Archive for March, 2011

1899 Carlisle-Hamilton College Game

March 28, 2011

Recently, I received a question about the 1899 Carlisle Indian School-Hamilton College football game. That person hadn’t been able to find anything about it and wondered if it was actually played. I had never given that game any thought because the Indians played three of the Big Four and beat Penn for the first time that year. 1899 was also Pop Warner’s first year at Carlisle and Walter Camp named Isaac Seneca to his All America First Team, the first Carlisle player to be so named. It’s easy to see why the game with Hamilton College could be overlooked. For starters, this was the first, and only time these two schools played. Secondly, the game was played in Utica, NY and was probably the only time Carlisle played in that town. Thirdly, even though Hamilton had been having decent seasons the past few years, they weren’t in the class of the big teams Carlisle normally played on the road. After all, Pop Warner’s Cornell team beat them 41-0 the previous year. But that may be the hint we’ve been looking for.

Pop Warner may have had a relationship with Hamilton’s coach plus Hamilton College may have offered Carlisle a good bit of money to play them. Clinton, NY, Hamilton’s home is near Colgate and Cornell plus Warner’s home was in Springville, NY. So, there may have been some familiarity. Hamilton was more than holding its own against Colgate at that time and was even competitive against Cornell in 1899. Hamilton supporters may have thought that they had a pretty good team that year and wanted to see how they stood up against a powerhouse.

I found Carlisle Indian School newspaper mention and New York Times coverage of the game, so it was definitely played. What is most interesting is why was it played? More research is needed to determine that.

Google Bookscanning Settlement Rejected

March 24, 2011

Beginning somewhere around 2004, Google scanned something like 15 million books from the libraries of several prestigious institutions such as Harvard University and the University of Michigan. Google, with the assistance of these libraries, scanned books regardless of their copyright status. Not surprisingly, Google was sued for copyright infringement in 2005. In 2008, a settlement agreement was hammered out between the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild that would have apparently benefitted those organizations greatly. Others, however, weren’t terribly pleased. Some of the sticking points were that, for an author to have his or her book removed from Google’s database, the author would have had to explicitly opt out of the settlement. If the author was unaware of the settlement, too bad. If Google didn’t honor an author’s opt out, the author would have had to sue this megabillion dollar corporation. Good luck with that.

Other corporations weren’t happy with it either. Google would have had a monopoly on millions of books and intended to print and sell copies of those scanned books. Lest you think that because Google demonstrates a cavalier attitude about others’ copyrights, they would grant free access to all the books they scanned, think again. You haven’t seen Google’s own algorithms and program code made available have you?

An extremely problematic area is that of so-called “orphan books.” Google and its supporters claim that, out of its beneficence, Google was making long out-of-print books available for everyone. That sounds good on the surface, but what they fail to mention is that Google made no attempt to locate the copyright holders of these orphan books. They also skim over the part of the proposed settlement that would have established Google as the determiner of when a book becomes orphaned. Authors feared that, if a book, especially those from small or self publishers, was between printings or being revised for a new edition, Google would claim it as being orphaned with the burden of proving otherwise placed squarely on the shoulders of the copyright holder.

Earlier this week, Judge Denny Chinn, in the U. S. District Court in Manhattan, issued a ruling rejecting the proposed settlement. What’s next? Criminal charges against Google? Lawsuits from numerous authors and publishers for copyright infringement? We’ll see.

Origin of Redskins Team Name

March 22, 2011

Every so often, either in a newspaper article or on a football forum, questions about the origin of the Redskins team name emerge. This time the question was raised on a forum. Although it is repetitive to answer the same question periodically, it is probably necessary. A person interested in clarifying the issue asked me for a quote. It follows:

“Lone Star Dietz was hired to be head coach of the Boston Braves after the 1932 season. Sometime after his hiring, the team moved to Fenway Park necessitating a name change. I have seen Boston Braves stationery with Dietz’s name on it. That shows that he was hired before the name change. George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter wrote an op-ed to the “Washington Post” some years ago in which she stated that Marshall renamed the team in honor of Dietz (and, possibly, of the four Haskell players Dietz brought with him). Dietz coached the Boston Redskins in 1933 and 1934. This is all spelled out in my biography of Dietz.”

