The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SIDEBAR: Dwyre’s decision to run photo prompted emotion, controversy from readers

The Milwaukee Sentinel airbrushed their copy of the “One Finger Salute,” however, Journal Sports Editor Bill Dwyre knew he had to run the full image. (Photo courtesy of Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel)

This online feature story is a continuation of the “One Finger Salute” series.

When then-Milwaukee Journal Sports Editor Bill Dwyre received a photo of Al McGuire getting the middle finger from a fan, he knew there was only one thing he could do: run it.

It was an obscene gesture and raised ethical questions about what is considered obscene and what is not. While Dwyre knew it would be undoubtedly controversial, he knew it would be a lasting image. He was right.

On Feb. 6, 1974, Dwyre decided to run the photograph. The image is still regarded as one of the most famous photographs in Wisconsin sports history.

“I remember there was some discussion, and thinking back I would make the same argument that this is Al McGuire and you don’t ignore the news he is giving you,” Dwyre said.

The previous night, Marquette’s men’s basketball team beat the University of Wisconsin-Madison 59-58 on a buzzer-beating shot by Warriors forward Maurice Lucas. In the pandemonium that ensued, Marquette head coach Al McGuire jumped up onto the scorer’s table, which triggered Glenn Hughes, the father of Badger centers Kim and Kerry, to raise his middle finger at McGuire.

While the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel were rival papers, they did share the same photography staff. As a result, the morning edition of the Sentinel ran the image, but airbrushed the finger out. Dwyre thought the Sentinel’s decision was objectively wrong.

“You had this character in town that is just a fountain of news, and if you ignore it, he is doing it in front of 9,658 people, or whatever the capacity of the Milwaukee Arena was in those days,” Dwyre said.

“If he did it in a back alley in front of the Hughes twins’ father, somebody caught it that would be a tough decision,” Dwyre said. “This was tough enough because of the conservative ways of journalism in Milwaukee in those days.”

That afternoon’s Journal caused a great deal of controversy, both because of the obscenity and the perceived favoritism toward Marquette.

“The Wisconsin fans were horrified,” Dwyre said. “If every one of them cancelled their subscription who said they would, we would’ve gone out of business. The Marquette fans were delighted. They were doubled over just laughing about it. Because it was McGuire. And if you could win and you stick your thumb in the other guy’s eye, how good is that?”

One notable person was less than pleased: Dwyre’s managing editor Joe Shoquis.

“I remember the next day, there was a little note on my desk that said, ‘Please, at your leisure,’ I’ll never forget it, ‘Please, at your leisure come and see me,’” Dwyre said. “He was a wonderful managing editor because he wasn’t a sports guy, and he never could quite figure me out, but he kind of figured that I had a good instinct for what would work in sports.”

Dwyre went on to become the sports editor of the Los Angeles Times, where he would go on to collect many accolades, including National Editor of the Year in 1985.

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