ARC recalls champions of the '50s

Richmond Academy to hold reunion of championship teams

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011 3:26 PM
Last updated Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011 2:11 AM
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Traditions were strong at Richmond Academy in the 1950s. Before games, the baseball team sang The Lord’s Prayer.

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The 1950s were a golden era for Richmond Academy athletics. The school won seven state titles in baseball, six in boys golf, three in .22 rifle, two in football and one in boys track.  FILE
FILE
The 1950s were a golden era for Richmond Academy athletics. The school won seven state titles in baseball, six in boys golf, three in .22 rifle, two in football and one in boys track.

The team’s beloved coach, A.L. Williams, would often tell his players their opponent – especially when it was from the Savannah, Ga. area – didn’t know how good the Musketeers were because its players couldn’t read.

So he told his boys it was the team’s job to show just how good Richmond Academy was.

More often than not, the players came through, as the Musketeers did something else just as habitually: winning championships. A lot of them.

The baseball team won seven consecutive state championships from 1951-1957 as part of a decade of athletic dominance at Richmond Academy.

This Friday, when the Musketeers football team plays Greenbrier, Richmond Academy will honor athletes from the memorable decade that saw seven state titles in baseball, six in boys golf, three in .22 rifle, two in football and one in boys track, according to the Georgia High School Association’s Web site.

“A lot of us came from the wrong side of the tracks,” 1954-56 baseball team member Cliff Channell said. “Almost everybody has gone on in life and done very well. (Williams) taught us to never give up – keep hustling. If you keep hustling everything works out.”

Duane Grice played on three state championship baseball teams and on the 1951 football squad that went 11-1 and beat O’Keefe in the state final.

Grice, who also played basketball, still wears the gold-square watch he got when the 1951 Musketeers football team, coached by Harry Milligan, played in the Peanut Bowl against Agawam (Mass.) on New Year’s Day in Columbus. It doesn’t matter Richmond Academy lost that game.

Under Frank Inman, the Musketeers later won a second state title in football in 1956, which was one of the rare times they didn’t beat Boys Catholic – now known as Aquinas. The two tied 0-0 that year and traditionally met Thanksgiving afternoon, when overflow crowds were the norm.

Of all the players to dress for Richmond Academy in the 1950s, including former Auburn head football coach Pat Dye, none had the same experience David Milligan had.

As the starting quarterback and son of the head coach, David Milligan believed it when he said his father was ahead of his time, especially when it comes to offense.

The younger Milligan remembered a game against Athens in the mid 1950s, when Fran Tarkenton quarterbacked Athens.

In those days, offenses were usually run, run and run. If that failed, maybe coaches would think about passing.

But Richmond Academy was different – in the second half, the Musketeers decided to experiment with the shotgun formation. David Milligan said he counted 14 pass attempts on the game film.

“He was way ahead of his time as coaches go,” David Milligan said about his father. “Nobody threw the ball much. “

On the diamond, players like Channell and future Major Leaguer Jack Fisher kept the wins coming. Channell estimated a three-year record of 82-2 when he played under coach Williams.

For the former players, their time with Richmond Academy went down as an era of athletic dominance.

“It’s something you wear like a badge,” Grice said. “You enjoy talking to people about it. It’s just something I’ll always cherish. It was an honor.”

Comments (15) Add comment
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Chillen
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Chillen 08/31/11 - 03:19 pm
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Look at the helmets! No

Look at the helmets! No facemasks, just a chin strap; and they are tiny. My Dad wore a football helmet just like that in the 1950's.

What a cool picture. Days gone by........

scorehouse
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scorehouse 08/31/11 - 03:49 pm
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would be nice to see the
Unpublished

would be nice to see the names of all the players

hockeymann
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hockeymann 08/31/11 - 05:00 pm
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I remember the 50's as a Boys

I remember the 50's as a Boys Catholic and Aquinas fan. We beat Richmond in 1954,14-13, with a near blind guy kicking our PAT's; tied them in 1956, 0-0, (a year they beat most others and
won the state championship), and beat them again in 1957 9-6. Go Irish!

corgimom
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corgimom 08/31/11 - 05:57 pm
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I'd love to see the list,

I'd love to see the list, too.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 08/31/11 - 06:42 pm
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Y'all remember Derwent
Unpublished

Y'all remember Derwent Langley? 1940's?

walrus4ever
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walrus4ever 08/31/11 - 06:46 pm
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Go Musketeers. Class of 70.

Go Musketeers. Class of 70.

ARC fan
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ARC fan 08/31/11 - 08:21 pm
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I have the names of all the

I have the names of all the players that I can send to the paper tomorrow (if this story is still active tomorrow).
No idea tonight how many will attend because of Labor Day weekend issue. All 50's and 60's alumni are encouraged to attend - some BCHS guys have even been invited.

ARC fan
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ARC fan 08/31/11 - 08:42 pm
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We have many more pictures

We have many more pictures that will be showing in the Media Center as a slide show before the game. Plus we will have a DVD of three games from the mid-50's. One is against Fran Tarkenton when he played for Athens against ARC and another is the 1956 State Championship game against Northside (Stan Gann). The picture above is of Coach Harry (Sack) Milligan - probably 1950 or 1951.

