Thursday, October 13, 2011

There’s even more to the story about 1967 Linfield football game

By Tim Marsh
Published originally in Fall 2002 Linfield Athletics Newsletter

My story headlined, “Few remember, but Bill Carter will never forget the kick he made for 1967 Linfield football team,” was published in the Aug. 2001 Linfield Athletics Newsletter.

It was about Bill Carter coming out of the stands to kick a point-after-touchdown for Linfield in a 1967 football win against Pacific in Forest Grove. A hero of the story were the borrowed shoes in which Carter kicked.

The story said the shoes “perhaps” belonged to Johnny Bill “Moon” Self. “They were too large. So, Carter put on three pairs of socks to give them a snug fit.”

One of the reactions to the story came belatedly – in April 2002 – to me from Moon, a 1969 Linfield grad, now a fifth grade public school teacher in Cordelia, Calif.

There was no “perhaps” about it, says Moon. They were his shoes which made it into the game, on Carter’s feet, before Moon, also wearing borrowed shoes, got into the game in its fading minutes.

Moon was a one-of-a-king person as a Linfield student and as a Wildcat football player who seldom played. He wanted to play, but the coaches did not want him to play. A photocopy of his Linfield football publicity photo he sent me includes his hand inscribed self-description, “Friendliest lineman of the year 66-67 Linfield College.”

Based on the 24-page hand-written letter Moon mailed me along with other enclosures, he’s still one of a kind. Trying to give the essence of what he said in the letter is difficult because he said so much. Much of it is quoteable. Much of it is laughable, especially if you know the Linfield cast of characters. Some of it is profane. Repeating some of it might get people mad at me. I’m going to be careful. What follows is a boiled down sanitized version. I gave myself a byline for this story. But, in reality, it is by Moon as told to Tim Marsh, who was afraid to repeat all of the words of Moon.

Moon is a 1964 graduate of California’s Napa High School, where he played football. He began his college in 1964 at Napa Junior College. He played two years for the JC including the one season during which future NFL Hall of Famer Dick Vermeil was the head coach. This is the same Dick Vermeil currently coaching the Kansas City Chief and previously coach of the Super Bowl winning St. Louis Rams.

Moon was recruited by Linfield Hall of Famer Ted Wilson, best known as Wildcat men’s basketball coach, but, at the same time, also an assistant football coach to Paul Durham.

Moon transferred to Linfield in 1966 as a 20-year-old junior with visions of playing a lot of football for the Wildcats. IT was not to be. Instead, Moon says he was initially treated like a freshman football player and it was downhill from that point. But, so much for grousing, Let’s get to the rest of the story about the 1967 Linfield at Pacific night football game in Forest Grove.

Moon did not ride the team bus. To get to Forest Grove, he rode with Coach Wilson in a “station wagon type of contraption” with a load of football equipment bags. “I felt like an assistant student manager,” said Moon.

They arrived after the Wildcat team suited up and was on the field warming up. He put on his gear and joined the other players. There were no more purple game socks available, so he put on pink socks? Pink? Yes, in those days, Joe Groves was the Linfield physical education/athletics equipment manager. He dyed socks, jocks and shirts and other stuff pink, to increase the odds no one would want to steal them.

The game, Moon says, was wet, rainy, “sluggy” and mud caked. “We trudged in the quagmire Pacific called a football field. There was so much mud that punts didn’t even bounce, they just plopped heavily into the mud and the football together, good old Oregon football,” observed Moon from the sidelines, in a clean uniform covered by a warm rain cape.

In the first half, Linfield star defensive back Joe Robillard was injured and so was talented Wildcat kicker Tim Kubli.

At halftime, Carter, a JV player and kicker in the stands as a fan, was hailed. He put on Robillard’s uniform, it fit. But, he could not wear Kubli’s shoes. Too big. Moon described them as “gun boats.” Robillard’s shoes were “jets, not made for kicking,” said Moon.

Pete Dengenis, Linfield Hall of Famer as a football player, was a Wildcat assistant football coach. HE was about to leave the Linfield locker room to see if Pacific would lend shoes for Carter when he spotted shiny, black shoes on Moon’s feet.

“Moon, give Carter your shoes,” said Dengenis. Moon obliged. So, Moon was in full uniform, wearing pink socks with no shoes. But Moon’s shoes, those Carter was going to wear, were too big. So, Carter had to put on three pairs of socks. The middle pink pair were Moon’s.

When the Linfield team returned to the field for the second half, Moon was in the Linfield locker room barefoot. “This is when I made up the ‘Friendliest Lineman of the Year Award,’” said Moon. “I’m so friendly; I’d give you the new shoes and pink socks off my feet.”

Coach Wilson returned to the locker room looking for the trainer’s medical kit. He was surprised to find shoeless, sockless Moon.

They scrounged through all of the spare equipment looking for shoes. They found Kubli’s. As with Carter, they were too big, but they were the only shoes available. So, Moon put them on.

There were no extra socks. He wore them without socks. One shoe had a shoelace. The other did not. Handiwork by Coach Wilson created a short lace from the laced shoe for the unlaced shoe. Then, Coach Wilson and Moon jogged out to the Linfield sidelines. The game was well underway in the second half.

Later, while standing on the sidelines, Moon heard a female voice. She wanted to know why he was not playing. She came to the game in the rain to see him play, she told Moon. To show her sympathy and concern, she brought Moon a cup of coffee, before joining her mother in the stands.

As the game progressed, Linfield had it in hand. The Wildcats were going to win. One of the second half points was the point after touchdown kick by Carter. “We had the game on ice – or mud anyway,” said Moon. “Suddenly from the stands there sliced through the drizzle a clear distinctive voice. ‘Hey coach, put Moon in.’ It was the mother. “Put Moon in,” she repeated. We want Moon. We want Moon.”

Said Moon, the wet loyal Linfield students who still clung to their bleacher seats seized the opportunity. Most of them knew me, so they joined in the chant. ‘We want Moon. We want Moon.’ Soon the feet of all the students were stomping in a back beat. I was trying to hide under my cape…”

The chanting worked. Although a center, he was sent into the game in its final minutes to play defense for the Wildcats. Said Moon, “I put all of my live action specialties into immediate action by ripping off my cape, swinging it around in a grand sweep, worthy of a grade B Dracula and flung it back to the bench.”

In response, the Linfield fans “raised the roof” with stomps and cheers. “I ran out about 10 feet into the mud, did a forward roll which changed my white uniform into the same color as the other uniforms on the field.”

In the last three plays of the game, he made two tackles and recovered a fumble. Linfield won, 27-0.

By the time Moon got to the sweaty, stinky locker room, the towels were gone. He took a shower and dried himself off with his pink Linfield t-shirt.

Now, you know that Johnny Bill “Moon” Self played a little football for Linfield, very little. But, he had fun doing it.