Tuesday, September 4, 2018

1891 Tiffany Silver Yale Match Safe



It was a hot and very humid day at Brimfield today (Sept 4), but it was worth the hours spent and the miles walked in the heat to come away with the match safe pictured above.
This is a Tiffany silver match safe commemorating the year’s record for the 1891 Yale football team (Yale 492, Opponents 0), and the games and scores against Harvard (Yale 10, Harvard 0) and Princeton (Yale 19, Princeton 0).  We knew of two examples of this marvelous match safe previously, one coming out of Leland’s in 2002 and the other snuck through virtually unnoticed at Julia’s in 2014.
All three of the match safes being handmade show artist variations in the work, and of course differ in their monograms.

This particular match safe belonged to William Burnet Wright, Jr., class of ’92. Wright earned his football letter and was the president of the Yale Football Association in 1891. He was also the Captain of the Yale Athletic Association team 1890 - 1891, the half-mile run being his specialty. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

1878 Trinity vs. Yale Football Program


I have never asked Jacob which of our football programs is his favorite, but this one is mine. It is quite early in the scheme of American football, and there are a number of things about it that appeal to me. It is a tremendously scarce example, being the only program from this game we are aware of. It is a vibrant orange, as opposed to the muted pastel beige, blue or white colors normally associated with 1870’s programs, and what makes it very unusual and of particular interest to me is the fact that it calls out four Yale players that played for Trinity, as Trinity did not have enough people to form a team (at this time fifteen men on a side was generally the norm). From Yale, playing for Trinity, were Crouch (Forward), Hill (Half back), Bacon (Forward) and Wilson (Forward). Bacon went on to play for the varsity from 1879 through 1883.
On November 9, 1878, Yale played Trinity College at Hamilton Park. Accounts of the game numbered the crowd only in the low hundreds, one of the reasons for this programs rarity.
On November 13, a second game, this time at Hartford (Baseball Grounds) was played between Yale and Trinity. Again Yale supplied four players to their opponent, changing out Crouch and Bacon for Miller and Fuller. The biggest difference in this game was that Walter Camp played for Yale, scoring two goals. This game was played “in presence of a small assembly”.
Of the six games Yale played in 1878, two were against Trinity, two against Amherst and one each against Harvard and Princeton (Yale’s only loss was to Princeton; they also had one draw with Amherst). Walter Camp (Captain) did not play in the first game against Trinity or in the second game against Amherst, being “away”. It appears the two games with Yale were Trinity’s only games of the year.

See also related blog entries dated August 17, 2013 and January 24, 2014.



Saturday, August 11, 2018

Josh Hartwell of Yale

John Augustus Hartwell, better known by his nickname “Josh”, was one of Yale’s more noteworthy athletes. Hartwell played at the end position on the varsity football teams of 1889, 1890 and 1891, being named an All-American in 1891. A prominent oarsman, he rowed in 1888, 1889 and 1890 all at the #4 position, and in 1892, while captaining the varsity, and as a senior in the Medical School, at the #6 position. He did not row in 1891.
Hartwell Entered Yale as a freshman in 1886 at 16 years of age, a member of the class of ’89s. He subsequently graduated Yale Medical School with his M.D. in 1893. For roughly four decades he practiced and taught surgery (mainly associated with Cornell Medical School), his experience and credentials second to none, and during WWI was a major in the Medical Corps serving in Europe.
Hartwell continued in various capacities after graduating from Yale in coaching and instructing for both their Football and Crew, especially during the 1890s. It was the practice at that time, for many of the graduates who were stars in their respective sports to return to assist in these duties, particularly when looking over candidates for the varsity or preparing for big games and competitions. Hartwell was the head coach for Yale in 1895 (national champions) and had also coached Lehigh in 1892 and was the head football coach for Navy in 1893 and NYU in 1894. The man never rested.

See also blog entries for August 23, 2016 and September 24, 2014. 


Oversized 10” x 13” Pach albumin of Sherwood Bissell Ives, ‘93 (L), Captain of the 1893 crew and Josh Hartwell, Captain of the 1892 Crew, “at the fence.” 


