In 1953 Bruce Zirnheld caught a pass at the ten yard line and started for the goal line. He was tackled in the vicinity of the goal. The field was muddy and it was impossible to tell if he crossed the line or not. Tommy Bell, who later gained fame as a referee in the NFL, said that Zirnheld hit the ground short of the goal. Manual fans who were sitting on the goal line swore he was in and the film of the game confirms that Zirnheld stumbled in before he hit the ground. While the debate raged, someone noticed a flag on the three yard line. Linesman Nick Wanchie called Tom Irwin (M) for clipping Don Craig (Male). The film from the game was published frame by frame in the newspaper. It does not appear that there was any contact between the Irwin and the Male Player but it was close and a single view can be deceptive. However my dad thought Manual was cheated and he never went to another game. During his life he worked in Louisville, Los Angles, Owensboro. and Atlanta. A year after the 1953 my grandfather started taking me to the game and my dad would always call the next day to find out who won. The tradition continued after the game was moved from Thanksgiving Day. He was saddened by the loss of the Thanksgiving tradition but he still wanted to know what happened. He always expressed surprise when Manual won. After the 1953 game he was convinced the referees always worked against Manual. There have been many times that I agreed with him. This morning I was uneasy, I was wondering when he would call, even though I knew on an intellectual level he would never call again, (he died in 1994.) Still for a second I wondered what time I’d get the call. For all these years I have had an uneasy feeling the day after the Manual-Male game because I still wait for his call.
If he had called I would have told him everyone won because the game survived another year. I would have said the game was hard fought and good sportsmanship prevailed. I would have told him that Bobby Redman, Male’s coach was gracious in defeat and I hope I live to see many more games. When the game was over the Manual Players stood in front of the cheering section and sang the school song. Manual 34-Male 14. Dad would have been surprised but the score was only a small part of a wonderful night.
Donald M. Heavrin
Literary Critic for the Old Goats Back To Menu