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New York Football Giants 1941

1941 Giants Squad

When the Giants broke camp at Superior State Teachers College, Superior, Wisconsin, following an exhibition game with the Kenosha Cardinals at St. Thomas College field in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jack was one of 42 players to board the train for New York. The Giants arrived at Tarrytown, a resident suburb of New York City in Westchester County, on September 1, 1941, and went directly to their Blue Hill Country Club training camp at Pearl River. The team would stay at training camp until departing for the Polo Grounds to play the Eastern College All-Stars on Wednesday, September 3, at 8:30 p.m. The game was an annual affair to benefit the Herald-Tribune's Fresh Air Fund.

The Giants led by "Stout" Steve Owen in his 11th season as head coach humbled the All-Stars 23 to 3 before a record crowd for the series of 54,279. Coach Owen unveiled new speed and deception to augment the always-rugged Giants’ defense. Jack played in the third and fourth quarters. In the third period Nello Falaschi of the Giants intercepted a pass, and Jack threw the key block making it possible for Falaschi to score, Giants 17 and All-Stars 3. In the fourth quarter Jack recovered a fumble on the All-Star's nine-yard line, but the Giants failed to score. 

The fourth and final pre-season game was played against the Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Sunday afternoon, September 7. The Bears had won the NFL Championship in 1940. Jack played well, as did the Giants, but they lost in the fading minutes of the fourth quarter 14 to 8.  

On Monday night, September 8, the Giants returned to their training camp from Chicago, and Coach Owen announced morning and afternoon practices for Tuesday. The coaches worked the team in preparation for the season’s opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, and worked with management to cut 15-players from the squad to meet the league limit of 33. Six players had reported to the Giants from the Eastern All-Stars to boost the squad's number to 48. 

Jack was a talented athlete, and so were the 15 who would be cut. He was the essence of the fine young men who came out of the Depression with clarity of mind and good work ethics committed to being all in life he could be. When the Giants arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to play the Philadelphia Eagles of the Eastern division at Municipal Stadium on Saturday night, September 13, Jack was a freshman end with jersey number 29 on the Giants' 33-man roster. 

On Sunday afternoon, November 23, the Giants beat the Washington Redskins 20 to 13 at the Polo Grounds in New York to clinch the Eastern Division championship. The last game of the regular season would be played against the Brooklyn Dodgers on December 7, 1941. 

Arthur Daley and Louis Effrat, sports writers for The New York Times, with a tinge of Alfred Damon Runyon in their writing styles, hyped up fans interest and attendance for the final game of the regular season for the Giants and Dodgers. They did an outstanding job selling the contest as a grudge match: "It was the Brooks, who caught the Giants in a slump and upset them 16 to 13 on Sunday, October 26 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn that would be the object of revenge for the men from Coogan’s Bluff coached by Stout Steve." It was hard sell, and the prize was pride, but little else since the outcome was meaningless to either team's standings in the Eastern Division. The Giants scheduled Tuffy Leemans’ Day on the last game of the season. There would be a fitting ceremony prior to kickoff. Alphonse (Tuffy) Leemans was a member of the Giants’ backfield, an outstanding halfback/fullback, popular with the fans, and would be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978. The stage was set for a memorable game day at the Polo Grounds in New York.  

On Sunday 55,051 cheering fans were packed into the Polo Grounds at 157th Street and Eighth Avenue, setting an NFL season's attendance record. The kickoff was set for 2:00 p.m., and the presentation ceremony to honor Leemans for 1:30. But at 1:25, New York time, a carefully planned and rehearsed act of aggression began to unfold that would unite Americans from the East to West Coasts. At 7:55 a.m., Hawaiian time, bombs from Japanese carrier aircraft began falling on Wheeler Field, eight miles north and slightly west of Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. 

At 2:00 p.m. Ward Cuff kicked off to the Dodgers slicing the ball out of bounds. The Dodgers were relentless throughout the afternoon, and for the second time in the current season upset the Giants. The final score was 21 to 7. Radio reports of the Japanese strikes against Pearl Harbor were being broadcast before and during the game. Some fans knew of the attacks, others did not. The players were made aware from radios in the locker rooms. 

On December 8, a few minutes before 12:30 p.m., President Franklin Delano Roosevelt hobbled into the House chamber on the arm of his son Captain James Roosevelt, USMC. The Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn of Texas, introduced the President to the joint session of Congress, and at 12:30 the President gripping the lectern with both hands, and standing erect addressed the joint session of Congress for six-minutes and 30 seconds. 

Both houses of Congress approved the declaration of war against Japan in the record time of 33-minutes. Garrett Whiteside, clerk of the Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills, delivered it to the White House for the President’s signature. President Roosevelt signed the declaration of war at 4:10 p.m., December 8, 1941. 

