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In City of Champions, Hank Gola, a veteran and award-winning football writer, unveils a long-forgotten game through research spanning newspaper accounts, over 75 personal interviews, letters, oral histories, game films, recordings and photos.

Gola mines stories of the towns and the lives of the players and coaches--detailing the grit (and wild strokes of luck and fortune) that led up the Christmas night game. In a larger context, these two teams and the landmark 1939 season mirror interwar America, offering new perspectives on some of the pressing cultural, economic and socio-political issues of the era. Above all, City of Champions is a story of everyday heroes and lives well-lived.


Chapter 18: The Trip

​​It was as if everyone from the city of Garfield had chipped in for an Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstakes ticket and collectively hit the jackpot. Against odds that seemed just as long . . . their Boilermakers were going to Miami.

Paperboys around town delivered the glad tidings that rainy morning. The Herald-News screamed, “GARFIELD TO PLAY MIAMI CHRISTMAS” across its front page, pushing the war news down below the fold...

1939 National Championship:Garfield at Miami (12/25/39)
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"So rich and so unforgettable and so inspirational...City of Champions should be told across America. It's that good."


—  Peter King, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports