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Dick Freeman, Millennium Hall of Fame

February 12, 2001

Richard Dunn

For football players in Dick Freeman's era, there was no postseason

banquet with video highlights of their best plays splashed on a large

screen to an accompanying applause.

There were no rings, no time for reflection or all-star game to

attend. World War II was still the only victory anybody had on their

mind.

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Indeed, during Freeman's reign, you were lucky if you completed the

season.

"We stayed (in high school) as long as we could, then you turned 18

and said goodbye," Freeman said. "It was a war. You did what you had to

do. There was never any doubt in anybody's mind about (fighting). It was

just off you went."

Freeman, a three-year varsity letterman, was one of only two

sophomores on Newport Harbor High's 1942 Sunset League championship team

featuring Hal Sheflin, then became a two-year, two-way starter with

All-CIF Southern Section credentials at tackle.

But Freeman, who discovered the then-novel concept of the benefits of

weightlifting in high school, missed Newport Harbor's final game in 1944,

his senior year, because the U.S. Navy owned him as soon as he turned 18

on Oct. 4 of that autumn.

Prior to a season-ending loss against Fullerton, 12-6, Freeman's

interior strength helped the Tars go 4-1-1 under Coach Les Miller. Only a

controversial 7-6 loss to powerful Santa Ana and heartbreaking 7-7 finish

against Orange kept the Sailors' record from being perfect.

After Newport missed a PAT against Santa Ana, Harbor fans vehemently

protested an official's call of wide right while Miller's players argued

to no avail. "There was just about a riot," Freeman said.

But perhaps Freeman's most memorable day came in his final game, the

tie against Orange in a mudslinging downpour at Newport Harbor, with navy

papers at home requiring him to report the next day to active duty.

As a junior in '43, Freeman merited All-Sunset League honors, after

coming off the bench in '42, when Coach Wendell Pickens' final Harbor

squad played in the CIF finals, losing to Bonita and halfback Glenn

Davis, the '46 Heisman Trophy winner at Army.

"John Shafer (Harbor's other sophomore on the legendary '42 team) was

the starting center. I was a bench-warming guard and tackle," said

Freeman, who, as a senior, made first-team All-Sunset League and

second-team All-CIF by the Times and the Helms Foundation.

Freeman laughs now when he relives his final game. His team was down,

7-0, against Orange and quarterback Ralph Freitag called Freeman's number

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