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Throwback Thursday

by Anthea Ayebaze | Sep 28, 2016

Many social media sites are inundated with stories and pictures from the past on “Throwback Thursdays.” Count this as my contribution.

I was recently given a copy of an article written by Professor Emerita Ferne Baldwin in 1995 following our men’s basketball team’s 31-1 season that ended in a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. Titled “The Other Trip to Buffalo,” her piece harkens back to an earlier athletic trip to “The City of Good Neighbors.” It’s worth a read:

 “The Manchester College men’s basketball team went to Buffalo, N.Y.,  this year to compete as one of the final four in Division III competition. They went with a record of 30-0 and went into the championship game with 31-0. Manchester as national runner-up in NCAA Division III with a record of 31-1 for the 1995 season is a never-to-be-forgotten moment in history.

But there is another story of a trip to Buffalo for a Manchester team which deserves to be remembered. A different team; a different sport; a different era; but also a successful trip.

Sixty men answered the call for the first scrimmage of Manchester’s 1938 football team. This team faced an interesting schedule. Most thought it was the toughest schedule ever for the Manchester team. There were seven Indiana conference games and an inter-sectional fracas with the University of Buffalo; a there game on October 8. Perhaps it should be noted that the first and seconds all were attired in new uniforms; black satin in the backfield and gold satin in the line.

It was decreed that not more than 30 could go on the three-day expedition to Buffalo and the competition was torrid, according to The Oak Leaves. Meantime, there were games to play with Valpo and Earlham. Manchester had never been beaten by Valpo and they maintained the record by winning 14-13 even though five times during the game the Valpo, 11 reached the Manchester 15-yard line and failed to score. Earlham was the victim of a 27-0 score as Manchester won its 19th straight game. The Quakers tried: nine passes but none completed.

Then it was Buffalo. Twenty-three men had been chosen to make the trip. It was the first a Manchester football team had ventured beyond the borders of the state. A special car had been reserved on the Nickel Plate Railroad for the trip. The team boarded the train at Sidney at 12:06 p.m. and reached Buffalo at 10:05. Rest was the only item on the agenda until Saturday afternoon when the men visited Niagara Falls. The game started at 8 p.m.

The Oak Leaves headline was succinct: BURT’S MEN RUN ROUGH-SHOD OVER STRONG BUFFALO TEAM. Buffalo was surprised to have a much smaller school defeat them 21 to 6. The game was played on the field at Tanawanda, N.Y.,  since the Buffalo field had no lights. A crowd of about 3,000 fans was willing to cheer for Manchester almost as much as for their own team.

The first Manchester score was on a pass from Lieberum to Eikenberry. Brandon kicked the extra point. Next score came after an 80-yard uninterrupted drive down the field. Milliner punched it across from the 1-yard line and Brandon did his thing. The only Buffalo score came at the beginning of the second half at the end of a persistent drive down the field and on the fourth down. The final Manchester tally was after a 71-yd run down the sidelines by Lieberum and the usual conversion by Brandon.

The Spartans came home to face Ball State the next Saturday. Ball State considered Manchester to be of the “corn-cob league” and were preparing to eliminate them from their schedule even though Manchester had won five and tied one out their last seven contests. The Spartans outplayed the Cardinals in the first half but the depth of their bench became obvious in the second half and the final score was 20-14 in Ball State’s favor.

First game out of state; their game under lights and a victory. The other trip to Buffalo was special too.