total players vs Texas Christian University
  • 27 total players vs University of Washington
  • 26 total players vs Stanford University
  • 34 total players vs University of Montana
  • 34 total players vs University of Oregon
  • 23 total players vs University of California
  • 19 total players vs Santa Clara University
  • 21 total players vs Oregon State University
  • 32 total players vs Washington State University
  • 25 total players vs University of Southern California

According to the official website of the school’s athletic department, there are a total of 106 players listed on the Bruins roster for this 2018 NCAA campaign — officially being celebrated this fall as the 100th season of UCLA football. (Ironically enough, Tom Sawyer’s fine blog, “The Southern Branch”, explains how this could actually be the 106th season but that would be another story). Back in 1939, during Babe Horrell’s inaugural season as the UCLA Bruins head coach, there were ‘only’ 51 players listed on the varsity roster although it must also be prominently mentioned that freshmen were ineligible at that particular point in time.

“1939 UCLA Bruins – Numerical Roster” ….. https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/1939-ucla-bruins-numerical-roster/

Including senior Kenny Washington, the All-America left halfback who reputedly played 580 out of a possible 600 minutes while setting numerous school records in 1939, a total of 44 different players participated in at least one NCAA game for the undefeated UCLA Bruins that season;  a total of 34 players logged enough time on the field to earn a varsity letter, this according to the archives that can be found at the official website of the school’s athletic department.

Aside from Washington, only nine other players also appeared in each of UCLA’s ten NCAA games in 1939 : fullback Leo Cantor, ends Woody Strode and Don MacPherson, tackles Del Lyman, Mladen Zarubica and Ernest Hill, guards Jack Sommers and Jack Cohen in addition to center Martin Matheson.

Nine games : left halfback Chuck Fenenbock, quarterback Ned Matthews, fullback Bill Overlin, ends Jim Mitchell and Bob Simpson, guard John Frawley

Eight games : right halfback Jackie Robinson, end/right halfback Ray Bartlett, end Chuck Cascales

Seven games : right halfback Dale Gilmore, quarterback Ben Kvitky, guard Nate DeFrancisco, center Ted Jones

Six games : guard Joe Ruettgers

Five games : left halfback Monte Steadman, quarterback Joe Viger, fullback Don Hesse, guards Louis Kyzivat and Robin Williams, center Gene Alder

Four games : right halfback John Wynne

Three games : right halfback Clark George, tackles Cecil Dye and Roger Hoger, centers Lynn Hale and Milt Whitebrook

Two games : fullbacks John Zaby and Frank Carroll, tackle Jack Kinney, guard Bill Shubin

One game : right halfback Dennis Francis, quarterbacks Robert Wai and Don Toland, guard Dave Gaston


ABOVE PHOTO : “Expected to be one of the mainstays of the 1939 University of California at Los Angeles grid machine, right halfback CLARK GEORGE (# 53), a highly touted transfer from Purdue University, is shown cutting some fancy capers in a workout on the Bruin campus. George is six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds,” reads the suggested caption for the ACME Wire Press photo that was distributed on September 16, 1939 — exactly thirteen days before UCLA was scheduled to open its NCAA season with a night game against the defending national champions, Texas Christian University.

As events were destined to unfold, George ultimately played very sparingly for the UCLA Bruins in 1939. Beaten out for the starting right halfback slot by Jackie Robinson, another highly touted incoming transfer arriving in Westwood by way of Pasadena Junior College, the native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, also found himself behind UCLA co-captain Dale Gilmore on the Bruins depth chart. After remaining on the bench for the first three games, George finally got his ‘big chance’ during the October 21st meeting with the University of Montana but, unfortunately, fumbled the kickoff to start the second half and then suffered a broken nose the following week in the October 28th game against the University of Oregon.

The seldom used transfer from Purdue did receive some attention from the Los Angeles Times during the bye week of preparation that led up to UCLA’s much anticipated mid-November tilt versus nationally ranked Santa Clara. “George got away for several long runs on reverses during the semi-scrimmage,” it was noted in the article which appeared on November 11th, 1939. But, despite the continued absence of the injured Robinson, George did not get into the game against the Broncos as the Bruins coaching staff went with Gilmore and John Wynne at the right halfback position. Wynne, an emerging sophomore from Los Angeles, made a key tackle on defense for UCLA during a goal line stand sequence in the first half of the 0-0 tie with Santa Clara.

