Third Down and a War to Go
The All-American 1942 Wisconsin Badgers
By Terry Frei
(Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Hardcover, 9780870203602, 288pp.)
Publication Date: August 2004
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The 1942 Wisconsin Badgers football team had a host of individual stars, including two-time All-American end Dave Schreiner, fullback Pat Harder, and halfback Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch. Their coach was the stubborn and respected Harry Stuhldreher, best known as the one-time quarterback of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen. In the final-fling atmosphere typical on college campuses as the first year of U.S. involvement in World War II was winding down, the Badgers climbed their way up the rankings and ultimately became one of the greatest college football teams of all time.
Stars and benchwarmers alike knew that each game brought them closer to military service. The Badgers scattered into the various branches-and around the world-shortly after the season. Not all were asked to be heroic in battle, but many were, and they answered the challenge. Not all of them returned, and the circumstances of at least one battle death have been shrouded in mystery for six decades.
Terry Frei is a sports reporter and columnist for the Denver Post and ESPN.com who frequently appears on sports radio and television. His previous book was the acclaimed Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming: Texas vs. Arkansas in Dixie's Last Stand, the story of the 1969 football game between the Texas Longhorns and the Arkansas Razorbacks—and the tumultuous times in which it was played.
"Terry Frei has captured the spirit of a different time in this country, a time of faith in school and in country, a time of intense loyalty to teammate and fellow soldier. Third Down and a War to Go tells the story of one University of Wisconsin football team during World War II. But to limit the tale to that is like saying Angela's Ashes is about Ireland. This book brings to life, in shades of black and blue and blood red, the idea that certain things are worth fighting for." (Rick Morrissey, Chicago Tribune)
"Many times you hear athletes called heroes, and their deeds and accomplishments on the field or court are characterized as courageous. After reading Third Down and a War to Go, I am embarrassed to have ever been thought of as brave or courageous. . . . Enjoy this adventure in history, life, and courage and take it from a so-called 'tough guy'" keep the hanky close by." (Dan Fouts, Hall of Fame quarterback and ABC-TV sportscaster)
"A great read!" (UW Badger Coach Barry Alvarez)
"Impressively researched and reported and powerfully written, Third Down and a War to Go will put you in the huddle, in the front lines, and in a state of profound gratitude — not only to the Badgers and the hundreds of thousands of veterans like them, but to Terry Frei." (Neal Rubin, The Detroit News)"Terry Frei has done a superb job of researching and writing to bring us the true spirit and similarity of our military services, particularly the U.S. Marines, and college football. He vividly follows the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers, who so soon after their gridiron exploits were the losers of life and limb. Events of over 60 years ago seem to have been frozen in time as Frei takes us back to the glory days of so many young Americans." (Robert B. Rennebohm, Wisconsin end (1942, 1946-47), Marine lieutenant (1943-45), and longtime head of the University of Wisconsin Foundation)
"Tirelessly researched and relentlessly touching. The true allegory of football and war, minus the cliches." (Jay Greenberg, The New York Post)
2005 Honorable Mention in the Recreation/Sports Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Awards