Don's football days
Central High School, University of Maryland, Maryland AC

1929 Central High School Football Team - click on image for larger view - Don is 6th from right in middle row.
The first record we have of Don playing football is at Central High School. This was probably the start of his life-long friendship with golfing pal George Brandt, as George was the captain -- in the middle of the front row of the photo, holding the football, while Don is in the second row, sixth from the right. And, it was only when reviewing family photos that we found the 1902 photo of his father, Robert Hay (far left, back row), and article; it was a surprise to all his grandchildren that Robert Hay also played football for Central High School!

The 1929 sportlight: In football, the season started off disastrously. Our first opponent was Tech, champion of the previous year. The "Blue and White" team, under Captain Brandt, commenced well, with the men playing together, and showing a good spirit. Nevertheless, the breaks were against them, and although Central played its best, Tech won the game . . . the rest of the high school competitions were a series of victories. , , ,The Post-season game against Devitt was a disappointment . . . (see full quote)

1930 Central High School Yearbook
Don stated in his high school yearbook "The 1930 Brecky" that his interests were sports, radios and boats. He had been on the football team in '28 and '29, and on the track team in '28 and '29. There was nothing written about the track team in the yearbook, as it was a spring sport and the yearbook had gone to press before the track season. (Don had been on his junior high school track team as well.)

At Maryland, Don played football but not track or basketball. In the fall of 1930, Don played on the Freshman football team. They played five games, winning their first two and losing the last three, held scoreless. Don is listed as 6' tall, 160 pounds, age 18 (but only 5'10" the next year!). Don joined Sigma Nu fraternity this year, where about a third of the varsity football players were "brothers."

While the 1930 Varsity team had a good season, winning the majority of its games (7/12), and four of six Southern Conference games, it was the 1931 team, Coach Byrd's "Twentieth Season Special" that was touted as going down in the record books as one of the "greatest gridiron aggregations ever to represent the University of Maryland." What a thrill it must have been for Don to be one of only eight 1930 freshman players, out of 29, to be chosen to join this illustrious squad. Coach Curley Byrd welcomed Don to the team.

The 1931 team was decimated at the end of the year -- half of the team were seniors, and the talent loss was just too much to overcome in the 1932 season:

Maryland's Varsity football team, in the throes of rebuilding, lost six of its eleven games during the 1932 campaign. In the games it lost except to Virginia by one point, Maryland simply was up against much better and more experienced material. . . Curley Byrd never could find a line combination that came near matching the forwards of his major rivals. This was especially true of the ends. Not one of the seven men used on the wings at various times during the campaign was a high-class performer. Willis Benner, a Junior, was the leader of the bunch, but even he did not play regularly. . . Maryland played really bad football only in the Navy game and in the first half of the finale with Western Maryland. . .(see full quote and newspaper articles)

1934 Maryland University Yearbook
1933 letter
In the 1933 season, the Maryland team fared even worse, winning only three out of ten games, and held scoreless in four of them. Their biggest loss was to Duke, and it was before that game that the Maryland Senator Tydings wrote each Terrapin with encouragement. In the 1934 Reveille yearbook, Don is listed as an End, three years on the (Varsity) squad, 5-11, 163 pounds, age 21, but not as a letterman. However, his graduation banquet booklet does list him as a letterman in football, and he did have his "M."

Maryland's football team won only three of its ten games during the 1933 campaign. . . Two of Maryland's victories were scored in its last three contests. Hopkins was beaten on November 18 in Baltimore, 27 to 7, but the highlight of the campaign came a week later when Washington and Lee was handed a rude jolt on Homecoming Day with the count being 33 to 13. It probably was the biggest upset scored during the season in the South Atlantic section. That day, the old Liners would have been tough for any team in the South or East, and they showed their mettle by coming back and running rough shod over the Generals after they had two touchdowns scored on them early in the game. . . Maryland made a thrilling play against Duke that went down in the football record books as the greatest feat of its kind accomplished during the 1933 season. . . Another notable occurrence was the withdrawal from active coaching by H. C. (Curley) Byrd after twenty-one years of success. . . (see full quote and newspaper articles)

1934 Maryland A. C. - semi-pro team - click on image for larger view. Don third from left in back row
After college, Don was still desiring to play sports. Professional sports were in their infancy -- the Washington Redskins entered the NFL in 1932 as the Boston Braves, and only moved to Washington DC in 1937. So in the mid-thirties, there were many "semi-pro" leagues. Don played both semi-pro football (Maryland Athletic Club) for two years (1934 and 1935) and basketball for one year (1935), with Willis Benner from University of Maryland. Don was a starting Right End on the Maryland A.C. team in 1934, with the highlight of the season, and his football "career," being winning the city semi-pro championship. Ellie saved his newspaper clippings in a scrapbook. The two favorite stories the children remember are how they used to pass a hat around at halftime to get money to pay the players (although one article also says that they did sell tickets to the games -- perhaps to pay the umpires). The other story is that Don played both basketball and football, and sometimes the games conflicted. At least on one occasion, Don played the first three quarters of one game to rush to the other game and play the last three quarters of that!

After professional football came to Washington, DC in 1937, Don became a spectator rather than a participant. But he loved to attend games -- daughter Donna remembers going to a fabulous Redskins football game (in the 1960s where the Redskins came from behind with two touchdowns in the last four minutes) as well as a Maryland University basketball game with the Harlem Globetrotters at halftime. And a memorable game was watching the Redskins on December 8, 1941 when general after general was called out of the stands on Pearl Harbor Day -- it was clear that something important was going on in the War. Particularly in '60s and '70s, Don spent every Sunday watching his favorite teams on tv. He retained his membership in the University M Club all his life.