From 1989, a re-enactment of the first touchdown scored in Jordan-Hare Stadium. (Auburn photo)
November 30, 1939, McGowen to McGehee: A Jordan-Hare Stadium First
Editor’s note: This is a re-print from the 1989 Auburn-Florida game program on the 50th Anniversary of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Many touchdowns scored at Jordan-Hare Stadium will come and go and wind up in the Auburn scoring records. Some scores will be re-lived by Auburn faithful more than others, but there is one score and only one score that can lay claim to the first Auburn points ever chalked up at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In 1939, Auburn and Florida played to a 7-7 tie in the first game ever at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn’s points came on an 11-yard toss from Dick McGowen to Babe McGehee.
“I remember as though it was yesterday,” McGehee, who now resides in Auburn, says. “It was a crossing pattern that Florida defended well. Dick just happened to lay it right in there, and I was fortunate enough to haul it in.”
The score came early in the fourth quarter and brought the Tigers even with Florida, a team Auburn thought it should have beaten. “We did everything we wanted to on them except score,” McGehee recalls. “I thought our team was disappointed we didn’t pull that one out.”
The 1939 game against the Gators was the first home game for Auburn since a 1936 contest with Loyola.
“We were always travelling, but we didn’t know any better at the time,” McGowen, who now lives in Montgomery, says. “We were in dire need of a home stadium because it was easier to recruit people knowing you had a place to play.”
“Playing on the road all of the time could get really stale,” McGehee recalls. “In 1939, I remember going to New Orleans, New York and Boston. We hardly had time to come home and grab a clean set of clothes. All of our studying was done on the trains, and we always spent the night somewhere unfamiliar because some of our trips would have to be made in two days.”
The town of Auburn was buzzing for weeks about hosting the Gators. “There was plenty of hype going into the Florida game, but there was always hype wherever we went,” McGowen recalls. “Games in Atlanta, Birmingham and Columbus had just as much hype, but the Florida game was indeed special because it was our little town. Toomers Corner would always be full of people sending us off or welcoming us back from a big game. I think most of the excitement was with the students. Believe it or not, I think the students were more involved with the football team back then in comparison to the present.”
Both Dick McGowen and Babe McGehee, in their own humble ways, are overjoyed to be a part of that magical moment. Both agree it was by chance it happened and the memory will be everlasting.
For the 1939 Florida Gators, the game will go down as a tie. For Dick McGowen, Babe McGehee and the Tiger faithful who were in attendance, the game will go down as a landmark achievement in Auburn University history.