Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Clinic Bowl, A Nashville Tradition

by Debie Oeser Cox

The research for this article was inspired by Barry Chamberlain.  He posted a question on the I Remember Nashville When Facebook Group, asking where he might find information about history of  the Clinic Bowl.

The first Clinic Bowl was held on Thanksgiving Day in 1947, between Litton and MBA. Litton won 32 - 20. The game was attended by 12,000 fans. It was sponsored by the American Legion with a goal of raising money to establish and fund a child guidance clinic to deal with behavior and mental health problems.  This game was touted as the first annual bowl game but it was not played again.  

In 1950, the Clinic Bowl was billed as the first annual Thanksgiving Day game, to raise money for the physical therapy clinic at Vanderbilt Hospital.  The 1950 Clinic Bowl was co-sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Interscholastic League, and the Mid-State Football Officials Association. In subsequent years the JCC continued their sponsorship along with NIL.  A slogan was adopted for the Clinic Bowl program that would soften any heart. "Strong legs run, so weak legs can walk."  East High triumphed over MBA, 26 to 6 in the 1950 game.

The Tennessean November 12, 1957
Through 1955 two top Nashville teams were chosen to play in the bowl.  In 1956, a change was made to match Nashville's top team with the best team in the Mid-State. These teams were chosen from those not in playoff games. The Clinic Bowl continued much the same through 1970 with most of the ticket sale proceeds going to the Vanderbilt Clinic.   
In the early 1970's the Clinic Bowl became associated with the TSSAA.  In 1972 the longstanding tradition of playing on Thanksgiving afternoon was ended.  Instead, the game was scheduled on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  The Clinic Bowl became the Class AAA Region 3 playoff game. The winning team advanced in the state playoffs. Part of the ticket sale income went to TSSAA. The Junior Chamber of Commerce continued to donate the portion they received to the Vanderbilt Physical Therapy Dept.  
The Clinic Bowl became the state championship playoff final in the early 80's with multiple classes playing on the same day at Dudley Field. The game had not been held on Thanksgiving afternoon for ten years. The hometown thrill of watching Nashville and Middle Tennessee teams play was lost.  The Clinic Bowl continued to be played but it was never the same again. The Junior Chamber of Commerce raised about one million dollars for Vanderbilt's Physical Therapy Department during the years of sponsorship for the Clinic Bowl. Nashville and Middle Tennessee high school football fans and players, have many fond memories of football at Dudley Field on Thanksgiving Day.

Clinic Bowl Teams and Scores 1947 through 1980.

Team & Score
Team & Score
Litton 32            
MBA 20
East 26
East 24
West 6
Litton 19
Father Ryan 12
Dupont 21         
Litton 20
Litton 20            
MBA 20
Litton 7
MBA 0 
Springfield 0
Springfield 0     
Hillsboro 0
Litton 20            
Murfreesboro 14
Father Ryan 26
Lawrenceburg 0
BGA 13               
Litton 0
BGA 18                             
Father Ryan 6
Chattanooga Brainard 13           
Madison 7
Father Ryan 14               
Murfreesboro 12
Glencliff 7                        
Lawrenceburg 7
Donelson 26                   
Lebanon  0
MBA 21
Litton 0
MBA 20                            
Stratford 0
MBA 35
Gallatin 7
Pearl 6
Maplewood 0
MBA 26
Two Rivers 6
Maplewood 16
Mufreesboro  8
Gallatin  7
Father Ryan 7
Overton  14
Pearl  0
Overton 35
McGAvock  0
Father Ryan  28
Maplewood 26
Maplewood 29
Lawrenceburg 0
Gallatin  31
Maplewood 13
Father Ryan  16
Gallatin 4
Gallatin 14
Maplewood 13
Gallatin  24
Gallatin  24
Father Ryan 17

Monday, September 25, 2017

J. J. Keyes Stadium

by Debie Oeser Cox

East Nashville High School has a new stadium.  The first game on the new athletic field was played September 22, 2017. A historic event for the school and for East Nashville. This was also the first East High home game, since November 2, 1985, when East beat Maplewood, at home, 6 to 0.

J. J. Keyes Stadium, dedicated Sept. 22, 2017. Photo by Theo Wright.

The old stadium at East High, demolished in 1987, was dedicated to the memory of J. J. Keyes in 1937. Keyes was the first principal of East High. He died in December 1936. It was announced at the recent game that the new stadium, has also been named in honor of J. J. Keyes.

J. J. Keyes Stadium, 1932-1987, photo Metro Nashville Archives
The first game played at the original stadium was on September 30, 1932, 85 years ago, almost to the day, of the first game in the new stadium. This was the first high school stadium in Nashville.There was great excitement across the city. Every local high school team wanted to play on the modern athletic field. More than 40,000 tickets were printed and a contest was held among schools to bring in the most attendees for the game. East Nashville High School was brand new and did not have a football team in 1932. The inaugural game saw the Hume Fogg Blue Devils challenge the Chattanooga City Schools, in front of an estimated of 15,000. Hume Fogg prevailed over Chattanooga, with a final score of 13 to 6.  Hume Fogg played all of their home games on the field for the next few years. 

The East High Eagles played their debut game, at home, on September 27, 1933.  The opposing team was Smyrna High School.  East won with a score of 19 to 7. The first East High coach was Jimmy Armistead. He started as the basketball coach in early 1933 and moved into football later in the year.  Coach Armistead wanted to call the team the Red Demons but the more popular name, Grey Eagles won out.

Professor J. J. Keyes

A former superintendent of Nashville City Schools, Professor John J. Keyes resigned a position as community relations director for the school system so that he could become the first principal. He was a long time resident of East Nashville and was instrumental in the movement for the high school to be built.  Keyes died in December of 1936.  In November of 1937, a decision was made by the school board to name the stadium, J. J. Keyes, in honor of the beloved educator.  

Professor John J. Keyes, 1933 East Yearbook, Metro Nashville Archives

John Japheth Keyes was born on December 31, 1864, in Canada, the son of Mary and Thomas. He grew up in Huron, Ontario, Canada.  In 1884, at the age of 19, J. J. Keyes, came to Tennessee and became a teacher in Maury County. He lived in the Jones Valley community.  In 1888 he came to Nashville, to attend George Peabody School for Teachers.  He received a B.S. degree from Peabody College in 1892. In 1893, he was hired as a teacher in Nashville and was at that time referred to as Professor Keys. His first assignment was at the Howard School.  In 1894, Keyes was transferred to Fogg School where he taught until he was elected as superintendent of schools, in 1909. He served as superintendent until 1918.  In 1919 he began teaching mathematics at Hume Fogg High School.  

In January of 1930, Keyes was appointed temporary school superintendent. He served until August of 1930 when H. G. Srygley was elected superintendent.  Keyes then became the first community relations director for Nashville City Schools.  In the fall of 1932, he was named principal of the new East High School.

 John J Keyes, returned to his parents home in Canada each summer. In August of 1894, he was married to Mary Ann Logan in Huron, Ontario, Canada.  He brought his bride to Nashville, where they lived out their lives. During their marriage, they had three children, all born in Nashville. The Keyes family lived in Northeast Nashville in several locations.  In 1913, the Keyes had a home built at 914 Meridian Street.  The yellow brick home is standing today. Professor Keyes died on December 15, 1936, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 71, and was buried Spring Hill Cemetery in Madison, Davidson County, Tennessee.  (His death certificate gives his first name as Joseph, but all other records give his first name as John.)  

This story is dedicated to all East High Eagles former, current and future.