During my retirement I have spent a lot of time researching the lives and careers of GREAT ND men. I’ve particularly looked for those who might not be well known. Six days a week I play either Bridge or Golf. ND has produced an all-time great in each field. The most famous father and son combination in duplicate bridge was Oswald and Jim Jacoby. Here’s some info about Jim’s bridge skills from his obituary:
Jacoby, James (Jim)
1933 – 1991
Jim Jacoby and his father, the legendary Oswald Jacoby, were the first father-son combination to win a national championship. Fittingly, they are the first father-son combination elected to the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame.
The two co-authored the Jacoby transfer bid and the Jacoby 2NT convention, both widely used in tournament play. They wrote several books and a syndicated newspaper column, Jacoby on Bridge.
Jacoby (1933-1991) teamed up with his father and three other Texas greats — Ben Fain, George Heath and Paul Hodge — to win the NABC Open Teams championship for the Chicago Trophy (now the Reisinger) in 1955. He was 22 years old.
Over the next three decades, he won 15 more North American championships, four world championships and four silver medals in international competition. Jacoby was one of the first American players to become a Grand Master in the rankings of the World Bridge Federation.
In 1968 Jacoby became a charter member of the Aces, a professional team put together by the late Ira Corn for the express purpose of returning the team championship to the United States .
During the years Jacoby was with the Aces, the team won the Bermuda Bowl in 1970 and 1971 and was second in the World Team Olympiad in 1972 and the Bermuda Bowl in 1973.
“Jacoby was one of the most underrated players around,” said teammate and partner Bobby Wolff. “He was much stronger analytically than people gave him credit for and he was a very good partner.”
Jacoby, Wolff added, “loved to play bridge. He loved the tournament scene. He would play at sectionals just to play bridge.”
Mike Lawrence, another of the original Aces, remembered Jacoby as “very good with tough hands. He was capable of some plays that were really impressive.”
Jacoby won the Grand National Teams championship in 1981 and again in 1986. The latter team went on to win the 1988 U.S. Bridge Championship (team trials) and in October 1988 became the first-ever U.S. team to win the World Team Olympiad.
Bob Hamman, who played with Jacoby on that team, said his friend was always a tough competitor. “When you were in a game with Jimmy, either with him or against him, there would be some bruises inflicted,” said Hamman.
He recalled that their Texas team was down by 38 IMPs with 16 boards to go in the GNT semifinal in Toronto when he and Jacoby turned it up a notch. “We had a crusher at our table.” Said Hamman, “and we won by 1 IMP.”
Dan Morse, non-playing captain of the 1988 Olympic championships, commented, “There never was a person more dedicated to bridge than Jim Jacoby. He was an excellent ambassador for bridge. He loved the game.”
At the time of his death, Jacoby was the fifth-ranked ACBL Life Master with a career total of 25, 226 points. He won the Barry Crane Top 500 in 1988, one of only three players to win the contest and a world title the same year.
Jacoby was a graduate of Notre Dame. His outside interests included backgammon, sports and opera.
Wolff said Jacoby was an accomplished backgammon player, whose propensity for last-minute, game-winning rolls of the dice earned him the nickname “Hero.”
The nickname stuck through the years. In fact, said Wolff, “my daughter still refers to him as Uncle Hero.”’
One of the things I like noting about this classmate of Paul Hornung was that on a couple occasions…………..Jacoby was not the #1 ranked player on the Notre Dame campus!
Here’s someone from the world of golf:
Wisconsin golf legend Tommy Veech – 'the best I've ever seen' – dies at age 88
Gary D'Amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 17, 2018
Tommy Veech watches his shot at the Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., in 2001.(Photo: File photo)
Mark Bemowski, a six-time Wisconsin State Amateur champion, has played with and against just about every good golfer the state has produced over the last five decades, from Bobby Brue to Andy North to Steve Stricker.
From the standpoint of pure talent, there’s one he places above all the others.
“Tommy Veech was beyond belief good,” said Bemowski, 71. “I’ve seen a lot of guys come through, and a lot of fine players. He was the best I’ve ever seen.”
Wisconsin lost one of its golfing giants – a man Billy Casper once said was the best player he’d ever seen – when Veech died Monday, just hours after being admitted to hospice care near his winter home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 88.
Veech won the first of his four State Open titles as an 18-year-old amateur. He beat Arnold Palmer in the quarterfinals of the Intercollegiate National Championship (now the NCAA Championship). He shot a 59 at North Hills Country Club, with a persimmon driver and a balata golf ball.
He did things with a golf club that left others speechless.
“He literally had the best hands the golf world has ever seen,” said Randy Warobick, whose father, the late professional Lou Warobick, was Veech’s best friend. “His control of the golf club was phenomenal.”
