One of the highlights of Homecoming at Chadron State College this weekend will be a reunion of athletes coached by Bill Baker 60 or more years ago.
Now 90 and living in Tucson, Ariz., Baker and the CSC Alumni Association organized the reunion, which will primarily focus on Chadron State’s undefeated football team in the fall of 1958.
The Eagles had to come from behind to defeat Southern State College of Springfield, S.D., 26-20 in the season-opener, but won all their remaining seven games by at least three touchdowns.
While Baker, who was just 28 when he initially came to Chadron State to coach football and track and field in 1955, is still going strong and will serve as the grand marshal of the Homecoming parade Saturday morning, time has taken its toll on the ’58 team. Sixteen the 30 lettermen have passed away and only five of the remaining 14 have made reservations to attend this weekend’s reunion.
However, five other football players that Baker coached as well as two outstanding sprinters from his track teams and a couple of basketball players from that era are planning to attend, along with at least two widows of football players.
Baker says the ’58 team was made up of rugged, hard-nosed players who worked hard and got along well. Several of them played more than one position and saw action on both sides of the ball. Fourteen of them received at least honorable mention when all-star selections were made at the end of the season.
After coaching six years at Chadron State, Baker was an assistant football coach nine years at the University of Wyoming and two years at the University of Arizona. He then was a pro football scout for 25 years before retiring.