That Fall Night in 1953 Wayne Downie’s Famous Sports Story

By Allison Ostapowicz

Wayne Downie has been working for Marian security since August 1993, yet, his famous sports story finally comes out.


Wayne Downie, Marian Security

Downie attended high school at Omaha Benson and always had a love for football.

In 1953, as a new high school freshman, Downie made Benson’s football team. He played as center on offense and defensive linebacker.

One fall October night, it was the big game. Benson was playing Omaha South High, in their stadium which Downie described as “basically one big hole.”

With the small amount of padding and protection that was available in 1953, it was time for kickoff.

The crowd was roaring, everyone excited and going crazy.

But freshman Downie stood on the line, looking straight ahead at the 300 – pound player he was supposed to defend.

POW! The ball was kicked off and before he knew it, Downie threw a cross body block towards his opponent. And the 300 – pound player’s knee pounded into Downie’s right side.

The whistle blows and everyone looks as Downie collapses to the ground instantly with agonizing pain.

His aunt, who happened to be a nurse, rushed from the stands to see what had happened.

After being carried quickly to the ambulance, Downie was rushed to Clarkson Hospital, where he stayed unconscious for the night.

It wasn’t just a typical night in the hospital either, there was a huge storm which caused all the electricity to go out!

Still unconscious, Downie was carried up the dark staircase to the operating room on a stretcher, and the operation began.

He was soon split open, and the doctors soon realized what had happened. Downie’s kidney was split open!

After hours of surgery, Wayne now had only one kidney following the removal of the split one.

Downie laughs, “Although I don’t remember that part, I was told I made a huge mess and my blood was everywhere!”

Downie was out of school for two months, homework was sent to his bed.

Many articles were written about the incident in Benson’s newspaper. One was called “Baby Bunny Gets Hurt.” He still owns a scrapbook containing all of these articles.

Downie did not let this tragedy stop him from being involved. He became the football team’s student manager, and later joined a quartet.

Downie never saw the guy who put him in the hospital again, but his love for football has been never ending.

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