Sunday, March 12, 2006

Do You Know Someone Mentioned in Knobby's Football History Book?

The Borders book store on University Avenue has a large section devoted to some of the many books about Madison and Wisconsin published every year. A few days ago, I was browsing through the collection, and I encountered a book by former Madison Central High School coach Wayne "Knobby" Kelliher. It was published in 2003, but escaped my attention back then -- probably because I'm not an avid reader of the local newspaper sports coverage. After a bit of searching, I found a glowing review by Wisconsin State Journal sports writer Rob Hernandez, who called the book "a must-read for anyone who has played football for a Madison high School."

If you live in Madison, you may well have already discovered (or purchased) a copy of Kelliher's book, "Football Madison Style," a history of Madison high school football from 1893 to 2002. The book has lots of photos and team lists, as well as short features about teams and games. In addition to Madison public schools, the book also includes Wisconsin High, Edgewood, Queen of Apostles, and Holy Name.

What "Football Madison Style" doesn't have is an index. You'll have to read the whole book to find out what players besides Central Class of 1965 football team members Ralph Guerin and Larry Franklin, and Madison High School Class of 1909 football team member Harold Lampert merit a mention.

Borders is not the only place to find copies of the book; it's also available at the Madison Public Library. And if those options are too far away from where you live now, you may also order the book directed from the publisher, Badger Books.

Wayne "Knobby" Kelliher graduated from Madison Central High School in 1951. Does anyone know when and how he earned his nickname? Leave a comment or send an email. This is not a contest, I don't know the answer.


Mary Jo McCarthy said...

I don't know where the nickname Knobby came from but I do know someone who can tell me. My Dad, Danny McCarthy who owned the Shamrock Bar just off the square when we were growing up was one of Knobby's best friends. Knobby was at our home a lot and I'm going to call my Dad who is living in Stevens Point now, and see if I can get you the info. Mary Jo McCarthy

D Strand said...

I think the nickname comes from a knob or two on his head from being hit with a baseball, but I'm just guessing. Knobby was a pretty tough coach. He made us run 30 windsprints every night in baseball and he once told us before a game that we were such wimps that if we got punched in the mouth by a West guy, we would say "excuse me for getting my face in the way." I didn't like that one too much, but it may have made us play more aggressively! I liked Knobby. I liked coaches who were tough but could smile once in a while and have a little fun, and he did!! I also liked his compassion; the way he befriended a special kid in our neighborhood. That compassion that he showed made me play harder for him than anything else. I (we) were thrilled when we beat West for the Big Eight Championship in 1964. I still have a copy of our team picture on the front page of the sports section in The Capital Times! Maybe I'll send Nadine a copy. I think it was one of the only Big Eight Championships Central got (except for the 1965 Big Eight and State Track Championship with Larry Franklin and Bob Fox!!).

D Strand said...

While I'm at it, I remember that championship game against West like it was yesterday. Mr. Kelliher told me to coach first base. I was as fired up as if I were in the starting line-up (but didn't show it). West had their super-duper left-handed ace Jon Chapin on the mound. No one will ever forget when Bill Van Dyke hit one of Chapin's pitches over the 25 foot screen in center field and into the trees outside of Breese.
A second homer came when Dave Melum hit a line drive down the left field line that got past the left fielder. Breese was our home field and we knew that if a hard hit ball got on the track in left it would roll forever. I just remember seeing the left fielder's back and yelling to Dave to "dig" and go for all of them.
Then it was Dave Lalley's turn. Super star Jon Chapin's counterpart was up to the task. Dave had great control and the best curve ball/sinker around. When he got ahead of you, you were done. Lalley took care of the Regents and we were Champs!!
We went on to the finals of the state tournament and lost to Richland center and pitcher Vern Geishert whom many of us played against in little league at Central Practice field in the summers.

Anonymous said...

i was just wondering if any of you guys can tell me something about Mr.Wayne Kelliher. I am doing a paper on his book 'Football Madison Style'. It would help me a lot if i knew something about him.