Monday, September 10, 2012

1962 Liberty Bowl Champion OSU Beavers honored

Liberty Bowl Champs
Last weekend, Oregon State University inducted its 1962 football team into the school's Hall of Fame.  The 1962 Beavers were 9-2 on the season and culminated their year with a 6-0 win over Villanova in the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia. 

The team included Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker, former University of Oregon head coach Rich Brooks, long-time Roseburg Indian head coach Thurman Bell, and my father, Ross Cariaga, who played offensive guard and served as co-captain.  The team was led by head coach Tommy Prothro, arguably the greatest football coach in OSU history.

Ross Cariaga, back in the Day.  Caption reads: "STRONGSIDE GUARD, ROSS CARIAGA will be out to flatten some Ducks tomorrow as the Beavers meet the Webfoots on Parker Stadium turf. Cariaga, a sophomore from Fresno, will be seen springing Orange backs for long gainers with vicious blocks in tomorrow's Civil War."  Oregon State won that game 20-17.
OSU rolled out the red carpet for the surviving players and their families, with a tour of the athletic facility and an honoring ceremony and banquet on Friday night.  The Cariaga family was well-represented by all seven of Dad's kids, his widow, and his brother, along with their respective families.  (My Uncle Don is the only Oregon State alumnus in the group.)

Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker and Dad, 1962
More than once that evening, Dad's teammates mistook me for my father, which put me in the somewhat awkward position of having to explain that Dad passed in 2001 from complications due to Lupus.  

Terry Baker and my Uncle Don  (Old family friend, John Farrell in the background)
The guys shared quite a few stories about Dad over the weekend, including this one from Ken Haack:  "Your dad and I were two of the few married men on the team.  Back in those days, toward the end of the month, when everyone's money ran short, the married couples would gather for potluck meals.  One time, we went to your dad and mom's apartment.  We knocked on the door and your dad hollered at us to come on in.  When we entered we saw Ross and another teammate standing at the kitchen table, blood all over them and all over the kitchen.  For a minute we were wondering what we'd gotten into, but it turned out that the two of them had poached a deer and were cleaning it.  For weeks after that we ate venison steaks, venison spaghetti, venison anything-you-can-think-of."

Ken Haack

A good story, but I wonder how it must have been for my poor mother.  A bloody kitchen!

("Was there a baby in the apartment?" I asked.

Ken thought for a moment.  "Yes, I think there was," he said.

"That was me," I said.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  anyone who knew Dad has a story about him.

OSU cheerleading squad fires up the crowd pre-game
Next day, the inductees and their entourages attended the game. OSU was pitted against the 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. 

I hadn't been to a big college game in probably 15 years.  Games today are Big EventsTM.  A full staff runs a complex but highly-organized affair.  It baffles to think how they pull it off.

Before the game, the '62 Beavers and their representatives were honored on the field.  Being his oldest son, my family afforded me the privilege of standing in for Dad.

Legendary Roseburg Indian football coach, Thurman Bell
As we stood on the field, I met and shook hands with Coach Thurman Bell who led the Roseburg Indians to 4 state championships and is the second winning-est coach in Oregon high school football history.  I said, "Coach Bell, it's an honor to meet you.  I played against you for many years and never did manage to beat you."  He laughed and shrugged it off. 
Wisconsin Badgers
While I was down there I got a good look at the players as they came off the field from their warm-ups.  Where do they grow these kids?  The thunder they made rivaled that of any herd of rhinoceroses.

Heat of battle
The Beavers were decided underdogs for the game.  Wisconsin's roster includes star running back Montee Ball, a Heisman candidate. And while the Badgers were fresh off a win over Northern Iowa, the Beavers had yet to play a game this season. The previous week, their scheduled opener with Nicholls State was postponed.

But all that added up to nothing.  OSU's defense smothered Wisconsin, holding Ball to a mere 30 yards rushing.  The Beavers sacked Wisconsin quarterback Danny O'Brien three times for big losses.

On the other side of the ball, the Beaver's offense outgained the Badger's, 354-207.  Quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 247 yards, including the Beaver's only teedee, which went to Brandin Cooks from twenty yards out in the third quarter.

In short, the Beavers dominated the game.The final score: OSU 10, Wisconsin 7.

After it was over, the Cariaga clan departed for Albany to "gather 'round" as my sister Paige puts it.  There were a lot of tired happy faces.

Cariagas after the game
None of us is fool enough to argue with Fate. Nonetheless, I couldn't help but think of Dad and how much he would've enjoyed it all: laughing and swapping stories with his old friends and teammates, having his family around him.
Liberty Bowl trophy
On the other hand, it stands as testimony to the man that we're here now, remembering him all these years later.

Here's to the Oregon State Beavers of 1962! Liberty Bowl Champions!

1 comment:

Carol Kemmerer said...

Very well said Dade.....Carol Kemmerer (Kurt's Mom)