You are currently viewing Underground Railroad poetry from two Spartans

Underground Railroad poetry from two Spartans

NOTE: The Men of Sparta and White Rocks are poems by By John Mullen, a Michigan State backup quarterback, 1964-66


By John Mullen

The history of football was changed forever.

The assemblage of champions was Duffy’s endeavor.

From how football was televised to post season games,

But the integration of players became our “claim to fame.”

Brotherhood trumps race and talent was the key.

We started with “I” and progressed to “we.”

Two National Championships were the results attained,

But teamwork and comradery were the gifts we gained.       

We experienced the thrill of victory with only one “agony of defeat.”

In the “Game of the Century” we “kissed our sister” which was bittersweet.

Our record of 19-1-1 only tells part of the story,

Only our friendships and memories exceeded our glory.

Black or White, super star or white rock, we didn’t care.

We fought side by side as a family, which is very rare.

Brotherhood developed as we came together as peers. 

Congratulations to the Men of Sparta for those incredible years



By John Mullen

A “White Rock” is a white carbon rock formation that is very rare.

It is a diamond in the rough to be perfectly fair.

Our Michigan State “White Rocks” are a valuable jewels

We are opponents impressionist, that provide valuable tools

The Green Team is the one you see most on the field

The “white rock” fight hard but to the best they yield

We are solid as a white rocks and one step away

From the star and the glory of playing on Saturday

Many future stars started as “white Rocks”

And proceeded to glory thru our road of hard knocks.

We play the best of the best, day after day

The harder we work the better they play

Our contrition are many as we follow our dream

White Rocks are special and an integral part of the team


NOTE: Pat Gallinagh was an Academic All-American as a starting defensive lineman on the 1966 team. His poems are in “Raye of Light.”


The Legend of the White Rocks

The 1965 & 66 Scouting Teams

Folklore has it that there was once  a Spartan football team that never won a game

Yet sometimes it’s said they put the Big Ten and National Champs to shame

They labored in the hot sun without much fanfare or recognition

Hoping that someday their efforts might earn them a starting position

Every football program has one, made up of the unsung heroes of the team

They practice hard everyday and while trying to maintain their self-esteem

Some schools call them the scouting team but at State they were the “White Rocks”

Named for the color of their jerseys and the hardness of their knocks

Their job was to give the starters a good picture of Michigan State’s next foe

The more realistic their efforts then the seeds of victory they would sow

At times they took some brutal beatings but could give as good as they got

But battered and bruised they knew they had given the starters their best shot

’They were led by coach Al Dorow, a swashbuckler, who would hold up the play

After gazing up at the cue card, they would try to execute without delay

And if they did it well enough, chances were that Saturday would produce a win

Throughout all of 1965 & 66 the White Rocks did their job well again and again

The hitting at times was horrendous and lots of blood, sweat & tears would fall

But the White Rocks earned their keep by getting starters ready to play ball

Most of the fans and media never heard their names as they focused on the “Stars”

But thanks to their intensity and dedication, they helped raise the Spartans bars

The no-names who made up these motley crews had all been great high school players

They came from far and near to play at Michigan State and ignored the smug naysayers

Some were just a little short on talent or experience but they knew they could compete

And they would challenge those ahead of them with their hustle and their feet

Some eventually became starters, some sat the bench and some only played in routs

Some sadly never lettered but did their job and endured the coaches’ shouts

But Michigan State was their choice cause they wanted to be with the best

And even if that meant serving on the White Rocks, then that would be their test

Every now and then they would get a chuckle when they burned the starting defense

And listened as the coaches screamed knowing things were about to get more intense

They knew what was coming  next, but that didn’t bother them at all

When  the starters got mad and angry, they’d unload on them on the next call

 When they sacked one of Duffy’s quarterbacks, the Old Man would blow his top

And the starter who missed his block knew the White Rocks might be his next stop

The White Rock knew the man he beat was going to try and make him pay

But if the White Rock did it again, a starter he would not stay

Guys like Jimmy Hoye and Maurice Haynes were typical of this crew

Both had been great high school athletes but at State there were more than just a few

They could well have been starters elsewhere had they chosen another school

But they came for more than football but  an education too

After graduation both of them excelled  in their chosen field

And playing with White Rocks some important lessons for them did yield

That being part of something bigger than you can give your life more meaning

And when your group experiences success, all the members wind up beaming

Most of the starters had served a tour or two with the White Rocks brigade

And even those who never lettered knew a lasting impression they had made

Both on their teammates and their coaches who knew what they had done

Without them no Big Ten or National Championships would have been won

So now it’s time that these forgotten heroes get the recognition they deserve

They had went head to head against the Big Ten’s best with courage and raw nerve

Tho unheralded they made those Spartan Teams better by their labors everyday

The nameless and the known are part of the legend of the White Rocks won’t fade away

By Pat Gallinagh

 A White Rock Alum

Author’s note

The author was a member of the White Rocks for two years before

earning a starter’s stop in 1966. Most of his classmates also spent

some time with the “White Rocks”, very few were three year starters from day one.

But the time spent there let them know what it took to start and even if

one never cracked the starting line-up they knew they were on a par

with those they went up against and never backed away. They were led by former

All-American and NFL quarterback,  coach Al Dorow who was a free spirit with a

sense of humor and a razor for a tongue who could get his charges fired up.

to take on the big boys. Those who served on  the “White Rocks”

 are justly proud of their contributions to  the 1965 & 66 Big Ten

 and National Champions teams even if they are not in the team

picture or their names are not on the national championship plaques.

 They were true Spartans and deserve credit for their contributions.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @shanny4055

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