Thursday, September 25, 2014

White Plains' Loucks: One of Yale's Best

White Plains' Dean Loucks '57 (R) was named by Yale as one of the 67 best Yale players to have played in the Yale Bowl, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary this season.
For any college-football fan with a heartbeat and a sense of history, particularly a respect for the long-time contributions of the Ivy League, every trip to the Yale Bowl results in a "wow" moment. Walk through the stadium portals and down the long tunnel toward the field. All of a sudden, notice the open, expansive green space below, surrounded by a huge oval of thousands of blue seats.

Impressive today, just as it was back in 1914 when the Bowl opened those portals for the first time and was recognized then as the largest football arena in the country.  (The miles of blue seats for much of the Bowl's history were gray).

Yale celebrates the Bowl's 100th anniversary this football season. While doing so, the athletic department has decided to present its all-century team, the best Yale football players to have played in the Bowl. The chore in selecting such a team would be difficult. How do you compare an Albie Booth '32 of the 1930's with Eric Johnson '01, who played and caught passes over 60 years later? But why not? Heisman trophy winner Clint Frank '38 trampled on the same field that Calvin Hill '69 did three decades later.

So an all-Yale Bowl team was selected and will be unveiled during the course of the season. Yale is calling it the "all-Era" team; 67 players were selected.  Last week, Yale announced the best Yale players from 1938-58 (with help and input from Yale football historians, old coaches, and fans who provided input on the team's website).  Dean Loucks '57, a White Plains native, was included on the latest list.

Loucks, a safety and quarterback, during a period when players seldom came off the field (no "two-platooning"), helped lead Yale to a convincing 42-14 win over Harvard in The Game, 1956, in Boston.  Loucks and teammates finished the season with an 8-1 record and an Ivy League championship. It was one of Yale's best squads ever. (Three of his teammates from his Yale years are also included on the list of Yale's best ever.)

At Yale, Loucks led the team in passing for all three of his varsity years. Loucks would go on to coach the Fordham Rams in the early 1970's and, this fall, will attend 100th-anniversary celebrations at the Bowl, stepping on familiar ground, where he and teammates whipped Harvard, 21-7, in  The Game, 1955.


The Journal News in Westchester reported, Oct. 22, that Loucks died Oct. 17 at age 79. In tributes to him, Richard Berger, who played for him when Loucks coached the White Plains High School football team in 1960-68, said, "Dean was a dedicated taskmaster.  One of the things he used to do, we would be out well past dark practicing.  He and the coaches would bring their cars out on the field and use their headlights so that we could practice in the dark."

Richard Gardella, a teammate, said, "He was way ahead of his time in quarterbacking intelligence. He called a lot of his plays at the line of scrimmage after looking at the defense."

Loucks was selected for the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

James Banner, Jr. '57 paid tribute to his Yale classmate Loucks in a message Oct. 27 to the Class of '57.  He wrote, "We knew him in college principally as an athlete and as one who sported a notable crew cut among other crew-cut fellows."

Banner (with assistance from classmate Bob Barton '57) recounted Yale's 14-12 unexpected victory over Army in 1956 and Louck's touchdown pass to Paul Lopata '57:  "This kind of feat was achieved in the face of something that few knew--that Dean was born without the use of his right arm. But it was with that very arm, through surgery, strengthening, and practice, that he later led (Yale in the win over Army). Stories have it that, also a boxer, Dean and a Brown player had a go at each other in a 1956 game, which got them both ejected."

Banner added, "But he must have learned a lesson from such collegiate hot-headedness, for in a later White Plains game with Hillhouse High and by now known on the White Plains campus as a taskmaster coach, he pulled his school's team off the field when comity deteriorated and tempers flew."

Banner reports that donations in Loucks' memory should be made to the Glenn D. Loucks Track Meet (which honors Loucks' father), c/o Daniel Woodward, White Plains High School, 550 North Street, White Plains NY 10605.

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