“FOOTBALL AT FENWAY”



 

Boston University played its home games at Fenway Park from 1936 thru 1939, and then again after World War II, from 1947 thru 1952.  The team also used the old Nickerson Field (Riverside) in Weston MA as their practice facility and played home games there when Fenway Park was not available.  The old Nickerson Field (Riverside) was located near where the Exit 15 toll booths are on the Massachusetts Turnpike. 

In 1936, the Terriers put a powerful football team on the field, started the season off by going 3-0 and not allowing their opponents to score any points in their first three games.  On October 24th, undefeated Villanova beat up on the Terriers by a 25-7 score, to give them their first loss.  The next week, the team rebounded against unscored-upon Miami to take them to a 7-7 tie.  Under Coach Pat Hanley,  Leon Spivak, Earl Compton, Garry Famiglietti, Max Miller, Saul Nechtem, and Roy Thompson the 1936 Terriers, who fought many injuries, finished the season with a very strong 5-1-2 record.  The team allowing only two opponent touchdowns to be scored upon them for the whole season. All five of Boston University's wins were shutouts.

The Terriers picked up in 1937 where they left off.  Lead by returning upperclassmen, Nechtem, Famiglietti, Miller and Lou Blazynski the result was another very successful year for Terrier football, with a team record of 6-2.  The team started off the season with a 3-0 record, outscoring their opponents 88-8.  Their first lost came at the hands of the more favored, Western Reserve University (unbeaten since 1934) by a 7-0 score on a final period punt return.  Their only other loss of the season came at the hands of ninth ranked Villanova.  They ended the year by beating cross-town rival, Boston College, for the first time in 12 years.

In 1938, under captain Johnny Walker, the Terriers fielded a mediocre football team, going 3-4-1.  In 1939, the Terriers looked good at times behind Walker, Walter Williams and Jimmy Cassidy finishing with a successful record of 5-3.

After the war, Boston University fielded very strong teams.  Led by Bob Hatch and Johnny Toner in 1947, the team started off very strong by dominating little Mohawk College and N.Y.U. but losing a very close game to Harvard.  There real test came against Purdue and there they were hit hard, finishing with a 5-3 record at the end of the year. In 1948 Boston University totally dominated their opponents, winning 6 of their first 7 games and scoring over 40 points more than their opponents.  Led by wide receiver George Sulima, they posted a 6-2 record.

In 1949, Harry Agganis took over the Terrier football team and quickly showed that he was head and shoulders above every player on the field. He passed like a pro and closed in on many collegiate scoring records.  The team started off 6-0 only to lose the last two games of the season.  In 1951 with Agganis at the helm after a year's absence, the Terriers played great football again.  Along  with running back Johnny Kastan the Terriers had many one-sided game but could only manage  a 6-4 record. 1952 marked the end of the Agganis era and produced some of the school's biggest wins, including a 9-7 win over highly favored Miami on October 10th.

B.U. bought Braves Field after the Boston Braves left for Milwaukee in 1953, renovated the stadium, and renamed it Nickerson Field.  From that point on they played all their home football games there.

JOHN WALKER (1937-1939) ... Johnny gained a regular starting spot in his first varsity year in 1936 and never relinquished the post for the ensuing three seasons. Highlight of his football career was Boston U's first victory over Boston College (13-6) in 1937, with teammates Gary Famiglietti, Hall-of-Famer Saul Nechtem, Earl Crompton, Max Miller, and host of other well-known BU Players. Johnny was named captain of the 1938 club and climaxed the season with recognition on the AP All-East second team, UPI All New England team, All American Honorable Mention by Bill Cunningham and All American Honorable Mention by Liberty Magazine. Probably the greatest tribute to his playing, however, came from his opponents. In his senior year he was named to the All-Opponent teams of Lehigh, Army, Villanova, and Boston College; as well as receiving a position on the Villanova All-Opponent teams of 1936, '37, and '38. Upon completion of his collegiate playing he was offered a pro contract with the Chicago Cardinals, but turned it down. A catcher on the BU baseball team for three years, versatile Johnny also made his mark in hockey. When BU came up without a goalie, coach Waylie Vaughan approached Walker to take a try in the nets. Never having played goalie before, Johnny had one practice session before his collegiate debut. In that opener BU posted an 8-3 decision over MIT and went on to win the New England Inter-collegiate title. Highlight of the season, as far as Walker is concerned, was BU's first ice victory over Harvard (6-3) and his first selection as New England's top net tender. The Boston University News applied the frosting to the cake when it named Walker "BU Athlete of the Year" for 1939.

