UCLA Hall of Fame

Recently, Lori and I went to the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame nestled in the heart of UCLA’s beautiful campus that borders Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. The small museum full of interesting items is located just east of the Pauley Pavilion where Coach John Wooden’s teams dominated college basketball for many years. Although Kagavi’s focus this year is on Iowa State University stories, we never pass up a chance to learn about other colleges and some of our future plans could involve more schools beyond ISU. Plus, it’s neat to walk around different campuses and experience a bit of the local flavor. We took a few dozen pictures and these are some of our favorites:

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I had no idea the UCLA teams used to be called the Grizzlies. According to the plaque, a move to the Pacific Coast Conference in 1928 prompted the name change. Another member of the PCC–the University of Montana–already had dibs on the Grizzlies nickname, thus the change to Bruins. Also, the yearbook page shows the victory bell that has become the trademark trophy of the annual UCLA – USC football game. The bell weighs nearly 300 pounds and “originally hung atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive.” In 1941, a couple years after the UCLA Alumni Association gave it as a gift to the school, USC students engaged in a bit of subterfuge to whisk the bell away. The bell remained hidden for more than a year and during the following season, both schools agreed to formally institute the bell as the official trophy of the rivalry game.

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This basketball from the 1928 UCLA – USC game marked the very first game between the rivals. UCLA is known for their basketball history, but I didn’t know USC dominated the matchup from 1932 to 1943 by winning 41 straight games against UCLA. Wonder how those balls dribbled?

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The neatest part of the museum was the exact recreation of UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden’s den in his Encino home. After Coach Wooden’s retirement in 1975, this room became his office and he often entertained guests here or conducted interviews. From 1964 to 1975, Wooden’s UCLA teams won 10 national championships in a 12 year span with such stars as Lew Alcindor (who changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971) and Bill Walton. Near this exhibit was Coach Wooden’s personal collection of Abraham Lincoln items. The nearby plaque recounted an interview by The Sporting News when Coach Wooden said,

“I’ve been called by some a common man. Lincoln was a common man. He had love for everybody . . . At the end of the terrible war, when they were discussing reparations to the South, the Secretary of State, who was critical of Mr. Lincoln said, ‘You’re supposed to destroy your enemies, not make friends of them.’ And his answer was, ‘Am I not destroying the enemy when I make a friend of him?’ That’s a statement.”

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I wonder if these two plays are still being used in today’s game–maybe some people smarter than me can figure the tactics out?

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Throughout the rest of the museum, small exhibits of other UCLA sports had historically significant items. This men’s tennis award platter started being used in 1920 and continued through 1980.

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There were many versions of UCLA buttons with the bear mascots. This was one of my favorites.

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I’m a sucker for baseball script on uniforms and I thought it was interesting to see the jersey had a zipper rather than buttons. As indicated by the markings, this uniform was used in the late 1940s. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown:

“The 1937 Cubs were the first big league club to switch from a button-down jersey to the zipper-front style, but other teams soon followed Chicago’s lead. The zipper fad reached its peak in 1940 and ’41, when half of all big league clubs had zippered jerseys. The zipper was an integral part of the tunic-dress uniform worn during the 12-year run of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), as the device was used to cinch the uniform snugly around the waist. The last major league club to wear a zipper-front jersey was the Philadelphia Phillies in 1986.”

I also enjoyed the old baseball trophy from 1924. Note it has UCLA’s old name on it: University of California, Southern Branch. The UCLA name change occurred in 1927.

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Next week, we will conclude our visit by sharing pictures and stories from the football section of the museum.

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