Out with the old, in with the new: Alumni recount playing football at Taylor, Goodman

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The Lehigh football team used to play its home games at Taylor Stadium on Asa Packer campus. The current Taylor gymnasium stands where the old stadium used to be. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

The fall of 1987 marked the Lehigh football team’s last season playing in Taylor Stadium, which spanned from Taylor Gym’s present-day entrance to Williams dorm, the bottom-most portion of Lower Cents. The following year marked the inaugural season of play on the Murray H. Goodman campus in the new Goodman Stadium. The Brown and White sat down with three alumni to discuss their memories in both stadiums and some of their most memorable Le-Laf experiences.

Q: Can you recount your last game at Taylor?

Mark McGowan, ‘89: It was my junior year. It was one of the coldest days I could ever remember. -4 (degrees) was the temperature and it was close to -20 (degrees with) windchill. It was by far the coldest game ever. It was very windy, so it was hard to control the ball to throw it. There were six or seven minutes left in the game. I figured we’d have one or two more drives left. I called a couple plays, hit a couple pass plays, ran on a bootleg down to the one-yard line and then ended up going in on a quarterback sneak, taking it from one yard out. That put us up by six, and then we went for the two-point conversion. We ended up winning 17-10. It was a great way to close out the historic era in Lehigh football by beating Lafayette, in the cold, a hard-fought last game in Taylor Stadium.

Jeff Frase, ‘90: Last game at Taylor, I recall wearing three sweatshirts under my shoulder pads. In my whole life playing football, no game was ever colder. This game has been documented as being super cold.

Mike Walsh, ‘90: It was the perfect weather for the death of a football stadium. It was miserable. It was the coldest football game that has ever taken place. The skies were dark — no sun at all. The wind was extremely strong. There wasn’t the performance athletic wear like (Lululemon Athletica) or Under Armour. They used to give us these shirts to wear underneath. They were canvas and white. They would stamp a bullseye on them so you wouldn’t steal them. Balmys are what we would call them. “Balmys on today. Definitely a day for a balmy.”

Q: Can you recount your first game at Goodman?

MM: The first game was against Cornell. Everyone came out to see it — it was a beautiful day. We started out a little slow on offense, but after a couple series, we got our groove going.  While Eric Terrain scored the first rushing touchdown, I threw the first of many passing touchdowns that I have now scored in Goodman. I threw a pass to John Gorman, first touchdown reception in the stadium. We cruised to a win against Cornell. Those were the two games that highlighted my football career. Great way to kick off the new tradition in Goodman Stadium.

MW: Cornell. Now I’m playing, not just watching and holding the ball. I was a safety and it was my junior year.  It was a beautiful day. It was that crisp fall, sun shining, perfect football weather. Wasn’t too warm, no wind. The stadium was nuts. It was sold out. It felt like big-time college football. On that day, it felt like a new era for Lehigh football — a whole new beginning. I remember looking up and seeing Murray H. Goodman. I was so appreciative I wrote a letter. What a fantastic thing he has done for us.  

A photo of the press box at Taylor Stadium. The football field moved from Asa Packer campus to Goodman campus in 1988. (Courtesy of Lehigh Sports)

Q: What were the major differences between the two stadiums that stood out to you?

MM: There was something really special about Taylor and that was you could walk through campus on the way before the game, walking through everyone’s tailgate. You could just hear and see the spirit of the campus coming alive. It made it all reality — wow, everyone is coming to watch us play. The old-school locker rooms, traditions, running out onto a field that was a lot closer to the stands, it felt like a smaller atmosphere, louder too, because the fans were right on top of you. Goodman has such a beautiful setting. It was fun being a part of that whole transition. As far as Goodman goes, there’s not much to complain about. The first few games that I played in there, the students were all sitting on the grass bank, besides having some home stands filled. It was just exciting to be a part of something brand spanking new.

JF: Taylor was an old, famous stadium with character. The stadium was on campus, accessible to all. It was a part of campus and most likely made for a very high participation rate among students for attending home games. I believe football games being on campus and tailgating being on campus made for a very positive environment back in the day.

MW: The thing that I appreciated about Taylor that I didn’t appreciate while I was there, (was that) the fans were right next to you. They were right up on you. With Goodman, the stadium was pushed back, we were used to turning around and seeing the fans. Now there was distance. I remember that, and actually not liking it as much. The atmosphere became so different because the Asa Packer campus on one side of the mountain was academic, and to me, it was all work. When you went on the other side of the campus, it was all about athletics. I’m grinding out mentally on this side, and when we get over there it’s all about the physical. It’s two extreme atmospheres and environments.  

Q: Did you notice any changes amongst the team with the new stadium?

JF: I believe that, though it was an old stadium, it was with much consternation and concern that the football games were moved. No one, at the time, was pleased with the move and the student body was very much against the move “off campus.”  

MW: The professionalism rising because now we had this state-of-the-art locker room. Definitely some enthusiasm with being in a new stadium. I don’t remember us suddenly trying to be more competitive. It was always a competitive program, I can’t say that changed.  

Q: Can you describe some of your favorite Le-Laf memories?

MM: I played in Le-Laf games my sophomore and junior year. My sophomore year, Mike Walsh and I ran into each other at practice two days before the game and I broke my left wrist. I played the game with a soft cast. We ended up losing that game in a last minute drive by Lafayette, but that’s what made winning in the last game at Taylor so great, we were able to make up for the last game. Winning the last game in the cold, scoring the last touchdown, throwing the two-point conversion and getting the MVP, it’s tough to have a better Le-Laf memory.

MW: All four games. The first was just an eye-opener. I can remember being a freshman and I was traveling and it was shocking. I remember that being just a first-time, intense experience. The first exposure to Le-Laf was the craziest.

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2 Comments

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “JF: Taylor was an old, famous stadium with character. The stadium was on campus, accessible to all. It was a part of campus and most likely made for a very high participation rate among students for attending home games. I believe football games being on campus and tailgating being on campus made for a very positive environment back in the day.”

    As a student and alumni fan I agree. It was an interesting place acoustically also. It was not a friendly place for home fans in late November where the sun was banned early in the afternoon even if it was successful in beating the clouds for a space in the sky.

    Baseball was also played in Taylor but it was obviously moved across the mountain prior to the picture shown in the article. Contrary to the picture’s caption, if my 40+ year memory is reasonably accurate , Taylor gym did not move. It was located to the east of the home side concrete lower stands and east of the steel upper stands and extended from the street on the west to approximately 10 yard line. In the picture you can see the wall of Taylor Gym blocking a portion of the upper stands.

  2. Helen Richardson on

    What a thrill it was to play in there with the Powder Puff football team from 1974-76. The first game, we deprived the Leopards of their spots(and, in one instance, their teeth), 46-0. The bare lightbulbs, dirt floors, and the rush of sunshine and adrenaline let us fly onto the field. We had cheerleaders, the touchdown cannon, and a couple of thousand folks in the stands. One of my law school classmates was an All-American tackle at Bucknell, and said the visitors’ locker room wasn’t quite so posh. Froze my @ss off with my late father at the final game there in 1987. We lasted only a half, and Dad made liberal use of his cigars and flask to ward off the chill.

    Helen Richardson ’77

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