The Ghastly Ghost at the University of Notre Dame

September, 28 2018

The Ghastly Ghost at the University of Notre Dame

What better way to get in the Halloween spirit, than a ghost story? Reaching back into our archives, we found a spooky story sure to give goosebumps. Everyone has heard the phrase, win one for the Gipper, but few know the true origin of those iconic words. 

Our story begins on the Notre Dame campus on a cold, pitch-black night in December 1920. After a late night out celebrating his final football game against Northwestern University , George Gipp, missed curfew and found the doors to his dormitory, Washington Hall locked.  Rather than sneak in and risk getting caught, he decided to sleep outside.  This decision likely led to his death as he contracted pneumonia and later died from complications.  Not long after Gipp’s death, the students who lived in Washington Hall started to experience signs of a paranormal visitor.  They reported hearing strange noises, like papers rustling under doors, music being played late at night, phantom footsteps and even horns going off without warning.  

Gipp’s spirit lives on through football, as his story is one of the many Notre Dame football legends passed down over the years. On his death bed, Gipp made this famous plea to coach Knute Rockne, “I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.”

From that moment on, Rockne used the story of the Gipper to rally the Fighting Irish. In the 12-6 upset of the previously undefeated Army team in 1928, Jack Chevigny, Notre Dame halfback, scored the tying touchdown at Yankee Stadium where he said, “that’s one for the Gipper”.

George Gipp, nicknamed “The Gipper”, was a halfback, quarterback and punter at the University of Notre Dame under legendary Hall of Fame coach Knute Rockne from 1917-1920. Gipp passed away at the young age of 25, but is remembered for his talent on the field and the famous speech to Rockne on his deathbed is immortalized on a plaque that still hangs in the locker room at Notre Dame Stadium. He was posthumously voted into the College Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural induction class in 1951 on December 14 at 3:27 a.m., in honor of the actual day and time of his death.

The Gipper’s spirt is still said to linger in the music hall on campus today and occasionally spook students, but there is little to fear, as he is considered a friendly ghost.

You can keep the Halloween chills and thrills going later this month at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame’s 4th annual Haunted Hall of Fame.  Experience all the Hall has to offer, plus trick-or-treating, face painting, Zombie appearances and our Field of Screams!   This can’t-miss, family-friendly event takes place on Saturday, October 27th and Sunday, October 28th and is included in the price of a regular admission ticket! Kids ages 3-12 receive free admission when they arrive in costume. It’s going to be a scary good time!

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