Various Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) Pennants – Oregon State University (OSU) c. 1890-1927

While I have been fortunate to come across and obtain many old Oregon State University pennants, there are still several from the school’s Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) days that I have only seen in pictures, old photographs, or even drawings.  The pennants in this specific post are not in my personal collection, but I’d obviously love to find!  They all range from roughly 1890-1927, before OAC became Oregon State College (OSC). Each is unique and I found them from number of sources, like the Benton County Historical Society, OSU’s Archives, old programs, or old online auctions.  Keep your eye out for others as I’d love to add more pennants (or even just pictures of them) to the collection and this site!


1962 Liberty Bowl Pin, Program and Ticket – Oregon State vs. Villanova

Oregon State was led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker when it faced a one loss Villanova Wildcat team in the 1962 Liberty Bowl, which was played on a frozen field in Philadelphia on December 15th.  Baker scored on a 99 yard quarterback keeper run to provide the only points of the game, with OSU winning 6-0, earning its first bowl victory since the 1942 Rose Bowl.  After starting 0-2, the Beavers capped the season with eight straight wins and Baker won the Heisman just weeks after his performance in the Liberty Bowl.  Here is a pinback, program, ticket stub, decal, and a picture of Terry Baker from the game!

Terry Baker


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).



Forrest Smithson – OSU’s First Olympic Medalist in 1908

Forrest Smithson was born in Portland in 1884 and attended Oregon State (then OAC) where he was an AAU track champion in 1907 and 1909. While attending Oregon State, Smithson competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, where he won gold in the 110-meter hurdles on the final day with a then world record setting time of 15.0 seconds. He became not only the school’s first Olympic medalist, but he and two other Oregonians that same Olympics were the first medalists for the state of Oregon.

A devout Christian, Smithson was a student of theology at Oregon State who eventually become a Baptist Minister. He is probably best known for a famous picture of him clearing a hurdle at the Olympics with a bible in his left hand.  Many thought the picture was of the Olympic finals race, further depicting his legend. But no official accounts depicted him carrying such unlikely cargo and one actual picture of the finals does not show the Bible in his hand.  The story, as it turns out, was that Smithson posed for the picture after his victory to make a political protest against Sabbath competitions.  Smithson understood the powerful forum for social criticism that Olympic victories allowed.

The first picture is the famous Forrest Smithson Bible picture.  Second is a picture of the final race where he is second from the right. The final picture shows an actual gold medal from the 1908 Olympics that I’m sure Smithson kept in a safe place… probably right next to his Bible until his death in 1962.

olimpiaa[1] second from right 1908-medal[1]


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

In 1973 Steve Prefontaine raced in Corvallis… and lost???

I can’t remember exactly where I found this picture, but I do remember thinking it was pretty cool to see a picture of Steve Prefontaine running a race in Corvallis during college, and I also thought it was cool that the runner from OSU was actually leading the race!  I know this picture is from 1973, and if memory serves, this was the last race Prefontaine ever ran in Corvallis.  I originally couldn’t find any info about this picture, such as who the OSU runner was and what the result of the race was.  Then I found the picture on Flickr with some history behind it.

The date was May 5, 1973, and Bell Field on OSU’s campus (now where Dixon Rec Center is located) was the place for an Oregon-Oregon State dual meet with over 5,000 spectators in the stands.  The event was the 3-mile race, and Pre ended up winning with a time of 13:27, followed by his trailer mate Pat Tyson, and then the OSU runner you see in this picture, Jose Amaya, ended up finishing third… a mere 34 seconds behind Pre!  As a side note, some old Beaver faithful’s remember this race for a different reason! “The 3-mile event was marred when Oregon runner Randy James and OSU runner Randy Brown exchanged elbows off the turn. Then James came up behind Brown and pushed him off the track. Brown continued on with race while James walked off amid a chorus of boos from the OSU fans.”  Sounds like the Ducks were “classy” back in the day, just as most are now!

Track - 1974

Track – 1974

Wes Schulmerich – Oregon State’s First “Big Leaguer”

In 1923 Wesley “Wes” Schulmerich came to Oregon State (then OAC) as a decorated high school athlete from Columbia Prep school in Portland where he had been offered a scholarship by Knute Rockne to play for Notre Dame but he turned it down to play football, baseball, and run track for the Beavers.  The 5’11 200 pound “Ironhorse,” as he was nicknamed on the football field, was a man among boys on both the football and baseball fields.  Upon graduation in 1927, Schulmerich turned down a $100 signing bonus to play football in the NFL, deciding to play semi-pro baseball for the Clarks club in the Butte Mining League.  Schulmerich, a second baseman and leadoff hitter, was quickly noticed and moved up to the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels, just a step below the Major Leagues.  Wes dominated the PCL for the better part of his four PCL seasons and in 1931 he made his debut in the Major Leagues for the Boston Braves, making him the first player in Oregon State history to reach the Majors.  After four seasons in the Majors with three different teams, he spent another six or seven years playing in the minors and in other independent leagues, then he spent 1942-1945 as a lieutenant commander in the Navy during WWII. In his later years Wes was known for being an adamant OSU supporter, rarely missing a sporting event of any kind, until he died in 1985 at the age of 83.  Schulmerich is a member of both the OSU and Oregon Sports Hall of Fames.