Some on the forum thought that the name change was influenced by the name of the baseball team that played in the Redskins new home of Fenway Park, the Red Sox. It may have. After all, Marshall could have named his team the Indians or something else in honor of Dietz. The Red in Red Sox may even have guided him toward Redskins without him realizing it.

Some sources state that the team name change occurred before Dietz’s hiring but I have evidence that contradicts that: Braves letterhead with Dietz’s name on it. It is highly unlikely that Marshall would have authorized the printing of letterhead with the wrong team name on it or with a name that he intended to change in the near future. That would have been wasting money, something that George Preston Marshall didn’t make a habit of doing. The masthead of that letterhead follows:

Were Carlisle Players Really Older?

March 17, 2011

While researching the last blog, I noticed that James Johnson was 24 at the time Walter Camp named him quarterback on his 1903 All America first team. His “advanced” age for a college football player brought to mind the criticisms that Carlisle Indian School played older players than did their college opponents. It seems logical that the Indians would have been older because most Carlisle students had little formal education prior to entering it. That Pop Warner considered their ages to be an advantage probably added to critics’ belief that Carlisle’s players were older. Something I saw on the list of Johnson’s All America cohorts caused me to see this in a different light.

Tackle J. J. Hogan (Yale) and guard A. Marshall (Harvard) were both 24 also and three others–end C. D. Rafferty (Yale), halfback W. M. Heston (Michigan) and fullback R. C. Smith (Columbia)—were 23. The others were 20, 21 or 22 as one would expect college All Americans to be. Perhaps 1903 was an anomaly, a year in which players were older than in other years. 1902 was a bit different; guard E. T. Glass (Yale) was 25! However, only one other player, tackle J. J. Hogan (Yale), at 23 was over 22. 1901 was greatly different than the two following years; three players—end D. C. Campbell (Harvard), tackle O. F. Cutts (Harvard) and guard W. G. Lee (Harvard)—were all 28 years old!! The rest were 20 or 21, but those three 28-year-olds brought up the average age. In 1900, end D. C. Campbell (Harvard) and halfback W. R. Morley (Columbia) were 27 and 24, respectively. Quickly scanning lists of Camp’s selection for years prior to 1900 yielded several players who were older than 23, some significantly older. After 1903, players aged 23 and older occurred less frequently but continued to be named to All America teams, even after Carlisle fielded its last team in 1917. As late as 1923, end H. H. Hazel (Rutgers) was 27.

While Carlisle players may have been a bit older on average than many college players, many of the best college players were quite old, much older than what we would expect today.

1903 Rule Changes Quarterback Position

March 14, 2011

Recently, I have received several questions about football rules that I couldn’t answers because I don’t have all the old rules books. BTW, if someone sends me a complete set of the Spalding Football Guides, I will be eternally grateful. By chance–the way I learn most things–I happened upon a rule change that I wasn’t looking for and of which I was completely unaware.

An August 7, 1903 New York Times article titled “New Rules May Require Heavier and Fleeter Players to Replace Old Style Lightweight Quarterbacks.” The rules didn’t require that heavier players be assigned to the quarterback position. Rather, the rule change that allowed quarterbacks to carry the ball would make sturdier players with footspeed better candidates for that position. I was unaware that, prior to 1903, quarterbacks were not allowed to run with the ball after receiving the center snap (which could have been anything from a heel back to a ball skidding across the grass), the quarterback had to get rid of the ball quickly by handing it or passing (we would call it lateraling today) the ball to another player because he wasn’t allowed to advance the ball himself.

It stands to reason that such a rule might have been in place because, in rugby, the game American football evolved from, the hooker heels the ball back through the scrum to the scrum half (usually a diminutive player) who, as quickly as he can, passes the ball off to another back who runs with the ball or passes it along to another player. The quarterback position developed out of the scrum half and functioned much like its counterpart in the older game for some decades. Being small was considered as being an asset for early quarterbacks because smaller athletes were perceived to be better able to scoop up the ball, handle it, and get it off quickly to the ball carrier.

