Sunday, May 4, 2014

1880s Phillips Academy Andover Football Photos

Two smaller 5" x 4" albumin photos from a set of three showing a game in progress at Andover. Photos are mid to late 1880s. As has been mentioned previously in this blog, Andover was a significant feeder school for Yale. During the period of these photos Andover played such teams as Exeter, Tufts, Harvard Varsity, Harvard 2nd, Harvard Freshman, Dartmouth Varsity, MIT, Yale Freshman, Boston Latin and several other football teams.

       Another more distant view of the Andover football field taken during the Andover - Harvard Varsity Football game of 1886. Photo appears in Phillips Academy Andover on Diamond, Track and Field.

Friday, May 2, 2014

United States Naval Academy Football Team 1889

United States Naval Academy team of 1889, captained by a very identifiable Albertus Catlin (holding the football). Navy played against St. Johns, Johns Hopkins, Dickinson, Lehigh, Virginia and the Washington All-Stars, coming away with a 4-1-1 record. This was a good enough record to take the title "Champions of the South", as is documented on the ball along with the year '89.
Catlin was the commanding officer of the Marine detachment of the USS Maine (Remember the Maine) in 1898, the year of her loss in Havana Harbor.

Collegiate football in the South lagged roughly a decade behind the Eastern schools in the North. Many of the schools were still smaller sized colleges and Universities catering to what was left of the wealthier class in the decades after the war, and there had not yet been the exposure to the game. Educators hired from the northern colleges helped to bring football to the South, although it was a slow process and there was initial disinterest in the sport.

It was only in the early 1890s that football was becoming an established sport in the south with a number of schools like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Sewanee and Auburn fielding teams in addition to the earliest schools already playing the sport like Virginia, Johns Hopkins and Navy.

It was common practice particularly in the early years, but also up through the mid 1890s to arrange for games between two schools with back and forth correspondence by representatives of the teams. This, in addition to games that were starting to become routinely scheduled. The attached correspondence below is representative of how many of the games were arranged during this period.

These letters are of particular interest to us as they reference the Champions or Championship of the South (see Navy photo above – Navy claiming the title “Champions of the South" in 1889). This championship was the most sought after and prestigious title of the time for colleges outside of the Northeast. It was more important to southern schools to be or not to be beaten by another southern or conference school than by a northern college, even of the magnitude of Yale.

The letters were sent from William W. Old, Jr., the team manager from the University of Virginia to Charles Poor, the manager of the Naval Academy (Annapolis) football team. The first letter of November 1, 1895 explains that for Virginia to play an extra game, as requested by Navy, could put winning the Championship of the South at risk, as men “in all probability would be laid out” and also the men are presently in a “crippled condition”(this is also referenced in the November 5th telegram shown below). Virginia states that they need to ready themselves for Vanderbilt on the 16th  and Old explains that Virginia is not afraid of Navy, it is merely “striving” for the Championship of the South.
The second letter, dated November 7, 1895, again stresses the importance of winning the Championship of the South, as Virginia has held it for three years and “cannot afford to lose it.