Former Ole Miss quarterback reunites with lost memento from Sugar Bowl

Fulton woman returns 1955 Sugar Bowl watch to John Blalack

FULTON, Miss. (WCBI) – A former Ole Miss quarterback has been reunited with a piece of history from the 1955 Sugar Bowl game.

Sharon Russell was helping her aunt clean out a house, that was originally the home of Oscar Carroll, a jewelry store owner in Fulton.

Decades ago, Carroll closed his store in the downtown area and moved his business to his home. As Russell and her aunt were cleaning and organizing, they found an old safe, containing important papers.

“It was an old safe,” Russell said.

As Russell was looking through the safe, something else caught her eye.

“Found the box, looked in it, saw several watch faces, put it to the side, and continued to look for paperwork we needed. Several weeks later I had my sister and her daughter come over, they looked at the box and discovered the watch,” she said.

The watch was from the 1955 Sugar Bowl, and on the back, it reads “John Blalack  Ole Miss vs Navy”.

Blalack was starting quarterback for Ole Miss in 1954, ’55, and ’56. Each player in the Sugar Bowl received a watch, so with the name and the date, Russell made a Facebook post about the watch, while her friends and family started doing research.

“That’s when the journey began,” Russell said.

The research discovered that Blalack lived in Tupelo for a time, and likely brought the watch in for repair, but never picked it up.

Blalack was traced to Pearl, where he lives. His son, Mitch, contacted Russell who went to Pearl and returned Blalack’s timepiece.

Although Blalack, who is 89, isn’t in good health Russell said the former quarterback and his family were surprised and grateful.

“His family was excited, his brother had passed away in December, and his wife or daughter contacted me, thanking me for returning it, they are all so happy to have it back,” she said.

Russell didn’t want any special recognition for returning it to its rightful owner. She just knew it was the right thing to do and she also felt it was important to return it in person.

“I didn’t trust somebody else taking it to him, I wanted to be there to give it to him, to meet him, to return something of value, not monetary, but a lot of hard work and skills he would get to earn that,” Russell said.

Ole Miss lost to Navy in the 1955 Sugar Bowl, but the following year, Blalack led the team to victory in the Cotton Bowl over TCU.

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