George made his last ever appearance for the Bruins during the blowout win over Washington State University on November 30th and concluded the 1939 NCAA campaign without having rushed the football from scrimmage even once throughout the course of the entire season.

 

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Classic UCLA Bruins Back In The Saddle

Well, yet another season of exciting NCAA gridiron football is well underway once again, and not one moment too soon, either. It has probably also been far too long since any new posts have appeared at this particular site, which focuses on pre-World War II era history of UCLA Bruins football. So the one-man production staff here finds its especially inspirational to see that old friend “Tom Sawyer” is back in the saddle, so to speak, over at his excellent blog which also specializes in the earliest histories of gridiron football played on campus in Westwood : https://thesouthernbranch.wordpress.com

On the subject of confessions, it must be mentioned that the research has never really stopped around here and that, as a result, there prevailing overall mood of ‘unfinished business’ about. Not just with respect to all the published articles concerning the unbeaten 1939 UCLA Bruins team, but other agenda items including the other campaigns that comprised All-America left halfback Kenny Washington’s entire career at Westwood and a few other topics, as well.

The exhibit presented to begin this blog entry is a cartoon by Karl Hubenthal which appeared in the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper on November 1, 1939, three days before the annual intra-state clash between the older, more established University of California at Berkeley and its ‘upstart’ younger brother institution to the south, the University of California at Los Angeles, that year.

Towards the bottom of the cartoon, on a hill overlooking the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is California head coach Leonard “Stub” Allison, who had already earned at least a share of three Pacific Coast Conference titles in his first four years as the boss in Berkeley but, in the fall of 1939, was also well on his way to what would be his worst ever season at the Golden Bears’ helm. “Your first trip away from home (a reference to the fact that the UCLA contest was, indeed, the first away game for Cal that year) – and we run into stormy weather!”  Allison explains to his obviously battered and bruised companion. Adorning the evidently frightened bear’s numerous bandages are the names of the College of Pacific, St. Mary’s, Oregon as well as the University of Southern California … coincidentally enough, the very same four schools that had already beaten the then 2-4 California Golden Bears earlier that season.

The non-conference losses to both Pacific and St. Mary’s were particularly humbling for once mighty Cal, who had posted an impressive 10-0-1 record and been crowned Rose Bowl champions in 1937 before registering another successful mark of 10-1 in 1938.

About the star UCLA left halfback, it is written that, “The key man in the Bruins attack, Washington has rolled up a record 1809 yards in his three years (a clear reference to Kenny’s cumulative ‘total offense’ rushing and passing after his sophomore and junior seasons in 1937 and 1938, respectively) – an ambidextrous passer, one of the best on the coast, he is also the stand out defensive back on the team.”

About the Westwood Warriors’ quicksilver right halfback, Robinson, it is written that, “The Bruins’ most effective weapon, Jackie is a demon in broken field – his speed and elusiveness has befuddled the best safety men in the conference.”

Of course, as it turned out, although he had dazzled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum crowd one week earlier by rushing 83 yards for one touchdown and catching a 66-yard pass to score another against the Oregon Ducks, the UCLA Bruins simply did not require the services of Jackie Robinson for their memorable date with the California Golden Bears on November 4th in 1939.  This because, in large part, 141 yards and one touchdown rushing plus two more touchdowns passing by the legendary Kenny Washington rendered the absence of his far more famous backfield mate, who had suffered a knee injury in practice and was a late scratch as a result, meaningless in a 20-7 UCLA triumph.  The victory was only the Bruins’ second-ever versus their “Big Brothers to the North” in seven all-times games played to that point as well as the very first time ever that UCLA beat Cal in the city of Los Angeles.

https://lvironpigs.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/1939-ucla-vs-california/

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Green Bay Packers Worry About UCLA’s Undrafted But Undaunted Kenny Washington