With the rule change allowing quarterbacks to carry the ball, speed became more important as did ruggedness. This 1903 rule change probably benefitted Carlisle because their quarterback that year, James Johnson, was definitely fleet of foot. However, at 5’7” tall and 138 pounds, he was lighter than any Walter Camp First Team All America quarterback since 1889. He must have been rugged enough, though.

Carlisle Indians Continue to be Snubbed

March 11, 2011

The 2011 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame came out this week with Lone Star Dietz’s name removed. This is yet another snub to a Carlisle Indian School player. Dietz has also been snubbed by the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as a demonstration of their ingratitude. After all, where would the Rose Bowl be without Dietz? Nothing the College Football Hall of Fame does surprises me anymore. A few years ago, when Dietz should have been inducted, the selection committee ignored the votes for the seven coaches on that year’s ballot and selected two coaches who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction due to the fact that they were still actively coaching. So, the ironically named Honors Committee, in an Animal Farm-like move, changed the rules to make these two eligible and selected them even though no voter received a ballot with their names on it. Unfortunately, Dietz isn’t the only Carlisle Indian to be snubbed by a Hall of Fame.

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has failed to induct Olympian Frank Mt. Pleasant into even a regional chapter is astounding. If Mt. Pleasant’s football and track accomplishments at Carlisle aren’t enough, consider what he did elsewhere in Pennsylvania. That he has already been inducted in both the Dickinson College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Halls of Fame indicates that he accomplished quite a bit while at each of those institutions on top of what he did at Carlisle. Frank is no stranger to being snubbed, as Walter Camp, who only gave him Honorable Mention on his 1907 All America team for being not rugged enough because he was too injured to play in the Chicago game, the Indians’ 11th game of the season. I’m not holding my breath for the PA Sports Hall of Fame doing the right thing anymore than I am for the College Football HoF. But these aren’t the only Carlisle Indians deserving of honors.

The College Football Hall of Fame does not have a category for athletic trainers but it does have a catch-all category called contributor, though. Wall ace Denny pioneered the role of athletic trainer first as a student at the Indian school and, later, as a member of the staff, and for decades after that with Pop Warner at Stanford and Temple. Before Denny started assisting Pop Warner with the care of the players’ bodies, there was no such thing as an athletic trainer as we know it. But Wallace Denny changed all that and should be remembered for it.

If Carlisle Indian School had a large alumni organization and could guarantee large ticket sales for induction events, these men might have a chance, but they don’t and little money would be raised by their selection.

Roosevelt May Have Threatened to Ban Football in 1905

March 7, 2011

While searching for the names of football players killed in 1905, I came across some news articles that brought to mind one of Ron Smith’s criticisms of the article in the January edition of The Football Historian which was mentioned in earlier blogs. Smith stated, “President Theodore Roosevelt never threatened to ban football.  In fact, T.R. chided Harvard president Charles W. Eliot (President from 1869-1909) for wanting to ban it. (The TR myth often mentioned by writers is simply not true)”

John Watterson, who Smith referenced as a source to back up his position, discusses Roosevelt’s intervention: “He started a campaign for reform in football….Unfortunately for the president, football did not lend itself to mediation as readily as diplomacy or politics.” Watterson mentions that some historians concluded that the survival of college football was not threatened by the protests against its violence. He then points out that, even if later historians didn’t take the threats seriously, those tasked with reforming the game did at the time. That Columbia and Union College had abolished the game demonstrated to them that it was possible.

In early December 1905, Dr. J. William White, professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement authorized by the president, released Theodore Roosevelt’s five-point reform platform that the authorities of the leading colleges must accept as a “gentlemen’s agreement” to reform football. His initiatives probably weren’t controversial, however, what came later may have been. The last paragraph stated: “It would be a real misfortune to lose so manly and vigorous a game as football, and to avert such a possibility the college authorities in each college should see to it that the game in that college is clean.” If you or I said that, it would mean little, but when President Theodore Roosevelt says it, I take it as a thinly veiled threat.

