Former astronaut Frank Borman wasn't born in Tucson, but we consider him one of our own. He grew up in Tucson and went to high school here. In fact he made a name for himself playing high school football, as was remembered at a class reunion many years later.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Monday, Oct. 14, 1991:

'45 Badgers were a team to remember

By Javier Morales
The Arizona Daily Star

In the eventful year of 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away, Harry S. Truman took over, and the Japanese surrendered in World War II.

Closer to home, and far from the tension of the real world, Tucsonans were treated to the exploits of the young Gridleymen.

Weel after week in the fall of 1945, backers of the Gridleymen — coach Rollin T. Gridley's Tucson High School football team's — became entranced by the team's success. In a time of uncertainty, the team offered Tucsonans a release. The city was theirs.

In bold letters, headlines atop the sports page read, "Tucson High Badgers Romp" and "Tucson High Crushes Another Opponent." Occasionally, reports about the Badgers ran adjacent to war coverage on the front page of the newspaper.

Overflow crowds in excess of 13,000 would file into Arizona Stadium to watch the Gridleymen face another likely victim.

Large caravans would travel to the Phoenix area to watch Tucson play the likes of St. Mary's, Phoenix Union and Mesa.

A sea of red and white, the team's colors, was noticeable wherever the Badgers played.

Tucson High monopolized local fan interest for a variety of reasons.

Amphitheater, a new school situated on the western edge of the city back then, was the only other high school in town.

The University of Arizona football program resurfaced in 1945 after a two-year break because of World War II, and it took a while for fans to kindle faith in the Wildcats. The Badgers drew larger crowds.

A winning tradition enhanced Tucson's devotion to the Badgers. The seniors — the class of 1946 — never lost a game in their varsity career.

Tucson achieved a 32-game winning streak, and it was the undisputed state champion in 1944 and 1945. A state playoff system did not exist, and since the Badgers were unbeated in those years, they were declared champs.

The team featured the likes of reserve quarterback Frank "Brain" Borman, halfback Karl Eller, and starting quarterback Lee "Legs" Carey.

Each accomplished fame or fortune after graduating from Tucson High, and they lended credence to the Class of 1946 being called the Class of Champions.

Borman piloted the Gemini 7 space mission in 1965, and three years later, he was the commander of the Apollo 8 mission. It was the first manned spacecraft to circle the moon.

Eller ius a prosperous entrepreneur who onnce owned the circle K Corporation and currently owns the Swenson's Ice Cream chain. He was one of the original owners of the Phoenix Suns, and he was president of Combined Communications, one of the nation's largest mass media enterprises that eventually was purchased by the Gannett Co.

Carey, whom Gridley calls one of the most legendary athletes to attend Tucson High, played professional baseball in the Cleveland Indians organization for almost a decade. Today, he holds an administrative position at the UA.

Over the weekend, they and others from the Class of 1946 gathered to celebrate a 45th reunion. It was a time to reminisce about the old days when they were the toast of Tucson.

Times have changed, but their bond remains strong.

"That team in 1945 had character," said Borman, who has settled in Las Cruces, N.M., after a 10-year stint as chairman of Eastern Airlines. At 63, he flies aerobatic planes in his spare time and works with a company that issues licenses for lasers.

"The only real naturally gifted athlete on the team was Lee Carey," Borman said, "and even he did not play on the collegiate level. It was just a group of guys who were very dedicated.

"Coach Gridley was responsible for our success. He's a man who changed all of our lives and was a positive influence. I mean that."

Gridley, 88, lives in Tucson and continues to follow football on all levels. He played for the UA in 1925-26 and was a teammate of John "Button" Salmon, whose phrase "Bear Down" has become legendary.

Gridley said the 1945 edition of the Badgers embodied the noble characteristics of Salmon. Many years have passed, but he can remember details.

He likes to talk about how Borman replaced Carey at quarterback early that season after Carey suffered a fractured wrist. Borman operated the T-formation offense without a glitch.

Gridley cannot forget when Carey returned to action late in the season and ran for 197 yards on three carries against Phoenix Union.

He does not hesitate to speak of the time Tucson defeated Mesa in the final game of the season and shut down famed running back Wilford "Whizzer" White.

"What a wonderful group of young men," Gridley said. "They were a bunch of individuals who were determined to not lose. It's hard to compare, but I would say that team was very well one oo the best teams I ever coached."

Borman and Eller, at the outset of the 1945 season, did not figure to play a prominent role. Although they survived a tryout that consisted of many aspirants, neither was listed as a starter. But by the end of the season, they shared in the team's glory along with the headliners Carey, Art Pacheco and Oscar Carrillo.

"I was just a 150-pound fullback, but I did not let my size stop me," said Eller, who continued his football career at the UA from 1949-51. "I backed up the line pretty well. All of the guys were strong.

"We had a lot of guts, stamina and spirit. Everyone knew how to clock and tackle. We were good kids. That reflects on Coach Gridley. He's the finest individual I've come across. He has so much integrity."

Forty-six years later, the Gridleymen continue to think of their glory during a time when the world was unsettled. Tucsonans had something to smile about. A gala 50th reunion, a golden anniversary of the class of 1946, is in the works for five years from now.

The event will provide yet another opportunity to reminisce about the splendor of yesteryear.

Borman did, indeed, make it to space twice. The first time, it was the longest space mission to date, lasting 14 days.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Saturday, Dec. 4, 1965:

Borman's Parents 'Proud'

Phoenicians Fly To Cape For Launch

By Jim Strothman

CAPE KENNEDY AP—Proud parents are Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Borman. Their son, Frank, will be command pilot inside the Gemini 7 capsule.