ARC fan
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ARC fan 09/01/11 - 09:11 am
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They changed pictures on me -

They changed pictures on me - the one showing now is definitely from the 1956 Thanksgiving Day game. The player carrying the football is probably Ray Grubbs. The game as "Hockeymann" says above it was a 0-0 tie. After Richmond continued on and won the state Denny Leonard said that meant that BCHS was co-state champions.

Grayboy
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Grayboy 09/01/11 - 09:21 am
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I, too would love to see the

I, too would love to see the names of all the players. My brother Lawrence Wren played on the 55 & 56 State Champions Baseball team. My younger brother Marvin Wren also played on later teams.

ARC fan
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ARC fan 09/01/11 - 10:01 am
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Grayboy - Lawrence was one of

Grayboy - Lawrence was one of the guys I could not find. The list I sent to the Chronicle is only those that I was able to track down and send invitations to - please make him aware as well as Marvin who I believe is in Florida. And please consider attending the reunion yourself.
(I believe Wayne will post the list later today).

j-campbell
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j-campbell 09/01/11 - 11:47 am
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Interestingly, the only two

Interestingly, the only two football games that Richmond lost in that championship 1956 season were to two SC teams: North Augusta and Camden Academy, both by a score of 13-7. Following Coach Leonard's logic, N.A. would also share in that 1956 Georgia State Championship. :) I do know that many North Augustans were proud of Richmond for winning that championship. What a wonderful rivalry that was.

Good luck with your reunion, guys, and Go N.A. Yellow Jackets!

ARC fan
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ARC fan 09/01/11 - 12:51 pm
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j-campbell - we don't count

j-campbell - we don't count the Camden game - the coach(Billy Seigler) and a third of the players were ARC graduates (Camden was a prep school). The NA game still hurts to this day. And I do believe Cally Gault also joked about being co-champions of Georgia at a banquet after the season.
No explanation of how you tie a small school such as BCHS and then the following two weeks upset two powerhouse teams such as Lanier and Northside.

j-campbell
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j-campbell 09/01/11 - 11:59 pm
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ARC fan, you're right about

ARC fan, you're right about Cally Gault's remarks. That 1956 loss to N.A. stuck in Frank Inman's craw, too. I was distantly related to Coach Inman through my paternal grandmother, and I knew him pretty well from having attended the Athens Y Camp both as a camper and as a staff member. Inman was one of the camp's directors. One of the other staff members during my first year at the Athens Y Camp was a player on that 1956 N.A. team named Richard Payne, and he had a N.A. yearbook with him at camp that contained a photo of Bill Kenworthy returning a punt for a TD (75 yards, I believe). In the photo, you could see Pat Dye stretched out in mid air, horizontal to the ground with his arms outstretched. Payne loved to show that photo around whenever Coach Inman's 1956 state championship came up in conversation. Inman would always say, "Dye was supposed to make that tackle . . . he never should have gotten past Dye." It drove Coach Inman crazy that Pat didn't stop Kenworthy.

As you recall, because of the huge crowds attracted by those games, they were always played at ARC stadium. Several years ago we had a reunion of all of Cally Gault's players at North Augusta, and as part of that reunion we held a golf outing at the River Club. The evening's activities were scheduled to be held at Lion's Field in North Augusta where we had played N.A.'s home games. Coach Inman had been invited and showed up at the golf course with, as I recall, Jimmy Whitehead and I believe, Larry Baynham. A good sized group of us all shot the breeze for an hour or so, and as that gathering was breaking up, in Frank Inman's presence, I told Larry to make sure Coach Inman was given a map to Lion's Field as I was sure he had never been there before and we didn't want him to get lost. Everyone but Coach Inman thought that was funny as hell. As I said in my earlier post, that was a wonderful rivalry between two very good football programs.

ARC fan
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ARC fan 09/02/11 - 08:02 am
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j-campbell - please join us

j-campbell - please join us tonight and bring a Baynham or two with you.
Ned and Larry and Sam Anderson were at the Inman Field dedication a couple of years ago.

j-campbell
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j-campbell 09/02/11 - 01:02 pm
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Thanks for the kind

Thanks for the kind invitation, but I don't think I'll be able to make it. Besides, I'm a little younger than you guys. I played my senior year (not as a starter) on Cally's last team at N.A. in 1962. All of y'all -- on both sides of the river -- were my football heroes as a kid.

There will be plenty of Baynhams in town, though. Sadly, Marilyn Baynham Anderson (75) died, and her visitation is tonight with her funeral being tomorrow.

Y'all have a ball, and tell Grice and Channel I said, "Hello."

j-campbell
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j-campbell 09/02/11 - 12:59 pm
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I just remembered another

I just remembered another anecdote involving the Richmond-Boys Catholic/Aquinas rivalry. Jack Keane, who was from North Augusta, played for BCHS/Aquinas and was awarded a game ball from one of their rare wins over Richmond. This ball was obviously a treasured possession as he "gave" it as a token of his affection to the older sister of a neighbor and one of my best friends in North Augusta whom he was dating at the time. One afternoon, her brother and I (who were about 11 years old at the time) took the ball from her room and were kicking and passing it out in the street in front of their house when she and Jack came home. That formerly pristine ball was skinned up something awful from bouncing along the paved street. We both ran like hell, and I'm not sure who we were more afraid would catch us, the sister or Jack.

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