The remarkable story of a championship college football team and the sacrifices the young athletes made when Pearl Harbor forced their country into war.
As the United States veered towards war during the fall of 1941, the University of Minnesota football team completed an undefeated national championship season—just fifteen days before the strike on Pearl Harbor. After the attack, players left behind college football stardom to command PT boats in the South Pacific, sweep mines on the beaches of Normandy, and join the invasion of Iwo Jima along with so many others from the Greatest Generation.
In From the Gridiron to the Battlefield, Danny Spewak shares the struggles and triumphs of the Golden Gophers’ 1941 season, recalling how players battled on the field even with the threat of war hanging over their heads. When the United States finally entered the war, every member of the team participated in the war effort in one way or another. As Spewak recounts, some players remained stateside in the U.S. Navy, others sailed to the Pacific Theater and faced direct combat at Iwo Jima, while another earned a Purple Heart for his heroism at Normandy.
Now more than 80 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, From the Gridiron to the Battlefield reveals the sacrifices and courage of the Greatest Generation through the eyes of the 1941 Golden Gophers.
Danny Spewak has a decade of experience as a news reporter at local television affiliates in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Buffalo, and mid-Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri with dual degrees in journalism and political science. Spewak has also covered college sports extensively as a freelance writer, producing work that has appeared in the USA Today Network, The Huffington Post, and other online media outlets. Spewak was inspired to write this book through the story of his own grandfather, Jack Spewak, who was a member of the Gophers’ freshman football team in 1941 and an Army Air Corps veteran.
1. Right Man For The Job
2. Faribault Flash
3. The Supporting Cast
4. “Football is Only a Game”
5. “Washington First”
6. Rivalry Renewed
7. The Little Man
8. Little Brown Jug Armageddon
9. The Talking Play
10. “Only Human”
11. Floyd of Rosedale
12. On Wisconsin
13. Champions Again
14. Pearl Harbor
15. A New Reality
17. I-W-O J-I-M-A
18. Coming Home
About the Author
Take it from a man who actually lived through and experienced those long ago times—this book has remarkably recaptured and eloquently reported what life was like for a young football player/service man way back there during World War II.
From the gridiron glory of an undefeated championship season which was staged on the onset of WWII, through extensive research and interviews of family members of the players, From the Gridiron to the Battlefield investigates the Golden Gophers of 1941 and one of the most unique moments in college football history.
5/8/2021: Author Danny Spewak was interviewed by KARE 11 to discuss his upcoming book and what inspired him to write it.
9/4/21, St. Paul Pioneer Press: From the Gridiron to the Battlefield is included in a roundup of fall books from Minnesota writers.
9/7/21, Faribault Daily News: Feature story about the book and the close connections to Faribault legend Bruce Smith.
9/15/2021, 830 WCCO Radio: Danny Spewak talked about his book and the legacy of the 1941 University of Minnesota football team.
9/26/21, Star Tribune: Curt Brown featured the book and author in his Minnesota History column with a nice spread in the Sunday newspaper.
11/13/21, Golden Gopher Podcast: Danny Spewak was interviewed about the book.
12/7/21, Post-Bulletin: A featured review of the book says, “This magical era of Gophers football is recounted in detail.”
5/20/22, Sports Business Journal: Danny Spewak was interviewed in a feature on the book.