Tommy Veech (center) is shown with Jack Allen (right) and Manuel de la Torre (left) at the 1955 Wisconsin State Open at Oneida Country Club. (Photo: File photo)
Veech spent the 1959 season on the PGA Tour, but two things prevented him from achieving greatness as a touring professional. He didn’t like the lifestyle and he weighed in excess of 300 pounds. He had a hard time walking 72 holes on bad knees, and the insides of his thighs would chafe raw.
“There were many times his legs were bloody after a round of golf,” Warobick said.
Still, he would play in the U.S. Open five times, the Greater Milwaukee Open 10 times and the Western Open seven times. He played in the 1951 Masters while a junior at Notre Dame, after reaching the quarterfinals of the 1950 U.S. Amateur.
Though he never played on the PGA Tour fulltime after 1959, Veech made occasional starts in the 1960s. In 1967, he matched Jack Nicklaus over the first three rounds of the Western Open before closing with a 74 to finish fifth, his career best.
In 1964, Veech and Lou Warobick played in the PGA Championship and a young Randy Warobick, who would go on to play at the University of Texas with Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, was spellbound as Casper and Tony Lema talked about Veech over lunch.
Casper had played the No. 2 spot in his one year at Notre Dame. Veech was No. 1 and team captain. How ironic, that the GREAT Billy Casper, was not the best golfer at ND!
“Billy said, ‘You know, Lou, if they allowed carts, we’d all be playing for second place,’” Randy said. “The field included (Ben) Hogan, Nicklaus and Palmer in their primes and (Sam) Snead. That’s how much Billy Casper thought of Veech.”
Bemowski caddied for Veech at North Hills, where Veech was a member and Bemowski had a junior membership. Bemowski would go on to win dozens of state tournaments and the U.S. Senior Amateur. He said he owed much of his success to Veech.
“Oh, a lot,” he said. “A huge amount. I learned so much from him. I was very fortunate. I can’t say enough about him.”
Once, when Bemowski was a teen, he played a round with Veech at North Hills. They came to the 17th hole, a long par-3 with the pin tucked in the back-right corner of the green. Bemowski hit first and his ball wound up safely on the left side of the green, some 35 feet from the hole. A good shot.
“I was strutting a little bit and Tommy said, ‘Looks like I’ll have to come up with something,’” Bemowski said. “He pulled out his driver and hit it down the left side. I thought it was going to wind up in the rough. But it faded onto the green and rolled up 2 feet from the hole. Best shot I’ve ever seen.”
Another time, when Bemowski was caddying for Veech in an “action” match at North Hills, Veech hit his approach into a greenside bunker. He eyed the shot and then told a surprised Bemowski to pull the pin.
“The ball landed like a butterfly on the green and rolled into the middle of the hole, as if he’d putted it,” Bemowski said. “It was a money match but the guys he was playing with just had to laugh. That was Tommy. He was special. There was just nobody like him.”
Veech was the vice president of sales and marketing for Moen Manufacturing in Chicago before retiring to Geneva National Golf Club in Lake Geneva with his wife of 59 years, Ellie.
He is survived by Ellie and children Patrick (Christine), Scott, Stuart (Mascha) and Michael (Moira). A funeral mass will be held Thursday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Although I grew up a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean, I never learned to swim. One of the greatest swimmers of all time was an ND man.
As I continue to delve into our early (1887-1917) football history, I am struck by how many significant athletes of those years are not known to us today.
Harry Joseph Hebner (June 15, 1891 – October 12, 1968) was an American competition swimmer and water polo player who competed at the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Summer Olympics.
As part of the American men's 4×200-meter relay teams, he won a bronze medal in 1908 and a silver medal in 1912; in 1912 he also won the 100-meter backstroke event. In the 100-meter freestyle, he was eliminated in the semi-finals in 1908, and in the first round in 1912. In 1920 he was a member of the fourth-place American water polo team.
Between 1910 and 1917, Hebner held all world backstroke records and won seven consecutive U.S. National backstroke titles. In total, he won 35 national titles in various swimming events. In 1968 he was inducted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
HARRY HEBNER (USA)
1968 Honor Swimmer
FOR THE RECORD: OLYMPIC GAMES: 1908 bronze (4x200m freestyle relay); 1912 gold (100m backstroke), silver (4x200m freestyle relay); 1920 4th (water polo); U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: 35 (ranging from 50 to 500yd freestyle; all backstroke distances; water polo).
In a sport such as swimming where the record books are often re-written before the ink is dry, it is difficult to name the "greatest" swimmer. We must consider all-around swimming ability and longevity of records and/or careers. On all counts, Harry Hebner of the Illinois Athletic Club rates Hall of Fame selection as THE great of his era and one of the greatest in any and all eras.
