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Drake Alum Turning 100 Offers a Peek Into Bulldogs’ Athletic History

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Taking a deep dive into the history of Drake University athletics simply requires one to take a seat next to Paul Morrison.

"I'm glad we had quite a few students walking around here," said Paul, who graduated from the university in 1939.

Since then, he's spent over seven decades preserving Drake history like the school's victory over Iowa State in football, NCAA national championships in cross country, or ticket stubs against powerhouse football programs like Oklahoma.

"It's just a real accomplishment for the university to be recognized like that."

To celebrate his 100th birthday on July 25th, the university is putting his personal mementos on display.  "If it weren't for Paul, I don't want to say this would be gone, but we don't what would have happened," said University and Political Archivist Hope Bibens.

Paul said the decision to preserve came easy.  "You make history every day, but you don't always record it. So I've always tried to keep a scrapbook."

It's Paul's decisions that allowed current student Xavier McNeil to gain perspective today. "It was really dope to see us in the Final Four, which was crazy.  You had guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out there," he said.

It gave the two men, born eight decades apart, common ground. Paul said, "That UCLA game will live forever. We didn't win, but we came awful close."

The open house surprised some of the biggest Drake historians.  Pictures of Babe Ruth practicing with the Drake football team.  Another picture billing a Drake vs. Oregon football game as the first major night football game at Chicago's Soldier Field.

"I had no idea that Drake played Notre Dame in football in the 20s. I just had no idea how rich the history of Drake athletics really was," said Hope.

It's a rich history that has now been unlocked.

"It's his legacy, and we want to keep bringing that forward and make it accessible to people," said Hope, who worked for over a year to help get the items ready for display.

All thanks to man who forever bleeds blue.

Paul said, "I think all of us like to be recognized.  When you have had a long affiliation like I've had with Drake, it's very meaningful to me."

In April, Paul fully funded the Drake women's basketball team championship rings so they, too, could have a piece of their own history.  A birthday celebration will take place on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside Shiver's Basketball Practice Facility on the Drake University campus.