                                                Close up of Hartwell from the photo above


                                                                 The Yale Boathouse 



                                                Hartwell football cabinet photo, "at the fence"

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Benny Friedman - 1926 Chicago Tribune Silver Football Trophy





Red Grange was quoted as saying that Friedman was the best quarterback he had ever played against. He also stated, about Friedman playing with today’s modern tapered football, “He’d probably be the greatest passer that ever lived”. 
Knute Rockne, in 1930 said “There are those who say Friedman is the greatest passer of all time. They are not far from wrong. He could hit a dime at forty yards. Besides being a great passer, he hit the line, tackled, blocked, and did everything; no mere specialty man, that a fine football player should do”.
Praise like this from players and sports writers who were contemporaries of Friedman’s were testament to his athletic abilities and his role in the development of early professional football. He is considered to be America’s first great passer, and is credited with revolutionizing the game in this regard.
Friedman was quarterback for the University of Michigan in 1925 and 1926 (Captain), being named an All-American in both years, and in 1926 he won the prestigious Chicago Tribune Silver Football Trophy (Big Ten MVP). Red Grange happened to have been the first recipient of this award in 1924.  Jacob had the opportunity over several years to meet and interview a number of individuals who knew and played for Benny Friedman, as a sport’s writer for the Brandeis University newspaper, “The Justice”. He was told during several of these interviews that Friedman considered the Tribune Trophy to be his prized possession, and that Friedman spoke of winning it whenever given the chance.
Friedman began his pro career with the Cleveland Bulldogs in 1927. The team moved to Detroit the following year and were known as the Detroit Wolverines. Tim Mara, the New York Giant’s owner had made a number of attempts to obtain Friedman and was unsuccessful. He was undeterred and purchased the entire Wolverine franchise in order to get Friedman for the Giants. Benny played from 1928 through 1931 for Mara’s Giants and finished out his pro career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1931 – 1934.
Friedman was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2005 along with inductees Dan Marino, Steve Young and Fritz Pollard.
During WWII Friedman served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. From 1951 to 1959 Friedman finished out his football career as head coach at Brandeis University. 1959 was the last year football was played at the school.
We haven’t scratched the surface on Benny Friedman’s abilities, stats, or his impact on the game. In this instance, it would take much more than a blog entry to do so. However, there is one book that we can highly recommend that will tell this story – an interesting perspective on the early years of professional football as well as a fascinating biography about a man that had such a great impact on the sport: “Passing Game: Benny Friedman and the Transformation of Football”, Murray Greenberg, 2008.
This is a very large trophy, with a 1920s full sized silver football sitting atop the ebonized base, and is certainly one of the more historically significant trophies from that or any other era. 


Friedman (R) played Baseball at Michigan as well.


1928 as a Wolverine 


                                         In 1938 with Sammy Baugh and Sid Luckman

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Leavitt & Peirce and the Clover Food Lab


Jacob and I outside of Leavitt & Peirce  June 2018

My first true exposure to antique football memorabilia began when I was thirteen, taking several buses to get into Harvard Square on the weekends and spending as much time as I could taking in the then happening hippie movement. I spent countless hours walking in and out of the shops like George’s Follies and the Truc, looking through the black light posters at the COOP, and yes, always visiting Leavitt & Peirce (1316 Massachusetts Avenue). The shop is a time capsule and repository for  Harvard sports memorabilia; football and crew in particular. Original photos line its walls, there are shelves of trophy game balls and on the second level beside the small chess tables, hanging in rows, trophy oars dating to the 1880s. A few weeks ago Jacob and I were walking around Harvard Square and once again we paid a visit to Leavitt & Peirce, the tobacco establishment that has been a cornerstone in Harvard Square, at the same location, since 1883.The photos will give you some idea of the magnitude of the memorabilia and atmosphere of the establishment.
Just doors down from Leavitt & Peirce is another “must” visit, the Clover Food Lab Restaurant (1326 Massachusetts Avenue). This is a little known treasure for those reading this blog.  In 1913 a Waldorf Lunch System cafeteria style restaurant opened in Harvard Square. The restaurant was adorned with intricate tile work and large reverse painted glass tiles representing college football pennants (even Carlisle is represented). The tiles had been covered over since the 1930s and the location has housed any number of different businesses over an eighty year span. In 2016 during the renovation for Clover, the forgotten tiles were uncovered and subsequently restored after the decision was made to save them. They are a beautiful sight.  Photos follow those of Leavitt & Peirce.