MAX MILLER (1936-1938) ... Max was one of the Terriers' finest two-way performers.  On offense, he was a 150-pound blocking guard who joined with fellow Hall of Fame quarterback Leon Spivack to open gaping holes for the Terrier running backs. Then, on defense, he was a nose guard taking on linemen who usually out-weighed him by 45 to 50 pounds. Originally enrolled at Alabama where he was a classmate of Paul "Bear" Bryant, Miller transferred to B.U. where he was a mainstay on the Terriers' outstanding teams of 1936 and 1937 that had a combined record of 11-3-2. Certainly, one of the highlights came in the final game of the 1937 season when the Terriers defeated Boston College, 13-6. The 1937 season was one of the greatest ever enjoyed by a Terrier defensive unit. En route to a 6-2 record, the defense, with Miller at nose guard, never gave up more than 12 points, and they held six opponents to seven points or less. Statistically, Clarkson was held to minus 6 yards rushing, Lehigh had 11 yards on the ground, and Slippery Rock managed just 20 yards. Individually, Miller's top effort was against Washington University. He forced a pair of fumbles that helped preserve a 14-12 Terrier win.  His post-season accolades included First Team Jewish All-America as a junior and senior, Third Team All-New England his junior year, and Honorable Mention All-East and Honorable Mention All-America following his senior year.

GARY FAMIGLIETTI (1936-1938) ... Gary is described as a "bone-crunching" fullback who played for the Terriers.  On the defensive side of the ball, he was no less fearless, serving as one of the team's better linebackers. Perhaps his greatest collegiate moment came against rival Boston College, when he intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown in the Terriers' 13-6 win. With the Eagles driving late in the game, he stopped a running play five yards deep in the backfield, stuffing the drive.  After BU, Famiglietti was signed by the Chicago Bears and George "Papa Bear" Halas, where he played on four NFL championship teams in 1940, '41, '42, and '43.  He played running back for nine seasons for the Chicago Bears and Boston Yanks.  His most productive year occurred in 1942. He finished third in NFL rushing yards with a total of 503 and first in rushing touchdowns with a total of 8.

SAUL NECHTEM (1937-1939) ... Solly came out of Chelsea High School, where he was a four sports star competing in football, baseball, basketball and track. Saul and Mickey Cochrane are the only athletes in B.U. history to win 12 Varsity letters.  He was quarterback on the football team, made all New England three years in a row, All-Eastern once, was given honorable mention for All-America, and was selected as the quarterback of the Jewish All-American Football team in 1938. He made second team All-America in basketball as a forward and was considering a career as a professional, but World War II intervened and Saul became a Lieutenant (Sr. grade) in the Navy, seeing plenty of action as an air combat intelligence officer.  He played shortstop and was one of the pitchers on the baseball team. Last but not least he competed in four events on the track team, winning the 100 and the 220 plus the high jump and broad jump. He held the B.U. high jump mark until John Thomas shattered it by going over the bar almost a foot higher than Saul's record.

JOHN KASTAN (1950-1952) ... John was considered by former head coach Buff Donelli to be one of the two best fullbacks he ever coached in his 47 years on the sidelines. Kastan came to B.U. via Glassport H.S. in Glassport, PA where he was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball. He ranks 13th on the Terriers all-time rushing list with 1,182 yards in three seasons. His 886 yards in 1951 is good for 12th-best in a season. Upon graduation, he held school records for most rushing touchdowns in a game, most touchdowns in a game, most touchdowns in a season, most touchdowns in three years of varsity competition, most points in a game, and most career points. These records have been eclipsed over time, but they do not diminish what Kastan was able to accomplish on the football field for the Terriers. Kastan was drafted by the New York Giants upon graduating from B.U., but before his NFL career began, he was part of another draft. This one sent him to Korea for two years.

GEORGE SULIMA (1949-1951) ... George was the greatest pass receiver in BU history, setting Terrier records for most receptions and most yardage gained by receptions in a career, as well as the single season mark for yardage gained by a receiver. An All-East selection for three straight years, he was drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and played with them for four years.

