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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Medford trio among those on feted OSU team

    Liberty Bowl team of '62 enters school, state halls of fame
  • When Terry Baker orchestrated one of the biggest plays in Oregon State football history, three Beavers who were Medford High alums had varying vantage points.
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  • When Terry Baker orchestrated one of the biggest plays in Oregon State football history, three Beavers who were Medford High alums had varying vantage points.
    The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback scooted an NCAA-record 99 yards for the only score in the 1962 Liberty Bowl, giving the Beavers a 6-0 victory over Villanova at frigid Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia.
    Dan Sieg, a sophomore halfback and defensive back from Medford, was on the field and escorted Baker to the end zone.
    Al Funston, another sophomore Black Tornado product, was part of three-man rotation at right guard and saw the play from the sideline.
    Jim Funston, a fifth-year senior from Medford and the starting left tackle, had suffered a hip pointer very early in the game and was in the locker room getting a shot of Novocaine. He heard cheers from what was a sparse crowd.
    "I only hoped it was good," he says.
    It was.
    Fifty years later, those three and their teammates — including former Oregon coach Rich Brooks, a backup quarterback, and longtime Roseburg coach Thurman Bell — have been inducted into the OSU Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony was the night before the Beavers' only game this season, a home win over Wisconsin.
    The recognition was overdue, says Jim Funston, who was among those who spearheaded the move to get the team in the Hall.
    "I always felt like we should have been in," says the 1958 Medford graduate. "It (the ceremony) exceeded my expectations by quite a bit."
    Sieg and Al Funston played on the 1965 Rose Bowl team that was inducted into the OSU Hall several years earlier.
    Baker, the first Heisman winner west of Texas, was also in as an individual, and Al Funston says it was time the players who helped in his success be recognized.
    During the induction two weeks ago, the squad also learned it would be in the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame class of 2012. That induction will be on Nov. 13.
    On the epic Liberty Bowl play, the ball was spotted inside the Beavers' 1-yard line — Sieg says it was about the 1-foot line — when Baker took the snap.
    The defense anticipated a play up the middle, but Baker faked a handoff into the line, sidestepped one defender and ducked under another as he turned around the left end. Sieg was to block the safety, but the defender was out of position.
    "I picked Terry up and once he got beyond the line, there was nobody there," says Sieg. "There was clear sailing."
    The touchdown came with 9:24 left in the first quarter. The Beavers went for two but the pass failed.
    The game was played in sub-freezing temperatures. Sieg remembers it being 13 degrees at kickoff.
    The team wore Converse tennis shoes because it discovered in practice the day before that cleats just slipped across the frozen surface.
    "Our equipment manager had to go round up shoes in all sizes for the players," says Sieg. "He did a good job to get shoes to fit most people."
    Jim Funston never did make it back on the field after getting his hip injection.
    "I sat on the bench and froze the rest of the game," he says. "We just wanted to get the game over with. It was so miserable for anybody who wasn't in the game."
    Al Funston recalls the field was painted green between the 20s because it was one of the first games that would be televised in color. At that time, there were only 10 bowl games.
    The Beavers were also one of the first teams to charter a jet plane, as opposed to a prop plane, says Al Funston, and coach Tommy Prothro treated them to a trip to New York City after the game.
    Oregon State finished the season with seven straight wins, a 9-2 record and a No. 16 ranking in the United Press International Poll.
    Among its conquests were No. 12 Stanford, No. 19 West Virginia and Oregon, in a game in which the Beavers rallied for 14 second-half points and triumphed, 20-17.
    The losses were to Washington, 14-13, and Iowa.
    The latter was just "a stinker" of a game the Beavers had no business losing, says Jim Funston.
    The Washington contest "was the most bitter loss I ever played in," he says.
    Against the Huskies, a fumbled exchange between Baker and backup center John Farrell led to UW's winning points.
    "That was just a fluke," says Al Funston.
    It was played in Portland's Multnomah Stadium one day after the Columbus Day storm. Winds reached 116 mph in the city and devastated much of the Pacific Northwest. Gusts hit 127 mph in Corvallis.
    "It was like a hurricane," says Jim Funston. "It damaged Multnomah Stadium, blew off a section of the roof. There was no power in the stadium, no scoreboard, no power in the dressing rooms."
    In the game against Oregon, the Beavers had to contend with five players who would go on to long pro careers, says Jim Funston, including former Jefferson star Mel Renfro, whom Sieg and Al Funston had played against twice in high school state-championship games.
    After beating the Ducks, some writers called it "the charge of the light brigade," owing to OSU's small line. It averaged about 205 pounds, says Jim Funston. He was 212 and his brother was about 200.
    "We were always outmanned and outweighed," says Sieg. "It was just a group of guys with a lot of heart that played as a team."
    Al Funston credited the success to Prothro.
    "He was a hell of a coach," he says. "He taught us fundamentals all the time. We'd have a game on Saturdays, and Sundays we'd go out and jog and get rubdowns. Then Monday it was back to blocking and tackling, back to the fundamentals the way he taught it. On Tuesday, we'd start working on the other team."
    Sieg now lives in Shady Cove, Jim Funston resides in Yakima, Wash., and Al Funston is in Sunriver.
    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com
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