Archive for the ‘Gus Welch’ Category

100th Anniversary of 1912 Carlisle-Army Game

November 9, 2012

Follows is the short article I was asked to write for The Torch, the monthly magazine of the U. S. Army War College, to commemmorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1912 Carlisle-Army football game:

The Cadets of West Point took the field on The Plain November 9, 1912, aiming to avenge their 1905 loss to Carlisle Indian School in the two schools’ only previous battle, also on The Plain. Missing from the second battle were the players and coaches from both 1905 teams and Major William A. Mercer, Carlisle Superintendent and Calvary officer, who had arranged that game by gaining permission from the War Department. Also AWOL in 1912 were the large crowd, dignitaries, and media interest the first game attracted. Present in 1912 were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Joe Guyon, Pop Warner, Leland Devore, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Weyand (in the bleachers), and Pot Graves, a cast surely destined for a movie.

Ominous clouds filled the sky and a cold wind blew across the field, making passing and punting risky businesses. Both sides’ emotions ran high as the combatants craved a victory. Carlisle arrived undefeated, the only blemish on their record a scoreless tie with Washington and Jefferson College, a month earlier. Army was 3-1 with a 6-0 loss to Yale. Holding the Eli of Yale to only four first downs and a low score gave the Cadets hope for success over the Indians.

Newspaper accounts after the game never considered its outcome in doubt, but those looking only at the scoreboard, at least for the first half, may have thought otherwise. The Indians bested the Cadets for most of the first half but didn’t score due to errant forward passes in the end zone. The turning point of the second quarter came when Carlisle fullback Stancil “Possum” Powell was expelled from the game for punching Army quarterback Vern “Nig” Pritchard. The 27-yard penalty combined with Powell’s ejection dampened the Indians’ spirits. Army then moved the ball forward the remaining 27 yards with fullback Geoffrey Keyes pushing the ball across the goal line. Pritchard missed the kick after the touchdown.

Momentum shifted in the Indians’ favor on the kickoff opening the second half when All-America tackle and team captain Leland Devore jumped on Joe Guyon, who had been getting the better of him all day, getting himself thrown out of the game. Army defensive backs Dwight Eisenhower and Charles Benedict knocked each other out of the game for the rest of the quarter in a failed attempt to sideline Thorpe. The Indians scored 27 unanswered points to lick Army worse than any opponent had beaten them in many years.

Guiding The White Brethren

October 26, 2012

The electronic version of the Fall 2012 edition of the magazine for the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is finally out. My article on Carlisle Indians who went on to coach other teams is on page 46 (page 44 of print version). The idea for this article came to me after attending Lone Star Dietz’s enshrinement ceremony into the College Football Hall of Fame. He is the only Carlisle Indian to be inducted as a coach. Six others, some of whom also coached, were enshrined previously but as players. It is unlikely that any others will receive this honor because no other Carlisle Indian coached as long or with nearly as much success as Dietz.

American Indian athletic prowess is getting much attention this year due to 2012 being the 100th anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s extraordinary triumphs in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Games. Anyone unfamiliar with Native Americans’ success in the Olympics can read my several previous blog entries on this topic.

Worthy of note is that Dietz and the others had great success coaching white college and professional players. Many of them, including Dietz, coached Indian teams at one time or another but the vast majority of their coaching careers were with white college teams. Having played with Carlisle and knowing the Warner System gave these men instant credibility and opened doors for them. After going through those doors, success or the lack of it was the deciding factor. After all, sports have always been a meritocracy. Performance matters above all. Carlisle players succeeded on the field both as players and coaches. The graduate system of coaching that was tried in the early 20th century limited coaching opportunities for those who hadn’t attended major colleges but numerous smaller schools welcomed Carlisle Indians to lead their teams. Although far from an ideal situation, these men were given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits and they largely succeeded.

http://content.yudu.com/A1yt4b/fall2012/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanindianmagazine.org%2Fabout-us

Was 1912 Thorpe’s 2,000-Yard Season?

July 31, 2012

It may be that the reporter was trying to determine if Jim Thorpe was the first to rush 2,000 yards in a single season rather than in his career at Carlisle. I say that because, in her article in the current edition of Smithsonian Magazine, Sally Jenkins wrote, “He returned to lead Carlisle’s football team to a 12-1-1 record, running for 1,869 yards on 191 attempts—more yards in a season than O.J. Simpson would run for USC in 1968. And that total doesn’t include yardage from two games Thorpe played in. It’s possible that, among the things Thorpe did in 1912, he was college football’s first 2,000-yard rusher.”

