Warner Did Run Hidden Ball Play Against Penn State in 1897

In responding to a comment from Jeff Miller, I did a little more research on the hidden ball play and found something useful. In its coverage of the 1897 Cornell game, the December 1897 edition of the Penn State school newspaper, “The Free Lance,” described the dastardly play that Pop Warner ran under against their boys in the cover of almost darkness. Now we know for sure that Warner did first run the play essentially as he said he did. What we still don’t know is whether Heisman ran it a year or two earlier. Perhaps the Auburn, Vanderbilt or Georgia school newspapers covered their teams’ respective games.

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6 Responses to “Warner Did Run Hidden Ball Play Against Penn State in 1897”

  1. Jeff Miller Says:

    Excellent work, Tom! This certainly changes the story that Warner has always told about the play being introduced at Carlisle! Although I am sure it was new the the Carlisle players and they probably still liked it every bit as much as Pop always said they did.

    I have been scouring the net trying to get accounts from Georgia, Vanderbilt and Auburn for 1895, but so far, nothing. Will keep hunting ….

  2. tombenjey Says:

    Actually, this validates what Warner said (wrote) in his autobiography on pages 104 and 105: “When I was coaching at Cornell in 1897, I had the scrub team work the hidden ball play against the varsity in a practice game. Then later in the season against Penn State, the hidden ball play was used for the first time in a game….” I haven’t been able to find coverage of the 1895 & ’96 Auburn games to see if Heisman ran it first. Of course, that could be inconclusive if he ran it but sportswriters didn’t mention it.

  3. Jeff Miller Says:

    Ah, yes, you are correct. However, I believe it was written somewhere that he introduced the play while at Carlisle (can’t remember the source off the top of my head–might have been Jenkins, but not sure), and the real problem for me is ascertaining exactly WHO invented the play.

    btw–gotta give you props on findin ghtat mention in the Penn State paper. What page was it on.

  4. tombenjey Says:

    It was on page 229 of the December 1, 1897 edition of “The Free Lance.”

  5. Cake Says:

    Heisman without question ran a hidden ball play against Vanderbilt in 1895. They played Warner’s Georgia two games later.

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