Friday, December 15, 2006

50 GREATEST GOLDEN BEARS - #16 - BOB HERWIG

#16 - BOB HERWIG - CENTER (1935-1937)
OK, how many of you are saying "Who?" That's what we love most about the 50 Greatest exercise - we uncover all sorts of great stories about Golden Bears whose legends have been lost to history.

Let's just say that Herwig was perhaps the toughest Golden Bear of them all. Everyone played both ways back then, but not everyone played sixty minutes. Herwig did, leading the Golden Bears in minutes played in both 1935 and 1937. He was by most accounts Cal's best tackler on a 1937 Rose Bowl champion team that allowed five touchdowns and 33 points all season. On offense, he was a superb snapper in an era when the the center was called on to snap the ball to any one of four potential ball handlers. He made one of the great hustle plays in pre-war Cal history when he took a lateral from teammate Willard Dolman in for the winning score in Cal's 13-7 upset of USC in Los Angeles in 1936.

Bill Leiser wrote this about Herwig and his mates in The Chronicle following their conquest of USC in 1937: "Along with the 75,000 who watched, the Trojans themselves are wondering where, if anywhere in the land, is a team which can stop the roll of California's Thunder Team.'' The thunder started up front with Bob Herwig. Three times Herwig was voted all-PCC, and twice he was named to the first team All-America team. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1964.

Still not convinced? OK, Herwig is also perhaps the most decorated Golden Bear athlete in military history. He won the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf clusters for gallant service in the South Pacific. This Time Magazine article briefly details his heroics in Okinawa and Guam during the War. A tough guy, a hero, and a great Golden Bear.

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It's hard to imagine anyone who better represents the "Greatest Generation" label. Following up on the historic Time Magazine blurb you linked, it seems Herwig's one-time wife, Kathleen Winsor, was a no less fascinating Cal alum.

 
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