John Biancone Trophy from Oregon State College (1934)

Despite standing a mere 5 foot 6 inches tall and 165 pounds, John “Johnny” Biancone was a highly decorated quarterback  and halfback for the Oregon State College Beavers from 1931-1934.  This trophy, I’m assuming, was given to Biancone his senior year by Oregon State to commemorate his playing days at OSC.

John graduated from Portland’s Benson High School in 1930, where he lettered three times in five different sports.  He was a member of the 1928  City Championship Team, captain of a soccer team that was undefeated all four years, and he was also a State Wrestling Champion in 1929.  He is a member of the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL) Hall of Fame.

While at Oregon State, John lettered three years in football and baseball (back then they could not play on Varsity as a Freshman so they couldn’t earn letters for that year).  On the gridiron, John played both halfback and quarterback under coaches Paul Schissler and then Lon Stiner.  It appears he switched between HB and QB during games, depending on what was working.  A 1932 news article from a rival team city said John was “a dashing, tricky open field runner.”  While he played football during 1933, it doesn’t appear he was on the field during the Beavers famous “Ironmen” game, where only 11 players played every minute on both offense and defense in a 0-0 tie against a two time National Champion USC team that suited up 80 men for the game.  While I haven’t done the research, I’m assuming Biancone was injured for that game.

After college John spent one year in 1936 playing quarterback in the NFL for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where records indicate he played in 5 games (they played far fewer games back then).  The following preseason he broke his leg and was released by the Dodgers, ending up with the Paterson (NJ) Panthers of the American Association (more of a minor league team) for a couple years.

Fast forward to 1942, and Biancone, like many men his age, found himself in the Army stationed at the Santa Ana Army Air Base in California.  At this base, Captain Biancone was the manager of the its football and baseball teams.  It seems he was the Athletic Director for the entire base, which at the time, had many former college and pro athletes in the army stationed there.  The large army bases would put together athletic teams to compete against other military bases, college teams, and even professional teams.  Biancone’s 1943 baseball team compiled an impressive record, including a winning streak of 20 straight games behind the stellar hitting of their star centerfielder who you may have heard of… Joe DiMaggio!

This neat trophy stands about 7 inches tall and the football player and plaque are silver or silver plated.  Is I said, I presume this was given to Biancone by OSU at the end of his senior season, either because he was a team Captain, MVP, or they could have given these to all the seniors.  A cool piece of 80+ year old Oregon State history!

In the last picture below from 1932, John Biancone (far right) is standing next to his coach at OSU, Paul Schissler (center), and teammate Harold Moe (far left).

 

 

“Oregon Aggies” Green and Yellow Pin, c. 1920

This “Oregon Aggies” pinback is somewhat of a mystery to me for one simple reason… the colors are green and yellow instead of black and orange!  I have seen two of these pins and both appeared to have been originally printed in these colors, as opposed to maybe the orange fading to a yellow and/or the black fading to a green tint.  Very disturbing for an Oregon State fan!

As far as I know, Oregon State, or Oregon Agricultural College as it was known in the early 1900’s, was the only group/organization in Oregon to be referred to as the Oregon Aggies.  I haven’t found reference to any other sports group or organizations who may have also been called the Oregon Aggies.  I also know Oregon State was still referred to as the Aggies until at least 1926.  While the school’s animal mascot had become the Beaver during the prior decade (at least on some pennants and in the yearbooks), I’m guessing the official “Aggies” name may have been dropped and the Beaver officially took over when the school changed names from Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) to Oregon State College (OSC) in 1927.  These facts would seem to put the age of this pin, which is slightly smaller than normal pin – about the size of a half dollar, sometime in the late-teens-to-mid-1920’s.

Now as for the colors, Oregon State had officially adopted Orange and Black as its school colors by 1893.  And their rivals to the south, the University of Oregon, had adopted green and yellow as their colors in 1894.  So why would an Oregon State pin have been printed in green and yellow?  Was it an early prank by the Ducks on their Beaver neighbors?  Or was this perhaps tied to a topic I posted about earlier, where back in 1917, the “Rooks” (aka freshman) on campus were forced to wear green caps so they could be identified?  After all, the 1917 “Rooks” poster was printed with green text, the caps were green… so I wonder if they could only wear green pins too?  However, the letter on the green cap back then was orange and not yellow!  So why the yellow?  Because if there’s two colors we know Oregon State alumni and fans despise… it’s green and yellow!  This may go down as one of OSU’s great mysteries!

Oregon Aggies Pin