Friday, August 28, 2020

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Class of 1888 25th Reunion


25th reunion of the MIT class of '88. Photo taken at the Cotocheset House on Cape Cod where the reunion was held in 1913. This is a supplemental photo to our posting of July 18, 2017, "Massachusetts Institute of Technology Championship Team Photo 1888". The "Championship" football banner was proudly displayed during the entire event which included parades and four days of activities. Dartmouth and MIT were declared co-champions in 1888 having identical win - loss records, however, MIT had beaten Dartmouth by a score of 24 to 15. This is a large photo measuring 16 1/4" x 13 1/4", not including the mat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Circa 1910 Rain Cap Style Melon Football


A really nice and rarely seen rain - cap type melon ball. A true melon ball, measuring 22 1/2" over the laces and 26 1/2" around the long circumference. One of the first balls we added to the collection.

Monday, August 17, 2020

1880s Rugby - Football Ball


Early six panel rugby football. English import utilized in period American rugby - football games. Measures just under 21" around center and 26 1/2" around the long circumference. Just a sweet ball with a lot of character, and a rare example.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

1870s Massasoit House Trade Card and Stereoview

Early football conventions, where many of the most important innovations and changes were debated and voted on took place at the Massasoit House, Springfield, Massachusetts. Conventions were held here from 1876 through 1882, and changes that took place as a result of the Massasoit meetings included the reduction of the number of players from fifteen to eleven , the adoption of the possession rule and in 1882, the five yard rule (which basically acted to close a loophole in the possession rule). Walter Camp first attended in 1878 and sources like to say that Camp was a "fixture" at the Massasoit conventions. Camp remained on the rules committee until 1925.
A wonderful and scarce trade card related to an important part of early football history.

                                          An early stereoview of Massasoit House

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Yale Class of 1873 Team Members From The "Picked Twenty"

Yale’s first intercollegiate football game took place on Saturday, November 16, 1872 at Hamilton Park in New Haven, against Columbia College. Only inter-class games had taken place previously. The game took place among the team’s “Picked Twenties”, a term used on all the advertising broadsides plastered across New Haven, which simply meant that each school had chosen twenty players to compete against one another. Of the twenty members of the Yale team, ten were from the class of 1873. Since there was not a photographic record of Yale’s football team until the following year (1873) our only documentation of and appreciation of most of these individuals is through their rarely seen or identified individual cabinet photos. Photos of each of these players from the class of 1873 are pictured below.

John Punnett Peters, ‘73 -  After graduation he continued his studies for three years  and played for Yale in 1872, 73, 74 and 75. He played in the 1872 picked twenties game against Columbia, the first Princeton – Yale game on November 15, 1873 and also in the first Harvard – Yale game on November 13, 1875, all three of these games taking place at Hamilton Park in New Haven. From a football historical perspective, extraordinary.

                        Simeon Leonard Boyce, ‘73 – Played in the 1872 Columbia game

Charles Samuel Hemingway, ’73 – Although listed on the Yale Columbia game program roster and earning his Y in 1872, he is the only member of ’73 in this posting that I have not verified played in the game. Involved with crew, he rowed against the Atalantas of New York in 1871.

Lewis Whiteman Irwin, ’73 – Scored two of the three goals in Yale’s 1872 win over Columbia

Willis Fisher McCook, ’73 – Member and acting captain of Yale’s picked twenty. McCook also rowed crew four years and rowed against the Atalantas of New York in 1871. 

       From our early rowing collection, 1871 program listing both McCook and Hemingway

 Elliot Sanders Miller, ’73 – Played in the 1872 Columbia game. Miller was an organizer of the first Yale football team in conjunction with Schaff and Elder (photos follow in blog).

 David Schley Schaff, ’73 – President of the first Yale football club, co- organizer of the team that played Columbia and generally thought of as the father of intercollegiate football in America. Please see our blog entry specifically on Schaff dated August 2, 2016. Schaff having been injured did not play in the Columbia game; Sherman, ’74  took his place.

                          Schuyler P. Williams, ’73 – Played in the 1872 Columbia game

    Henry Adgate Strong, ’73 – Played in the 1872 Columbia game. Known as “Big Strong”.