Again because stats aren’t my thing, I contacted Tex Noel about the single-season rushing statistics.Tex responded quickly with:

I do know that JT was NOT the 1st back to rush for 100+ yards in a game. (3 had best game totals; his 362 vs Pennsylvania in 1912 in 9th of 10 spots.)

Yards       Player, Team and Season                      

2032        Ken Strong, New York University, 1928

1869        Jim Thorpe, Carlisle, 1912

1500        Lindsey Donnell, Cumberland TN, 1935

1450        Glenn Presnell, Nebraska, 1927

1421        Norman “Red” Strader, St. Mary’s CA, 1924

1393        Lloyd Brazil, Detroit, 1928

1349        Earl “Dutch” Clark, Colorado College, 1928

1287        Frank Briante, New York University, 1927

1163        Morley Drury, USC, 1927

1074        John “Shipwreck” Kelly, Kentucky, 1931

Source: Stars of an Earlier Autumn (C) 2011, Tex Noel.

Tex has the same total rushing yards for 1912 that Jenkins has but without the caveat that he played in two games for which his statistics weren’t recorded. I suspect that, because Tex is so familiar with the haphazard way in which statistics were recorded in those days, he felt no need to point out that all numbers from that era are to be taken with a reasonable amount of salt.

I then looked in the 1913 Spalding’s Guide, but it made no mention of Thorpe’s (or anyone else’s) rushing yards for 1913. It did include a table of “Famous Runs” compiled by Parke Davis on which Carlisle players got their share of listings. Jim Thorpe was mentioned twice:

1) 80-yard run from scrimmage against Penn on November 16, 1911

2) 60-yard run from scrimmage against Penn on October 24, 1908

Neither of his longest runs were in 1912, the year freshest in Parke Davis’s mind, but longer runs made earlier by Charles Dillon, Gus Welch, and Thaddeus Redwater were.

I don’t know which games for which Thorpe’s rushing yardage is missing but it is possible that he ran for a combined 131 yards in them. It is just as possible that he didn’t, particularly if they were games in which Thorpe wasn’t needed and Pop Warner rested him to get a look at less experienced players in game situations. Thorpe’s 156 yards per game average for the 12 games for which records exist imply that he would have run for enough yardage to total more than 2,000 yards for the season. It’s just as possible that he watched from the sidelines so that he would be available for the tougher opponents in this grueling 14-game schedule.

P.S. Yesterday, this blog received its 50,000th view and highest monthly total (with a day to go).

Carlisle Has as Many Hall of Famers as Miami

July 24, 2012

Well, it finally happened. Lone Star Dietz was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame last weekend. It isn’t clear to me which activity at the event is the actual enshrinement: the blazer presentation on Friday evening or the enshrinement dinner Saturday night. Attendance apparently isn’t mandatory because Deion Sanders wasn’t present at either event. Lone Star Dietz wasn’t present because he died in 1964. Other deceased inductees were generally represented by their sons but Dietz didn’t have a son. Had I known that Dietz wasn’t going to be represented, I would have suggested that Sheldon Cohen speak on behalf of his late father, Gus, for whom Lone Star acted like a father.

When Russell Maryland, a defensive tackle, was introduced, it was pointed out that he was the eighth Hall-of-Famer from the University of Miami. Lone Star Dietz makes the seventh Carlisle Indian in the College Football Hall of Fame. The other six are: Albert Exendine, Joe Guyon, James Johnson, Jim Thorpe, and Gus Welch. A quick look at the Ball of Fame’s website revealed that six Miami players and two coaches have been inducted. Neither of the coaches played at Miami as both played for Pop Warner at Pitt.

So, as many Carlisle Indian School players have been enshrined as have Miami players. Three of Carlisle’s head coaches have been enshrined: Bill Hickok (as a player at Yale), Pop Warner, and George Woodruff. Gus Welch was Carlisle’s head coach for part of the 1915 season but he was inducted as a Carlisle player. And George Woodruff only coached Carlisle for the 1905 season. Although he led Carlisle to its first victory over Army, he would most likely have been inducted for his work at Penn alone. But one could make the argument that Pop Warner’s record and innovations at Carlisle would have gotten him into the Hall of Fame even if he hadn’t coached later at Pitt, Stanford, and Temple.

Thus, by counting the six players, Dietz and Warner, one could fairly make the argument that little Carlisle, that only fielded teams from 1894 to 1917, has as many Hall-of-Famers as the prodigious producer of professional players, Miami University, which has fielded football teams from 1927 to the present. This is further evidence of the greatness of the tiny Carlisle Indian School football program.

