Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Jim Thorpe Speaks

January 3, 2021

Jeff Benjamin just sent me a link to a 1932 movie short in which Jim Thorpe demonstrates the dropkick, punts and speaks. This is a real treat for me because I hadn’t heard him speak before. Old movie buffs will recognize Eugene Pallette from 1930s and 1940s comedies. The director, James Gleason, is also familiar to old movie buffs as a policeman in Arsenic and Old Lace and teamed with Edna May Oliver in the Hildegarde Withers detective stories.

The scoreboard shots may have been taken at Southern Cal’s field because the SC logo is visible. However, this movie was released in 1932 and USC played its home games in the Los Angeles Coliseum at that time.  Unfortunately, imdb.com doesn’t list the shooting locations for this little film.  

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.

Who Is Hazlet?

November 29, 2020
William Hazlett is #3.

Halfback spots opened up on the 1898 Carlisle Indian School football team. A number of young men vied for these positions, including one newspapers referred to as Hazlet. He made long runs and scored two touchdowns against Bloomsburg Normal. He got another against Susquehanna University. He had another one against Dickinson College. After that, his name disappeared from game write-ups. He wasn’t on the team photo. No one with that name was found in the student files but several named Hazlett were. Newspapers often misspelled players’ names, so his name was probably Hazlett. But which Hazlett? George and Stuart Hazlett, both Piegan, graduated in March 1899. Willie Hazlett was mentioned in an article about a debate in the January 29, 1892 edition of The Indian Helper.

Searches of the Student Files located information on all three Hazletts but nothing in any of the files referred to athletics of any sort.  William Hazlett graduated in 1895. That students sometimes remained after graduation doesn’t eliminate him completely but does make it more likely that he isn’t the one. Since the Student Files save in the National Archives are incomplete, other Hazlett boys may have attended Carlisle. 

Perhaps families or other Piegans know of a Hazlett who played football at Carlisle. I would appreciate hearing about him.

 

Delos Lone Wolf, the model

November 15, 2020

While researching the early Carlisle Indian School football teams, I came across a piece about Delos Lone Wolf, Kiowa name Gooě-pah-gah, that had nothing to do with football. He arrived at Carlisle on July 4, 1892 for a 5-year enrollment. That October, he went out on an unusual outing to Newburgh, New York but not to a farm or ordinary business. He was to be a model for Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, a sculptor known for historically accurate realist sculptures illustrating American history. He is perhaps best known for his bronze equestrian statues of George Meade, John F. Reynolds, and John Sedgwick. The latter statue incorporated fine details such as dents in the General’s scabbard and tiny stitching on the horse blanket. Also at Gettysburg is his bust of Abraham Lincoln commemorating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

In 1892, Bush-Brown was working on a statue to exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago. The subject he had in mind was an Indian bison hunt. To make his statue as realistic as possible, he brought a bison and an Indian pony east to study. How he came to know Lone Wolf is unknown. At 22, Delos was a perfect physical specimen, exactly what Bush-Brown wanted for his scene. He left Carlisle for Newburgh on October 10 and returned on November 24, his work presumably done. A year later, Capt. Pratt rescinded his order against playing interscholastic football, giving Lone Wolf the opportunity to excel at that sport.

More on Joe LittleTwig

November 2, 2020

When I last wrote about Joe Little Twig, in 2016, I could say nothing about his life before playing professional football in Ohio with any certainty. He reputedly went to Carlisle Indian School but I could find no documentation of his having ever been there. This is not that unusual because the records of a large number of students were lost when the school closed unexpectedly and Carlisle Barracks was transitioned back to the army in a rushed fashion.

Today that changed when I found a photo of him in a football uniform. The photo is in the Winnishiek collection held by Cumberland County Historical Society. William Winnishiek and Joe Little Twig both played for the Oorang Indians and may have been friends at Carlisle. Little Twig is wearing a Carlisle Indian School uniform in the photo, so he must have played football on some level at Carlisle.

His obituary and Ohio Soldier Grave Registration give conflicting dates of birth: 1893 and 1897 and dates of service in the U.S. Army: 1916 to 1922 and 1917 to 1921. His obituary lists Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Little Twig of Hogansburg, New York as his parents. Since he would have been no more than 46 years old when he died in 1939, it was quite possible for his parents to still be alive. The obit also said that he first played football at Cattaraugus Indian School near Buffalo before attending Carlisle.

We now have a couple more pieces to the Joe Little Twig puzzle.

Ina Probably Wasn’t there

October 18, 2020

In May and June of this year, 2020, I researched various sources trying to find out if America’s first sports editor, Ina Eloise Young, had covered the December 5, 1908 football game between the Carlisle Indians and the University of Denver in Denver. I came up dry.

