Archive for January, 2012

Carlisle Players in WWI — 1918

January 27, 2012

War years, at least those for WWI and WWII, affected college football greatly, so much, in fact, that Spalding’s guides for those years had to adapt to the changed environment.  The 1919 guide, for example, includes a large section, titled Part II Spalding’s Official Foot Ball Guide: Army and Navy Foot Ball.  A July 24, 1919 letter from President Woodrow Wilson to Hugh Miller extolling the virtues of football in training troops for combat served as a frontispiece for this section of the book.  Ironically, or not, Miller wrote publicity pieces for Pop Warner when Warner coached the Carlisle Indians.  Apparently, Hugh Miller was more than just a hack writer who did Warner’s bidding.

This focus on military teams was necessary because the 1917 and 1918 football seasons were disrupted, to put it mildly, by the large number of college football players who were inducted into the service during WWI.  Many colleges stopped fielding teams where others played with lesser talent than usual.  Most college teams included military teams on their schedules.  It’s fair to assume that the military academies were not impacted nearly as much as their civilian counterparts.  Carlisle Indian School canceled its 1918 season because the school was closed to allow Carlisle Barracks to be used as an army hospital.  However, many of the former students continued to play football—even after they enlisted.

Perusing the pages of the Army-Navy section revealed the names of several Carlisle students with whom I was not familiar. Follows is a list of those names and the teams on which they played:

Name                                    Unit

Sgt. Mickel                          Air Service Department, Garden City, NJ

Buffalohead                       Fort Ontario, Oswego, NY

M. Le Claire                        Camp Travis, Fort Sam Houston, TX

Ojibway                               Wissahickon Barracks, Cape May, NJ

Webster                              3rd Army Troops, Europe

Kalama*                               35th Division, Europe

*Selected as center for All-American Expeditionary Forces Eleven

If you know anything about any of these men, please get in touch with me.


1903 Football Deaths vs Other Sports

January 24, 2012

We’ve discussed football deaths for 1905 previously but the concern over deadly violence did not begin at that time.  Concern existed well before that.  The 1903 Spalding’s Guide includes the result of a study on football injuries but, before we look at that, we will focus our attention on a December 4, 1903 article that was run across the country. This article reported 17 deaths and 64 serious injuries for the season just ended. Not included were what the writer called local or scrub teams or the carnage from the railroad accident involving the entire Purdue team.  “They are simply the deaths and accidents that occurred in noted games. And the record for this season is nothing unusual. It is just about an average with other seasons.”

The writer was evidently not a supporter of football as it existed at that time. He compared football to boxing and found fewer serious injuries in boxing although it attracted more attention from legislators. When he compared football to bullfighting, football came out as worse because the bulls would be eaten for food and the horses used in bullfighting were destined for the glue factory anyway. Also, bulls and horses alike were killed in combat, a much more desirable way to die than at a packing plant. He went on to compare bullfighting with fox hunting with dogs and horses in not very complimentary terms as another example of a sport over which Americans preferred football. He further criticized Americans’ taste by pointing out that if the 20 hunters already dead and the five more dying in Northern Wisconsin because they were mistaken for deer by other hunters were killed by Spaniards, Russians or the Chinese, we would view them as being very stupid.

Another Government-Funded Group Recommends Against Prostate Cancer Screening

January 19, 2012

Earlier this month, another report recommended against mass screening for prostate cancer. This time it was a study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Their position is that annual screening of m their 50s and 60s does not save lives. A critic pointed out that their research model was flawed in that a control group of men who were not screened was not part of the study. This study fall on the heels of a government committee’s recommendation last fall that mass screening for prostate cancer be stopped because it doesn’t save lives.

This month, the American Cancer Society published its annual statistics on various cancer types. Included in this report is a chart that graphs the deaths per 100,000 men for the seven cancers that kill the most men on a year-by-year basis since 1930. Prostate cancer was the third leading cause of cancer death to men from 1930 to the early 1980s when its increasing death rate surpassed that of cancer of the colon and rectum’s decreasing death rate. The death rate for prostate cancer continued to increase through the early to mid 1990s at which time it began to decrease and continues to decrease at about the same rate to the present. (See graph below)

The reason for the decrease in the death rate is not known with certainty. The likely contributing factors are: mass screening, improved treatment techniques, and treating the disease in earlier states. To make matters even less clear, these factors are interrelated. For example, mass screening detects prostate cancer at a much earlier stage of development than if the patient presented with symptoms. Higher levels of success are likely when treating earlier, lower-grade cancers with improved treatments.

