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Sportswriter Missed Point That Day in ’41

On Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the San Jose State student newspaper had a reporter on the scene.

Sebastian (Scrappy) Squatrito, sports editor of the Spartan Daily and manager of the Spartan football team, had traveled to Honolulu with the team, which was scheduled to play the University of Hawaii.

The game was canceled.

Back at San Jose State, the head of the college’s journalism department, Dwight Bentel, waited for a dispatch from Squatrito.

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None came.

Several weeks later, after returning by boat to the mainland, Squatrito was confronted by Bentel.

“Where were you?” Bentel asked. “Where’s the story?”

Said the dumbstruck reporter: “There wasn’t any story. They didn’t play the game.”

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Trivia time: What was unique about the 1942 Rose Bowl game?

Over there: Eight days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Navy defeated Army, 14-6, in front of 98,000 at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, running its record to 3-0 against the Cadets under Coach Swede Larson.

“This will be the last game for me for quite a while,” Larson said afterward. “There’s a bigger game coming up and I’m going to be in it.”

A few weeks later, he was killed during fighting in the South Pacific.

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Suit him up: The star of Navy’s victory over Army 50 years ago was tailback Bill Busik, who had gone to the U.S. Naval Academy from Pasadena, where he had been a teammate of Jackie Robinson at Pasadena City College.

When Busik entered Annapolis in 1939, he told the Baltimore Evening Sun during a recent interview, “the mind-set of people was war-oriented” because of events in Europe. Courses were accelerated, classes of students whisked through the academy as quickly as possible. Busik’s class of 1943 graduated in 1942, depriving him of a year of football.

Said Busik, 72, executive director of the Naval Academy Alumni Assn. since 1971: “I still have a year of eligibility left.”

The Midshipmen probably could use him.

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They are 0-10.

Trivia answer: It was played in Durham, N.C. Because of fear of a possible attack by the Japanese, the game was played outside Pasadena for the only time in its history. Oregon State defeated Duke, 20-16, before a crowd of 56,000 at Duke Stadium.

Quotebook: Gray McConnell, 69, former San Jose State football player, who watched part of the attack on Pearl Harbor with teammates Allan Hardisty and Charlie Cook, from a bluff overlooking the naval base: “Planes were diving. We could see the battleship Oklahoma capsizing. It was a horrible sight.”


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