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Terry Baker
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Rubbing Elbows With The Kennedys

1962 Heisman winner Terry Baker

Look Magazine invited the 1962 All-America team east for a celebratory weekend. The players went to the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, where at halftime, they met President John F. Kennedy. He brightened as he approached Oregon State quarterback Terry Baker. "You'll be seeing my brother in a couple of days," the president said. Baker, stunned, managed to get out, "I will?" "Yeah, he'll be giving you the Heisman Trophy," the president replied. When Baker arrived at the banquet in New York, he sat on the dais next to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the featured speaker. "All through the dinner, while he chatted with me," Baker said, "his speech was handed to him, and he would edit it. There was a lot of humor in it." The speech is recounted in Richard Whittingham's history of college football, "Rites of Autumn." Kennedy had been an end at Harvard in 1947. His competitive fire almost compensated for his slight stature. "When I received the letter from the Heisman award committee," Kennedy said, "I thought for a second that it has been delayed in the post office for 15 years ...With respect to the Heisman awards and the big three -- Harvard, Yale and Princeton -- the name of the Yale winner started with 'K,' Larry Kelley. So, also, the Princeton winner, Dick Kazmaier. The K's at Harvard are still dying with suspense." Baker went on to pro football and law school before moving back to Oregon. In May 1968, he got a call from his Heisman dinner mate. Sen. Kennedy would be campaigning to win the Oregon primary for the Democratic presidential nomination and wanted Baker's help "I campaigned with him," Baker said. "Right after the primary in Oregon, he went to California." The night that Sen. Kennedy won the California primary, he died of an assassin's bullet.
-- Ivan Maisel


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