Names of Players Who Died in 1905

March 3, 2011
Follows is a list of all the 1905 football deaths that I have found so far (updated March 6). Please let me know of any others you may be aware of or have more information on these: 





Robert Brown, 15

Southeast H. S. Sedalia, MO

Injured 11/25

Paralyzed and unable to speak

James Edward Bryant, 16

Canon City H. S., CO



Bernadette Decker, 18

Girls team, Eckhart, MD

Died 11/3

Resembled malignant peritonitis

James C. Dondero, 27

Willimantic, CN


Cerebral hemorrhage superinduced by poor physical

G. C. Ficken

Southern Athletic Club jr. team



Charles W. Griffin, 18

Leominster H. S., MA

Died 11/23

Died after 2-week illness after being injured in a
football game. Injury may have intensified kidney trouble

William J. Kelley, 15

Masten Park H. S., Pittsburgh, PA



Horatio T. Knight, 18

Phillips Exeter Academy, NH

Injured in interclass game on 11/4, died 11/9

Meningitis superinduced by injuries

John Mehan, 15

h. s., Pacific Grove, CA


Fractured spine

Howard C. Montgomery, 17

Hampden Sidney College, Farmville, VA



Harold P. Moore, 19

Union College, Schenectady, NY in a game with NYU in New
York City


The head of an opponent who was running at full speed
struck Moore under the chin. He died soon after of a concussion of the brain
or a ruptured blood vessel at the Fordham hospital.

Carl Osborne, 18

Bellmore H. S., IN in a game against Marshall


Died immediately after a broken rib was driven through his

Arthur W. Foote, 13

Phillips Grammar School, Salem, MA

Died on 11/25 of injuries sustained in a recent game

Thought to have suffered internal injuries

William Seymour, 18

Coscob H. S., CN



James Squires, 16

Alton H. S., IL

Injured in game against East St. Louis on 10/21, died on

Kick on the knee resulted in blood poisoning

John S. Sommersgill, 21

Franklin vs Homestead, Chester, PA


Kicked in stomach & died soon afterward of a brain hemorrhage

Clarence von Bokkelen, 17

Santa Clara H. S., CA

11/4 in game with San Jose that was remarkable for its

Several others seriously injured

Leslie Wiz (Wise), 14

School team, Milwaukee, WI



Vernon Wise, 17

Oak Park H. S., IL

11/3 in game against Hyde Park H. S.


Herman Norgaard

Council Bluffs H. S., IA in a game against Harlan, IA

Injured 10/8, died 11/10

Abscess of the brain

John Gordon

Sullivan, IN

Injured 12/19, died within 10 days


Walter Frey, 15

Canton, OH

Died 11/30 of injuries received several weeks ago


Harry Rowe, 18

Sidney, IA


Internal ruptures sustained in football game



1905 Football Deaths

March 1, 2011

In mid-February, I reported on Ron Smith’s corrections to a piece in of The College Football Historian, the January newsletter of the Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association (IFRA). I thought that one of Smith’s items warranted a further look:

“2) If 18 players died in the 1905, nearly all were NOT college players, (The 18 college death’s myth is often noted by writers.)”

So, I spent a little time searching through old newspapers and found the number of football deaths for 1905 listed variously as 13, 18 ,19, 19 (with one happening in Canada), and 21. Along the way, I found some lists of “Football Victims,” none of which were complete and overlapped each other. So far, I have identified 20 individual people who died in 1905 as a result of football injuries. It’s clear that at least twenty Americans died playing football that year and there may have been more. One of the deaths stands out because it was so different from anything I expected to find.

Bernadette Decker of Eckhart, Maryland—that’s right, an 18-year-old girl—died from a “…malady of short duration resembling malignant peritonitis, resultant from injuries received in a game of football played by the girls.” One assumes that she was playing in a sandlot game, a physical education class, or some sort of exhibition, such as one for a fund raiser because no team or school name was mentioned. Bernadette was not the sort of person the “experts” would expect to be injured in a game because they often attributed serious injuries to poor physical condition.

New Castle News reported about the demise of the daughter of Magistrate Edward Decker, Democratic leader in Eckhart: “Miss Decker was a girl of fine physique and was devoted to athletes. Four physicians constantly in attendance could do nothing to check the disease.”

What actually happens is stranger than anything my not-very-fertile-imagination could invent.