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Today's Tidbit... The 1947 Navy Day Football Game
Navy Day used to be celebrated on October 27. That changed in 1950 when Navy Day parties and balls were moved to October 13 in recognition of the Navy's founding by the Continental Congress on October 13, 1775.
There is a long U.S. Navy tradition of football games between ship crews and bases, with football games on Navy Day being part of that tradition. With the Navy and Marines having major operations in and around San Diego, a game between the Camp Pendleton Marines and San Diego Naval Air in San Diego's Balboa Stadium made perfect sense in 1947.
Such a game would not attract much attention today, but it attracted the largest sports crowd to that point in San Diego's history, with 40,000 attendees and 10,000 more turned away. Among those witnessing the contest were Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and California Governor and future Chief Justice Earl Warren. The Navy and Marines welcomed Warren despite his serving in the Army during the Great War.
Both teams were undefeated and playing for the Eleventh Naval District Championship. Pendleton, 5-0, had outscored opponents 168 to 6, while Naval Air was 7-0 after besting their opponents 192 to 19. The teams achieved comparable scores against their only common opponent, Ream Field, now known by the harmonious name, Naval Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Imperial Beach.
While you might think the flier football team would attack via the aerial route, they won the game in the trenches, opening large holes for their running backs and earning a TD in each of the first three quarters. The Marines managed a single touchdown and left on the downside of the 20 to 7 score.
After leading his team to the championship, Navy quarterback Fran Kluewer earned a spot on the all-conference team.
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