By GERRY STEELE
Of the Baker City Herald
Anniversary gatherings are times to swap old stories, rekindle old friendships, and make new friendships.
That's exactly what approximately 150 former East-West Shrine football participants, Shriners and other guests did Friday at a banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of the East-West Shrine All-Star Football Game at the Baker Elks Lodge.
Twenty-two members of the East and West teams that played in the inaugural game back in 1952 at the Pendleton Round-Up Grounds were the honored guests during the evening.
Each player was introduced, noting which team he played for, what position he played, what high school he represented, and where he lived now.
National Football League Hall of Famer Dave Wilcox, the most valuable player in the 1960 East-West game, was the featured speaker. (See feature story on Sports, Page 6.)
During the evening, Wilcox, a former University of Oregon graduate and 11-year NFL player with the San Francisco 49ers, mingled with the other former Shrine players, swapped stories and signed autographs.
Players from every decade from the 1950s through the 1990s attended the banquet. Many of those players rode on a float during the annual parade through downtown Baker City on Saturday.
The Baker Elks Drum and Bugle Corps provided some rousing entertainment at the banquet, receiving a standing ovation.
Another speaker at the banquet was Charles andquot;Tadandquot; Clypool, Imperial Potentate for the Shrine of North America.
andquot;We've heard about your game for years,andquot; said the Canton, Ohio, resident.
andquot;Each year we have sent a representative to the game. When we heard it was going to be your 50th we wanted to come and spend this time with you personally,andquot; he said.
Clypool said about looking at the players from the 1952 game as they were introduced, andquot;I started thinking about the number of kids who are able to walk today because of players like them.andquot; He noted that Shrine hospitals have treated more than 600,000 youngsters since the first hospital opened in 1922.
Clypool said he has been extremely busy in his first month and a half as Imperial Potentate.
andquot;I've been in office six weeks, and have been to four all-star games already,andquot; he said.
He said he had attended games in North Carolina, Kansas and Vermont before traveling to Baker City.
He added that one of the highlights of his time as a Shriner was attending the college East-West game at San Francisco, and something that occurred during that game.
andquot;Eddie George, the Heisman trophy winner that year, was leading the East back onto the field after halftime. There was a young man sitting in a wheelchair near where the players came out of the tunnel,andquot; Clypool said.
andquot;Eddie saw that young man, and went over and touched him. Each player on that team went over and touched that young man. I'm man enough, and not ashamed to say, that I cried when I saw how they respected that young man.andquot; Clypool said the Shriners have a common bond helping the children.
andquot;We have a camaraderie, a mission that a lot of teams wish they had,andquot; he said.
andquot;We are truly blessed, the Shriners, to be given the mission we have by God.andquot; Clypool and his wife got up at 4 a.m. Eastern time in Greenville, S.C., to catch a plane to arrive in Baker City in time for the weekend's activities.
andquot;People have asked me 'are you tired?' No, I'm just so proud to be here with you,andquot; he said.