The History Behind the Ball Run
POSTED ON: Thursday, December 11, 2014 8:48 AM by USNA PAO
Each year, the midshipmen of 13th Company run the Army-Navy Game ball from T-Court to the stadium in time for the game. MIDN 1/C Eliud Martinez, a member of 13th Company, writes about how this tradition came about.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Clay Noto suggested to the 13th Company stripers of the Class of 1982 that a relay would be a great way to build company spirit and change the perception of "unlucky" 13.
He told these stripers that a run had occurred when he was a midshipman, sometime between 1968 and 1972, but had been thrown away as something too difficult to plan. It used to be organized by the Brigade Activities Committee, which was in charge of spirit-related events, and the event was meant to include runners from every company.
The event fell by the wayside until it was attempted again in 1981, when Noto became the 13th Company Officer. He realized that one company had enough manpower to run the ball, as long as all four classes supported the idea.
Noto said the credit truly belongs to Tim Thomas, Class of 1982, who did most of the planning for the run. The relay itself however, was the brainchild of his classmate Bernie Mimms, a Marine Corps Captain who succumbed to cancer in 1995.
Tim still has the '81 game ball, which was signed by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the navy, and the Chief of Naval Operations at the time.
"We did it to show spirit and teamwork, and it was successful because we had strong buy-in from each of the classes in 13th Company," said Tim. "During my four years in 13th Company, the only year we didn't run the ball to the game – understandably enough – was in 1983, when the Army-Navy game was played in Pasadena (California). I assume that was the only break in the annual event since '81."
In 2011, we overhauled the Ball Run and had the opportunity to change things up and run a new route to FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. It took a lot of work, but being in our nation’s capital afforded Lucky 13 the opportunity to integrate some collaboration with alumni from the USNA Classes of 1981 and 1984 and even some sightseeing in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
This year, the game will be played at M&T Stadium in Baltimore. We are going to run through our nation’s capital. We plan to meet with congressmen as we run the ball around D.C. before heading to Baltimore.
30 years and still going strong on the 13th Company Army-Navy Ball Run!