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 State Vintage Letterman Sweaters

In an earlier post I had some examples of felt letters that came off early sweaters or letterman jackets, usually worn by athletes at Oregon State.  History has it that letterman sweaters were first worn by the 1865 Harvard basketball team.  Typically the stripes indicated the number of years on the varsity team, while a star would indicate the player was a team captain.  If you look through archives or yearbook pictures of athletes in the early ears of Oregon State, you can see many different sweaters being worn.  However, I’m not sure when the formal “letterman sweater” became the norm at OSU.

The earliest Oregon State sweater I have dates to the late 1930’s.  It is heavy wool and the sleeve has an orange stripe but no actual letter.  I’m not sure if this sweater ever had a letter, but it doesn’t appear that it did.  Made by HL Whiting out of Seattle, here is a picture of the sweater, the tag with the player’s name, and an original advertisement from 1938.

Here are three other letterman sweaters that date from the 1940’s-1960’s which have the letters in addition to the stripe on the sleeve.  The third picture with two stripes is actually a child’s letterman sweater, made by Dehen, probably available from the team store back in the day.

Here is an example of a white OSU letterman’s sweater from 1943.

1943

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And lastly, we can’t forget the rally squad, who also wore sweaters with letters on them!  This picture is the rally squad for the 1942 Rose Bowl bound team with “OSC” across the front.  The second sweater with a beaver on the front and “Rally” on the back is circa 1940’s-1950’s.

1965 Rose Bowl Commemorative Silver Cup/Trophy – Chrysler Corp.

On New Years Day in1965, the 8-1 Oregon State Beavers played in its third (and most recent) Rose Bowl game. This time against a 7-1 Michigan Wolverines team, ranked #4 in the country.  Michigan was an 11 point favorite, but after a scoreless first quarter, it was the Beavs who struck first going up 7-0 in the second quarter.  Unfortunately, those were the last points scored by OSU as Michigan scored 34 unanswered points, dropping OSU to 8-2 on the year.

This silver cup, about 8 inches in diameter, I’m assuming was given by the game sponsor, Chrysler Corporation, as a gift to either their employees or possibly to people who helped put the game on. Engraved at the top is “1965 Rose Bowl.”  The second line reads “Michigan – Oregon St.”  And on the bottom, “Chrysler Corporation.” I have only seen two of these cups, so I’m not sure as to their rarity.  But overall, a neat memento of OSU’s sparse Rose Bowl History!

1965 Rose Bowl Silver Bowl

Vintage Oregon State Letter from Letterman’s Jacket/Sweater (pre 1940’s)

This vintage Oregon State letter, which likely was stitched on an athlete’s letterman’s jacket or more likely sweater, is one of the earliest OSU letters I’ve seen.  This came from a house from a man attended OSU in the late 1940’s, but his father also attended OSU (and later taught there) prior to him attending.  Given the overall look and feel of this letter, and the style of the beaver, I have a feeling it’s pre-1940’s and probably from around the time when his father attended.  I have seen one other similar letter which also had a beaver in the middle of the O (which is very rare as almost all OSU letters are just a plain O), but that one doesn’t have the detail of this one, which includes some tiny white stitches for the beaver’s teeth!  I have attached a picture of both so you can see the differences!  And lastly, this third picture is a small letter I came across, which is about a third the size of the other two.  It is very old and I’m not sure what it would have been on, except for possibly a woman’s letterman’s sweater?

1940's or earlier Oregon Felt Co.

Vintage OSU Letter

Small Vintage Letter

Oregon State’s 1948-1949 Final Four Basketball Team

Oregon State’s 1948-1949 men’s basketball team is considered one of head coach Slatts Gill’s finest coaching performances, taking a team with only one returning starter from the previous year, all the way to a Pacific Coast Conference Championship and Oregon State’s first NCAA Final Four appearance.  After beating Arkansas to start the tournament and reach the Final Four, the Beavers lost to Oklahoma A&M and then to Illinois in the third place game to finish fourth overall.  The Beavers finished with a 24-12 record and wouldn’t reach the Final Four again until 1963… and they haven’t been back since!  This team picture and plaque was presented to OSC Assistant Coach, Paul Valenti, who later became the head coach of the Beavers.  Notice the round patches on the jackets to commemorate their conference championship, which you can see up close in the second picture.  Lastly, here is a picture of the program and ticket stub from that NCAA tournament, which was held at the University of Washington’s Edmundson Pavilion.

photo1948-1949 PCC Patch1949 Final Four Program1949 Ticket

1917 OAC Student Poster – “Rooks Beware” & 1919 Rook Bible

Having been through it back in my days at OSU, it’s good to know that even back in 1917 some students went through some good natured hazing by their older classmates!  In 1917 this 11×18 poster was hung up around campus by the “’20 Vigilance Committee,” likely the sophomore class, and was directed to the “Rooks” – the freshman on campus at that time.  A couple of my favorite rules are that the Rooks “shall support athletic activities by your presence at the games” and they “must not fuss at any of the athletic contests”!  Boy how times have changed!

Also, note the first paragraph that says the Rooks “shall provide yourselves with one green cap of accepted pattern…” Now I’m not really sure where the green came into play, as orange had been adopted as the school color with black as the background in the early 1900’s, but it obviously had some meaning… and my bet is the green hats simply identified the freshman so everyone on campus knew who they were and could “greet” them appropriately!  The second picture below is a green cap with an orange O that those “Rooks” would have been seen wearing around campus!

Lastly, I came across this “Rook Bible” from OSU, dated January 1, 1919, which no doubt elaborates on those same rules listed in the poster.  It’s funny to see this Bible was approved by the Student Council and I love how it says Rooks must “Have this book with you AT ALL TIMES”!   Published by the class following the one who made the poster, this Bible shows the same “Rook” hazing at Oregon State must have taken place for at least a couple years and was passed down from class to class!

1917 Rooks Beware

1919 Rook Bible

Green OSU Rook Cap