Eliminating mass screening would likely result in more men presenting with symptoms that generally are related with prostate cancer at more advanced stages and are more difficult to treat. It seems intuitive that the direction of the graph would change dramatically if screening is terminated. The American Cancer Society report can be found at:

Pneumatic Helmet Introduced in 1903

January 17, 2012

 As shown on the left, the player depicted on the cover of the 1903 Spalding Guide wears an odd-looking piece of headgear not seen in previous editions. Although it resembles cranium adornments sometimes found on pre-Columbian art, it is of more recent invention. It is different from anything I had seen in earlier photographs and drawings. When perusing the advertising pages at the back of the 1903 guide, I came across a full-page ad for “Spalding’s Pneumatic Head Harness (Patented),” an item that looks suspiciously similar to the headgear in the cover drawing. A couple more pages including a few more models of head harness (Spalding didn’t call them helmets in those days) are sprinkled among the advertisement pages at the end of the book.

 This one was apparently Spalding’s latest and greatest at the time. The pneumatic head harness, model number 70, cost $5.00, $2.00 more than their next highest-priced model. In Spalding’s words:

 This represents really one of the greatest improvements that has so far been invented in the way of equipment for foot ball. It is made of soft black leather with an inflated crown. The pneumatic part of the head harness is sufficient to give ample protection with space left for ventilation through heavy wool felt….When ordering specify size of hat worn.

No mention is made of how one is to inflate the headpiece. Perhaps the “Club” Foot Ball Inflater, priced at 50¢, or the Pocket Foot Ball Inflater, at half the price, could be used to keep the head protector at full pressure. Because this design didn’t last long (it is not in the 1916 book that was close at hand), it is fair to conclude that it didn’t perform as well as expected—and as advertised.

Carlisle’s 1918 Schedule

January 13, 2012

Yesterday’s mail brought the 1918 Spalding Guide. It includes a couple of interesting things about the Carlisle Indians. First off, the team photo (of the 1917 team) shows the players in different jerseys than we’re accustomed to them wearing. These appear (the small photo on the yellowed page isn’t the clearest) to have two stripes above the midriff and above the elbows on the sleeves. I think I may have seen one of these jerseys before, possibly in Wardecker’s store.

 About all that was written about the 1917 team, their last as things turned out, was what George Orton of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in his piece about the mid-Atlantic region : “Carlisle showed improvement over the previous year, but until they get a team of first rate caliber they will do well not to schedule so many matches with the big colleges.” Perhaps, he thought Carlisle had been playing opponents well above their weight since 1914. Their 1917 schedule was brutal, causing the overmatched Indians to lose by huge scores to the likes of Army, Navy, Penn and John Heisman’s Georgia Tech, arguably the best team in the country that year.

 The Guide also includes schedules for most college and university teams as well as some prep school and high schools. Because Carlisle largely played against colleges and universities, its games were listed with theirs and not in the Scholastic schedule. Although the schedule wasn’t nearly as tough. It included Army and Pitt, the team that would be deemed National Champions for 1918. The schedule was as printed in the Carlisle school newspaper on May 24, 1918 except for the October 26 game with Detroit which wasn’t ultimately scheduled.

 Orton didn’t even hint that Carlisle was about to close. The published schedules included Carlisle. Had it been know well in advance of the football season that Carlisle Indian School was closing, their games would have been stricken from the list. This is further evidence that Carlisle’s closing was not inevitable after the 1914 Joint Congressional Investigation.

 By the way, Cornell’s 1917 jerseys again had stripes just below the elbow.

Cornell Wore Plain Jerseys in 1903

January 10, 2012

Among other things, today’s mail brought a copy of the 1904 Spalding guide and it provides some valuable information with regard to determining who first used football jerseys with stripes below the elbows.  A photograph of the Cornell team on page 30 captured most of the team members in their playing uniforms, not their letter sweaters.  The black and white photo has the players wearing dark-colored jerseys under what Spalding called sleeveless football jackets.  The v-necked jackets laced up the front and were cut back where sleeves would have been connected, had there been any, to provide freedom of movement for the players’ arms.  All of the sleeves, necks and a bit of the bodies of the jerseys were visible with the jackets on.  One assumes that the jerseys were solid carnelian, a brownish shade of red, because Cornell’s school colors are that color and white.  The school colors were chosen as a (possibly humorous) reference to the University’s founders, Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White.  Those who are associated with the school are commonly referred to as “Cornellians” and the reddish-brown color is sometimes spelled cornelian.

