Archive for December, 2020

Who Is the Mystery Player?

December 7, 2020

Researching the 1900 Carlisle Indian School football team again demonstrated how hard it is to identify people one doesn’t know by their photographs. The photograph in question is the 1900 Carlisle team photo that was published in the 1901 Spalding’s Guide. The person on the far left of the middle row was listed as being Charles Williams (Caddo from Oklahoma). However, he didn’t look like Charles Williams to me. He looked more like Nekifer Shouchuk (Aleut, Alaska) to me.

What do you think? Shouchuk is on the left of James Johnson (Stockbridge, Wisconsin) in the photo below. Charles Williams is to Johnson’s right in this extract from the 1902 team photo.

To determine which player was actually in the 1900 team photo, I perused game line-ups for 1900. Shouchuk wasn’t in any of them where Williams was in them all. Shouchuk’s Student Record indicated that he arrived at Carlisle in 1901. Elsewhere I learned that he couldn’t know English at that time and, in spite of his tremendous strength, it took him awhile to make the team. He needed to know English to understand the signals.

So, the person in this photo must be Charles Williams.

1895 Football Rules Chaos

December 1, 2020

While researching the 1895 Carlisle Indian School season, I stumbled across an advertisement for a game that seemed odd to me.

I was under the impression that Yale’s Walter Camp ruled the Intercollegiate Rules Committee as its Secretary, obstructing changes whenever possible. However, in 1894, he and Alex Moffat of Princeton as President of the Rules Committee, proposed a number of rule changes. The most contentious of which was the abolishment of momentum mass plays. No more than three men could be in motion when the ball is snapped. Critics objected, saying that mass plays be eliminated completely.

If things weren’t already bad enough, the Harvard-Yale game was particularly violent with four starters on each team seriously injured, some badly enough to be admitted to hospitals. Princeton and Penn’s game ended in a brawl, causing the schools to break football relations. Harvard and Yale severed relations. The military academies only played on their grounds after that Cornell’s faculty banned road games.  

The Rules Committee became inactive in 1895, leaving Yale and Princeton, in the form of Camp and Moffat in charge. They succeeded in getting the committee to meet but they achieved no compromise on mass plays. Princeton and Yale wanted to abolish them completely. Penn and Harvard insisted on keeping them. No compromise could be reached. Two, and in some places, more rule groups existed. Cornell joined Harvard and Penn produced a set of rules with no restrictions on mass momentum plays. The Princeton and Yale rules allowed only one man to be in motion when the ball is snapped and no more than three in a group behind the line of scrimmage. In the East, teams had to choose between these two options. Elsewhere, teams could also choose to follow the 1894 rules. Teams, such as Carlisle, that traveled could play games under three different sets of rules.

For the Penn game, mass momentum plays were permitted.