A reader flipping through the pages of the La Crosse Tribune on March 4, 1950 might just have missed a great sports action photo buried on Page 10, the back cover. It’s a great photo because it shows real action — and it doesn’t hurt that one of the key players is David D. Hanneman of Mauston High School.
March 1950 was high school basketball tournament time. Mauston High School was one of the host venues for sub-regional tournament play for Wisconsin’s public schools. The action photo was actually from March 3, 1950, the second day of the sub-regionals; a game in which Mauston knocked off Hillsboro 45-37. In the photo, Hillsboro center Allan Wheeler grabs a rebound over the outstretched arm of Hanneman, wearing No. 24 for the Mauston Bluegold. Although he did not score in the contest, Hanneman, the Mauston center, held the prolific scorer Wheeler to just 9 points. Just a day prior, Wheeler scored 22 points in Hillsboro’s loss to La Crosse Central.
Mauston ended its season after going 1-1 at the sub-regional tournament. In the first game on March 2, Tomah stormed back from an 11-point deficit to clip Mauston 40-36. Tomah won the sub-regional title the next day by whipping La Crosse Central 67-47.
This photo from 1948 or 1949 has a classic sports-pose look to it. The varsity basketball squad from Mauston High School looking eagerly at Coach Bob Erickson, who cradles the ball like it’s made of gold. It’s so much more interesting than the stereotypical team photo with athletes lined up in rows.
My father, David D. Hanneman, was a multi-sport, multi-year letter winner at Mauston High School from 1947-1951. It was very common to have multi-sport athletes at small-town high schools. A core of the young men in this photo played basketball together in grade school before moving on to high school junior varsity and varsity play. These same fellows came together with classmates for Mauston High School reunions for more than 55 years. That’s teamwork!
In the 1950-51 basketball season, Mauston advanced to the sub-regional level of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) tournament on March 1 in Tomah. In the first game, Mauston rallied with a 23-point third quarter to defeat Richland Center, 55-53. Tom Rowe led Mauston scorers with 15 points.
In the sub-regional championship game March 2, Mauston ran into a buzzsaw called La Crosse Logan High School. The Bluegold lost big, 72-36. After trailing 8-1 early in the game, Mauston pulled to within five at the end of the firsts period. In the second period, Mauston got as close as three points, 20-17, but then the game got out of hand.
Logan led 29-19 at halftime, according to the game recap in the La Crosse Tribune. At the start of the final quarter, Mauston trailed 50-24. Five Mauston players fouled out of the game. The leading Mauston scorer was Roger Quick with 8 points, while Tom Rowe, Bob Jagoe, Bob Randall and Dave Hanneman each had 5 points. La Crosse Logan made it to the regional tournament finals before losing to Onalaska, 58-56.
One of the best games of that 1950-51 season came on December 19, a 61-42 decision over conference rival Westby. “Big Dave Hanneman had himself a field night for MHS as he hoisted in eight buckets and added four free throws for scoring honors,” read the game recap in The Mauston Star. “Jagoe collected 15 points and Randall had 9 — he scored the first 9 points of the game for MHS.”
Coach Erickson was still fairly new during my Dad’s time at Mauston High School, but he went on to become a legend as a coach and teacher. A 12-time letter winner at Platteville State Teachers College (now UW-Platteville), Erickson was named to the UW-Platteville athletic hall of fame in 1980. He came to Mauston in 1947 after serving in World War II, starting a 13-year tenure at Mauston High School. Erickson coached boxing, basketball, football and baseball. He also served as Mauston’s athletic director. He died in July 2003 at age 82.
It was mixed in with photographs and other documents — a colorful, torn ticket stub. I picked it up and examined it and was left wondering, what is the story behind it? The game was between the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern on November 10, 1945. I presumed that my Dad was the lucky holder of the $1.75 ticket. He was 12 at the time, so a trip from Mauston to Madison for a college football game would have been a big treat. I had to find out more about this game. So I dug right into it.
