A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from August 05, 2022
Big Apple (football play at Davidson College, 1937)

During the national “Big Apple” dance craze of 1937, a “Big Apple” football play was developed at Davidson College (Davidson, NC) under head football coach Gene McEver (1908-1985). Davidson College did not allow dancing at this time.

“Davidson’s Big Apple Calls For Much Trucking” was printed in the Charlotte (NC) Observer on September 10, 1937. “McEver is drilling his boys in steps that steal something from the ‘big apple’ and its running-mate, the ‘little apple.’ For instance, here’s a play: The backfield takes two steps forward, twist to the right, raise their hands in what looks like a ‘Heil, Hitler’ and then dart in all directions” was printed in the Greensville (SC) News on September 7, 1938.


Wikipedia: Gene McEver
Eugene Tucker McEver (September 15, 1908 – July 12, 1985) was an American football player and coach. He played college football at the University of Tennessee, where he was an All-American halfback. McEver served as the head football coach at Davidson College from 1936 to 1943 and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1944, compiling a career record of 22–54–5. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1954.

Newspapers.com
10 September 1937, Charlotte (NC) Observer, “Jake Wade’s Sports Parade,” sec. 2, pg. 7, col. 1:
Davidson’s Big Apple Calls For Much Trucking.
DUKE MAY have its mentronome to develop rhythm in the play of the Blue Devils, but Davidson is one step ahead. Davidson has put rhythm in its system for a fare-you-well, having fashioned a play called the Big Apple.

The name was an afterthought. Coach McEver outlined the business to his boys and sent them through it. It was a fancy arrangement with maneuvers reminiscent of the Susy-Q.

They wanted to tie a signal to the play. “What will we call it?” one of the coaches propounded.

“Let’s call it the Big Apple,” came the suggestion.

So the Big Apple it is, and let it be shrouded in the same mystery that hovers over Doc Newton’s widely publicized manipulations with the huddle.

Doc shows his new trick to a number of reporters, including the writer, but has warned all and sundry not to give it away, as it must be sprung as a surprise on Davidson.

Well, when the Dazzlers trot out their Big Apple, the Wolves may be as mystified as the Wildcats are with Coach Newton’s nifty, a huddle that’s not a huddle.

We didn’t see enough of Davidson’s Big Apple to make sure the boys are well versed on the “shine,” or the Susy-Q, but we happen to know that some of these lads can truck, all right. Mr. Martin Luther (Teeny) Lafferty did a lot of “trucking right’ and “trucking left” last season, and if injuries do not lay him low, he’ll do more trucking this fall than they saw at Myrtle Beach all summer.

Newspapers.com
12 September 1937, Charlotte (NC) Observer, sec. 2, pg. 17, col. 6 photo caption:
TWO TEAMS OF WILDCATS—AND THE DAVIDSONS’ BIG APPLE
SHINE, KID, SHINE!—The Wildcats above are Davidsons, and they are doing a little Big Apple, warming up for their Big Apple play, which doesn’t exactly go that way.

Davidson has Fancy
Steps Set For ‘Pack
Gene McEver has “Big Apple” Formation Ready for Doc New-
ton’s New “Anti-Huddle” Formation At Greensboro.—
Much Rivalry Certain in Contest.

BY FREDERICK CONRAD SMITH.
DAVIDSON, Sept. 11.—When Coach Gene McEver springs his new and dazzling “Big Apple” play against Doc Newton’s State Wolfpack in the Greensboro stadium next Saturday night, football fans will see some fancy steps that may make them forget old Massa Newton’s famous, secret anti-huddle signals that State College has crowed about so lustily of late.

The gates of Richardson field are locked tightly these days and no one knows what the former Tennessee All-American halfback has up his sleeve. Dancing even the square variety is not allowed at Davidson, and no one knows whether the Big Apple play will send 11 men swinging to their feet against the other team or whether a giant apple-like formation will spill some dazzling runs and passes in all directions.

Newspapers.com
12 September 1937, Knoxville (TN) News-Sentinel, “McEver’s Eleven Meets N. C. State,” pg. B-3, col. 6:
DAVIDSON, Sept. 11—When Coach Gene McEver springs his new and dazzling Big Apple against Doc Newton’s State Wolfpack in the Greensboro stadium next Saturday night, football fans will see some fancy steps that may make them forget old Massa Newton’s famous, secret anti-huddle signals that State College has crowed about so lustily of late.

Newspapers.com
12 October 1937, Columbia (SC) Record, pg. 13, col. 1:
Coach Gene McEver of Davison, according to the Carolina publicity department, has put one over on the Gamecocks...Seeing the “Big Apple” he took a fancy to the dance and fashioned a play under that name...So Saturday Columbians will have a change to see a “Big Apple” play executed in the home of the dance—by a visiting team.

Newspapers.com
7 September 1938, Greensville (SC) News, pg. 9, col. 6:
COACH M’EVER
TEACHES BACKS
DANCE RHYTHM
Backfield Averaging Only
154 Pounds Causes Men-
tor to Stress Timing

TENNY LAFFTERY GONE
By RALPH L. HOWLAND
DAVIDSON, N. C., Sept. 6.—(AP)—Dancing is strictly not allowed on the Davidson college campus, but Coach Gene McEver is teaching his 1938 edition of the Wildcats some of the finer points of the “big apple.”

Davidson’s football team is going to have lots of rhythm to turn loose this fall on its 10 opponents. The Wildcats will have to use rhythm instead of weight for the backfield squad will average only 154 pounds. You simply can’t, says McEver, throw a tiny backfield man in front of a 225 pound tackle and expect him to remain whole unless he has the ability to swing, turn and romp.

THE “BIG APPLE”
McEver is drilling his boys in steps that steal something from the “big apple” and its running-mate, the “little apple.”

For instance, here’s a play:

The backfield takes two steps forward, twist to the right, raise their hands in what looks like a “Heil, Hitler” and then dart in all directions.

It’s all very confusing to watch, particularly play against, but McEver assures you that it’s all very necessary for the rhythm and timing needed by backs. All formations are run from the tried and tested wingback formation which McEver and Coach Williams (Doc) Newton, now at N. C. State, installed at Davidson seven years ago.

The tiny backfield, to be composed of Bill Davis, (who’ll weight 165 if dripping wet), Bob McClellan, Fred Stair and Bill Beatty, are being groomed in McEver’s new system of side-stepping, hip-swaying and should-shaking.

Newspapers.com
7 September 1938, The Bee (Danville, VA), pg. 7, cl. 5:
Backfield to
Study Rythm
At Davidson
Featherweight Ball Carriers
Will Have to Outdance
Heavy Opponents

By RALPH L. HOWLAND
(Same story as above.—ed.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityThe Big Apple1930s: Jazzing the Big Apple • Friday, August 05, 2022 • Permalink