From the photo of what was most likely the 1903 Cornell team because photos had to be submitted to Spalding well before the start of fall practice in order for the guide to be laid out, printed and distributed ahead of the beginning of 1904 football season.  The Carlisle team photo on page 22 of this book is definitely that of its 1903 team because Pop Warner is in it and James Johnson is holding the football.  Johnson was captain of the 1903 Carlisle team and played for Northwestern in 1904.  Warner returned to Cornell for the 1904, ’05 and ’06 seasons.  As reported previously, Cornell was wearing jerseys with stripes below the elbow in 1905 as shown in the 1906 Spalding guide.  I have to wait for the 1905 guide to arrive before seeing if they had shifted to the unusual stripe configuration for Warner’s first year back at his alma mater (unlikely unless Warner had nothing to do with it).

Were Carlisle’s Jerseys Unique?

January 6, 2012

As mentioned in this blog previously, I am in process of reprinting the Spalding Football Guides for the years that Carlisle Indian School fielded a team.  That process is progressing well but I have not yet found the 1901 and 1911 books as yet and don’t hold much hope of coming across books for the years from 1894 to 1898.  Be that as it may.  I am already discovering interesting things without having a full set.

While flipping through the 1906 volume, I noticed that the Cornell team was wearing jerseys quite similar to those worn by the Carlisle Indians (a Carlisle jersey is depicted in the color drawing on the masthead of this blog).  I had seen photos of many other teams wearing jerseys with stripes but none with the stripes located just below the elbow on an otherwise solid-color shirt.  Of course, I haven’t done exhaustive research on this matter, so the possibility remains that this pattern was not unique, just not widely used.  All the period photos are in black and white, so nothing can be known for certain about the colors on these jerseys just from the photos.  Regarding the dates of photos in Spalding’s guides, most team photos seem to have been taken at the end of the previous season.  In Carlisle’s case, players were generally wearing their letter sweaters which were a solid red and were acquired from Spalding in various styles (see photo below).

So, the Cornell team of 1905 wore jerseys similar to those that Carlisle was noted for wearing.  But when did the Indians start wearing them and were they special ordered?  A circa 1902 photo of James Phillips shows the stripes clearly as does the team photo for that year.  More research is needed to determine exactly when Carlisle and Cornell started wearing those jerseys and who made them.  What is known is that in 1902 Carlisle, then coached by Pop Warner, wore them as did the 1905 Cornell team that was also coached by Pop Warner.  Were these stripes another Warner innovation?  Much more research is needed to answer these questions.




A Christmas Present from the VA

January 3, 2012

Disabled veterans got a Christmas present from the Veterans Administration in the form of a pay raise.  After receiving no increase the last two years, a 3.6% raise looks pretty good.  To put this in perspective, a 100% disabled veteran with a spouse and no dependent children or parents who was receiving $2,823 per month before the raise now receives $2,924 or $101 more.  It’s not a princely sum but it is better than we have been doing in recent years.  Because of the arcane way the VA assigns disability percentages, not everyone will get 3.4% more than they were getting.  In many cases, they will but others, with more complicated situations will get something a bit different.  Understanding the VA rate tables is essential to determining what one’s new compensation should be.  The VA rate tables can be found at:

I think I may have figured out how the VA computes disability percentages for veterans with multiple disabilities.  It’s not simple.  If you have three disabilities– say a 60%, a 30% and a 10%–that total 10% under the normal rules of mathematics, you aren’t rated at 100% by the VA.  They determine disability percentages as being 100% minus an efficiency percentage.  If your first disability (in order of severity) is 60%, you are 40% efficient (100%-60%).  The second disability (30% in this case) leaves only 70% of the efficiency remaining after the first disability or 28% (40% times 70%).  The third disability (10%) leaves 90% of the efficiency remaining after the second disability was deducted or 25% (28% times 90%).  Subtracting the combined remaining efficiency from 100% yields 75% (100% minus 25%).  The VA rounds this percentage to the nearest 10% for a combined disability of 80%.  Eighty percent is a far cry from 100%, particularly the way the VA computes compensation.  An 8% disability does not get 80% of what a 100% disability gets.  For example, an 80% disabled vet with a spouse gets $1,602 per month, not $2,339 (80% of $2,924).  You can find the VA’s explanation of how they compute multiple disabilities at under section 4.25 Combined Ratings Table.