"We both feel wonderful," said the astronaut's gray-haired father. "We sure are proud of our son."

"We're real exicted," agreed Mom. "I have great confidence and think it's going to be a wonderful thing for Frank. I hope it can go the full 14 days and everything turns out just right."

The Bormans flew to Cape Kennedy from their home in Phoenix, so they could watch their boy blast off on the longest manned space adventure yet undertaken.

For the Borman clan, it was family day.

"My sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. William Robertson, who live at Far Hills, N.J., are coming," Frank's mother said.

The Tucson astronaut's blonde wife, Susan, and his two sons, Frederick, 14, and Edwin, 12, also flew to Cape Kennedy to observe the launch. Susan's mother, Ruth Bugbee, also of Tucson, Ariz., also will be on hand.

Borman visited briefly with his parents Friday morning. Borman's wife ate dinner with him Thursday night, and then avoided newsmen.

Susan and the sons, "don't seem excited," the astronaut's mother said. "She's lovely and the boys are terrific. But that's Grandma talking," she quipped.

Marilyn Lovell, wife of Borman's copilot, Navy Cmdr. James A. Lovell Jr., stayed in Houston because she is expecting their fourth child to be born late this month, possibly while Lovell is orbiting the globe.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 1968:

Apollo 8 Crew Starts Journey Back To Earth

Astronauts Will Land Friday

By Paul Recer
AP Aerospace Writer

SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) — The Apollo 8 spaceship and its crew blasted away from the neighborhood of the moon Christmas Day — and began the 235,000-mile trip home.

"Roger," said Apollo 8, "We've just been informed there is a Santa Claus."

There were six frightening minutes while Apollo Control tried repeatedly to get voice contact with the spacecraft.

Then it was there.

The rocket firing came at 11:00 a.m. Tucson time, and 10 minutes later Apollo wheeled out from behind the moon homeward bound at about 6,000 miles per hour.

The three-minute 18-second burn added enough speed to the 3,600 m.p.h. Apollo 8 was traveling to carry it away from the moon's primary gravitational influence, and send it into the pull of the earth.

"This gives you the sensation that you're climbing," Apollo 8 reported when confirmation of a good rocket burn was passed up to the spaceship.

Earlier, the "very tired crew" of the Apollo 8, with the first flush of their space victory behind them, cut down their Christmas Eve flight plan — but kept a television transmission in their moon-orbiting schedule.

Asked about a computer problem, spacecraft commander Frank Borman said his co-pilot, James A. Lovell Jr., "got screwed up on one of those programs. So he's getting kinda tired here." Before that turn of events, Borman had offered a Christmas Eve prayer Tuesday for peace "to people everywhere."

Apollo 8 commander, Air Force Col. Frank Borman, said the prayer as the spacecraft whipped around the glimmering moon's surface for the third time.

Borman and his crewmates, Air Force Maj. William A. Anders and Navy Capt. James A. Lovell Jr., had injected themselves into moon orbit at 4:59 a.m., EST Tuesday, becoming the first men to ever explore another celestial cody from close range.

They sped over the surface in an orbit of 70 by 196 miles and then fired the powerful service propulsion rocket engine to circularize their path over the moon at 70 by 70. The crew stunned the world with a television transmission during their second orbit. A second television transmission, scheduled for 9:28 p.m. EST, was expanded from the scheduled 15 minutes to 37 minutes.

The crew fired service propulsion engine the first time to slow their spacecraft enough for it to settle into moon orbit some 69 hours after their Saturday launch at Cape Kennedy.

The firing came as the spacecraft whipped around the backside and passed from contact with the earth. Mission controllers waited a chilling 22 minutes before Apollo 8 reappeared from behind the moon and reported all was well.

The crew described the lunar surface, took pictures to help later Apollo crews who will land there, and named previously unnamed craters for each other.

"It looks like plaster of paris, or sort of a grayish beach sand," said Lovell of the barren moonscape.

Anders called the surface "Whitish-gray, like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints in it."

the trio beamed back to earth — a shimmering blue broad crescent 220,000 miles away — their first 12-minute telecast of the moon.

It showed a desert of peaks and craters and millions of miles of pocked wasteland.

Like an ancient mapmaker gazing on unknown landmarks, Anders tried to put a name on them.

"We're passing over crater Borman right now. Lovell's right next to it and Anders right next to it," the 35-year-old Air Force major said.

Lovell brought laughter from his crewmate when he observed, "don't those two craters look like a pickax striking concrete and leaving a lot of fine space dust."

Lovell said small impact craters contained centered dark spots where it appeared meteorites hit and "buried in and hit some new material below that's got a lot of fine, white dust."

The 40-year-old Navy camptain picked out landmarks leading up to the first prime landing site for later missions and said he found it easy to navigate over the surface of the moon.

"It's almost impossible to miss, he said. "Very easy to pick out. I can see very clearly the five-cratered star formation which we had on our lunar chart."

He also said he easily found a triangular mountain which was one of the primary guiding marks of his navigation exercise. He had said before the flight he would name the lunar peak Mt. Marilyn" for his wife.

The navigation points Lovell looked for were just to the right of the line where dark and light collide on the moon's surface as earthly viewers would look at it. The points are located in an area called the Sea of Tranquility.

Maintaining their calm military precision throughout the awesome first minutes of lunar orbit, the crew gave a technical readout on the health of their spacecraft before giving the eargerly waiting world a description of the moon's surface.

Lovell observed that the lunar craters are "all rounded off — there's quite a few of them."

He said many :look like they've been hit by meteorites or projectiles of some sort ... The walls of the crater are terraced, about six or seven terraces on the way down."

Frank Borman is one of Tucson's notable achievers.