HARRY AGGANIS (1949-1952) ... Harry Agganis was one of those rare people whose legend was as great while he was alive as it is today, nearly 30 years after his untimely death. Agganis was and is considered by many to be one the finest athletes to ever come out of Massachusetts.  In high school, his three-year passing efficiency was 65 percent (326-for-502) for 4099 yards and 47 TDs. He scored 24 of those touchdowns himself and added 39 PAT's. Oh, and he had a 40-plus yard average as a punter.  He was just as proficient in baseball, earning high school All-America honors at first base.

Agganis chose Boston University because he wanted to play close to home where his mother could see him play. In addition, he held a tremendous amount of respect for head coach Buff Donelli.  As a freshman, Harry showed notice that he would be a force to be reckoned with during his collegiate career. In four games with the freshman squad (freshmen could not play varsity), he was 29-for-52 for 492 yards and five TDs. He averaged 4.7 yards on the ground, rushing for four more touchdowns, while kicking 10 PAT.  His sophomore season, 1949, he was 55-for-108 for 762 yards and 15 TD's. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry, 46.5 yards per punt (tops in the nation) and scored a pair of touchdowns. 

In 1950, he served in the Marines at Camp Lejeune, where he picked up a bat again, hitting .347 in over 100 games. He was named the all-star first baseman at the National Semi-pro tournament in Wichita in 1951.  Agganis returned to BU in 1951 and picked up where he left off, completing 104-of-185 passes for 1,402 yards and 14 TD's. He was named to the All-American team and earned the Bulger Lowe award as New England's outstanding football player.  

His final year at BU his season was reduced to seven games due to a rib injury. He still managed to complete 67-of-125 passes for 766 yards and five TD's. For his varsity career, he finished 226-of-418 (54 percent) for 2,930 yards and 34 touchdowns. He closed out his collegiate football career by grabbing most valuable player honors in the 1953 North-South Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL. After that game, Red Grange proclaimed Agganis the best player he had seen all year.  Agganis graduated from BU holding 15 Terrier records. Although most of those records have since been eclipsed, it is important to note he only played three years of varsity.   He was also the first two-time selection as the school's athlete of the year and was a first round draft choice by the Cleveland Browns as a junior.  Echoing his high school career, he was inducted into the BU Hall of Fame upon graduation. 

His football path seemed assured, but he chose instead to sign with the Boston Red Sox and pursue his love of baseball. He spent a year in the minor leagues, batting .281 for Louisville in 1953 before he broke into the big leagues in 1954. He batted only .251 but was set for a breakout season in 1955.  Sure enough, Agganis hit his way into the starting lineup with a .313 average to start the 1955 campaign, before tragedy struck. He was stricken with pneumonia and died tragically of a pulmonary embolism on June 29, 1955.

1936 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD OPPONENT SCORE
10/03/1936 1-0 American International Nickerson Field
(Riverside)
W 40-0
10/10/1936 2-0 at University of Toledo   W 6-0
10/17/1936 3-0 Washington University Fenway Park W 6-0
10/24/1936 3-1 at Villanova   L 25-7
10/31/1936 3-1-1 University of Miami Nickerson Field
(Riverside)
T 7-7
11/07/1936 4-1-1 at Rutgers   W 7-0
11/14/1936 5-1-1 Clarkson College Nickerson Field
(Riverside)
W 14-7
11/21/1936 5-1-2 at Boston College Fenway Park T 0-0

1937 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD

OPPONENT

SCORE
10/02/1937 1-0 Lehigh University Fenway Park W 33-6
10/09/1937 2-0 Slippery Rock College Fenway Park W 20-0
10/16/1937 3-0 at Clarkson College   W 35-2
10/23/1937 3-1 Western Reserve University Fenway Park L 7-0
10/30/1937 4-1 at Washington University   W 14-12
11/06/1937 5-1 American International Nickerson Field
(Riverside)
W 28-0
11/11/1937 5-2 Villanova Fenway Park L 12-0
11/20/1937 6-2 Boston College Fenway Park W 13-6

1938 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD

OPPONENT

SCORE
10/01/1938 0-0-1 at Lehigh   T 6-6
10/08/1938 1-0-1 St. Lawrence University Fenway Park W 19-14
10/15/1938 2-0-1 Upsala College Fenway Park W 25-0
10/22/1938 2-1-1 at Army   L 40-0
10/29/1938 2-2-1 at Western Reserve   L 47-6
11/04/1938 3-2-1 Tampa Nickerson Field
(Riverside)
W 31-7
11/11/1938 3-3-1 at Boston College Fenway Park L 21-14
11/19/1938 3-4-1 Villanova Fenway Park L 39-6

