Bates-Bowdoin feud lives again as Class of '60 players return

This weekend Alan Wayne ’60 will complete a coast-to-coast visit of two of the nation’s most historic college football fields. Last Saturday, Wayne was at the Rose Bowl with 61,788 spectators, reporting on the Arizona State-UCLA game. This weekend he will be in the stands at Garcelon Field with a number of Bates football alumni from his era.

As a student, Wayne was the sports editor of The Bates Student, spending many Saturdays covering the football team. Since graduating, Wayne has continued to cover college football, starting out as a sports writer at the Boston Herald. Even after moving to Chicago, then to Los Angeles to take a position as director of public affairs for United Airlines, Wayne has continued to work as a stringer, first for United Press International and now for the Associated Press.

He returns to Lewiston this weekend to watch a Bates football game for the first time since 1959. While he won’t be filing a story with the AP, he will be reconnecting with many old friends.

“I think it will be great fun for us,” Wayne says. “And it’s not just seeing former players. (Dean Emeritus of Admissions) Milt Lindholm is going to be there, and he’s the one who admitted all of us into Bates. It will be great to see all of them.”

Wayne is part of a network of Bates alumni that receives the latest Bates football news from Ken Russell ’60, who remembers watching his Bates friends compete on Garcelon Field.

“When we were in school, everybody came to the game,” Russell says. “We had class until noon on Saturday, but after your last class you would race back to your room to get a heavy coat and get to the game as fast as you could so you could get a seat.”

Five years ago, Russell renewed his attendance at home games when he moved to South Thomaston. After each game, Russell sends his own report out to former players and friends.

“These guys are all fans,” says Russell. “When I realized how many people were involved, I thought ‘Why not get everyone together to watch a game this season?’”

The plan was laid, and 10 players and friends have expressed their intention to come to the Bowdoin game on Saturday to Russell.

Bill Hayes ’60, for example, now lives in Tolland, Conn., and hopes attend to the game. Hayes tries to join former teammate Jack Flynn ’60, a Maine high school football coaching legend, for a Bates game once a year. Both were First-Team All-Maine selections in 1959. Other alumni, however, have not been back for quite some time.

“I’ve kept in touch with some of the guys more than others,” Hayes says. “When you’re raising a family, you are driving all over the place, taking kids to sports events and it’s easy to lose touch. Now that my kids have grown, it gives me a chance to reconnect with old friends.”

The Bowdoin game is a fitting time for a football alumni reunion. Bates faces Bowdoin for the 106th time this weekend, and the 1959 season produced an epic game for both teams. The field was several inches deep with mud, and neither team was able to generate any offense in a 0-0 tie.

“In those days, Bowdoin was an all-male school and Bates was coed,” Hayes says. “Bowdoin had fraternities, Bates didn’t. The cultures of the two schools were very different, and it was reflected on the field and in the stands at the football game.”

The Bates-Bowdoin game tends to be a memorable one. In 1995, Bates snapped a 37-game losing streak with a 33-29 win over the Polar Bears. Last season, Sean Atkins ’03 set Bates records with seven touchdowns and 302 yards rushing in a 48-28 win.

Saturday’s game will be quite different than the game played in 1959. Hayes for one, is happy to be sitting in the stands.

“In our day, you played both offense and defense,” Hayes says. “I don’t know if I’d want to play the game today, because you’d have to sit down for half the game.”

Given the exciting finishes to Bates games so far this season, Hayes and his friends will be standing rather than sitting this weekend.

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