Second Ward, Minneapolis

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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Second Ward Proclamation Honoring Jack Trice

In 1923, Jack Trice was a star African American football player for Iowa State College, located in Ames, Iowa.  Trice and the Iowa State team played the University of Minnesota Gophers on October 6, 1923, on Northrup Field in what is now the Second Ward of Minneapolis.

The night before the game, Trice was forced to stay at a different hotel than his teammates, due to the unjust racial segregation then in effect in Minneapolis.  In his hotel the night before the game, Trice wrote the following:
“My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family & self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part. On all defensive plays I must break through the opponents' line and stop the play in their territory. Beware of mass interference. Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good.”
In the second play of the game, Trice suffered a dislocated left shoulder but continued playing.  Then, in the third period, Trice had to be removed from the field despite his insistence that he was all right, having suffered serious internal injuries.

Ninety years ago today, on October 8th, Jack Trice died in Ames, Iowa of hemorrhaged lungs and internal bleeding as a result of injuries sustained in the game in Minneapolis.  He was survived by his wife, Cora Mae Starland.

Jack Trice’s athletic ability was praised by those who watched him play.  His head coach at Cleveland East Technical School, S. S. Willaman, “regarded him as the best lineman he had ever coached,” and “one of the greatest athletes he ever saw.”  University of Minnesota Coach Bill Spaulding was quoted in the Minneapolis Journal the day after Trice’s death, saying:
“He was a real football player, a hard hitter, but a clean player, and a thorough sportsman.  Our boys commented after the game on his clean and hard play.  He was in every play that came near him, and more than once he brought our boys to a dead stop.  He was a credit to the game.”
In addition to being an impressive athlete, Jack Trice was well-liked, and a good student with great plans for his life.  His average grade in his freshman year was 90, studying animal husbandry so that he could go to the South to help African American farmers.

Perhaps if Minneapolis had not been in the grip of the injustice of racial segregation, this impressive young man would not have felt the need to allow his “body and soul” to be “thrown recklessly about the field.”  But it is clear that Jack Trice did bring honor to himself, his family, his race and his team.

Now, Therefore, as duly elected City Council Member for the Second Ward of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Jack Trice suffered the injuries that would take his life, I add my voice to those who honor his memory on the ninetieth anniversary of his death by proclaiming October 9th, 2013 as Jack Trice Day in the Second Ward of the City of Minneapolis.

Cam Gordon

Council Member, Second Ward


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