With the United States officially at war, the NFL championship game on Sunday, December 21 was in jeopardy. The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers were tied for the Western Division title. A playoff game was scheduled on December 14 at Wrigley Field. On December 9 an article in The New York Times quoted Coach Steve Owen concerning the probability of losing some of his players to military service before December 21: “Last night, for instance, Jack Lummus, our freshman end from Baylor, who recently signed up with the Navy, was called for an interview (Jack joined the U.S. Naval Reserve on November 17, 1941, apparently he was being considered for active duty). He was sent back, but there is no way of telling when they will call him again.” 

Unlike the New York papers that cleverly hyped the game between the Giants and Dodgers drawing a season's record crowd, the Chicago papers played the NFL championship game between the Giants and Bears in the newspapers. So, on Saturday, December 20, the Bears were favored four to one. Tens of thousands of fans expecting a blowout did not buy tickets. 

On Sunday, December 21 at 1:00 p.m., CST, the Chicago Bears kicked off to the New York Giants to start play in the NFL championship game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Giants played a tough offensive and defensive game for the first half and seven minutes into the third quarter with the score tied 9 to 9. Then the Bears moved ahead by seven points, and suddenly the game was no longer in doubt. The Bears won their second NFL championship in a row, back-to-back, beating the Giants 37 to 9. 

Despite good football weather in Chicago paid attendance was 13,341, which was the smallest playoff crowd in history resulting in the smallest pool for players. The hope of a big payday vanished. Each winning player would receive $430.94, and each losing player $288.70. 

The 1941 Chicago Bears were billed as the "Monsters from the Midway," and touted as the greatest of all football teams. In Peter King’s Football: A History of the Professional Game, a Sports Illustrated book 1996, the best team from the years between the Depression and World War II, 1932 through 1943, was the Chicago Bears. King ranks them in fifth place in the ten greatest teams in professional football history. 

On Monday night, December 22, the Giants arrived in New York from Chicago at Grand Central Station. On Tuesday morning Jack, Clinton “Red” McClain and Howard "Howie" Yeager packed, made arrangements to ship their trunks home, and checked out of the Whitehall Hotel at 100 Street and Birey. It had been home for them for almost four-months. Leaving the Whitehall the trio stowed the remaining luggage in the trunk of Jack's Chevy, and climbed inside, one in the back and two in the front, to begin the 1,600 mile drive to Ennis, Texas. 

On Christmas Day before Christmas dinner, the road weary trio from New York drove into Ennis from Dallas on State Highway 75 turning right onto East Lampasas across Southern Pacific tracks linking Dallas to Houston and separating east from west to a white frame bungalow at 108 West Lampasas. Jack turned right onto the driveway running perpendicular to the street on the west side of the home of his parents and stopped. Jack, Red and Howie were on time, with healthy appetites, for Christmas dinner with Jack’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jackson Lummus Sr., and the three were  mobbed by Jack's relatives before they could reach the front porch.  

On Sunday, December 2, 1945 the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles played their final game of the regular season at the Polo Grounds in New York. The Giants dedicated the game to two teammates who lost their lives in World War II. Alfred C. "Al" Blozis was killed in the Vosges Mountains in Europe, and Jack Lummus died on Iwo Jima. A bronze tablet for each man was erected at the Polo Grounds, and unveiled in a ceremony before 45,000 fans.

In 1953 Coach Steve Owen of the New York Giants selected an All-Time Texans team. It was made up of the best Texas players since Timothy J. Mara founded the Giants in 1925:

Positions Players
Centers Riley Briggs, Baylor; Tex Coulter, West Point
Guards Tex Irvin, Cisco Junior College; Ox Parry, Baylor
Tackles Pete Cole, Trinity; Bill Edwards, Baylor
Ends Will Walls, TCU; Jack Lummus, Baylor
Quarterbacks Marion Pugh, Texas A&M; Emery Nix, TCU
Halfbacks Hugh Wolfe, Texas; Harrison Stafford, Texas; Harmon Rowe, Baylor; Randy Clay, Texas; Tom Landry, Texas; Kyle Rote, SMU
Fullback Ox Eckhardt, Texas

Jack began his association with the New York Football Giants on March 7, 1941 when he signed a Uniform Players Contract. Wellington Mara, the youngest son of Tim Mara, one of the founders of the Giants, was secretary of the organization, and signed for the Giants. Wellington's brother Jack was president and treasurer, and Steve Owen was head coach. 

In 1930 Tim Mara turned over ownership of the Giants to his two son's Jack then 22 and Wellington 14.

The death of Wellington Mara on October 25, 2005 at the age of 89 ended an era in the history of the New York Football Giants. Tim, Jack, Wellington and Steve are gone forever, but they will always be remembered as Giants of their day.

Jack Lummus Bio   Jack's Contract with Giants

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