Carlisle’s First All-America Selections

While researching the 1905 Carlisle-Massillon game for an article in an upcoming issue of the Professional Football Researchers Association’s (PFRA) journal, The Coffin Corner, I came across a statement in the late Robert W. Peterson’s Pigskin: the early years of pro football that caught my eye. Of course it has nothing to do with the article but it made me curious.

Peterson wrote, “It was not sectional chauvinism at work when 129 out of 132 All-American berths between 1889 and 1900 were filled by players from those four schools [Harvard, Yale, Princeton & Penn]. The best players were really there.” I recalled that Carlisle’s first Walter Camp first team All-American was Isaac Seneca in 1899. If Peterson was accurate, that would put Seneca and the Carlisle program at a lofty level.

The Walter Camp website lists all of his All-America teams beginning in 1892 when he created the concept of such a team. Sure enough, all the players named were from the Big Four until 1895 when Cornell’s Clinton R. Wyckoff was named to the team. The next non-Big Four player to be named was Clarence B. Herschberger of Chicago in 1898. Seneca became the third in 1899. The fourth was William Morley of Columbia in 1900. Whether Peterson was right depends on the meaning of between. Does between include the 1900 team?

Things changed a lot in 1901 when four outsiders were selected: two from Army, one from Cornell (Pop Warner’s younger brother) and one from Columbia. In 1902, Paul B. Bunker of Army, a repeat from the previous year, was the only non-Big Four player on the list. And in 1903, Carlisle had its second All-American in the person of James Johnson. H. J. Hopper of Dartmouth, Willie Heston of Michigan, and Richard Smith of Columbia were also on that team.

Here’s a question? Did Carlisle have a first Team All-American before any Big Ten school had one? (Disregard when schools entered and left the Big Ten for this question.)

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