1952 Thanksgiving Day Football Classic

   Between 1920 and 1959, Benedictine played a football game against Savannah High on Thanksgiving Day. The game was the biggest event in the City of Savannah during this period. Preparations for the game began the previous weekend with automobiles being decorated; and friendly, and not so friendly, wagers placed on the outcome of the game. Pep rallies were held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving followed by car parades through the city.

   The cars were decorated in school colors: maroon and white for BC and blue and white for Savannah High. The cheerleaders would sometimes have a joint luncheon in the days preceding the game, and coaches from the teams would attend and give talks. The cheerleaders would decorate goalposts on Thanksgiving morning and then prepare for the game.

   The football game began at 2:30 PM, and there would be 15,000 in attendance at Grayson Stadium. The men wore coats and ties, and the ladies wore their finest dresses. The ladies would wear Fuji mums with ribbons of their school’s colors. After the games, there were coffin burnings on the corner of Bull and Broughton Streets. The school whose team won the football game had the right to burn the coffin of the opposing team.

   BC and Savannah High played their first game in 1903 which ended in a 10 to 10 tie. They played several games each year through 1911. Between 1912 and 1917, the two schools did not play each other due to differences in rules for qualifying players. In 1918, they resumed the rivalry; and in 1920, they began playing on Thanksgiving Day. The last of the Thanksgiving Day Football Classics was played in 1959. The Georgia High School Association made a ruling that all region championships had to be decided before Thanksgiving, so the rivalry game was played one week before Thanksgiving. This ended the great tradition.

   The video is of the 1952 Thanksgiving Day Football Game in which BC defeated Savannah High by a score of 6 to 0. Charlie Moore scored a touchdown in the first two minutes of the game, after Jason Williams recovered a Blue jacket fumble. Head Coach Vic Mell is in a suit carrying a clipboard. BC Principal Fr. Bede Lightner is in a black coat with a white scarf. BC’s captains were Roy Gillikin and Billy Logan. Savannah High’s captains were Walter Parkinson and Jim Richards.


Note: The complete story of this great tradition is recorded in the book “Savannah’s Thanksgiving Day Football Classic,” by Maurice Sheppard published in 2008. It is available at Live Oak Library in Savannah.