Moose & More!
A Happy 100th To Mr. Notre Dame by Lou Somogyi...
Man would say the Notre Dame football as we know it today was born 100 years ago, when the first full-time head coach and athletics director at Notre Dame, Jesse Harper, directed a stunning 35-13 upset in New York of top power Army.
Maybe not so coincidentally, on Feb. 2 that same year, Edward Walter Kraucuinas was born in an area of Chicago know as “The Back of the Yards,” the second son of Lithuanian immigrants, Walter and Teresa, who ran a butcher shop.
He was born the same year Notre Dame’s football program would start to become famous, enrolled with Knute Rockne’s last full recruiting class in 1930, resulting in a national title, assisted Frank Leahy during the dynasty decade in the 1940s that produced four national titles — and even was 3-0 as acting head coach when Leahy took ill at various times — was the athletics director for three more national titles under Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine, and was AD emeritus — “Emeritus means ‘you don’t get paid,’ ” he joked — during the most recent title in 1988 under Lou Holtz.
There was never a greater link from past to present in Notre Dame’s athletics lore than Krause. Even upon his death on Dec. 11, 1992, the football program was in the midst of what would be a 17-game winning streak, the longest in the last 23 years.
But there was far more to the man who would become known as “Mr. Notre Dame,” specifically in the way he embodied the Fighting Irish spirit of honor, integrity, courage, resilience, dedication, passion and compassion, and loyalty:
• He gave up high school band at Chicago’s DeLaSalle because the football coach there, Norm Barry, who played for Rockne at Notre Dame, saw his advanced physique and encouraged him to try out for football.
• Despite Krause’s 6-3, 200-pound frame in high school, gargantuan in those days, he was known as a gentle giant, prompting Barry to yell at him one day, “You’re big enough to be a moose and you can’t even block boys smaller than you.” The “Moose” moniker would stick from there, and it was Barry who also started to refer to him as “Krause” because Kraucuinas was too difficult to pronounce. Moose would later legally change his surname.
• At DeLaSalle, Krause would not only excel in football but lead the basketball team to two National Catholic Prep Championships as well. He also was approached by the trainer of boxing legend Jack Dempsey and asked to enter professional boxing.
• Originally, Krause’s father discouraged Moose from attending college after high school so he could train to take over the not-so-prosperous family business. But when Barry took him on a trip to the Notre Dame campus to watch spring practice and had him meet Rockne, a scholarship was offered on the spot.
• At Notre Dame, Krause was a two-time All-American tackle but earned even greater renown in basketball as a three-time All-American whose inside dominance helped bring about the three-second rule in the lane. In 1976, Krause was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
• During his senior year, Krause’s father was murdered during a robbery. At the end of the year, the Notre Dame student body awarded a trophy to cum laude graduate Krause that read, “To an outstanding student, athlete and gentleman.” It would be one of his two most cherished awards.
• His first job upon leaving Notre Dame was at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minn., where for a yearly $2,500 salary plus room, board and laundry he would coach football, basketball, track, golf and tennis, head the journalism school, serve as the AD and drive the school bus. On the side, he would barnstorm in basketball for the Duffy Florals, named after a Chicago politician who owned a floral shop, earning $50 per game and receiving 35 percent of the gate.
• After a stint at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Krause came “home” to Notre Dame to assist Hall-of-Fame coaches Leahy in football and George Keogan in basketball. He took over the basketball team in 1943 when Keogan suddenly died during the season from a heart attack.
• After the 1943 national title in football, Krause convinced Leahy that he needed to join him in the World War II efforts overseas, otherwise they would never be fully respected by the players coming back to the States in the years after the war.
• Following the war and more championships, Krause was promoted to the athletics director spot in 1949, where he would serve for 32 years while becoming the school’s, and country's, most beloved ambassador in his field.
• In 1967, Krause’s wife Elise was riding in the back of a taxi when a driver under the influence smashed into the cab. Elise suffered severe damage to her brain and was not expected to survive the night. She made it through four months of intensive care and lived 23 more years, the last eight in a nursing home. Twice a day during that time, Moose visited her to spoon-feed her meals and sing her songs to raise her spirits.
• Upon Elise’s death in 1990, Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., told fellow Holy Cross priest Rev. Edward Krause Jr.: “Your father has had many public successes in life, but nothing is more important in God’s eyes than how he cared for your mother for all those years.”
In the initial years after the accident, Krause found solace in alcohol before joining Alcoholics Anonymous, recovering and aiding others in their fight against the disease. Along with his 1934 trophy from the Notre Dame student body, one of his most prized possessions was an award presented to him by the National Council on Alcohol for his work.
In 1961, Krause attended Harper’s funeral and was asked by his widow to say a few words at the grave. Krause recited the following poem:
Let me live, oh Mighty Master,
Such a life as men should know,
Testing triumph and disaster,
Joy, and not too much of woe.
Let me run the gamut over,
Let me live, and love, and laugh,
and when I’m beneath the clover,
let this be my epitaph:
Here lies one who took his chances, in this busy world of men,
Battled luck and circumstances, fought and fell and fought again.
Won sometimes, but did no crowing
Lost sometimes, but did not wail.
Took his beatings but kept going
and never let his courage fail.
He was fallible and human,
Therefore loved and understood,
Both his fellow men and women,
Whether good or not so good.
Kept his spirit undiminished,
Never laid down on a friend.
Played the game ‘til it was finished,
Lived a Spartan to the end.
One hundred years later, it remains the epitaph for the man called Moose.