(Memory is a beautiful, imprecise instrument. Two readers - Earl Esptein and Bill Hall - recalled Chuck Bednarik's first game at Penn in 1945. One moment stuck with both of them, and a trip to the microfilm helped to settle some of the splendid differences.)
"Most people today do not know that Chuck Bednarik, now remembered as "Concrete Charlie," was originally known as "Chuck the Clutch" when he played for the University of Pennsylvania. Back in his first year at Penn, I - as a 12-year-old - sat with my father, who had season tickets for Penn games in the years when Penn was one of the top college teams in the country. This was a time when Franklin Field was filled with about 80,000 fans for every game, with temporary seats on the running track and a west stand filled to the height of Weightman Hall. I was there when Bednarik played his first game for Penn.
"When the Penn center, Bob Mostertz, was injured, Bednarik was his replacement. I don't recall the opponent, but I do clearly recall a sweep around the right end and watching this huge fellow wearing No. 60, coming from nowhere, across the field, and grabbing the runner with one hand by the back of his neck, and flinging him to the ground, and bringing a hush to the entire stadium, as the fans began asking each other "Who was that?" and "Did I just see what I think I saw?" And we all turned to our game programs to see who No. 60 was. The Evening Bulletin immediately started calling Bednarik "Chuck the Clutch" and his legend began."
- Earl Epstein
"We saw Bednarik play his first football game at Penn in November, 1945, when he came out of the Army Air Force after World War II. A grad of Bethlehem's Liberty High, he joined Coach George Munger's Quakers as a sub center/linebacker, and entered the Penn-Columbia game at Franklin Field in the first quarter, wearing No. 19, we believe. On his first play, being a defensive linebacker, he wrapped Columbia fullback Lou Kusserow in a shoulder-high grasp, ran him laterally along the line of scrimmage, and hurled him down at the sideline . . . The capacity stadium crowd roared over such a demonstrative tackle . . . When we once reminded Chuck of having seen the above, he said, 'Geez, I can't even remember my first college game, let alone who I tackled.' "
- Bill Hall
"Tackle Frank Cooney, 205-pound, 6-foot product of the Southwest sandlots, hit (Kusserow) from the left. Twenty-year-old Sub Center Charley Bednarik hit Kusserow from the right. Two other Quakers hit him front and rear. Kusserow went down, out cold."