December Holiday Sale (#17)
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This lot is closed. Bidding ended on 12/6/2006.
The very avatar of sportsmanship in America and the most significant and celebrated trophy in sports, the Heisman Trophy has been awarded annually by the Downtown Athletic Club (DAC) of New York City since 1935 to college football’s most outstanding player. The DAC was a privately owned recreation facility near the site of the former World Trade Center. Following the bankruptcy of the DAC in 2002, the award is now given out by the Yale Club. The trophy is named after one of the greatest innovators of American football, John W. Heisman; no man had a bigger impact on the game before or since. Playing a combination rugby/soccer game in the late 1800s at Brown and Penn, Heisman was debilitated by a lightning strike and nearly lost his eyesight. Upon graduation he turned to coaching football at Oberlin College, who in only their second season in existence went undefeated. Continuing to innovate at Georgia Tech in the mid-to-late 1910s, he is mostly responsible for the game of football that we know and love today; much of the Official Rule Book at the time was written in Heisman's own words. In fact, he is largely responsible for the legalization of the forward pass in 1906, after his constant badgering of Walter Camp and the rules committee. As the head coach of the Georgia Tech Engineers in 1916, he defeated the Cumberland University Bulldogs 222-0 in the most one-sided college football game ever played, during which the Engineers scored with every possession of the ball. At the end of his enormously successful coaching career, Heisman switched gears and turned to writing about football. Deeply respected in football circles, in 1930 he was named the first Athletic Director of the DAC. Soon thereafter, he founded and organized the Touchdown Club of New York and the National Football Coaches Association. After careful consideration of the suggestions of DAC members, and after initial resistance, Heisman created a system to ascertain the best collegiate football player in the country. Voted on by more than 1,000 sportswriters and announced every December before the postseason bowl games, the Heisman Trophy was thus born. Commissioned to design the trophy was 23 year old New York native Frank Eliscu, who had recently won the National Academy Prize in sculpture. The DAC committee decided that the trophy should be a bronze replica of a football player carrying the ball in his left hand while fending off defenders with his right hand. Eliscu used his good friend and 1934 NYU star player Ed Smith to pose as the model; exaggerating his biceps and calf muscles, Eliscu created a prototype in clay. With the help of Fordham coach Jim Crowley, one of the Four Horseman of Notre Dame, modifications were made and the prototype was converted into a plaster cast, the mold from which the final bronze statues would be made. It is truly a work of art unto itself. The first trophy was awarded to Jay Berwanger of the University of Chicago in 1935. John Heisman died on October 3, 1936, before the second annual Heisman could be awarded; the officers of the DAC unanimously voted to rename the DAC Award to "The Heisman Memorial Trophy" that year. Many of the players have become both household names and Pro Football Hall of Famers, such as Paul Hornung, Marcus Allen, Doak Walker, O.J. Simpson, Tony Dorsett, Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders and Roger Staubach. This actual Heisman Trophy was presented to USC Trojans tailback Charles White in 1979. USC shares the honors with Notre Dame for the most Heisman Trophy winners with seven each. White, a major part of USC's distinguished "Tailback U" era, set 22 records in the NCAA and Pac 10 Conference. He went on to the NFL and played for the Cleveland Browns (1980–1984) and Los Angeles Rams (1985–1988). He was a 1987 Pro Bowl selection after rushing for a league-leading 1,387 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning him the "NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award." White retired with 3,075 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, along with 114 receptions, 860 yards and 1 touchdown. A great athlete, he later made an appearance in the American Gladiators TV show's "Pro Football Challenge of Champions" specials, winning both. Mounted on an approximately 17-1/2" x 10-1/4 x 5" tall trapezoidal black lacquered wood pedestal is the magnificent 12" tall cast bronze player holding a football with arm outstretched, on a 13-1/4" x 6-1/2" x 1" tall pedestal, in total approximately 18" high. On the front of the pedestal is an approximately 10-1/4" x 3" trapezoidal brass plaque that reads "The Heisman Memorial Trophy Is Presented By Downtown Athletic Club Of New York City To Charles White, University Of Southern California, As the Outstanding College Football Player In The United States For 1979." The trophy is in absolutely fabulous condition and has not been altered or restored in any way, 100% original, no cracks or chips, very light wear on wood pedestal. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a true piece of American history.
The 1979 Heisman Trophy Award Presented to USC Tailback Charles White
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