The following pictures are of Wes during his playing days at Oregon State and playing in the Major Leagues for the Braves.  And lastly, these two bats were original bats used by Schulmerich during his Major League days and both have his name burned into the barrel! The first was made by the Hanna Batrite company in the early 1930’s and the second is a Spalding bat.  These two bats are a couple of my favorite pieces of OSU baseball history!

Schulmerich OAC 1928  Schulmerich Boston Braves  Baseball CardschulmerichSpalding 1935

Robin Reed – The Greatest Beaver Athlete Ever?

Over the years a handful of truly great athletes in their given sport once walked across the Oregon State campus as students.  In the conversation about the greatest OSU athletes of all time, the names of Gary Payton, Dick Fosbury, Steven Jackson, Terry Baker, AC Green, Steve Johnson, and a few more come to the top of the list for most. But long before the names you recognize, one Beaver grappler, nearly 90 years ago, compiled arguably the greatest resume and impacted his sport far greater than all the others.

Robin Reed was born in a tiny logging town in Arkansas but his family eventually moved to Portland where he took up wrestling at Franklin High School only to get enough PE credits to graduate. After going undefeated through high school, he enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU) in 1921 making quite a name for himself. While at OAC he won every single match he wrestled in over four years in both local and national competitions.  Weighing only around 135 pounds, during the 1924 Olympic Trials, Reed entered the 145.5, 158.5, 174 and 192 (heavyweight) weight classes where he promptly won all of them.  He traveled to France for the 1924 Olympics winning gold in the 134.5 pound weight class, pinning every opponent he faced. As the story goes, on the boat en route to France Reed challenged every member of Team USA, beating all 13 of them, 12 by pins. His lone victory by points was against the US heavyweight, Harry Steel, who went on to win the heavyweight gold medal at the Olympics. On the boat back home, Reed challenged Steel again and pinned him five times in 15 minutes.  As amazing as this sounds, there are several other incredible stories of Robin Reed’s wrestling feats over the years!

Upon his return from the Olympics in 1924, Robin retired his amateur wrestling career having never lost a match – a feat unmatched by anyone else in the history of the sport other than Japan’s Osamu Watanabe.  Widely considered America’s greatest wrestler in the pre-WW2 era, and possibly the greatest amateur ever, Reed was eventually enshrined into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1978.  Here are a few pictures of Robin Reed during his prime at OSU and at the Olympics!

Robin Reed at OAC1924 OlympicsRobin Reed Signature Robin Reed Pinning Opponent

1942 Rose Bowl Ring

The earliest championship rings in professional and college sports were given out in the early 1920’s but it wasn’t until the 1930’s that these rings became commonplace.  In 1942, the Oregon State football team traveled to Durham, North Carolina to play Duke in the only Rose Bowl played outside of California, due to the start of WWII.  The Beavers won the game for their only Rose Bowl victory in program history.  To commemorate that team, the school presented the players and some coaches/staff with Rose Bowl Championship rings!  With only 33 players on the roster and a much smaller staff than today’s teams, it’s likely less than 50 of these rings were ever handed out.  Who knows how many still even exist!  The ring below belonged to Bill Halverson, an offensive lineman on that team, who you can tell proudly wore it for many years before his passing in 1984!  Following the 1942 college season, Halverson was an 8th round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles (63rd overall pick) and he played in 8 games during his one and only season in the NFL.  Halverson can be seen in the bottom picture (back row, far right), sporting his new 1942 Rose Bowl jacket the players wore on their trip to Durham! (Ring pics courtesy of Gasoline Alley Antiques)

Sierra Exif JPEG Sierra Exif JPEG Sierra Exif JPEG Bill Halverson (top right)

Circa 1912 Picture of Baseball Team Awards Display

This is one of my favorite old pictures I’ve come across because there are so many neat things that can be seen in it.  This is a picture of a table full of memorabilia from the Oregon State baseball team, which could have been set up for an end of year party or maybe for all the other students to see!  We can assume this picture was taken probably sometime around 1912 because the pennants at the top say “Aggies,” which is what OSU was known as before the mascot became the Beavers sometime around 1910 (it still took several years to phase that in because I have seen a football article from 1926 which still referred to them as the “Oregon Aggies”).  In one of the comments to my original post on this, my friend Trevor pointed out that the company who took the picture has been in Corvallis since 1912, which helps figure out the rough date! Taking a closer look at the photo, here are some of the things that stand out…  The OAC pennants and the Aggies pennants are some of the oldest pictures of pennants that I have seen.  There are a lot of individual photos on the table and hanging on that blanket behind the display.  The blanket, with the large O, is an official blanket of some sort.  I wonder if it’s a very early Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket?  We know that Pendleton Woolen Mills, which opened in 1909, made official blankets that looked like this for OSU back as early as the 1940’s and they were given to athletes at the end of the season, but this would mean they may have made blankets for OSU well before that!  The couple trophies on the table appear to say “Stall Dean Championship Cup.”  I bet a close review of early yearbooks could help figure out what year this is from because we can see the style of hats and jerseys they wore in the picture.  What else do you see??? One thing is for sure, they were definitely proud of their team!

Baseball Display Table