Wedey's Traveling Football Show:
The 1948 Wedemeyer All-Star Tour
Members of Herman Wedemeyer's All-Star team that will face the Leilehuas
at Honolulu Stadium are pictured as they arrived at the Honolulu airport.
Standing on the stairs, top to bottom, are Bill Ross, Stanford; John
Tsarnas, University of San Francisco; Joe Daugherty, University of San
Francisco; Ainslie Bell, Stanford; Denis O'Connor, St. Mary's. In the
front row, left to right: Frank Carrillo, St. Mary's; Ted Kenfield,
California; Herman Wedemeyer, St. Mary's; Ed Ryan, St. Mary's; Jim Cox,
Stanford; George Quist, Stanford; Harry Agler, California; and Harry
Pieper, California. (Honolulu Advertiser photo).
Now here's a bit of football history! This collection of clippings
showcases the Wedemeyer All-Star team, a barnstorming tour of mainland
players vs. Hawaii players that took place in January, 1948. The All-Stars
played three games with Hawaii's semi-pro teams, the Leilehuas and the
Vandals, winning two and tying one.
These gems are new finds from the O'Connor estate. Thanks once more
goes to Brian O'Connor, son of late St. Mary's quarterback Denis O'Connor,
for sharing this great material, and his brother Matthew for unearthing
it. The files can be downloaded in their entirety in a zip
file (9.6 Mb).
Wedey's Stars Play Leilehua Today
Hawaii's long football season comes to a resounding close today at the
Honolulu Stadium when Herman Wedemeyer leads his All-Stars against the
Leilehuas, with the kickoff set for 2:30 p.m.
The All-Stars nosed out Chin Do Kim's Vandals, 28-20, in a spectacular
game last week. Wedemeyer and his players are determined not to suffer
the fate of other aggregations from the Mainland, who looked good in their
first contest here and then got knocked off by the Leilehuas in the finale.
It's the last collegiate game for Wedemeyer, who will formally affix
his signature to a two-year Los Angeles Dons' contact when he returns
to the mainland. The contract reportedly called for close to $30,000 for
the two seasons. The Oakland club of the Pacific Coast Baseball League
is also seeking his services for next spring.
Chips From Diamond Head
By Dan McGuire
The starting line-up of the Herman Wedemeyer All-Stars.
Front row, left to right: Ed Ryan, St. Mary's, end; Jim Cox, Stanford,
tackle; John Tsarnas, University of San Francisco, guard; Harry Pieper,
California, center; Joe Daughtery, University of San Francisco, guard;
Bill Ross, Stanford, tackle; and Harry Agler, California, end. Second
row, left to right: Ted Kenfield, California, right half; Denny O'Connor,
St. Mary's, fullback; Ainslie Bell, Stanford, quarterback; Herman Wedemeyer,
St. Mary's, halfback. (Honolulu Advertiser photo).
When we first saw Mr. Dennis [actually spelled Denis - ed.] O'Connor,
he weighed 85 pounds, played a trumpet and was the cheer-leader at St.
Mary's Prep in Berkeley. He was even too light to play on the lightweight
football team. So he led the yells. And we can report from first-hand
knowledge that when Dennis whipped his partisans into a frenzy with the
P-A-N-T-H-E-R chant, the team usually went out and racked up a quick six.
By the time he was a senior Denny had growed and growed until he was
all over 135 pounds. So he became a quarterback and was rated as the best
blocker, pound for pound, that ever trod upon an Alameda County greensward.
Came the war and Dennis, living up to the fighting traditions of the
O'Connors--a clan who defeated everyone else in Ireland except a clan
whose name we decline to mention because of modesty--joined the Army Air
In August 1944, they thanked him for his services, slipped him an honorable
discharge and dropped him right back into the lap of Mr. James Merlin
... the undermanned Gaels played a suicide schedule against schools that
had scads of material from the Navy V-12 trainees. Dennis took his bumps
and bruises without a murmur, hurling his 160 pounds into the slight cracks
that his linemen opened up in the opposing forward walls. St. Mary's wound
up the season by playing Fleet City, which had the greatest collection
of football players ever gathered under one tent.
Dennis spent the afternoon being tackled by such rugged gentlemen as
Bruiser Kinard, the one-man tornado from Mississippi. He also backed up
his own line on defense. Fleet City, favored to win by 60 points, finished
ahead 26-0, and St. Mary's had every right to consider it a moral victory.
Things changed for the better in 1945. The elusive Mr. Herman Wedemeyer--for
whose All-Stars Dennis is playing this afternoon at the Stadium--returned
to Moraga and the Gaels surprised themselves by landing in the Sugar Bowl.
Dennis was galloping down the field as if he were being chased by banshees
from the ould sod. Bob Fenimore, Oklahoma A&M's All-American, was
playing safety and was momentarily startled by the sight of the wild-eyed
Irishman bearing down on him. Before Fenimore knew what was going on,
O'Connor was past him and was gathering in a 50-yard pass from Wedey for
the first touchdown of the game.
