"R.I.P. "Wee" Willie Heidelberg" by SportsBlog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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R.I.P. "Wee" Willie Heidelberg

In 1970, the University of Southern Mississippi defeated Ole Miss 30-14 in what, to this day, stands as one of the biggest upsets in Mississippi history.

Southern Miss was thrashed the week before by San Diego State, and got torn to pieces the next week by Mississippi State, but managed to beat Archie Manning and the No. 4-ranked Rebels because of a secret weapon.

That weapon was "Wee" Willie Heidelberg, who died Tuesday in Jackson. The then-20-year-old junior was the only black player on either team. He touched the ball three times, and scored twice.

As Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Director Rick Cleveland wrote:

Wee Willie was like a black dot on an ivory domino, the only black player on the field for either team that day. His performance foreshadowed sweeping changes in Deep South football. On this, the last day of Black History Month, it seems appropriate to ask the question: Was Heidelburg aware of the ramifications back then as a 20-year-old junior?

“Oh no,” Heidelburg says. “I knew that was a special victory. I knew we had done something big. But, as for me, I was just playing ball. I certainly wasn’t thinking about making history.”

Read more here.

Heidelberg eventually moved to Jackson and took a job coaching at Belhaven College. Many Jacksonians will remember him as the official scorekeeper for the high school basketball championships at "the big house."

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