By Lyn Scarbrough
Times were turbulent as No. 6 Alabama, just two years removed from the national championship, prepared to face once-defeated No. 9 Auburn at Birmingham’s Legion Field on November 30, 1963.
Just eight days earlier, United States President John Kennedy had been killed by a sniper’s bullet as he rode in an open limousine in Dallas, Tex.
A few months before that, not far from the stadium, four young girls had been killed by a coward’s bomb while attending Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church.
That was the setting for college football around the country that weekend. Tickets to the Legion Field game, not yet known as the Iron Bowl, went for $5.00 each … $4.85, plus 15-cents tax, to be exact.
The program that I bought outside Legion Field that day featured a tiger and an elephant, drawn in the unique style that could only be done by legendary Birmingham Post-Herald cartoonist Phil Neel. It cost me 50 cents.
Inside the stadium, the crowd, estimated at over 54,000, got much more than its money’s worth. Auburn took the lead in the first quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Woody Woodall. The lead was extended to 10-0 on an eight-yard third-quarter touchdown pass from Mailon Kent to Tucker Frederickson. Alabama’s only points came later in the quarter when Benny Nelson sprinted 80 yards to score. The fourth quarter was scoreless and the Tigers took the win, 10-8.
I missed the 1962 game, watching it instead with a close friend. That was the last Alabama-Auburn game that I didn’t attend, in the stands, in the pressbox or on the sideline. Beginning in 1963, that’s 50 in a row.
Not many saw that 10-8 game since it wasn’t televised, but that changed the next season, the first time the match-up was broadcast nationwide. Joe Namath led the Crimson Tide to a 21-14 victory, secured when Frederickson was stopped on…