Oklahoma football: More Wahoo McDaniel stories
Gary Baer, OU class of 1956, wrote me over the weekend about Wahoo McDaniel. I wrote about McDaniel last week, and Baer had some more information and clarifications about McDaniel. It’s always fun to learn about old-time football players.
McDaniel, you might remember, was one of the Sooners’ all-time characters. He once ran from Norman to Chickasha. He was a long-time pro football player who also became a professional wrestler.
Here’s what Baer wrote: “Enjoyed your article as it brought back many memories. I was a football scholarship teammate in the same class as Wahoo and, in fact, was his first roommate in Jefferson House. We occasionally saw each other during and after his wrestling career at my parents’ house in San Antonio and at my law office in Oklahoma City, when I counseled him on a golf course/residential development he was planning in Salado, Texas.
“I remember his days at OU a bit different than stated in your article and I realize that after so many years our memories may fade. I recall that one evening in Jeff House, just after check-in and before fall practice began, a group of players were discussing who was in the best shape and it came to pass that Wahoo claimed to be but was challenged by a marginal player, known as Larry Mullerin (don’t remember how to spell his name), who I believe was the real loco and crazy man referred to in your article. At any rate, the two players decided that a run to Moore would be the test and a substantial amount of money was bet on each one. Wahoo won the race, collected the money and gained instant notoriety.
“Later that school year, just before spring practice began, the rivalry was again ignited and brought to campus wide attention by students and fraternity members, who sponsored a challenge race from Norman to Chickasha and wagered a lot of money. Wahoo was the odds on favorite and at the halfway point commanded a large lead, only to fade the last few miles when Mullerin passed by and claimed the title.
“One other thing that I question in your article was Wahoo’s alleged 91-yard run (punt return), and I think it may be confused with the fact that he held for many years the longest punt in OU records being 91 yards (it was a quick kick with the wind that bounced and continued to bounce the length of the field until it finally came to rest).
“I have a couple of stories about Wahoo and Larry that would not be appropriate for this media.”
Well, that’s good stuff. Yes indeed, the McDaniel record indeed was a 91-yard punt, not punt return.
As for Larry Mullerin, couldn’t place him. As for the Chickasha run, here’s what McDaniel told Sports Illustrated about 20 years ago:
“I'd been running 10 miles a day, training for the wrestling team, and I accepted a challenge from some people in the athletic dorm. The bet was that I could run from the front steps of the dorm in Norman to the city limits of Chickasha without stopping. So I put on shorts and a T-shirt and took off at noon. They followed me in a car to make sure I didn't stop. It was brutal. Finally I reached the top of a hill, and below there was Chickasha. Thirty-six miles in exactly six hours. I collected $185 for that."
The stories of McDaniel are legion. He told SI that he once drank a few tablespoons of motor oil. “That oil made me sick. For months, every time I'd sweat, I could feel the stuff oozing out. I smelled like an old pickup truck. In those days I'd do anything on a bet. Eat a gallon can of jalapeno peppers. Didn't matter."
And another jewel from the Sports Illustrated story: McDaniel played on a Little League baseball team in Midland, Texas, in the early 1950s. His coach? George Herbert Walker Bush.
"I remember Wahoo McDaniel well," Bush told SI. "He was a good kid and a pretty fair baseball player. He has had his ups and downs, but I'll always remember him as a wonderful kid who captured the imagination of West Texas in the 1950s. He was idolized by everyone who knew him."
You can read that Sports Illustrated story here. You can never get enough of Wahoo McDaniel.