James Callinan '82
Football - Hall of Fame Class of 2004
Harvard Athletic Achievements
James Callinan played three years of varsity football at Harvard. In 1979, James had a record-setting season. He rushed for 190 yards on 34 carries vs. Princeton, and 88 yards on 15 carries against Penn. Also against Penn, he caught six passes for 86 yards and had a 66-yd. touchdown run that broke Dick Clasby’s 30-year single season rushing mark. In 1981 he became Harvard’s first 1,000-yard running back, finishing his career with 1,054 yards. He set a single-season rushing record with 209 carries and 1,054 yards. He still holds Harvard records for single game rushing, (seventh with 34 carries and 190 yards against Princeton in 1981 and eighth with 15 carries, 188 yards and three touchdowns against Penn in 1981) and single-season rushing (third with 209 carries, 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns in 1981).
Callinan became famous as “The hero of the 1979 Yale game” where the Crimson triumphed in a 22-7 win. Harvard was the underdog but Harvard's 64 rushing yards on the opening 17-play 74-yard touchdown drive set the tone. Callinan gained most of those yards and also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
As I reflect on it, the Harvard varsity football program was one of the cornerstones of my life. The lessons taught on the practice field, in the pre-game scouting sessions, through social relationships among teammates, on bus trips, and from the results of the games provided a blueprint for the architecture of my life.
The complexity of Coach Restic's multiflex offense was a parallel universe to what went across the Charles. Learning, perfecting and molding with this offense became a daily lab in the Fall. The physical discipline required was honed by assistant coaches with pedigrees from the Chicago Bears, Bear Bryant's Kentucky Wildcats and professional football (NFL and CFL). My backfield coach. Larry Glueck, pushed me relentlessly. I owe him a lot for driving me to achieve more than I thought I could. Preparation and scheduling were paramount in those days. I have referred back to those well-run practices in my business career with gratitude. Coach Restic was the consumate professional, and thus a subtle formative guide to my own career.
I will always treasure the characters around the field house. The equipment managers gave me number "32", I incorrectly assumed that it was because I was from Cleveland and idolized Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns superstar fullback. Later, I found out that I reminded them of "the Beast", a then-recent graduate assistant coach and ex-fullback from the Boston area and somewhat of a local legend. The highly skilled trainers, such as Emo, Bill and Pet, and doctors Boland, Mangold and Gibbs of Dillon Field House, so dedicated to Harvard sports, left an indelible impression upon me (and my body). Other humorous and easily lovable characters who enriched my life in the program ranged from Charlie Sheldon, a lifelong fan, who loved Demos Greek restaurant in Watertown, and often took several players at a time to get a badly needed meal. At the other extreme was "Albie" from Allston who viewed the Harvard football program and its fields as his own backyard. His compelling "go home" commands shouted while wearing a Crimson coaching jacket gave many a freshman pause as they approached Dillon Field House. Finally, the Athletic Department, led by Jack Riordan, who has done so much for me, was a beacon to the Ivy League and the NCAA.
Mostly, I just miss those carefree Saturday afternoons before careers, wives, families, children, and other responsibilities took over. I admired so many teammates for their friendship, intelligence and performances. I cannot forget the leadership of Burke St. John in the huddle (Joe Montana like) and the 1979 Yale game. Dave Scheper and Captain Mike Brown manhandling All-American Yale nose tackle, Kevin Czinger, in that same 1979 game still thrills. A totally out of position Mike Jacobs knock down of a thwarted game winning pass against Cornell in 1980 is vivid. All of Rocky Delgadillo's interceptions throughout his 1979-81 illustrious career are much-appreciated highlights. Brian Buckley's 74-yard touchdown against Army at West Point in 1980 to win the game on a strained knee ligament was heroic. Finally, the 1981 offensive line and backs who then were as large and as talented as any Division I team, and who blew open truck-sized holes for me to run through, formed the apex of my football memories. Their names: Linus O'Donnell, Greg Brown, Mike Corbat, John Francis, Larry Boule, Harry Cash, Jim Acheson, Steve Biannucci, Jim Garvey, Mike Ernst, and Paul Scheper belong in my Hall of Fame. Those afternoons glow with rememberances of selfless, strong, and swift forms, awash with the crimson tint from their jerseys, the sounds from the band and 10,000 fans wearing various shades of our colors.
Finally, I wish to thank my wife who talked Dan Allard '82 into making her a copy of the 1981 Highlight, which chronicled my 1,054-yard rushing record. Because of her persistence, my children have watched that film and still can't believe it's their Dad, (Ihave also watched it only a few times myself). Many thanks to my mother and and late father who attended every game of that senior season.