Hebner's career spanned three Olympic teams (1908, 1912, and 1920) in water polo, freestyle, and backstroke swimming. Europeans regarded him as the premier U.S. water polo player. He was the Olympic backstroke gold medal winner in 1912. For 7 years, beginning in 1910, he held all world backstroke records and won seven straight U.S. Nationals on his back. His total of 35 U.S. National championships ranging from 50 to 500 yards freestyle, plus all backstroke distances and his captaincy of both the IAC swimming and water polo teams reflected his great leadership as well as his skill. Five times his IAC team won the U.S. Nationals in water polo between 1914 and 1924.
Hall of Fame coach L. deB. Handley, a prominent swimming journalist and member of the rival New York Athletic Club, called Hebner "today, the greatest all-round swimmer in the world," after Hebner had set 100 and 220 yd. freestyle records (he used the trudgen crawl) along with his backstroke world standards.
Harry Hebner was a contemporary of Perry McGillivray, Michael "Turk" McDermott, A. C. Raithel, Ethel Lackie, Bob Skelton and many others under the fabulous Hall of Fame Coach Bill Bachrach. Other IAC swimmers already in the Hall of Fame are Johnny Weissmuller, Jamison Handy, Sybil Bauer and Arne Borg. All looked to Harry Hebner as their leader, a fun guy and the athlete's athlete for the perfect competitive attitude under pressure.
Here’s a few SCHOLASTIC entries about Hebner:
April 1, 1911: Harry Hebner has been making a very good showing in the Eastern swimming meets. At Philadelphia he lowered the American record for the fifty yard-dash to 24:4, previously held by Daniels of the N.Y.A.C. At New York, owing to a poor start, he only secured fourth place in the one-hundred-yard dash; At Pittsburg he established a new record of 45 seconds in the sixty-yard back stroke, and secured second in the two hundred and twenty yard swim.
10/28/1911--BROWNSON AND CORBY IN TIE.
On a field too heavy for any display of football science, Brownson and Corby battled to a tie, 3-3, Sunday afternoon. The Brownson team, with one victory to its credit, was expected to give a much better exhibition of the college pastime against Corby. But nobody noticed the exhibition. Line bucking netted but small ground for either team, and forward passes mixed with punts kept the ball pretty much in Brownson territory. In the second quarter, Corby worked the ball to the 20-yard line from which Hebner drop-kicked, the ball barely clearing the bar. Both teams worked desperately in the second half to score, but stiff offense kept the goal lines from danger. Hines' forward pass in the last quarter was intercepted by Nowers, who got away with the best rim of the day,
a sixty-yard dash to the ten-yard line. Brownson failed twice through the line, and Ryan attempted a drop-kick which cleared the goal. While Corby showed good, all-around form, for the first game, Brownson must be praised for plucky fighting. But pluck without practice isn't worth a kick. Corby showed better team work and more snap in the offence, which the Brownson fellows lacked. Nowers, Dunphy and Ryan for Brownson offset the disadvantages of the loose playing. Bensberg, Hebner, Dolan, and Soisson proved reliable ground gainers for Corby.
12/9/1911-Corby's success this year is the fact that Father Farley's "Braves" won the bunting without crossing their opponents' goal line once, and by scoring only nine points—a drop kick each by Hebner and McDonald, and a place kick by Donovan.
—During the week, a Young Men's Woodrow Club was organized and an application made for a charter. Word has been received by the officers of the organization that their request was recognized by the Democratic Party and that the required charter would be sent at once. The purpose of the organization is to secure for "Woody" the largest number of votes possible at Notre Dame, and to use all honorable means for the election of the candidate. Literature and buttons have been distributed, and meetings are to be held each week to arouse enthusiasm in the election, and get all the Democratic voters out to the polls on election day. The officers of the club are: Basil J. Soisson, president; Harry J. Hebner, vice-president; Edward A. Roach, secretary; Knute Rockne, treasurer. If literature is desired by any one, it can be had upon application to any of the above-named officers.
(Looks like Knute was a Woodrow Wilson fan)
Besides being unable to swim, I have always been the slowest runner on any sports field I was ever found. Here are some early ND men who excelled in track and field:
George Philbrook (who Fielding Yost accused of playing NINE years of college football at three colleges), was one of five men on the 1912 Olympic Team (the Jim Thorpe Olympics, in Stockholm). Philbrook and Forest Fletcher were strong competitors. Edwin Pritchard enrolled at ND in the fall, after the games. Perhaps he got a sales pitch from George or Forest, who were each ND track captains. James Wasson was an alternate in the sprints. Hebner was on the swim team.