Errant clock favored the Tigers

It was early afternoon Friday, October 25, 1957. I was a senior at Ohio University. I hopped into my tired old 1947 Lincoln and headed toward Massillon. I had to cut my afternoon classes, but I felt it would be worth it.

The Washington High School’s Massillon Tigers were going to meet with my alma mater’s Warren G. Harding High Panthers at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger stadium. I knew it would be one great game. The Warren Panthers, under the tutelage of Coach Gene Slaughter, were number one in the state and they were up against Jim Tressel’s dad, Massillon’s Coach Lee Tressel.

Warren Harding had seldom won any game over Massillon on the Tigers’ home turf (not since 1944), but I felt that we would beat them this time right in their own back yard.

I had dinner with my dad’s boss and his wife at his beautiful home in Massillon while we waited for the charter bus from Warren to arrive. When it arrived, it was loaded with all sorts of business and medical professionals, important politicians and my parents. All were dyed-in-the-wool Panthers fans.

At the game, Dad’s boss had reserved a block of tickets for us (as he did every year when Warren played there) in just about the perfect spot right on the 50 yard line. The continuing problem was that the seats were all on the Massillon side.

Every time we would cheer for the Panthers, the Massillon fans would try to shout us down and would glower at us.

One Massillon fan, a lady wearing an odd-looking hat, sat directly in front of me a few rows down. She would turn around and stick out her tongue at me every time I would cheer loudly for our team.

As some who were around in those days will remember, the teams were tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter, and the clock was winding down. Maybe Warren wasn’t going to win, but a tie would most likely keep us in the running for a number one state ranking.

Then as that digital game clock came up to less than one minute left to play, we all stared in jaw-dropping, incredulous disbelief as we watched the numbers on that scoreboard add a full minute of game time! There was quite a rumpus among that Warren block that was on the Massillon side. We were all hollering that we believed the clock was wrong!

The lady in front turned around once more to stick out her tongue at me. In my exasperated state, I said to her, “Lady, your hat is just about the ugliest hat I have ever seen!”

She turned back around and never stuck out her tongue at me again in spite of the fact that Massillon won the game 20-14 in that extra minute endowed to Massillon by that errant clock. We wuz robbed!

There are several different versions floating around of what had happened to that game clock. In spite of the gentlemanly protests of Coach Gene Slaughter, who reviewed the erratic behavior of the clock after the game, the 20-14 final score stood.

Since my memory of that evening varies a bit from that of others, I sought the help of friend Bob Balson, who was a Harding sophomore and present at the time. He has Googling powers far in excess of mine, even being able to find An October 26,1957, article in the Massillon Independent written by sports writer Charlie Powell. He very biasedly (in my opinion) reported about that quirky clock and how the game ended.

After the game, I said goodbye to the charter bus load of disgruntled fans from Warren, and drove in silence back to Athens. I thought back to the lady in the ugly hat. Maybe she felt great about her Tigers winning the game, but I was pretty sure she would never wear that hat again!

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com