A Dudley Field Tale

Andrew Maraniss has posted here on the coming 100-year celebration of Vanderbilt’s Dudley Field.

My father, Jimmy Jewell, related his minor role in the history of Dudley Field in one of the more historic games played there in 1932. There is a report of that game on Vanderbilt’s athletic website, listed at the bottom of this post.

My father’s account differs a bit from the article on the web. i’mm pretty sure my father was more accurate.

Jimmy Jewell was a sophomore at Lebanon High School. He was 19 years old, having lost three years of school when he caught yellow fever at seven. He had gone out for football his freshman year but at 5-9 and 130 pounds his slim chances dimmed to out when he fumbled in the backfield on his first run in the first scrimmage. His best friend, H.M. Byars, a senior was an end on the Blue Devil squad. Both young men were big football fans and rooted for Vanderbilt. They decided to go to that game even though they didn’t have tickets.

They and some 5,000 to 10,000 other folks, depending on the source, wanted to see the game. It was a different era. Vanderbilt was still a football force with a 6-0 record going into the game. The Orange were undefeated at 7-0 and their star running back was Beattie Feathers, a consensus All-American that year.

According to my father, they had set up some temporary fencing to keep the ticketless crowd out of the field, The crowd, however, surged forward and knocked the fencing down. Jimmy and H.M. found seats on the east side, almost on the in-bound line. The web-site account reports the fans were moved back. My father said he and HM were sitting on the sideline in the fourth quarter. i’m buying my dad’s version.

It was in the fourth quarter with no score when Feathers bolted free from scrimmage and headed for home down the sideline, apparently scoring the go-ahead touchdown for the Vols. The officials called it back because they said Feathers had stepped out of bounds. Feathers and the Vols protested the call.

H.M. turned to my father and said, “I know he stepped out of bounds. He stepped on my leg!” The officials and Feathers went to the spot near the two fans. The refs pointed down to the ground and there was Feather’s cleated footprint.

My father didn’t elaborate on the game ending when the crowd kept encroaching on the field.  The officials recognizing they had lost control and declared the game to be over. The final was a scoreless tie.

Thanks, Andrew, for bringing  back one of the many stories my father told me.


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