Jacob taking some closeups of two photographs we needed for a research project






                                                           Trophy oars upstairs at L&P

                                            Below are photos from the Clover Food Lab


                                 A sign at Clover briefly explaining the site and the pennants




















                                                 Jacob enjoying the Clover

Sunday, May 20, 2018

1871 Gorham Silver Trophy "Mile Foot Race"






The Foot Race occurred at 2.25 o’clock, in which eleven contestents took part as follows: D. Richards, K.E. Herring (boy;), Moses Clark, W.E. Martin, C.P. Ross, C.L. Whitney, R.G. Anderson, Godfrey Walker, Edwin (illegible)(boy,) Charles Rollings, (boy), and John Bowen. The race was one mile, ending at 14th street. The first prize was a handsome solid silver goblet and the second one a silver cup. The signal to start was the dropping of a handkerchief, all the contestents being previously arranged in a line across the avenue (Pennsylvania). The moment the handkerchief touched the ground all started and for a short distance all run well, but as they reached 4th street some of the younger contestents began to show signs of exhaustion, and between that point and the end of the route all had dropped off but two, Martin (the deaf mute) and Chas. Ross, who, from about 10th to 14th were neck and neck and kept that position until within a very few yards of the judges stand, when the latter shot ahead, and won by about a yard. Mr. Ross, the winner, shortly after fainted and was taken into a residence near by.”       Excerpt from the Evening Star 02/20/1871

For two days in February of 1871, Washington D.C. was the site of a major celebration now long forgotten. The celebration took place despite “disease still raging fearfully in our city” which likely alluded to the presence of both influenza and scarlet fever.  Originally the celebration had been planned for the completion of the first “wooden pavement” in Washington. The cobblestones the length of Pennsylvania Avenue replaced by wooden pavement, the first instance of this type of construction in Washington. It was decided to combine this celebration with Washington’s Birthday and the two day extravaganza was referred to as “Carnival”.

Parades, including firemen, baseballers and floats, formal balls and races of all sorts were held, five separate horse races, a one mile foot race, even a goat and wheel barrow race took place, most occurring on Pennsylvania Avenue. There were illuminated displays and lanterns and banners hanging everywhere the celebration took place. A 20 part fireworks display ended the event. President Grant and his family watched over this two day celebration from the balcony of the St. James Hotel.

This trophy is a documented part of this celebration, and although not football (we do delve into all things sports and exercise from time to time), it is a unique part of our history and a forgotten time.

The trophy is marked Gorham and stands 6 3/8“in height.




     Pennsylvania Ave. on Carnival Day from an Anthony & Co. Stereoview (1871)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Coach John Hall / Carlisle Indian Football Team, 1898



John Arthur Hall, pictured at center, coached the Carlisle Indian Varsity in 1898, the year before Glenn Warner was to take the reins. An excerpt from  ”The Indian Helper: A Weekly Letter from the Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pa.” dated Friday, October 14, 1898, reads:  “Mr. John Hall, ’98 Yale, whose home is New Haven, Conn., is here to coach the football team.  Mr. Hall has played on the Yale team for several years, and was member of the team of ’97 which finished their season by defeating Princeton. Our boys will have the best of fields on which to do their practicing this year, and with the good training they are to have, it is hoped they will make even a better record than last year, when they did well enough to bring them into worldwide reputation as skillful and gentlemanly players.” Hall also played for the Princeton University Hockey team in 1896 and 1897.
It is of interest to note that A.W.Ransome, formerly of Yale and later Captain of the University of California football team followed Hall to Carlisle as an assistant coach.  The October 7, 1898 issue of “The Indian Helper: A Weekly Letter from the Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pa.” cites “Mr. A. W. Ransome, ex-Yale, is assisting coach Hall in training the football”. Arthur Wilfred Ransome also played for a number of Pennsylvania teams in 1898, including the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club, as well as the Orange Athletic Club. Some referred to Ransome as a “professional” as he received pay for playing at Orange and in Pittsburg.
This is a great and a most unusual photo, with Hall posed with one of the Carlisle Indian football teams. It may be a second eleven or a shop team. We also considered, as the ball is marked “ 1898 Champions “, it may be the “juvenile “ football team, that trained under the captain of the varsity, Frank  Hudson. That team played and beat the Carlisle High School football team, Thanksgiving of 1898, 40 to 0. The roster of that team was listed as Edwin Moore, LE, Lewis Webster, LT, James Johnson, LG, Edgar Rickard, C, Joel Cornelius, RG, John Lemieux, RT, Edward Peters, RE, Robert Emmett, QB, Caleb Sickles, LHB, Louis McDonald, FB, Frank Beaver, RHB, and Frank Thomas, Richard Hendricks, Peter Alexander and Vincent Nahtailish, substitutes. As we have identified several of the players in the photo, not listed on the team that beat CHS, such as Edward Rogers, back row, third from the right, that also played on the varsity team, we are left questioning which Carlisle team the photo represents. We would love to hear from readers of this blog with any further information.
Photo is framed/matted, sight measures 12 3/4" x 9 3/4/".