Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Crimson Tide Special En Route to the 1938 Rose Bowl

In December 1937, the University of Alabama scheduled a special Southern Pacific train to carry the Crimson Tide football team and their supporters to Pasadena for the New Years Day game against the University of California. As in years past, the transportation for the Bama backers to the West Coast was organized by Jefferson Coleman, the UA athletic department business manager.

The 14-car train with 248 passengers dubbed "The Crimson Tide Special" by sportswriters left Tuscaloosa on Dec. 21 and traveled the 2,500 miles to California in three days, arriving at the Pasadena station at 9 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning.

The trip was not uneventful for the squad. During a practice on a rain-drenched field while on a stopover at San Antonio, Texas, Alabama player Leroy Munskie sustained a severe cut over his right eye that required several stiches. The cut was re-injured in a collision during another practice in a Tuscon, AZ stop. The injury sparked concern over if he would be able to play in the New Year's Day game.

Another train carrying Alabama supporters departed Tuscaloosa on Dec. 27 with about 150 passengers and two more trains, one leaving Montgomery and another from Birmingham, departed the same day with about 200 additional Crimson Tide backers.