The Wrong Way Run
First day of a new year. What could go wrong?
The year was 1929. At the Rose Bowl, the ball lay loose at the Georgia Tech thirty-yard line. Roy Riegels, a University of California, Berkeley lineman, his eyes lit in uninhibited enthusiasm, scooped it up. There was no one between him and the goalpost. He took off.
On the radio, Graham McNamee called the play. “What am I seeing? What’s wrong with me? Am I crazy? Am I crazy?”
On the sideline, Bulldogs coach Bill Alexander mused quietly, “He’s running the wrong way. Let’s see how far he can go.”
‘Wrong Way’ Riegels went sixty-five yards before getting turned around by a teammate. But it was too late for a reprieve. He was tackled and brought down at the one-yard line from where the Bears chose to punt. It was blocked and a safety was scored. The final tally was 8-7. Those two points decided the game.
It was a bitter pill to swallow, and Riegels, though he became successful, was never able to escape the blunder. But his moment was nothing compared to that which happened later that same year, when the market ran the wrong way on that dark day known as Black Tuesday.
The majority of stockholders never recovered their losses from the great crash. Many lives were ruined. There was scant warning, but had they paid attention to the Rose Bowl, they might have taken note of the foreshadowing of a run the wrong way.
First published: November, 2008
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