1939 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD

OPPONENT

SCORE
10/07/1939 1-0 Franklin & Marshall Fenway Park W 19-7
10/14/1939 1-1 Case Western Reserve Fenway Park L 19-14
10/21/1939 2-1 Upsala College Braves Field W 13-3
10/27/1939 3-1 at Western Maryland   W 6-0
11/04/1939 3-2 Manhattan College Braves Field L 26-0
11/11/1939 4-2 at Cincinnati   W 13-6
11/18/1939 4-3 Boston College Fenway Park L 19-0
12/01/1939 5-3 at Tampa   W 12-0

1947 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD

OPPONENT

SCORE
09/27/1947 1-0 Mohawk College Fenway Park W 45-7
10/04/1947 1-1 at Harvard   L 19-14
10/11/1947 2-1 New York University Fenway Park W 38-7
10/18/1947 2-2 Purdue Fenway Park L 62-7
10/25/1947 2-3 William & Mary Fenway Park L 47-13
11/01/1947 3-3 Fordham Fenway Park W 26-6
11/15/1947 4-3 Kings Point Merchant Marine Fenway Park W 33-6
11/22/1947 5-3 Colgate Fenway Park W 20-14

1948 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD

OPPONENT

SCORE
09/25/1948 0-1 at Muhlenberg   L 27-0
10/02/1948 1-1 at Scranton   W 13-0
10/08/1948 2-1 Colgate Fenway Park W 14-13
10/15/1948 3-1 at Temple   W 13-7
10/22/1948 4-1 New York University Fenway Park W 28-7
10/30/1948 5-1 Syracuse Fenway Park W 12-7
11/06/1948 6-1 at Fordham   W 33-7
11/20/1948 6-2 Iowa Fenway Park L 34-14

1949 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD OPPONENT SCORE
09/23/1949 1-0 at Syracuse   W 33-21
10/08/1949 2-0 at Colgate   W 40-21
10/14/1949 3-0 West Virginia Fenway Park W 52-20
10/22/1949 4-0 New York University Fenway Park W 38-0
10/29/1949 5-0 Scranton Fenway Park W 46-6
11/05/1949 6-0 Temple Fenway Park W 28-7
11/12/1949 6-1 University of Maryland Fenway Park L 14-13
11/19/1949 6-2 St. Bonaventure Fenway Park L 19-0

1950 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD OPPONENT SCORE
10/07/1950 1-0 at Duquesne   W 21-7
10/14/1950 1-1 St. Bonaventure Fenway Park L 25-21
10/20/1950 1-2 at Miami   L 34-7
10/28/1950 1-3 Syracuse Fenway Park L 13-7
11/04/1950 2-3 William & Mary Fenway Park W 16-14
11/11/1950 3-3 New York University Fenway Park W 41-13
11/18/1950 3-4 Idaho Fenway Park L 26-19
11/24/1950 3-5 at College of the Pacific   L 55-7

1951 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD OPPONENT SCORE
09/22/1951 0-1 at William & Mary   L 34-25
09/29/1951 0-2 at Penn State   L 40-34
10/05/1951 1-2 at Louisville   W 39-7
10/13/1951 2-2 Camp Lejeune Marines Fenway Park W 16-0
10/19/1951 3-2 College of the Pacific Fenway Park W 27-12
10/27/1951 3-3 at Temple   L 20-13
11/03/1951 4-3 New York University Fenway Park W 52-6
11/10/1951 5-3 Oregon Fenway Park W 35-6
11/17/1951 6-3 Wichita State Fenway Park W 39-6
11/24/1951 7-3 Syracuse Fenway Park L 26-19

1952 BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHEDULE

  RECORD OPPONENT SCORE
09/20/1952 1-0 at Wichita State   W 6-0
09/27/1952 1-1 at Syracuse   L 34-21
10/04/1952 1-2 at Marquette   L 21-0
10/10/1952 2-2 Miami University Fenway Park W 9-7
10/18/1952 3-2 William & Mary Fenway Park W 33-28
10/25/1952 4-2 at Lehigh   W 29-20
11/01/1952 4-3 Maryland Fenway Park L 34-7
11/08/1952 4-3-1 Temple Fenway Park T 14-14
11/15/1952 5-3-1 New York University Fenway Park W 14-7
11/22/1952 5-4-1 at Villanova   L 51-6