Lom, Benny : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Lom, Benny

Benjamin A. Lom

Lom was a three-time All-America at the University of California, and one of the greatest triple threat (running, passing, and kicking) players in college football in the late 1920s. He was also a significant participant in one of the most famous plays in College Football history.

During the 1929 Rose Bowl against Georgia Tech, Lom (playing safety for Cal) caused a fumble when he hit a Tech runner. Cal center Roy Riegels picked up the ball at the Tech 40-yard line, got spun around a couple of times, and ran in the wrong direction towards his own goal! Players on both teams were confused as Cal blockers stopped Tech tacklers from touching Riegels. Lom kept his wits and yelled at Riegels that he was running the wrong way, but could not be heard over the roar of the crowd. Only Lom chased after Riegels; he stopped him steps before the goal line, momentarily saving the day, but Tech players tackeled Riegels at the one-yard line.

On the next play, Cal decided to punt rather than risk trying a play. Lom's punt was blocked for a safety, however, and Cal lost the game, 8-7. Late in the fourth quarter, Benny threw a touchdown for Cal's only points, but unfortunately had a 68-yard touchdown run called back by the referee. Benny was named the outstanding player of the Rose Bowl.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. June 29, 1906 - d. June 29, 1984

Career Highlights:
In 1927, Lom made an immediate impact in his first-ever varsity game. According to S. Dan Brodie in his book 66 Years on the California Gridiron, "The second period went to the Bears as the result of two long passes from an unknown sophomore, Benny Lom, to Jim Dougery and California had a 7-6 lead..." Cal went on to win that game against Santa Clara and finished the season with a record of 7-3. Football historian Dr. L.H. Baker wrote in his Football: Facts and Figures: "Lom was unquestionably one of the greatest passers ever seen on the Coast. His passing was brilliant. In 1927, several long passes helped defeat St. Mary's 13-0." That season, Lom was named Lou Little All-America first team, and AP All-America honorable mention.

In 1928, Cal finished the season 6-1-2 and eventually lost to Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl -- still remembered for Roy "Wrong Way" Reigel's run and Lom's heroics. Lom was named Central Press All-America second team, Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention, and All-Pacific Coast first team.

In 1929, Benny had an outstanding season and was named AP All-America third team, Grantland Rice, New York Sun, UP, and INS honorable mention, and All-Pacific Coast first team. During the season, he ran back the opening kickoff 54 yards in California's 12-7 victory over Pennsylvania (then a national powerhouse), and had a 85-yard run in Cal's 15-7 win over Rose Bowl-bound USC.

Brodie wrote about the play against USC in 66 Years on the California Gridiron, "...one of the brightest moments in modern California football history. Benny Lom dropped back into punt formation, but on receiving the ball from center he feinted the punt. Arbelbide, the Trojan end, came booming straight in but was blocked from the outside...Lom cut around him, turned towards the line of scrimmage, dodged between two would-be tacklers, and sped 85-yards to the USC goal line. The dash itself was a beautiful example of the perfect skill and amazing speed of Benny Lom, and probably did more toward making him an All-American that year than any other single performance." Lom is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

San Francisco, California

Career Dates:
Lom played at the University of California-Berkeley from 1927-1929.

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
66 Years on the California Gridiron by S. Dan Brodie (Oakland: The Olympic Publishing Co., 1949)

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