50 Turkey Bowls Enough

The 50th Turkey Bowl Game

This Game was Dedicated to the Memory of

Wally McGovern

Bill Lynk

Marty Murray

Standing: Art McGrivern Jr. Tom Riley, Gene Heidkamp, Chris Hughes, Art McGrivern, Ed Green, Rene Pelletier, John Deleonardis, John Hodel, Tony Janda, Art's son-in-law, Brian Daly

Seated: Casey Lord, Brian McGovern, Bill Tortorello, Skip Braband, Paul Murphy, Tom Murphy, Br. Tom Hetland and Art's son-in-law, Luis Calzada

A group of lifelong friends who started an annual football game in the north suburbs in the 1960s got together Sunday September 29, 2014 at Jorndt Field for their 50th and last game.

On Thanksgiving weekend in 1965, a bunch of teenagers jumped a barbed-wire fence to play football on the pristine field of an all-girls Catholic high school in Rogers Park, and the decision has affected their lives ever since. No nuns appeared to chase them away, but occasionally they would let out there dog to chase us of the field. They had a blast. And minus the trespassing, they have continued the tradition every year since in one of the longest running “Turkey Bowls” ( featuring the same core group of players). On Sunday, the half-century tradition comes to an end.

The players, graduates of the old St. George High School in Evanston — with a couple of guys from Loyola Academy sprinkled in the mix — are now closing in on age 70.

“Around the 45th Turkey Bowl, we said well let’s go for 50,” said longtime participant Art McGrivern. “So this will be our last one. And then we’ll figure out another event to get us all together.”

Throughout the years, all manner of injuries — muscle tears, sprains, fractures — have been endured. The group played in rain and snow. Wives and girlfriends showed up to cheer — except when there was rain and snow. One year, to keep the streak alive, the crew, many of whom played in high school, exited their cars in torrential rain to play two series of downs before retreating.

“My favorite memory is when [quarterback] Art McGrivern played with a cane after hip surgery last year,” said Paul Murphy, a tax attorney who lives in Wilmette. “He kept it in a belt loop when he threw and used it to bat down balls on defense.” McGrivern, also of Wilmette, denied illegal cane “My favorite memory is when Art McGrivern played with a cane after hip surgery last year.”

Paul Murphy, Wilmette tax attorney use. “My arms are just really long,” he quipped.

Another recent gem: “Watching the two slowest guys chasing each other down the field while the rest of us were rolling around on the ground laughing,” Murphy said. The locker room ribbing hasn’t changed much since the early years, but the meaning of the game has evolved. “At first it was just about the football, we all loved football, and over the years we realized that the value of this thing was in the friendships.”

The teammates — some pals since kindergarten — have been there for each other on and off the field.

“When my daughter was in hospice for the last few weeks of her life, one of my football pals, Marty Murray, came to see her every day,” Murphy said.

Murray, who did the brunt of recruiting and organizing that kept the Turkey Bowl alive over the years, died in 2012. Two other men on the roster also have passed away. Their widows have been invited to the 50th game. Kathy McGovern, Libby Lynk and Kathy Murray The game, which will be played at Jorndt Field (Winamac Park) in the Ravenswood neighborhood, has changed a bit over the years.

It typically draws about 15 guys, most of whom have made it to all but a few of the games. The group has included tradesmen, businessmen, and a former CEO.

Blocking was outlawed more than a decade ago. Two-hand touch became no running after a catch. There are no quarterback sneaks or pass rushes, Murphy said.

“We’ve also shrunk the field a little bit as we’ve gotten older, and the date has moved closer and closer to the warm weather — concessions to old age,” he said with a laugh.

“It has become a very genteel game,” McGrivern said. “Everybody takes care of everybody else.”


Pictured from left to right top

Rene Pelletier John Deleonardis, Skip Braband

Art McGrivern and Gene Heidkamp                     Skip Braband & Bill Tortorello                             


   Gene Heidkamp and Br. Tom Hetland                     John Hodel & Rene Pelletier



The Turkey Bowl 50 game video (with special bonus features) is up on YouTube here


Welcome to the Board of Directors our newest Board member Jim Vandendorpe 64'

Another Dragon has passed on.

 Last Friday morning the WGN radio staff began reporting that Larry Schreiner had passed away Thursday evening.

Larry had developed a long term relationship with the WGN radio staff beginning with Wally Phillips and continuing on with Bob Collins, Spike O'Dell and many others reporting from his perspective as a Chicago Police Officer. He also provided film and video footage to WGN-TV, and Channels 2,5,7 and 32.

 Larry as many might recall was part of the great St. George HS Class of 1961.

 He played on the tennis team, was a cheerleader and was very active in both student government and the Dragon newspaper where he was a major photographer which led to his later careers with both the CPD, WGN and the Chicago TV stations.

 According to the Chicago Tribune Larry was the father of 2 sons and grandfather of 2.

Visitation will be on Tuesday 6-10 from 3 to 9pm at the Cumberland Chapels.

Larry's funeral Mass will be at 10am on Wednesday 6-10 at St. Eugene Catholic Church.

 Lawrence J. Schreiner, Rest in Peace.

 Dave Stailey


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