Williams College Retires 1st Football Number; Michael Meredith Reily ’64 Award Established

President Adam Falk (l.) and former Eph coach Frank Navarro retire Mike Reily's #50
President Adam Falk (l.) and former Eph coach Frank Navarro retire Mike Reily's #50

Video Tributes of Mike Reily by Dave Simonds:

"Tackle by Reily"

"The Game:  Williams vs. Amherst, 1961"

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – On Saturday, November 12th at the Michael Meredith Reily '64 Recognition Dinner in Lasell Gym 50 years after Reily starred in an historic upset over an undefeated Amherst team 12-0 on Weston Field in 1961, Williams College President Adam Falk officially retired the number 50 worn by Mike Reily in his illustrious career. 

Effectively the number 50 had been quietly and unofficially retired for 48 years when Reily took it off for the last time after the final game of the 1963 season. Former equipment managers Charlie Hurley and Jimmy McArthur and then head coach Frank Navarro put Reily's two game jerseys and his practice jersey in a Wilson football box and wrote "#50 Football – Do Not Issue" on the box.

Reily, a two-time All-American from New Orleans, LA via Woodberry Forest School (VA) was unable to play his senior year as he was diagnosed around Thanksgiving after his junior season with Hodgkin's disease. Reily's goal then became to graduate. Reily accomplished his goal and along the way he inspired a college and a team. 

Reily died in July of 1964 just 41 days after graduating from Williams with honors in English.

No one has worn the number 50 at Williams in a football game since Reily did during the 1963 season when he would venture onto the field for the coin toss.

The story on the unofficially retired jerseys came to light when former teammates and classmates of Reily embarked on a quest to get Reily listed as an Eph Legend on the team's website and a profile of his accomplishments listed in the football game program.

Spurred on by teammate Ben Wagner '64 who co-captained the 1963 Ephs with Reily, the mission to recognize Reily escalated when Wagner was encouraged by Eph head football coach Aaron Kelton and SID Dick Quinn to honor Reily with an award to a current team member.

The creation of the Michael Meredith Reily '64 Award was announced at the dinner. The winner of the Michael Meredith Reily '64 Award will be determined by a vote of the players who will select the player they feel best exemplifies the qualities of performance, leadership and character as demonstrated by Reily at Williams 

The first Michael Meredith Reily '64 Award will be presented at the football team's annual banquet scheduled for December 4th at the Pittsfield [MA] Country Club.

Photos by Roman Iwasiwka

Patrick Reily, Mike Reily's oldest brother, recieves Mike's
#50 white jersey from Ben Wagner '64 who served as
co-captain with Mike in 1963

Eph head coach Aaron Kelton accepts the Michael Meredith 
Reily '64 Award to be presented annually to an Eph football
player from Ben Wagner

Athletic Director Lisa Melendy and Aaron Kelton pose with the
Mike Reily plaque that will reside outside of Kelton's office 
A closer look at the Michael Meredith Reily '64 plaque


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