Saturday night, Frank Loney contacted me about a new item he had just acquired. Never before had he been so excited about an acquisition. Yesterday, I went over to look at it. It is simply beautiful. I’ve seen a few old football programs before but none were in the condition of this one for the 1897 Thanksgiving Day game between the University of Cincinnati and the Carlisle Indians. Never before have I seen a 100-year-old program in perfect condition. This one must have been stored out of the sunlight most of its long life. Could it have been a reprint? Frank called the University of Cincinnati archives for an answer to that question. No, no reprint had ever been issued. That Cincinnati didn’t win may have had something to do with that.
In addition to being a historical artifact, it is beautiful. The program is decorated in an Indian motif, likely due to Carlisle being the opponents. This program may not have been in the hands of a spectator because the game was played in a drenching rain. The Indians won 10-0 less than five days after playing a night game against the University of Illinois in the Chicago Coliseum. Carlisle scored all of its points in the first half. According to one newspaper report, “Most of the time of the last half was taken up with fighting.” Isaac Seneca played right tackle. Two years later he would be a first team Walter Camp All-American at halfback. Two days later, missing quarterback Frank Hudson and center Edwin Smith due to injuries, the Indians beat The Ohio State University Medical College for their third victory in a week. The Indians were the only team to defeat Cincinnati, a team that beat Ohio State, Miami, Center College and LSU that year. Chicago was the only other team to beat Illinois.
The program includes a team photo I haven’t seen before and demographic data for the starters. It also includes a photo of W. G. Thompson, the unsung hero of early Carlisle football.