||Feature: Dead Fred back for another exciting autumn
RELEASED: October 3, 2001
A certain Centre alumnus has been witness to nearly every game in the storied history of Centre College football for the past 90 years.
He was following Centre athletics even before 1921, the year the small school in Danville, Ky., pulled of what the Associated Press voted the biggest upset of the first half century when the Colonels downed mighty Harvard 6-0 in Cambridge, Mass. Harvard had not been defeated since falling to Yale in 1916.
He has been an avid supporter of Centre and its athletic teams for many years. But his loyalty to Centre football didn't fully take shape until 1953, the year Fred Vinson was laid to rest. Starting in that year, Vinson has not missed a Centre home football game as his portrait is taken to every home football game.
He's sat through wins and lossesafter the hardest losses some say a tear can be spotted in his eye. He's sat through sunny days, rainy days, snowstorms and everything in between during those Saturdays in the fall.
Vinson never complains about the weather, however. And he doesn't seem to mind where he sits or who he keeps company with at the contests.
He's shared the stands with students who are now grandparents of current Centre students.
He attends away games every now and then if it's a big game or if a conference title is on the line. And he shows up on occasion to see basketball, baseball and other sports on campus.
And he was certainly in attendance when Centre hosted the Vice Presidential Debate between Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman last October, occupying a prominent seat in the auditorium the night of the debate. You couldn't expect a man that had been one of the highest officials in President Franklin Roosevelt's and President Truman's inner circle and later a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to miss that event.
And there is no end in sight as to when he might miss a home game or any other big event at his alma mater.
Shortly after his death in 1953, members of the chapter of Phi Delta Thetaof which Vinson was a memberwere sitting around the fraternity house just prior to a game at Centre. They were talking and the subject of Vinson, their recently deceased fraternity brother, came up.
Someone said, "Isn't it too bad that Fred Vinson won't be going to any more Centre football games?"
Another Phi Delt responded, "Why don't we take him." He then removed a portrait of Vinson from the mantle and they carried it to the football game where it sat in the stands with a prime viewing location. This ritual immediately became a campus tradition and Fred Vinson has attended every Centre home football game since his death.
Be on the lookout for Fred Vinson this Saturday as undefeated Centre hosts Millsaps in football at 1:30 p.m.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422