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God And Football



During his junior year on the Cornell football team, Henry Lamp ’26 made a catch so spectacular its memory has followed him all of his long life. The heroic feat occurred during a game with Parsons College in which Cornell was down 0-3. Lamp caught a Hail Mary pass just as the final gun sounded and fell across the goal line for the winning score. The team finished the season 6-0-1 and won its first Midwest Conference championship.

Tales of the heroic feat resurfaced in a 1940 Chicago Daily Tribune column. In 1966 Lamp received a letter from Claude Magee ’27 signed “from an old admirer.” “I have been a football fan all my life and spend considerable time watching the game both live and on TV,” wrote Magee, “but I have never seen a finish quite as wild as that one.”

Magee, who died in 1981, told Lamp that after the game the “old lady matron” of Guild Hall said God was with Cornell and that He made the touchdown. “I said a guy named Hank Lamp made the touchdown, not God,” Magee wrote. “I also voiced the opinion that I didn’t believe God gave a whoop who won the game and certainly wasn’t playing favorites. She was so darned mad she reported me to President Updegraff … He turned the matter over to Dr. Wild (the man who taught Bible) who called me in. He laughed at the matter and said he was glad someone was levelheaded and that ended it.”

Lamp graduated from law school and worked in the insurance industry in Chicago. Now 96, he is retired in Rock Island, Ill.

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