The weather forecast for the homecoming game called for a high of 39 degrees after an overnight low of 18. The Friday night calm on the UW campus was broken by roving mobs of teenagers who broke store windows and vandalized cars along State Street. Madison police made 49 arrests for curfew violations, according to The Wisconsin State Journal. Still, police considered the homecoming crowd on campus well-behaved overall, so they did not use the tear gas and water wagons that were held in reserve.
Camp Randall was packed with 45,000 fans when game time arrived on Saturday. Dad (or whomever held that ticket) sat in the south end zone, Section Z, Row 6, Seat 5. This is the end of the stadium backed against the UW Field House. I’ve sat in that section myself a few times over the years. Fans were treated to a great game. “This was a game with few dull moments, one in which each turned loose a devastating running attack,” wrote Henry J. McCormick, sports editor of The Wisconsin State Journal. The first quarter ended scoreless. Wisconsin’s initial drive ended on Northwestern’s 48 when Jerry Thompson’s pass was intercepted. Northwestern fared no better, as its drive ended on Wisconsin’s 25 when Badger Don Kindt intercepted a Jim Farrar pass.
In the second quarter, Wisconsin scored a touchdown on a 16-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a reverse and a pass to the end zone. Northwestern answered with an impressive 73-yard touchdown drive. Wisconsin roared right back on the next drive. Halfback Ben Bendrick ripped off 17 of his 133 yards on one play. Kindt finished the drive by plunging into the end zone with only 8 seconds left in the half. Halftime score was 14-7 in favor of the Badgers. The second half opened with the same high tempo. Northwestern took the kickoff and moved right down the field with 70 yards on 11 plays. Farrar’s 25-yard pass to tight end Stan Gorski brought the game to a 14-14 tie. On the very next drive Wisconsin’s Bendrick tore off a 41-yard run, followed by an 11-yard scamper from Kindt. A fourth-down pass from Thompson was intercepted by Bill Hunt of Northwestern. When the Wildcats pounded down to the Wisconsin 1 yard line on the drive, the Badgers’ defense stiffened, stopping the Cats on a fourth-down pass play. As the third quarter ended, the score was still knotted at 14.
On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Bendrick continued his punishing ground game. But lightning struck as Bendrick went around left end. The ball popped out, right into the hands of Northwestern’s Hunt, who returned the ball to the Wisconsin 9 yard line. After two running plays, Northwestern took it to the end zone for a 21-14 lead. The teams then traded unsuccessful drives. Wisconsin’s Thompson threw another pick at mid-field, but Northwestern’s ensuing drive stalled. When the Badgers got the ball back, Bendrick fumbled again. Northwestern pounced on the ball at the Wisconsin 24. Seven plays later, Northwestern scored to go up 28-14. That’s how the game ended.
When your team rolls up 244 yards rushing, it typically won’t lose. But on this day, the Badgers made too many mistakes, spotting the Wildcats 14 points with two fumbles. The headlines should have been about Bendrick’s stellar 133-yard rushing day. The Badger faithful left Camp Randall entertained, but unsatisfied. If my Dad, David D. Hanneman, was the ticket holder, I’m guessing he was there with his father, Carl F. Hanneman. The first Wisconsin game I can recall attending with my grandfather was a 1977 game vs. Michigan State. The Badgers lost that day, 9-7.
Hidden behind the headlines of the 1945 game was a compelling military story. It was just the third game back for Don Kindt, who shared halfback duties with “Big Ben” Bendrick. As just a 17-year-old, Kindt interrupted his Wisconsin football career in 1943 to enlist in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II. He saw extensive action in Italy and was awarded two bronze stars. He returned to the Badgers in October 1945. After his Wisconsin playing career, Kindt spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears. He recounts his war experiences in an extensive interview conducted in 1994 by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
It was a basketball season for the ages at Grand Rapids Lincoln High School. After a 14-1 season, the team stormed into the 14th annual Wisconsin state basketball tournament held March 20-22, 1918 at Lawrence College in Appleton. By defeating Columbus (32-25), Marinette (34-25) and Wausau (27-15), Grand Rapids secured its first Wisconsin state championship. Three Rapids players made the All-State team.
