The way Hopkins's Neil Pohlhaus '50 remembers that 1950 game against Navy, Joe Bray started the fracas. "Bray went for the goal and I proceeded to try to cut him off before he could get inside and do some scoring. I guess I cut him off pretty hard and he didn't like what I was doing, so he dropped the ball, swung his stick, and hit me in the side of the head. I went back at him and that's when the fight started." Regardless of who started the battle, one thing's for sure: band leader Conrad "Gebby" Gebelein was the man who led the charge down onto the field, his conducting baton held aloft like a warrior's sword.
This sight was a familiar one for Blue Jays fans during the five decades that Gebelein directed the Hopkins Band. Whenever an official made a call that appeared patently unfair to the Hopkins team, the "Music Man of JHU" would launch himself onto the field, where he'd wave his baton in the ref's face and do some officiating of his own. "Gebby's attitude was, 'You shouldn't wrong our boys,'" recalls one former coach.
A man known for his warmth, fun-loving nature, and good will, Gebelein served as director of instrumental music programs at Hopkins for nearly 50 years, from 1924 until his retirement at age 76 in 1971. "His personality and his enthusiasm were contagious. As soon as you met him, you liked him," recalls 27- year band member Irv Litofsky '73, who began playing trumpet under Gebby in 1969.
Throughout his five decades at Hopkins, Gebby's loyalty to Hopkins lacrosse was legendary -- so legendary, in fact, that the Homewood Stadium today bears his name.
A footnote: Order was finally restored during that infamous game in 1950 when the Naval Academy band struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner." Pohlhaus says he emerged from the bottom of a pile of players to find his mother standing there with an umbrella, "ready to do harm to defend her son." The Blue Jays went on to win the match, 8-4.
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