Let’s now look at Rich Manning’s statement regarding Jim Thorpe:
The [Pennsylvania] game also marked the debut of Jim Thorpe. He broke free for 45 yards the second time he touched the ball.
This statement didn’t ring true because Pop Warner wouldn’t likely put an untested player like the young Thorpe into the pressure of a big game. He was more likely to have given him some playing time in the warm up games to better prepare him for game situations. One of the purposes of the warm up games at the beginning of the season was to give new players playing time in game situations with little pressure. However, the 1907 schedule didn’t provide Warner much opportunity to try untested players. Lebanon Valley College and Susquehanna University were the only games with lopsided scores. Unfortunately, the reports for those games in the Carlisle school newspaper didn’t list the names of all the players who got into those games. One assumes that Jim Thorpe got significant playing time in the 91-0 blow out of Susquehanna. Although we don’t know that for sure, it wasn’t necessary to research that point because the write up of the Bucknell game provides all the information we need to show that Warner didn’t debut Thorpe against Penn.
The Indian School newspaper reprinted coverage from The Evening Sentinel about the Bucknell game, including, “After the next kick-off [Jim] Thorpe made a long run, but dropped the ball,” and in the second half, “Thorpe did most of the work carrying the ball, and proved an excellent ground gainer. He followed his interference well and held the ball.”
So, Warner debutted Jim Thorpe a week earlier than Manning stated, assuming that he didn’t play in the early blow outs or that they didn’t count because they were warm up games.
The next blog will deal with the errors in the article related to formations .