Thursday, August 13, 2015

Andover vs Exeter Broadside 1897

  Large and colorful broadside featuring one of the oldest football rivalries. The rivalry between Phillips Academy (Andover) and Phillips Exeter Academy (Exeter) began in 1878 and is considered the longest running secondary school match up in the country. Traditionally these two boarding schools have been feeder schools for Yale and Harvard.   22" x 14"                                         

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fielding Yost / Ohio Wesleyan / 1897 / Part ll

This unusual souvenir program commemorates the 1897 championship season for Ohio Wesleyan. This posting relates directly to our April 18, 2015 blog entry (in fact the photograph from that entry is reproduced on one of the early pages of this brochure) and we chose to add this as a separate post due to the number of scanned pages. We did not include another ten pages of songs and advertisements. Interesting photo and  write-up on Yost.




Monday, August 10, 2015

William Henry Lewis

Pictured above is the earliest known photo of football legend William Henry Lewis when first playing varsity football at Amherst College, c.1889.

Lewis was a man of many firsts. Considered one of the first of three African American varsity college football players he is regarded as a pioneer in not only athletics but also law and politics. He was the first African American All-American in the history of college football (at Harvard 1892, 1893). Lewis  became the first African American to be appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney (in 1903),  the first African American United States Assistant Attorney General (in 1910) and one of the first African Americans to be admitted to the American Bar Association (1911). 

He attended Amherst College and was well-known as a ground-breaking student leader. W.E.B. Du Bois attended the Amherst graduation ceremony to witness Lewis obtain his diploma (along with a several other African American students). 

Lewis played varsity football for three years at Amherst beginning in his sophomore year (1889, 1890, 1891) and for two years for Harvard while attending law school (1892, 1893), most often as a centre rush.  He was the first African American to captain a predominantly white football team, at Amherst, and was the first African American football player and also possibly the first African American athlete at Harvard.  

After Law school, Lewis continued his association with football, coaching (assistant coach at Harvard from 1895 – 1906) and writing articles on the sport as well as penning one of the first books to ever discuss football strategy, entitled “A Primer of College Football,” which was published in 1896.

After a fairly exhaustive year and a half long search, we reviewed all of the known/documented photos of Lewis that we were able to locate. It was obvious that his looks were noticeably affected by age and weight, length of hair (longer during football season), and the fact that he was what was considered a “light-skinned black” man. Lewis exhibits marked ptosis (drooping of the eyelid) of the left eye, a characteristic aiding in the confirmatory identification of Lewis in many photographs. This is a fact we recognized from our research and have not seen reference to previously in any written work. There are a number of identified period photographs where it is not obvious to most that Lewis is African American - see photo above titled “1892 Center Trio”, picturing “W.C. Mackie, ’94 and M.S., W.H. Lewis, L.S., B.G. Waters ’94 and L.S.” - used here with permission of the Beale family – copied from  “The History of Harvard Football, 1874 – 1948”. Also pictured below is a close-up of the lower right corner of an oversized albumin photo c. 1894 by E. Chickering of Boston including Lewis, when playing for the Hyde Park football club (see June 27, 2016 posting).

In addition to Lewis, two other early African American varsity college football players that began playing in 1889 were William Tecumseh Sherman Jackson, also playing for Amherst (1889, 1891), and Thomas James Fisher, who played football at Beloit College in 1889, 1890 and 1892.

In the Amherst College Olio ’91 yearbook, the 1889 College Eleven is listed which included W.H. Lewis, Rusher and W.T.S. Jackson, HB. This was in their sophomore year. In the Olio ’92, the College Eleven for the 1890 season is listed and Lewis is listed again as a rusher (he was known as the centre rush, or in today’s terms, the center, a position he continued to play at Harvard). Jackson was listed as a director (one of four), but not as a team member, and was not present in the team photo. The ’93 Olio lists the College Eleven for 1891, and includes Lewis (centre rush) and Jackson, RH.

To put the significance of Lewis, Jackson, and Fisher playing varsity college football in 1889 into perspective, our research and utilizing research done by Gregory Bond specifically, as part of his Doctoral dissertation in 2008 “Jim Crow At Play: Race, Manliness, and the Color line In American Sports, 1876-1916”(certainly the definitive and most important work on African Americans in athletics during this period) suggests that it was not until the 1898 season that there were more than ten African Americans playing college football in the United States on predominantly white teams, only three African Americans played football in 1889, six in 1890, and either seven or eight for the years 1891 through 1897. This is also one reason for the extreme scarcity of pre-1900 college football photos with African American players.
The 1889 photo* at the beginning of this article may well be the earliest known photo to date of any collegiate varsity African American athlete that played football, in a football uniform or setting. 

*This photo may in fact be as early as 1888 as this is the year Lewis enrolled at Amherst and played on the freshman team. It is generally believed and cited in most sources that he began playing football in his sophomore year (and this was the case for him playing on the varsity team).  The source of the information referring to Lewis playing on the freshman team in 1888 was Morris Beale’s book on Harvard football (referenced in the above posting), in a reprinted article by Wilbur Wood. It likely is the case as Lewis himself was an acknowledged contributor to Beale’s book.

Monday, August 3, 2015

NY Giants vs. Hominy Indians 1931 Program

Look back at our August 14, 2013 posting where you can read about the Hominy Indians winning out in an exhibition game over the 1927 World Champion New York Giants (a post-season barnstorming game of sorts, the Giants were comprised of the nucleus of the team bolstered by a number of ringers, according to our friend Art Shoemaker). Four years later in a pre-season exhibition game the Giants beat the Hominy Indians (who were having tough times, reflected by their losing record), payback for their embarrassing loss in 1927, this time by the lopsided score of 54 – 0. We have scanned the cover and roster pages from this exceedingly rare 1931 program.  The Giants' roster reads like a who's-who with names like Badgro, Owen, Hein, Cagle, etc.