 James Perry Platt – He is listed as a non-graduate for the class of ’73, having left and returning to study law. Platt played in the 1872 Columbia game

              S.M. Elder, '73, an early organizer of Yale Football,  a member of the 1872 team

                                              Photo of the entrance to Hamilton Park c.1872

A period account of the game was published in The Yale Record four days after the game that I am including as it is the most accurate as well as a fascinating account of the game. It reads as follows:

 "Two weeks ago, Yale sent Columbia college a challenge to play a match game of football, to take place in one week at Hamilton park, with twenty men on a side. The challenge was accepted with the exception of the date, which was put off one week later, to the 16th. A part of the Columbia twenty, with their friends, arrived by the morning boat, the rest coming on the eleven o'clock train. After dinner the Columbia men were taken to the grounds in the Nightingale. The Yale men being on hand, preparations were made to commence at once. While the players were stripping for the contest, we took a look over the field, and found that the committee had perfected all arrangements for the match to the minutest detail. According to agreement, the field was 400 feet long by 250 broad, the goal posts being 6 paces apart. Stakes were driven into the ground and a rope stretched, serving to mark the boundary line and keep the spectators from encroaching on the grounds and interfering with the play. The list of judges and players as we published them last week was, in the main, correct. A few changes, however, were made. Mr. Marshall took Mr. Ogden's place and H. DeF. Weeks, Yale '74, took Mr. Munroe's place as judges for Columbia. Schaff, '73, was injured last Wednesday, and was succeeded by Sherman, '74. Dunning, '74, also played Williams', '73's, position, who was prevented by sickness from playing. "Yale won the toss and chose the south goal. As the sides took their positions and awaited the word, there was a marked contrast in the individual appearance of the men of the two colleges. Columbia's looked large and stocky, and were of a uniform size, while Yale's players seemed to be picked in reference to their agility, speed or strength, according to the qualities which their respective positions required. The manner of placing the men was equally marked. Columbia had four men guarding the goal, and the rest were collected in an irregular crowd in the middle of the field, showing that they intended to play a forcing game, relying entirely upon their superior strength to drive the ball through the opponent's goal. Yale, on the contrary, had her men scattered over the field, but in an evidently systematic arrangement. She had two men to keep goal, four more to support them about two paces in advance; then five more, called center fielders, arranged in the form of a crescent in front of these. The rest of the twenty, with the exception of two 'pea-nutters,' who play near the opposite goal and kick over the keepers' heads, were ' rushers, ' who follow the ball into any part of the field. The game opened at 2^ by Piatt's giving a very long cant. The differ- ence in the system of playing was at once manifest. Columbia got the ball in their midst and forced it toward the opposite goal with such rapidity that it seemed as if they would end the inning at once, but here the better arrangement of Yale proved of advantage. The ball was taken by the goal keeper, kicked to a player on the side, who passed it around the crowd of Columbia men to a center-fielder, and he to another, and so on to the * pea-nutters,' so that Columbia found the ball down at their goal almost before they could realize that they had lost it. The four goal keepers who had 279 been left behind sustained the contest until the rushers came back over the length of the field, when the ball was again returned rapidly toward Yale's goal, but with the same result ; again Columbia drove it back, but it was returned as before and kicked high over the keepers' heads by Sherman of '74 — ending the inning in fifteen minutes. Columbia made a strong fight in the second inning. They covered the field better than in the first, and the ball flew from one point to another for a full hour. At this point the excitement among the four hundred spectators was very great and found vent in loud cheers or laughter, according as some man made a fine play or upset an opponent. Again, Yale won, virtually securing the game, as it was evident that not more than one additional inning could be played before dark. The Columbia men went into the third inning with evident fatigue, resulting from their all playing rushers and chasing the ball, whilst the Yale men saved themselves by playing in their positions and kicking into each other's hands. This inning the ball hovered continually about Columbia's goal, but their keepers guarded it so finely as to baffle Yale's efforts to get it through for forty minutes. The game was to be best five out of nine or the greatest number of innings at dark; and as it was past five o'clock, Yale was declared victor. The characteristics of the game, as we observed them, were that Columbia worked and kicked harder than Yale and were faster runners. Yale showed discipline. Her men sup- ported each other, excelled in dodging and were more accurate kickers. Columbia aimed to bump into and knock men over. Yale played to dodge by and get fair kicks. It is difficult to specify among individual players where all did so well, but the playing of Moore and King at goal, Reid at the side and McMahon and Cornell as rushers, deserve mention. All deserve praise on Yale's side. Yet it seems injustice not to speak of the play of Peters, Miller, J. Scudder, Avery, and Irwin, the latter kicking the ball over the goal twice out of the three innings. To the spectators it was the most interesting spectacle we have had for years, although compelled by cold to keep up continual motion. Returned to the city the Columbia men were entertained with a supper at Lockwood’s and left for New York by the late train and boat, we hope, feeling as we do, that in this friendly rivalry the bonds of attachment between Columbia and Yale have been strengthened."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