We believe that must have been the highlight of Denny's career.
The lad has a charming tenor voice, not quite as polished as John McCormick,
of course, but when he sings that one about how Ireland got its name there
isn't a dry eye in the crowd.
So it's off to the Stadium we'll go this afternoon to see Dennis do some
quarterbacking against the Leilehuas, who would like nothing better than
to knock off the famed Mr. Wedemeyer and his talented companions.
A Momentous Occasion for Mr. Wedemeyer
By Dan McGuire
'Twill be a rather momentous occasion for Mr. Herman Wedemeyer when he
leads his All-Stars into battle against the determined Leilehuas at the
Stadium this afternoon.
Wally Dupont of the Leilehuas gives the Wedemeyer back
field a run for its money.
It will be the third and last time that Wedey has appeared before his
hometown fans as a college football player. His first two showings--with
St. Mary's against the U. of Hawaii in September and with the All-Stars
when they nosed out the Leilehuas last Sunday--did not make the assemblages
stand on their heads in wonder.
It's been a case of expecting miracles from a man who has received more
acclaim and publicity than any other athlete in Hawaii's history. When
he didn't clip off 60 and 70 yard runs every time he carried the ball
against the University and the Leilehuas, some of the fans began wondering
if all those stories they had been reading were actually about some fictitious
The fact remains that Wedey's spirit and determination carried St. Mary's
to a 27-7 victory over the Rainbows after Tommy Kaulukukui's aggregation
had dominated the first half. His leadership was again evident against
the Leilehuas as the All-Stars fought grimly for a 28-20 decision.
A marked man on every play, Wedey used himself as a decoy to set up at
least two All-Star touchdowns. And when he refused to leave the game after
suffering a severe leg cramp in the fourth quarter, the audience gave
him the finest ovation of the day. They knew he was in there trying his
darndest to break away.
... the All-Star offense, polished with the help of co-coaches Johnny
McColgan and Joe Kaulukukui, should bring out the best in backs like Ted
Kenfield of California, Ainslie Bell of Stanford and Denny O'Connor of
Ted Kenfield of California making a long run against
Johnny Mac, whose knowledge of football has made him highly respected
by the All-Stars, made an impressive little talk at the end of Friday's
workout at the Stadium. Johnny expressed his thanks at the players' willingness
to drill hard every day despite the never-ending round of hospitality
to which they have been exposed.
"It is to your own protection to be in the best condition possible for
Sunday's game," he continued. "The fans who pay their way in expect every
man to play up to expectations. You are one of the swellest group of fellows
I've ever met and I know you won't let us down." ...
Denny O'Connor, who steals the show with his dulcet tenor tonsils no
matter where he goes, will sing "The Bells of St. Mary's" before the opening
kickoff today. The St. Louis College band will be out in full force under
the direction of Brother August. ...
From the Game Program
Herman Wedemeyer returns today to the scene of his first headline-stealing
feats as he leads his mighty All-Stars from the Pacific Coast against
Coach Chin Do Kim's fast and rugged Leihehuas.
Some of the All-Stars (left) and Vandals (right).
When St. Louis College won the Honolulu Interscholastic football championship
in 1941 and 1942 under the guiding hand of Johnny McColghan, it was Hurricane
Herman who supplied the running, passing and kicking that carried the
Crusaders to their greatest seasons of recent years.
Wedey landed at St. Mary's in the fall of 1943 and as an allegedly "green"
freshman swiped the sports page superlatives from more established players.
He was a unanimous choice for All-Coast halfback.
Absent from the gridiron in 1944 due to war service, Herman returned
to St. Mary's in 1945 to spark the Galloping Gaels to their all-time dream
season. And although the Oklahoma [A&M] Aggies defeated St. Mary's,
32-13, in the Sugar Bowl of Jan. 1, 1946, Wedey stood so far above the
other players that Grantland Rice, dean of the sports scribes, named him
America's outstanding all-around athlete for 1945.
Wedey led the Gaels to another post-season classic in '46--the Oil Bowl
at Houston--where St. Mary's was vanquished by Georgia Tech.
Jimmy Phelan's gridiron empire at Moraga collapsed the past season as
St. Mary's captured only three games. But from the deep vale of sorrow
came the cry that Wedemeyer could prove he was the same Squirmin' Herman
if he could operate behind a stronger forward wall.
Local fans who saw the Gaels defeat the University of Hawaii here last
September realized that the visitors' line was surprisingly weak. Wedey
became more of an All-American than ever in the eyes of his thousands
of fans as week after week he took physical beatings unflinchingly and
never stopped trying.
Came the Shrine East-West benefit game at San Francisco New Year's Day
and the prediction that Wedey would come through with an outstanding performance
came true. He was named the West's most valuable player. ...