Alumni Profiles

When a Close Shave Saved the Day

It was mid-September, 1974, the day of the Wildcats' first home game of the season, and the 'Cats and their coach, Bill Bowes, were braced for a beating at the hands of Boston University. Coming off a terrible season the previous year, the team knew it wasn't ready to face BU; the best they could hope for was to somehow avoid the humiliation of a total blowout.

In a time when shaved heads were few and far between, Mike Lanza's show of team spirit brought the crowd to their feet in 1974. Inset: Lanza today.

Co-captain Mike Lanza '75 jogged out to mid-field for the coin toss, and as he took off his helmet, his teammates exploded on the sidelines, jumping up and down, slapping backs, cheering, hooting. Howls of laughter spread through the stadium, as fans caught sight of Lanza, whose head was shaved bald, save for an "N" and an "H" sculpted of hair.

The Wildcats trounced the Terriers 20 to 1, and Lanza likes to think he was the catalyst for that near miracle. He wanted to inspire the team, but he also admits to looking for some notoriety of his own.

"I'm a ham bone. I was a big shot high school athlete, and I was used to a lot of attention. I just wanted to do something that would get me a little press," he says. He got his wish. Within days, the local newspaper's photographs of his opposing profiles were picked up by the wire services, even landing in Sports Illustrated and on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. He received congratulatory telegrams from as far away as Hawaii, Alaska and even Costa Rica.

Lanza's only regret is the anxiety he caused his mother, a tiny Italian woman who rushed to confront him at half-time. Shaking her finger at him, she cried, "Son! You need professional help!"

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