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December 2, 2009 > Bill Mancebo's player spotlight: Final Turkey Bowl

Bill Mancebo's player spotlight: Final Turkey Bowl

This week the spotlight shines on the final play of an annual event. The tradition began 39 years ago on Thanksgiving morning when a touch football game was played on the outfield grass of the Mission San Jose High School baseball field.

The players that day were mostly recent graduates from Mission's class of 1970. They were not done being kids yet and still liked to play with their friends. So when that first Thanksgiving vacation rolled around, with everyone converging on the hometown, it was natural for them to arrange an impromptu football game.

There were no such things as cell phones, texting nor Facebook those days. In the timeless and inimitable fashion of youth, word of the game got around by word of mouth and landline phones only.

As to who won that first game: surely they knew then, but no one remembers now. After the game, they hung around a while enjoying the afterglow. There was a sense of satisfaction about having made the effort to be back amongst friends you had grown up with and share a common bond.

Every Thanksgiving morning since then, 39 years in a row; these men have met and played their Turkey Bowl game at the same time and place. The rules and field dimensions have remained relatively unchanged; the original players still show up and play.

The unofficial leader, Chuck Seufferlein, was the one who took the time to maintain a team roster. He did his best to keep a current file on the players. Every year he would mail out an advance reminder to each player to be there.

Chuck's dedication and commitment to keeping the tradition going was huge in getting everyone to the game "one more time," year-in and year-out.

Nothing is forever, and the time has come. This year it was agreed that Turkey Bowl 40, Thanksgiving 2009, will be the last. With a profound feeling of melancholy and a deep sense of purpose, the book will finally close on the Turkey Bowl 1970.

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