1884 University of Pennsylvania Football Photo

When I first saw this photo I felt it was either Princeton or the University of Pennsylvania. Fortunately, two individuals in this photo were easily identifiable using  photos from the Penn Archives (1884 and 1885 photos). E.M. (Edward Miller) Jeffreys, University of Pennsylvania, '86, seated second from the left. Jeffreys was a sub in 1884 and was varsity in 1885.  Also pictured is W.C. (William Campbell) Posey, '86, another substitute in 1884, seated, holding the ball. Posey went on to become President (and one of the Directors) of the University Football Association. It is very likely this photo is of the 1884 scrubs (inclusive of the substitutes).
A photo we had not seen before, measuring 13 1/2" x 10 1/4". Early Penn photos are very hard to come by.
Also of note is the matching background seen in a number of Penn team photos (see photo of the 1885 varsity team below).

                                                              Close up of Jeffreys

                  Photo from the Penn Archives, showing Jeffreys, circled in the photo. 1885 Varsity.

                                              Period advertisement for Penn Jerseys

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

1889 University of Pennsylvania Football “Reserves” / John Heisman

John Heisman transferred to the University of Pennsylvania to study law in 1889, the year of this photo. He had left Brown University where they had abandoned intercollegiate football the year he arrived and he ended up only being able to play football on town, club and pick-up teams.
 Arriving at Penn he went out for the scrubs, referred to at the time at Penn as the ”Reserves”.  Heisman became a member of the “Reserves” in 1889.  He recalled in a lengthy article that he authored in 1928 (Collier's, October 6th) ,"I reported for football valiantly equipped with moleskin pants and a canvas jacket of my own manufacture. If they had no other virtue, they fitted".  This explains the acknowledged odd and unique appearance of his vest, as seen in this photo. In 1890 he was a substitute on the varsity team and was varsity in 1891. He earned varsity letters for all three years.
In 1890 as a substitute Heisman made it into the game against State College (Penn won 20 to), when Holly, the center failed to show up for the game.
Of the two players identified in the photo that I am most familiar with, John Heisman and Archie Thompson, both were class of ’92, Heisman in Law, Thompson in Medicine, and both were substitutes on the 1890 varsity team. Heisman is standing, to the right of Captain F.B. Neilson (with the ball), Thompson is seated to the left of Neilson with a C on his jersey. Neilson, '90, was on the Reserves for three years, as captain his junior and senior years. He continued at Penn in their Law School, class of '93.
The Reserves played in two games outside of Penn that we are aware of, both in November of 1889, against Media (0 to 0 tie) and against Riverton (beat the Reserves 10 to 0). Eight of the eleven listed on the reserve rosters were the same for the two games, so there was some level of variability on the squad.
Photo measures 15 15/16” x 10 ½”, excluding the mat; Gilbert and Bacon of Philadelphia, photographer.
This is the earliest football photo with Heisman that we know of.

We wish to thank John Gennantonio  for  sharing with us numerous Heisman photos from his collection. John, in addition to his love of football and baseball research has one of the preeminent Heisman and early football collections.

                                                   Cabinet card of John Heisman c 1891