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Nov. 15 | Five Laterals and a Trombone: "The Play" 40 Years On

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November 15, 2022 | 4:30 - 6 p.m.
Both virtual and in-person (CEMEX Auditorium, 655 Knight Way, Stanford)
Free. Open to the public.
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Event photos

From the publisher:
“The wildest finish ever to a college football game occurred when five laterals on the final kick-off ended with a sprint through the opposing team’s marching band — prematurely celebrating on the field — for the winning touchdown. It was 21 seconds of action so unfathomable it has become known simply as The Play."

Five Laterals and a Trombone: Cal, Stanford, and the Wildest Ending in College Football History sets the scene for the madcap story as it developed in November 1982, tracing the ups and downs, mood swings, and hijinks surrounding the 85th Big Game between archrival schools — the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University. The game pitted Stanford’s offense led by Heisman Trophy candidate John Elway and Cal’s defense led by future NFL head coach Ron Rivera.

A member of two Pulitzer Prize winning teams, Tyler Bridges has deftly reconstructed the pivotal moments and resulting lore, thanks to more than 375 interviews with all the key figures on both sides of the rivalry, including players, coaches, referees, band members, and stadium personnel.

The Play was not televised live. There was no instant replay — let alone a viral video. It took hours for news of the game’s outcome to spread across the country, yet decades later football fans remain enthralled by the bizarre sequence in this classic contest.

Coinciding with the release of this new definitive history, the Stanford Historical Society is pleased to bring together Tyler Bridges, Stanford ’82, Gary M. Pomerantz, Cal '82, and a panel of participants from the day including a player from each team, the trombone player, and a newspaper prankster. All will broaden your appreciation of what happened that day and why The Play remains the most memorable finish in college football history.

Signed copies of Tyler Bridges’s book will be available for sale before and after the program.

Tyler Bridges, Stanford '82, journalist, author, LSJUMB alum, member of two Pulitzer Prize winning teams.

Gary M. Pomerantz, Cal '82, author, journalist, former Daily Cal sports editor, lecturer in the Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism.

Plus a panel of participants from the day including a player, a trombonist and a newspaper prankster.

Tyler Bridges, twice a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, is a journalist based in New Orleans who reports on Louisiana politics for the Baton Rouge/New Orleans Advocate,and has also written for the Washington Post,Politico Magazineand other publications. He is the author of f ive books, was a 2011-12 Nieman Fellow at Harvard, was awarded Columbia University’s Maria Moors  Cabot Award in 2010 for his 10 years of foreign reporting in South America, was a Shorenstein Center Fellow at Harvard in 2017, and was a distinguished fellow in residence at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania for the fall semester of 2021. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

Bridges’s most recent book, both history and memoir, is The Flight,which tells the story of Richard W. “Dick” Bridges’s heroic service in World War II. The book begins with Bridges surviving a German attack on his plane, the Fascinatin’ Witch, by parachuting out of the exploding B-24. Dick Bridges’s full story, which seems almost too astonishing to be true, went untold until after his death in 2003, when his son, Tyler, pieced it together. With his findings, Tyler Bridges has woven a story not only about World War II and the bravery of this unique group of soldiers, but also about fathers and sons, what can get lost in the gulf between generations, and how patience and understanding can bridge that gap.

Gary M. Pomerantz a New York Timesbest-selling author and journalist and has served the past 15 years as a lecturer in the Graduate Program in Journalism at Stanford University. Throughout his career, Pomerantz has devoted his writing, and teaching, to American history, race relations, the media, and sports. His sixth and latest nonfiction book, The Last Pass(Penguin Press) is a New York Times best-selling narrative about race, regret, and encroaching mortality as an old man comes to terms with his life. It is a poignant tale about Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, iconic Hall of Famers, the Ruth and Gehrig of the storied Boston Celtics dynasty that won an unprecedented 11 NBA championships in the 13 seasons between 1957-69. The story of that dynasty plays on, not on the parquet floor of Boston Garden, but in the conscience of Cousy, the team captain, now 90 years old. The  Boston Globe  placed The Last Pass among its Best Books of 2018, and The Dallas Morning Newsnamed it among the Top 50 Sports Books of All Time (No. 19).