116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Irving John “Stub” Barron was a standout football, wrestling, and track and field athlete at the University of Iowa in the early 1900s.
But perhaps his most remarkable achievement was one of longevity: He attended the first practice drill for the Hawkeyes every fall for 65 years, starting in 1912.
Some years he drove hundreds of miles to be at the practice field on time.
In 1940, Barron also helped form the UI booster club, the Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He served as the club’s secretary for most of its existence, explaining that he “felt the Quarterback Club was good for Iowa.”
High school years
Barron played high school football in Correctionville, a small town in Woodbury County in western Iowa, from 1907 to 1910. The high school team was good, playing Buena Vista College and larger high schools like Sioux City.
Its string of home field victories began in 1908. Even though high school state champions weren’t designated in Iowa before 1960, Barron’s 1909 Correctionville team laid claim to that title after it played East Waterloo, also undefeated, on Thanksgiving Day. Correctionville dominated, 42-0.
The 1910 team, with Barron at center, beat Eastern Iowa teams but lost to Sioux City, 29-0.
In 1911, Correctionville lost to Cherokee High School, 6-0, on Oct. 14, though Barron’s performance was “work of the highest order,” the Correctionville News reported. “Barron, time after time, demonstrated his superior football ability over any player on the grounds.”
At the next game on Oct. 21 against Sioux City, Barron’s teammate, Roland Schneckloth, suffered a spinal cord injury and died. The rest of the season was canceled.
In September 1912, Barron headed to the University of Iowa, traveling to Cedar Rapids by train and boarding the Interurban train for the last leg to Iowa City.
He played right tackle on the UI freshman football team, where he was chosen as captain. He also wrestled at 200 pounds.
He was moved to tackle on the varsity squad the next year, when he also was elected sophomore class president.
Barron was out for much of the 1914 season, breaking his forearm in a game against Cornell.
He was elected captain of the 1915 UI football team, where he was “considered the star of the local eleven and is one of the best players ever developed by Coach Hawley,” according to the Des Moines Register.
The team that year was 3-4, but Barron won the heavyweight wrestling Championship of the West. He won the Big Ten wrestling championship in 1916.
During his UI years, Barron earned nine letters — three in football, three in wrestling and three in track and field.
In April 1916, Barron secretly married Washta native Marian Robertson in Vinton, not revealing their marriage until December. He coached the UI freshman football team in 1916 and 1917 while taking classes at the College of Law.
The Davenport Athletic Cub recruited Barron for its pro team, but he passed on the offer and moved to Denver, Colo., in 1918 to coach the Colorado School of Mines, where he produced a winning team and also bought an Iowa Hawkeyes pennant for a cafe that lacked one.
He joined the Northwestern National Life Insurance Co. in 1920. By 1921, he was the leading salesman for the Eastern Iowa territory and was honored at a banquet at the Montrose Hotel in Cedar Rapids. In 1923, he was district agent with headquarters in Iowa City for Northwestern National.
He began coaching with Moray Eby at Coe College in 1922 and coaching freshmen at Iowa in 1926.
He was elected to a two-year term on the Iowa City Council, 1945-46, and belonged to the Delta Chi Fraternity and the Iowa City Elks Club, which named him a master gardener in 1944.
In 1956, Barron’s friends and associates threw him a party at the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids to celebrate his retirement from the insurance business after 35 years.
The string, honors
And in all those years, he always made it back to Iowa City for the first day of fall football practice.
The string ended in 1977, after 65 years, when Barron wasn’t well enough for his friends to drive him to the practice field. He died two years later, in 1979, at the age of 88.
Barron never said exactly why he kept the string going for so many years, but he did tell Gazette sports columnist Gus Schrader in 1963 that he was “just naturally on hand for the openers. But I’ll have to admit the last few years have been somewhat premeditated.”
In 1998, Barron was inducted into the UI’s National Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame for both football and wrestling.