In the team photo, back row:
William Smith (1900-1991)
Arthur H. Plahmer (1899-1984)
Coach Elmer J. Abrahamson (1891-1978)
Roy T. “Cap” Normington (1899-1960)
Raymond A. “Jock” Johnston (1900-1977)
In the front row:
Arthur “Worry” Kluge (1898-1974)
Stanley S. “Pudge” Stark (1900-1979)
Walter F. “Kaiser” Fritz (1898-1964)
Stark was the team captain and scoring champion with 205 points. He was named a forward on the All-State team. The other All-State honorees were Plahmer (center) and Smith (guard). The only defeat of the season came at the hands of Nekoosa during sectionals play. The season high score was achieved January 18, 1918 with a 64-12 drubbing of Wautoma. A week later, that same Wautoma team nearly knocked off Rapids before falling 18-16.
The irony of the 1917-1918 season is that the school year started with no basketball coach on the payroll at Lincoln High School. In short order, the services of Elmer J. Abrahamson were secured for the season. A 1915 graduate of Lawrence College, Abrahamson was a star college athlete in basketball, track and the pentathlon. Abrahamson only stayed for the championship season. He went on to a long teaching career in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He died in 1978.
There he was, front and center in the photograph, holding the championship trophy. My Dad, David D. Hanneman and his 8th grade Mauston teammates had just won the 12-team basketball tournament held at Wonewoc in the spring of 1947. It was no small feat, considering the competition from Camp Douglas, Cazenovia, Elroy, Kendall, Lavalle, Necedah, New Lisbon, Ontario, Reedsburg, Union Center and Wonewoc.
The championship team photo includes, rear, left to right: Coach Bob Erickson, Bill Cowan, Morris Murray, Bernard Pelton, Gaylord Nichols, Tom Rowe and Coach Doug McKenzie. Front row, left to right includes: Harold Webster, Bob Firlus, David Hanneman, Bob Beck, Bob Randall and Whitey Post. Although the photo does not show jersey numbers, Dave wore No. 1 that day.
Occasionally prints of this photo will appear on eBay, erroneously listing the team as from Wonewoc. That is understandable given how the photo was hand labeled, but to be clear, the winners were from Mauston.
The 1947 football campaign was destined to be one for the ages at Mauston High School. The photo gallery below could be from that championship season, based on the youthful appearance of my Dad, David D. Hanneman (1933-2007). Dad was a starter for the Mauston Bluegold, even in his freshman year.
Dad played guard and tackle throughout his high school football career. But as is the case on small-town football teams, boys play both offense and defense. Many of the players would switch positions, depending on the opponent and game conditions.
Mauston ran up a 7-1 record in the 1947 football campaign, gaining them a share of the West Central Conference championship crown. Mauston was 3-1 in conference play. Midway through the season, Mauston ranked as one of the state’s highest-scoring teams. Here’s the 1947 season recap:
Sept. 12 Mauston 12, Reesdburg 0
Sept. 19 Mauston 25, Middleton 6
Sept. 26, Mauston 20, New Lisbon 12
Oct. 3, Mauston 13, Tomah 0
Oct. 10, Mauston 45, Westby 6
Oct. 17 Sparta 14, Mauston 7
Oct. 24 Mauston 37, New Lisbon 0
Nov. 1 Mauston 13, Viroqua 0
Bob “Jigger” Jagoe, who played quarterback for Mauston starting in the 1948 season, recalls how Dave’s mother, Ruby V. Hanneman, was zealous in her cheering.
You could hear her in the stands, shouting. She was so proud. Of course we used to kind of make a mockery of it, because she was so adamant, letting everybody know who her son was out there who made the tackle. They announced, ‘Tackle made by Dave Hanneman’ and she said, ‘That’s my Davey!’
In the 1950s, home football games were played at Veterans Memorial Park on the south end of Mauston. This locale looks much closer to downtown, so I’m betting these 1940s games were played in Riverside Park along the Lemonweir River. In several of the photos you can see the distant spire of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
— This post has been updated with quotes and other information.