Huskies Were Cougars First

July 11, 2012

A combination of beastly hot weather that drained my energy coupled with being overwhelmed with work to get out has kept me away from my blog recently. I hope things let up for the rest of the summer.

Yesterday, I received a question regarding when the Washington State teams were first called Cougars. That person wanted to know if the 1918 Spalding’s Guide referred to the 1917 WSC as Cougars. It didn’t, but didn’t call most teams by their nicknames, either.

Washington State lore places the origin of the use of that name for their teams to an unnamed Bay Area sportswriter who wrote that the WSC team “played like Cougars” in their October 25, 1919 game with Cal, the second game played under Gus Welch’s leadership. A quick scan of newspapers of that time uncovered a short article in the October 25, 1919 Oakland Tribune stated “Washington State College, the Cougars, meets the University of California here today….” The post-game coverage written by Doug Montell did not use Cougars or any other nickname for the WSC team although it did refer to the California team as the Bears. Even if Montell had called them Cougars, the WSC team couldn’t have been dubbed with that name for its play against Cal because some unnamed person at the Oakland Tribune called them that before the game was played. Regardless, this wasn’t the first time a college team in the state of Washington took that name.

The March 17, 1918 edition of the Oakland Tribune (yes, it was that same paper again) included an anonymous piece stating that the University of Washington had officially named its teams Cougars. So, a year and a half before the Tribune called the WSC team Cougars, it claimed that Washington had claimed the name. Perhaps someone in the Tribune’s sports department had a feline fetish.

 

1913 Carlisle Indians Were Not Demoralized

June 22, 2012

The current (Summer 2012) issue of National Museum of the American Indian magazine devotes most of its pages on Indian athletes, especially those who competed in the Olympics. Of course, Jim Thorpe figured prominently in several of the articles in that issue of the magazine. One of these pieces, The Jim Thorpe Backlash: the Olympic medals debacle and the demise of Carlisle, even mentions me and, of course, disagrees with me:

Whatever the facts, the investigations eviscerated the athletic program. Its surplus funds, totaling $25,640.08, were turned over to the school superintendent, and Warner left Carlisle. The football team was a shadow, losing the rest of its schedule by lopsided scores. Although the school lingered on until August 1918, when the Army took it back for war uses, the noted Carlisle scholar Tom Benjey dates its true demise to the visit of the Congressional investigating committee. And although students and faculty had many grievances, it can fairly be said that the retraction of Thorpe’s medals was the fatal blow to morale.

I can’t figure out exactly what time period is being discussed. Thorpe lost his medals in the spring of 1913. The Congressional inquiry took place in February 1912. Warner left Carlisle for Pitt in early 1915. And, the Carlisle football team never had a winless season, even in the seasons after Thorpe’s medals were returned. So, I’ll wait to address this statement until I know what time period this was supposed to have happened.

While losing his medals had to be devastating to Jim Thorpe and surely affected the morale of other Carlisle athletes, I question whether it struck “the fatal blow to morale” as suggested in the article. It seems unlikely that the Carlisle Indian School football team would have performed well if player morale was low. A 10-1-1 season for a team that lost its greatest player from the previous year sure doesn’t sound like low morale held it back. The 1913 team’s tie was against Penn, the team they lost to the previous year. The 1912 tie with Washington and Jefferson couldn’t be avenged because the teams didn’t play each other in 1913. 1913’s only loss was due to a fumbled kick return that Pitt converted into the winning touchdown. Major wins included one of Warner’s favorites: a 35-10 upset of Dartmouth. George Orton gave Warner high marks for developing such a good team when he had so many inexperienced players. 1913 was one of Carlisle’s best seasons and was not an example of demoralized players.

The Summer 2012 issue of National Museum of the American Indian magazine can be found at:

http://www.americanindianmagazine.org/issues/summer2012/

Carlisle Indians as Coaches

June 8, 2012

While preparing the 1911 Spalding’s Guide for printing, I noticed that some former Carlisle players could be seen in the numerous 1910 team photos to be found in that volume.  That brought to mind an old newspaper article that I can’t lay my hands on now in which the writer opined as to why there were so few football coaches at a time when Carlisle Indian School players were grabbing headlines.  I don’t recall his reasoning or conclusions but do remember having read the article.

The truth is that several Carlisle Indian School players tried their hands at coaching with varying success.  The names that come quickly to mind are Bemus Pierce, Frank Cayou, Albert Exendine, Caleb Sickles, Lone Star Dietz, James Phillips, Joel Wheelock, Victor “Choc” Kelley, Mike Balenti, and Gus Welch (I keep adding names as they come to me while writing this article).  I’m sure there were others. Given enough time to research this issue, I’m sure that I could come up with more. But I don’t have the time right now because I must get the 1901 Spalding’s Guide ready to print.

