By Nick Abramo, Sports columnist
WESTBOROUGH – A TV show based on the late Harry Crump’s football days would likely be a hit.
A small town boy made a name for himself as the full back of the Westborough Rangers, class of 1959. He went on to play at Boston College. Made the Boston Patriots in the early 1960s. Played in the 1963 AFL Championship game.
And this production has a ready-made title – “The Thump,” an onomatopoeic nickname based on Harry’s ability to topple potential attackers in the open field. His brother and teammate Ronald Crump, also a standout player for the Rangers, would be a main character, and his teenage friends and teammates might drive in a now iconic Chevy Bel Air 57 and hang out at the restaurant in town. .
Of course, black and white could be the way to go here as these are, after all, bygone days and, over the decades, more and more relegated to newspaper clippings rather than true memories.
Oh, but the memories are still there for a lot.
“As a senior Harry weighed 205 pounds, and that was big for the time,” said Donald Ayres, Crump’s high school teammate. “Someone from the other side of the opposing team would try to tackle him and he would crush them. They would bounce back. He wouldn’t have to bypass them. It was just him.
A newspaper photo of Crump in British Columbia against Ernie Davis, winner of the Syracuse Heisman Trophy in 1962, is still in Ayres’ possession.
“He was on the [Westborough High School] team for six years, a rarity, ”Ayres added. “That’s how talented he was. He was also on the baseball team from the seventh grade. And as good as he was at football, in my opinion he was even better [as a catcher] at baseball. To college [football], he played in the Senior Bowl and put in a great performance.
Bill Linnane, an offensive tackle who blocked for Crump in the Rangers teams coached by Art Kojoyian, remembers Harry as a fun loving person who loves to party.
“My family knew his mother and father,” Linnane said. “We were townspeople, just like Harry. He was a great individual and a great fullback, there is no doubt about it. We lost sight of each other when we went to college, but reconnected while he was still in BC. I got to know some of his college teammates and the Patriots, and took Harry skiing for the first time. He was shocked to see what it looked like at the top of the mountain.
Larry Eisenhauer, a 6-foot-5 defensive end, was a Patriots player Linnane met via Crump.
“His hand wrapped around mine and I looked him straight in the eye,” Linnane said of Eisenhauer. In three years at Boston College from 1960 to 1962, Crump ran for 1,497 yards, gained 4.5 yards per carry and scored 13 touchdowns. In 1962, the Eagles went 8-2, losing only to Syracuse and a Navy team led by Roger Staubach.
Crump, who died at age 80 in September last year, was drafted by the Patriots in 1963 and played a season in the AFL for the team.
Wearing the No.31 jersey, he started two of their 14 regular season games, totaling 120 yards on 49 carries for an average of 3.3 yards per carry. He scored five touchdowns. In the AFL title game, a 51-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers, he ran for 18 yards on seven carries and caught two passes for 28 yards.
A September 24, 1961 Boston Globe story about Boston College’s 23-0 victory over Cincinnati puts Harry’s character in the foreground. This treat can also serve as the opening scene for the TV show “The Thump”:
At halftime, as Boston College returned to the field, coach Ernie Hefferle stepped up alongside fullback Harry Crump.
“Harry,” he said. “When you hit the belly (a back diving game) lean back a bit and move around so we can watch you run. The first time the Eagles got the ball in the third period, Crump followed Hefferle’s suggestion (and) ran 28 yards for a touchdown on a nice feint. “Isn’t he a pretty runner?” Hefferle asked. “We love to watch him run when he’s pretending like that. “
A 2016 Facebook post by Armen Kojoyian, the son of the former Westborough coach, adds credit to the Crump legend.
“In my 60+ years watching football in high school, I have never seen anyone carry the ball with such brutal force as Harry,” Kojoyian wrote. “He could tear down a wall in your house!”
No other former Westborough Rangers player has gone further in the football world than Harry Crump, who made his mark 60 years ago.
“Westborough has never had a football player like Harry Crump in my day or in the future,” said Joe Mewhiney, who has served as a physical education teacher, football coach, athletic director and assistant director during his 37-year career with WHS.
“And hearing from the townspeople he is possibly the greatest football player Westborough High has seen,” Mewhiney added.