Posts Tagged ‘Canton Bulldogs’

Carlisle Indians Star in WWI

April 12, 2012

This might be considered a senior moment piece as I have no recollection of why I intended to write about errors in ads this time.  I suppose that I noticed an error or two in the ads in the back of the 1912 Spalding’s Guide so will start by looking there.  Wait a few minutes for me to do a little research….

Perusing the 1912 and 1910 Spalding Guides did not trigger my memory nor did I discover some new error I previously overlooked.  So, I will write about something that is fresh in my mind.

Due to problems in scanning the 1918 Spalding’s Guide, I have had to manually clean up many pages, many of which I could not resist reading while working on them.  Something that jumped out at me was that, although Carlisle Indian School had a very poor season in 1917, former players’ names and, in some cases, pictures dotted the pages of this volume.  And it wasn’t because the pro game was being covered heavily.  It was because so many of them played on military teams even though they were not eligible for the draft as being noncitizen Indians.

Page 4 of the 1918 Spalding’ Guide is the first page in that book to mention any player.  On that page are the photos of Walter Camp’s All-Service Eleven for 1917.  Warner elected to not list an All-America squad for 1917 because so many star players were serving in the military and that many schools discontinued inter-collegiate athletics, played abbreviated schedules, or used inexperienced players.  However, the military squads often included several former college stars in their line-ups.  The quality of the football played by the military teams was so good that the games often drew large crowds, so large that the annual New Year’s game in Pasadena was played between two military teams.

The photograph on page 4 for player #6 was that of William Gardner, a star end on the great Carlisle Indian School team of 1907.  It matters not that Camp misspelled his name as Gardiner because he had Carlisle and Camp Custer right.  It is well known that Army Capt. Gardner served at Camp Custer and played on its team.  Camp made no mention of Gardner’s play but, on page 5, listed him at end on his ALL-AMERICA SERVICE ELEVEN, First Eleven.  Camp also placed him on his ALL-SERVICE SECTIONAL ELEVENS, Middle West Eleven on page 11.  At about 34 years of age (ages are uncertain for people of that time), Gardner was long in the tooth for an athlete of that era, having last played at Carlisle in 1907.  But he did play some pro ball for Canton in the years leading up to America’s entry into WWI.  Perhaps, Walter Camp was making up for his snub of Gardner in 1907 when he left the Indian star off his All America Team.

<next time—More Carlisle Players in The Great War>

All-Indian Backfield

November 25, 2010

While doing a little research at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio recently, I came across a photocopy of a newspaper article titled “Backfield of Indians—Plan of Jim Thorpe.” The article began by saying that Thorpe planned on fielding an Indian backfield for the Canton Bulldogs during the 1919 season. The name of the newspaper and date were not on the copy but the paper must have been local to Canton or nearby Massillon because the third paragraph began, “Guyon’s presence here…” which implies that the paper is local to the team’s location. Discussing the possible line-up for the 1919 season suggests that the article was written after the end of the 1918 season, definitely after Armistice in November 1918. Sometime in 1919 is more likely because the article stated, “…will reach shores not later than September.”

The writer discusses how Thorpe plans to reunite with three of his former Carlisle teammates all in Canton’s backfield. Gus Welch would play quarterback (blocking back in the single-wing, wingback in the double-wing), Joe Guyon and Thorpe would be the halfbacks, and Pete Calac would be the fullback. All had played together on the 1912 Indian team but Guyon and Calac were needed on the line to replace Lone Star Dietz and Bill Newashe at the tackle positions because they were no longer playing on the team. Welch, Guyon and Calac were all in the backfield on the 1913 edition but Thorpe had departed by then.

Thorpe’s dream of being reunited fell through because Gus Welch took the head coaching position that had opened up with Lone Star Dietz’s dismissal. Thorpe, Calac and Guyon played pro ball together for several years and won championships in 1919 and 1920. Thorpe tried to field the same all-Indian backfield in 1917 but Joe Guyon elected to play college ball for National Champions Georgia Tech, was named to Walter Camp’s All America Second team at halfback, the same honor he received in 1913, his last year at Carlisle.

Bulldogs and Indians Play Footbrawl

August 13, 2010

Large newspapers of the day recorded the October 15, 1922 game simply as Canton 14 – Oorang 0 but that doesn’t begin to tell the story. In the early days of the NFL, the Canton Bulldogs were a powerhouse team that featured Jim Thorpe and his Carlisle Indian School teammates, Joe Guyon and Pete Calac, in the backfield. But in 1922, Jim Thorpe and Walter Lingo formed the Oorang Indians franchise to, at least in theory, compete with Canton for championships. Oorang’s results were anything but competitive as Father Time’s inexorable crush was their greatest opponent. However, they more than rose to occasion when they battled the eventual league champions. And battle they did.

Few details of the game were covered by the national media but a Massillon, Ohio newspaper and the hometown paper of one of the players provided some unexpected coverage of the hard-fought battle. After a scoreless first half, the Bulldogs scored their two touchdowns in the third quarter. The Evening Independent told the story, “During that part of the contest the game almost developed into a free-for-all when the Indians gave battle to several Canton linemen who used their fists on an opponent, guilty of kneeing one of the Canton halfbacks. Throughout the game, Thorpe’s charges played in a most determined fashion, and bloody faces were not uncommon.”

A skeptic might conclude that this was slanted by a reporter from the Bulldogs’ rivals’ lair but The Lebanon Daily News provided some verification when it wrote, “William Winneshiek…was the recipient Sunday of an extraordinary compliment from the football players of the Canton Bulldog professional team. Winnie played center against them for the Oorang Indians and as an expression of appreciation of his wonderful playing and good sportsmanship, he was presented with the football used in the game and also a gold watch. The game developed into a slugging match, but evidently the Lebanon Indian played the game and kept out of the fights.”

 

Joe Little Twig, Another NFL Star

August 14, 2009

Last time, I mentioned a guy named Joe LittleTwig. It just so happens that Wini Caudell has a website dedicated to him. You see, if things had turned out differently, he might have been Wini’s grandfather. But they didn’t.

Joe is believed to be Mohawk born on or near the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York State. After attending school on the reservation, he enrolled at Carlisle Indian School. So far, I haven’t been able to locate any record of him at Carlisle, but this isn’t all that unusual. Sometimes, different names were used. School employees often spelled named creatively, something that makes searching difficult. There’s a good chance that LittleTwig was young and not fully developed physically, a factor that would likely have kept him from making the varsity team. It’s almost impossible to identify players on any of the other teams at the school.

After leaving Carlisle, he served in WWI, but I have no details on that yet. After the war, he turned his hand to professional football and had more success than most. Researching his pro football career may be easier than researching his earlier life because some records-and a book-exist about the Oorang Indians and newspapers covered the early NFL games to some extent. Because he settled in Canton, either the local historical society or the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is located there, may have information on his life after football.

Wini Caudell’s site about Joe LittleTwig: http://www.rockislandindependents.com/Players/All%20Players/joejohnson.htm


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.