Francis (Frank) Leahy was -- like his old coach and patron saint Knute Rockne -- a ""Camelot-builder"" at Notre Dame (the...


SHAKE DOWN THE THUNDER!: The Official Biography of Notre Dame's Frank Leahy

Francis (Frank) Leahy was -- like his old coach and patron saint Knute Rockne -- a ""Camelot-builder"" at Notre Dame (the title is from that school's victory march). A shy, ex-cowboy from Winner, South Dakota, Leahy had to hustle mercilessly to make the Fighting Irish starting line. When an injury ended his playing days, his only solace was his unofficial status as Rockne's disciple. After the ""Rock's"" tragic death in a plane crash, Leahy distinguished himself as a Fordham coach (where one of his guards was Vince Lombardi) and head man at Boston College before realizing his role, a decade later, as Rockne's heir-designate at Notre Dame. Having pledged to ""defend the honor of Our Lady,"" Leahy stressed self-discipoine both on and off the playing field. As a result of his single-mindedness -- he was criticized and tabbed a ""zealot"" in his quest for gridiron perfection -- he produced four national champions, six unbeaten teams and 39 consecutive victories in his eleven years as ""The Coach"" of the Irish. He would later turn clown a million dollar contract to go pro -- only to be forced to resign by a clerical faction which felt threatened (and still does) by too much athletic, as opposed to spiritual or academic, success. Having jeopardized his health to uphold and surpass the Rockne ideal -- ""Sacrifice is not difficult if that is all you have ever really known"" -- Leahy spent his last twenty years ""forever a coach without a football team."" Twombly, a sports columnist, has written not only the definitive Leahy biography but a compassionate, spirited testament as well.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1974


Page Count: -

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1974