Today, while researching Carlisle’s 1908 season, I came across something that might be conclusive evidence that she didn’t attend the game. The Rocky Mountain News December 5, 1908 edition included a photo not attached to an article. The photo was of Ina Eloise Young. The caption read, “Miss Ina Young of Trinidad, Who Has Returned to Her Home After a Visit With Denver Friends.” This caption suggests that she left for Trinidad prior to the game having started. This photo, coupled with an inability to find press coverage of the game, suggests strongly that she didn’t attend the game, wouldn’t have seen Jim Thorpe play and wouldn’t have met him.

Red China Is Watching

October 8, 2020

Something unusual caught my eye Wednesday night when I was approving a comment on my blog, www.TomBenjey.com. The statistics section, which I seldom check any more, listed 3 views from China. Curious about why anyone from Red China would be interested in anything I had to say about Carlisle Indian School football or the Craighead Naturalists, I checked data for earlier days. The day before, there was only one view from China. The day before that, 3. Not wanting to be up all night, I switched to checking weekly, then monthly, and finally yearly totals. As recently as 2015, a total of only 5 views came from China. In 2016, this increased to 15. Still not many. In 2017, China’s total jumped to 73 views and has increased each year since then. For 2020, China trails only Canada, and not by much, in views by people from other countries.

I find this curious because my topics interest few Americans and fewer Canadians. It isn’t unusual to receive the odd view from a traveler or someone who had attended school in the US and understands American English. However, I have never received a comment or email message from a Chinese person. What interest could the Chinese Communist Party have in my writings? None, I suppose. But why would they monitor my blog?

The simple answer is that with a population of a billion people, they could easily assign a battalion of spies to monitor all the blogs in America, regardless of intelligence value.

A Sad Day in Carlisle

October 5, 2020

Friday was  sad day in Carlisle. Wardecker’s Men’s Wear closed for good. While recent fashion trends have hurt clothing sales, it was the Wuhan virus that did Wardecker’s in. Government reactions to the plague might be more accurate. In spite of diminishing demand for dress clothing, Freddie Wardecker had been able to keep the doors open by selling uniforms to health care workers, people involved in food preparation, police and others as well as by renting tuxedos. The state government’s shutdown decimated the need for new uniforms and eliminated proms. Brides-to-be reacted by scaling down or postponing their weddings. Without uniform sales and tuxedo rentals for proms and wedding, the store had little revenue with which to pay its bills, forcing it to close.

Wardecker’s was not an ordinary men’s store. It was a place with a lengthy history, beginning with Mose Blumenthal, proprietor of The Capital, a haberdashery on North Hanover Street. Along with operating the menswear store, Mose Blumenthal had a tailoring contract at Carlisle Indian School. This relationship proved useful to the Athletic Department in multiple ways. Well known is how Pop Warner had Mose sew an extra hem in the bottom of Charles Dillon’s jersey. However, one of Blumenthal’s employees probably did the work because Mose couldn’t operate a sewing machine.

Carlisle students generally had little money. A way of rewarding athletes for performing well was for the athletic director of school superintendent send chits worth $25 or $50 to Blumenthal, which players could use to buy suits and other clothing. Each player, including the famous ones, had a page or pages in Blumenthal’s log book to keep track of their chits and purchases.

Clothiers, like magic dragons, don’t live forever, so Mose sold his business to long-time employee James “Muck” Wardecker. Hence the name on the door: Wardecker’s Men’s Wear, formerly Blumenthal’s. Jim’s son, Freddie, was helping his dad back in 1967 when Bob Wheeler was interviewing people who knew Jim Thorpe. Wheeler’s work was made easier, after hitchhiking to Carlisle, when Muck tossed Freddie his car keys and told him to drive Bob to all the people he needed to visit. Wheeler’s definitive biography of Thorpe further cemented the ties between the Indian School and Wardecker’s.

Since then, Wardecker’s, with all its memorabilia, has been an important stop for every author or filmmaker wanting to write a book or make a movie about Jim Thorpe or the Indian School. Now, that is finished, but Wardecker’s had a great run and will remain strong in people’s memories.

1899 Carlisle vs. California

August 20, 2020

I was asked to write an article about a game I hadn’t previously given much consideration: the Christmas Day 1899 post-season contest between Carlisle Indian School and the University of California. I learned a good bit researching the game. The College Football Historical Society published it this month. Membership is only $17.00 a year, payable to:

Raymond Schmidt, PO Box 6460, Ventura, CA 93006

If you find this interesting, you might want to join the CFHS and get your own copies of editions with articles such as this one mailed directly to you.