Part tribute to his father, and part historical look at the 1942 Wisconsin Badgers football team, Terry Frei takes us back to the middle of World War II in Third Down and a War To Go. Terry is a local sportswriter in the Denver area and I heard him talk about this book on the air, and decided to read it.
His father was on that team, nothing special in there, but left to serve in the Air Force during WWII, eventually coming home to become a coach at various levels, including the Denver Broncos. His son went to track down the story of that team after his father passed, writing this story of the team, which exceeded the expectations of the time, had a great season, even as many of the boys were preparing to go to war. Many of them did, and some didn’t come back.
It’s a look at the world from sports, but with the idea that sports is only a part of life. Those boys loved football, and were invested in having a great season (including beating Ohio St), but also were planning on leaving school and entering the service. Many of them had signed up for the reserves once Pearl Harbor was attacked, and after the 1942 season, many were gone until some came back in 1946.
It’s inspiring, and admirable, though the writing is a bit flat. I know this is more history than drama, but it could use a little more excitement. It definitely evoked emotion near the end, as some of the men died and didn’t return. Their deaths have been carried through the years by those that did come back.
A read I enjoyed, and one that made me remember that there are many more important things in life than work, or school, but especially sports.