For the fails-to-excite-the-money-people print version of Washington City Paper, I wrote yet again about the 1954 City Championship football game, which featured St. John’s vs. a team of All-Stars from the District’s public high schools. That was the first integrated schoolboy game in D.C. history.
A nutshell background: Despite the recent Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling banning segregration, in the fall of 1954 D.C. schools still had either all black or all white football teams, and because the Supreme Court’s decision came too late to overhaul the schedule that year, the black squads didn’t play the white squads all season. Previously, the best team from a white public school faced the Catholic Schools division champ.
But to acknowledge the dawning of a new age, the public school’s representative in the 1954 city title game melded the best players from black schools with the best players from white schools. So the All-Stars that faced the Johnnies at Griffith Stadium on Dec. 4, 1954 made up the first integrated team in the city.
Among the folks I felt honored to talk to about that game was Morgan Wootten. Wootten is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame through his amazing career coaching hoops at DeMatha.
But in 1954, Wootten was a football coach. The St. John’s J.V. football coach.
Wootten’s seen his share of momentous sporting events. He counts the St. John’s/All-Star game among them.
“You could tell this was a really big event, something long overdue,” Wootten recalls. “The players felt they were part of a great happening, like it was historic. And, it turned out to be a great, great game.”
(AFTER THE JUMP: Morgan Wootten’s old boss loves Old Blue Eyes? The Washington Post dredges up Rod Langway’s pucked up past? The Post says cheaters really do prosper in DCIAA football?)
Yes, indeed. The D.C. All-Stars upset powerful St. John’s, 12-7, with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Dan Droze of all-white Anacostia to Dave Harris of all-black Cardozo.
For more on Droze and Harris, pick up a paper!
I also called Morgan Wootten’s mentor and coaching boss from back in 1954, Joe Gallagher, for the story. He’s 88 years old now.
When Gallagher answered the phone one morning last week, he apologized for how loud his hi-fi was playing in the background.
So I asked: Who you listening to?
“Sinatra,” Gallagher said as he turned down the tunes. I love that.
Feel bad story of the day: Rod Langway and the “daughter by genes” that the former Washington Capitals captain has no relationship with, other than $700 a month child support payments.
It’s not easy to sympathize with Langway. But it’s harder to understand why the teenage girl’s mother let her talk to the Washington Post’s Mark Giannotto, who got everybody in the mess to spill their guts.
Like a bloody MMA match, Giannatto’s story will keep you riveted even though the whole time you know that before it’s over you’re gonna feel real bad.
Real weird story in yesterday’s Washington Post about Ballou’s football program. I’m pretty sure Ballou Coach Moses Ware admits again and again and again in the article to cheating when he got the job at his alma mater a few years ago.
Just two days before the 2006 DCIAA playoffs began, Ballou was ruled ineligible for using players who were not meeting academic standards. The following day, Clifford B. Janey, the superintendent of D.C. schools at the time, upheld Ballou’s appeal, saying the challenge lodged by another school to investigate Ballou wasn’t filed in time, rendering the challenge null.
Janey acknowledged, however, the player was, in fact, ineligible. Ballou was allowed back into the playoffs.
“I guess you could say we went free agency for a quick fix for one year” in 2006, Ware said, “but then we went into the draft to develop.”
And what was Ware’s punishment for ignoring DCIAA’s eligibility and residency rules? Well, a revitalized football team and multiple appearances in the Turkey Bowl. Or, no punishment whatsover.
What a city!