The Chicago Tribune – August 24, 1940

“PACKERS REBUT VINEGAR SQUIRTS : WATCH OUR LINE! – IT’LL KEEP MR. WASHINGTON OCCUPIED, SAY PROS”

By George Strickler

With only the daily lecture, which comes with their grapefruit, to occupy them before their final scrimmage tonight, the Green Bay Packers had time to attend to their correspondence and take invoice of their assets for the Chicago All-Star game next Thursday. Voluminous correspondence has piled up on the world champions since practice began on Aug. 12, most of it of an anonymous nature from Chicago. The Professional Football Alumni association has weighed in daily with such sagacious observations as “quit fishing : go to work”, “we hope you’ll try to keep the All-Stars from scoring too often” and “we want you to make a respectable showing”.

Today’s bon mot, which could not have possibly come from the Chicago Cardinals because it is too early in the season for them to even be professiona football alumni, read : “Mr. Washington will cut down the Green Bay tree as another Washington cut down the cherry tree. But he will not be spanked, because you will not be able to catch him.”

This is the first time that the vinegar-quill technique has entered into preparations for the All-Star game and the Packers would be left speechless if the answers weren’t so obvious. The answers are that it has been so cold up here for the last week that no fish would allow itself to be lured by anything other than a pair of mittens or an umbrella. And as far as the uncatchable Mr. Washington, no one in the Packers camp ever heard of U.C.L.A. setting any scoring records during Washington’s career, nor is there any documented evidence that it went undefeated for three seasons.

The Washington matter will be left up to the Packers line, which brings us down the champions’ chief asset in next Thursday’s engagement. Before Washington can electrify many people, he will have to pass through a veteran line that averages 221 pounds and 6 feet 1 inch from end to end. This line, and its husky, capable replacements, will be charged with keeping Washington bottled up on running plays and harassing him so consistently on passes that he will not have time to draw a bead on enemy receivers.

————————————————————————————————————————

It is very thought provoking to note that, among all the celebrated and talented backfield players on the 1940 College All-Stars roster, the professional players on the defending National Football League champion Green Bay Packers were, apparently, most concerned about the threat posed by UCLA Bruins superstar KENNY WASHINGTON, the very same 195-pounder whom legendary Packers head coach Earl “Curley” Lambeau had already labeled as “the epitome of football perfection” less than three weeks earlier prior to the start of training camp.

After all, the Packers could have just as easily been paying attention to others such as Tennessee Volunteers left halfback GEORGE CAFEGO, the 174-pounder who had been honored as a First Team All-America selection by six major accredited organizations (Central Press Association, Irving Dix, Liberty Magazine, Newspaper Enterprise Association, The Detroit Times & Paul Williamson) as a junior in 1938 and again by another six major accredited organizations (Collegiate Writers, International News Service, Life Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, The Sporting News & United Press) as a senior in 1939. The versatile Cafego also just so happened to be the very same player whom the Chicago Cardinals had chosen with the first overall pick in the first round of the 1940 NFL Draft. And the Cardinals, to review, were rivals of the Packers in the NFL’s Western Division.

Green Bay also might have just as well been worried about Iowa left halfback NILE KINNICK, the 167-pound sensation who, as a senior in 1939, had been named First Team All-America by 13 of the 15 major accredited organizations tracked by this blog. The diminutive but dangerous Hawkeyes hero, of course, had also been awarded the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding collegiate football player in 1939 by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City. Kinnick was snapped up in the second round (# 14 overall) of the 1940 NFL Draft by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It is extremely significant to remember that both Cafego and Kinnick beat Washington out for a place on the NCAA’s official Consensus All-America squad for the 1939 season and that none of the ten NFL clubs, not even the Green Bay Packers, themselves, had the common sense / moral courage to select the UCLA phenom at the league’s annual draft of collegiate players.

The Chicago Tribune, for all of its favorable reporting on Washington’s impressive exploits all throughout the College All-Stars’ training camp, did a masterful job of avoiding any and all discussion with respect to the obvious question of why the NCAA’s total offense leader in 1939 would not be not be playing for any National Football League team whatsoever in 1940.

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