Auburn and Mississippi State will play a huge game Saturday in Starkville. Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Cristil will attend, health permitting, and Jack long ago lost count of how many Auburn-Mississippi State games he has seen.
No doubt, it’s close to 60.
But Jack does remember one above all others.
“It was the mid-1950s and it was at Auburn,” Cristil said by telephone from his Tupelo home Thursday morning. “Oddly enough, Auburn won the game 26 to 25 or 27 to 26. This was back when players went both ways, and it was just a whale of a game.”
What a memory! The score was 27 to 26, Auburn, and it was 1955.
“Boy, what a game,” Cristil said, his distinct voice as strong as ever. “I remember out Arthur Davis (another Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer) was just marvelous all day.”
Davis certainly was. Playing with a separated shoulder and injured knee, Art Davis (Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 1981) ran for a touchdown, passed for another score, had a 54-yard punt and made 11 unassisted tackles.
“Auburn had an All America back, his name escapes me, who played extremely well,” Cristil said.
More than likely that Auburn back was Fob James, who averaged seven yards a carry that season, and was later the governor of Alabama, but let’s get back to what made the game so memorable for Cristil.
“It was a heart-breaking defeat,” Cristil said, “and at the end of my broadcast I reminded listeners that the team would stay in Montgomery that night at the old Jefferson Davis Hotel and could probably use a few words of encouragement after their great effort.
“Well,” Cristil continued, “we get to the hotel and the manager already had a stack of more than 400 telegrams for the team. That’s how you communicated those days.
“The hotel manager was amazed. I remember he said: ‘How many do you get when you win?”
The next morning, Cristil was in for a rude awakening.
“Dudy Noble, our athletic director, called me aside and told me that the object of the game is to win, and we don’t congratulate the team when it loses,” Cristil said, chuckling. “He said he didn’t want any more of that foolishness. I think that’s the only time he ever called me on the carpet, but he was serious about that.”