“W.S.C. Awaits Night Battle – Leaves To Meet U.C.L.A. Under Lights At Los Angeles Thursday”

The Spokesman-Review — Tuesday, November 28th, 1939


Set to put out the U.C.L.A. three-alarm fire (i.e., the Bruins trio of left halfback Kenny Washington, right halfback Jackie Robinson and left end Woody Strode), WASHINGTON STATE’s squad of 34 gridders entrained for Los Angeles tonight. Every player was in fine shape except Captain DICK EMERSON, who may be used if needed.

Turning out early, Washington State College got in more than three hours of practice tonight, both in daylight and lamplight. Most of the period was spent polishing up offensive weapons, for coach BABE HOLLINGBERY has promised to let go the scoring reins Thursday night.

There was still some indecision at train time over what color the ball was to be (used during the game in Los Angeles on Thursday). (UCLA head coach) BABE HORRELL wants a brown one and Hollingbery wants a white one. Hollingbery will wait until his club works out under the lights at the Los Angeles coliseum on Wednesday before making a final decision.

(Editor’s Note — The perfectly valid reason why the Bruins bench boss preferred to use a regular brown pigskin was because the UCLA star left halfback, Kenny Washington, would not be able to get the same grip on a painted white football as compared to a standard brown football. Therefore, the Kingfish would not be able to throw as tight a spiral with the white ball as he otherwise would be normally be capable of and that, of, course, could have a detrimental effect. Keeping in mind the fact that Washington had tossed no fewer than five touchdown passes in UCLA’s last four contests going into the game against Washington State in late November of 1939 and that, in fact, five of the Bruins’ seven touchdowns tallied in their last four games that year had been scored on passing plays, there could be no doubt that the specific kind of football to be used was a very significant detail.)

The game will mark the first night game in the 23-year history of the Pacific Coast loop. Originally slated for the afternoon, the game was shifted to the evening when President Roosevelt removed Thanksgiving Day from the scene and left no excuse for playing the game.

(Editor’s Note … Unfortunately, whomever is responsible for this particular article printed by The Spokesman-Review back in November of 1939 got things horribly wrong here. The Bruins had actually played their historic first Pacific Coast Conference game under the lights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum two years earlier when UCLA doubled up the Oregon Ducks 26-13 on Friday, September 24th, 1937 — certainly a noteworthy date on which sophomore left halfback Kenny Washington marked his varsity debut for the Bruins by rushing for two touchdowns and passing for another. Presented below would be visual verification of that landmark night game via the applicable 1937/38 UCLA school yearbook.)


(Editor’s Note, cont … The Spokesman-Review writer’s joint reference to President Roosevelt & Thanksgiving Day is rather confusing, as well, but it is very important to note that the month of November had five Thursdays in the calendar year of 1939. It is also extremely relevant to understand that, in 1939, FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT broke with the tradition first begun by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 that set the last Thursday of November as the official date that Thanksgiving Day was to be observed. The reason why Roosevelt did this was because the United States was still trying to recover from the effects of The Great Depression and he thought that an extended Christmas shopping season would bolster the overall national economy.

The point being made here at this blog is that the writer of this particular article printed by The Spokesman-Review must have been trying to say that the reason why the UCLA vs Washington State game in 1939 was ultimately switched from an afternoon engagement to an evening affair is because the November 30th date was now no longer a Thanksgiving holiday and, therefore, many potential ticket-buyers would now be going to work during the daylight hours, as on any other normal weekday.)


For the historical record, the UCLA BRUINS had never lost a night game in four previous contests (all Friday night affairs) when the WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS came calling in late November of 1939 :

Sept 27, 1935 …….. UCLA 39 – Utah State 0
Nov 15, 1935 …….. UCLA 19 – Hawaii 6
Sept 24, 1937 …….. UCLA 26 – Oregon 13
Sept 23, 1938 …….. UCLA 27 – Iowa 3


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