1953 - 58 Orangemen
(Authentic Reproduction)



Despite Coach Ben's "run first" approach, QB Pete Stark again threw for over 1000 yards in 1953 but the team slipped to 5-3-1. Bob Fleck again was an All American, this time as a guard. A highlight player that would put Syracuse on the map in the next few seasons was the freshmen team's fullback, Jim Brown who had been recruited from Long Island. Syracuse entered the 1953 season with a slight helmet change that would forever more make the statement "This is Syracuse Football" as the orange Riddell shell was enhanced by a one-inch navy blue center stripe. Jim Brown also changed Syracuse football with both his playing ability and the fact that he saw Schwartzwalder as a father figure whose "office door was always open...Few fathers could do a better job in such matters." These factors paved the way for other African-American standouts like John Mackey, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little, and Jim Nance. Jim Brown was only twenty years old when he graduated from Syracuse and thus was a young soph halfback in '54 but he was not yet special. What most did not and perhaps still don't know is that he was not offered a football scholarship to Syracuse coming out of Long Island's Manhasset H.S. A wealthy area, Brown attended the school on the north shore of the Island because his mother, having moved up from Georgia, worked as a domestic in the area. A number of local businessmen seeing Brown's physical and intellectual potential, despite being the leader of a street gang called the Gaylords, paid for his tuition and other expenses though the young man was not aware of this. Syracuse later did grant a scholarship as Brown became the focal point of their offense and defense. Perhaps the finest lacrosse player to come out of Long Island, the nation's hotbed of the sport, Brown has been rated as the best collegiate lacrosse player of all time by some. He also lettered at Syracuse in basketball and excelled in the field events on the track team. Starting slowly his sophomore year, a 4-4 team effort, he defined Syracuse football in his junior year, proving unstoppable at times. Teamed with QB Ed Albright and wingback Jimmy Ridlon, Brown boosted the Orange record to 5-3 with wins over Army and West Virginia where Huff and Brown squared off in a preview of their future NFL battles. By 1956, the 212-pound Brown was the best player on both sides of the ball in almost every game and an accurate place kicker. The 7-1 record was completed on Brown's back with assistance from Ridlon and end Dick Lasse who later played against Brown as a five-year NFL LB for three different teams. Brown finished the year with a record 986 rushing yards and All American honors. He and the team closed the year in the Cotton Bowl against HB Jim Swink and his TCU Frogs. Syracuse football was on the national map despite a 28-27 loss in which Brown scored three TD's, ran for 132 yards, and was named MVP. As Ridlon said, "The TCU team was so good that we cheered their movies when we watched them" and he noted that Syracuse did not have the depth to play against them. "If it weren't for Jimmy Brown we would have had nothing" and as the Orangemen entered 1957, they would in fact be without their star player who single-handedly put them into the national limelight. Lasse and soph Gerhard Schwedes, a talented back, carried the team to a 5-3-1 record that saw them drop key games to Penn State and West Virginia. There was power in the forward wall for 1958 with Lasse and guard Roger Davis who had assistance from sophomores, end Tom Gilburg and tackle John Brown. Three-year letterman tackle Ron Luciano gained greater fame as a Major League Baseball umpire following time in the Buffalo Bills camp. Schwedes teamed with soph HB Art Baker, a terrific NCAA wrestler and QB tandem Chuck Zimmerman (All East) and Dave Sarette and this young team surprised everyone with a solid 8-1 performance. Only a second-game loss to Holy Cross marred the record. Earning a berth to the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma, they were whipped 21-6 and received a great deal of criticism from the national press corps, but Coach Ben knew he had a winning team with even more young talent coming up.

If interested in any of these Syracuse helmets please click on the photos below.