Cornell Wore Plain Jerseys in 1903

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).

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