The lengths of their careers varied, but Exendine, Welch and Dietz all had long coaching careers.  Of these, Lone Star Dietz had by far the most success and, as an acknowledgement of that success, was honored by the Helms Foundation many years ago. Next month, the College Football Hall of Fame will honor him. It is highly unlikely that any other Carlisle Indian will receive this honor because only a few had long careers and only Dietz, as far as we know, had a Hall of Fame worthy career as a coach.  Also, Exendine and Welch were already inducted as players. My immediate concern is not about the Hall of Fame but with 1910 team photos that include former Carlisle players.

Follows are two of the 1910 team photos.  I’ll leave it to the reader to find the Carlisle Indians in them, but here’s a hint: both wore their Carlisle letter sweaters.  I take that as an indication of how proud they were of having been part of those great teams.

More About Warner’s 1912 Book

March 30, 2012

The endorsements at the bottom of the 1912 ad were the same as previously: one from Walter Camp and the other from an unnamed prominent athletic director.  Most of the ad is an endorsement written by Parke H. Davis.  The first paragraph is most interesting.

During the season of 1911 I made a critical study of the offensive and defensive tactics of the leading foot ball teams of the East.  At its conclusion my opinion was that the tactical system of the Carlisle Indian team was without any doubt the most ingenious and effective system of all.  Prompted thereby I have recently made a study of the ‘Course in Foot Ball for Players and Coaches,’ written by Glenn S. Warner, the Coach of the Carlisle  team.  This also is far and away the most advanced and scientific presentation of expert foot ball play in existence.  Mr. Warner’s course consists of twenty pamphlets, copiously illustrated with diagrams, drawings and photographs of players in action, exhaustive and complete, and covering every department of individual and team play.

Warner may have done the drawings or he may have enlisted Lone Star Dietz to do them or they each may have done some as they later did for Warner’s 1927 book.  That Dietz did the cover art for the 1912 book argues for his having done some of the interior illustrations.  Various “famous players” are photographed performing various football skills including kicking, punting, and catching punts.  Frank Mt. Pleasant is the only player specifically identified with a photo as Warner included three frames of Mt. Pleasant throwing a forward pass.  Each frame represents a different part in the throwing motion.  What looks to be a young, skinny Jim Thorpe is shown dropping the ball to punt it.  Gus Welch (possibly) is shown following through after punting the ball.

<more on the book next time>

The 1911 Carlisle Upset of Harvard – Part 2

November 17, 2011

Carlisle received the opening kick off and moved the ball quickly to Harvard’s end of the field but were unable to push the ball across the goal line. They turned the ball over on downs at the Harvard 2-yard line. On their second possession, the Indians bogged down well into Harvard territory and Jim Thorpe kicked a field goal from the 15-yard line to open scoring for the game. Harvard soon countered when Hollister drop-kicked a field goal of his own to tie the score. There was no further scoring in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Carlisle rushed the ball to Harvard’s 40-yard line but could get no further on this drive. Thorpe then kicked his second field goal of the game from 47 yards out. Unfortunately for the Indians, they would later fumble the ball and a Harvard player, Hollister, recovered it on the 50-yard line. On the next play, Reynolds broke through the Indians’ line and, after the Indians thought he was down, popped to his feet and ran for a Harvard touchdown and 9-6 lead at halftime. Note that touchdowns were worth 5 points and the goal after 1 point while field goals counted 3 points at that time.

After a series of line plunges late in the third quarter, Alex Arcasa pushed the ball over for Carlisle’s only touchdown of the day. Thorpe kicked the point after. Thorpe also kicked another field goal to close out scoring for that quarter. Harvard put in its fresh first team for the fourth quarter and made good yardage at first, but the Indian line eventually held. Thorpe kicked his fourth field goal of the day to complete Carlisle’s scoring. Harvard would get its second touchdown for the day when Storer blocked Thorpe’s punt from the 36-yard line, recovered the ball, and ran it in for a touchdown. Fisher completed the scoring for the day at 18-15 by kicking the point after touchdown. Carlisle almost had a touchdown of their own in a similar fashion but, instead of falling on the ball, several players attempted to pick it up and run with it. A Harvard player eventually fell on the ball behind his goal line for a touchback.

Possum Powell excelled at line plunging throughout the day while Gus Welch, Arcasa and the badly injured Thorpe ran around the ends. The Carlisle line, without Captain Sam Bird for the whole game and Bill Newashe for most of it, outplayed the Crimson line making the backs’ gains possible.

This game has been rated as one of the greatest college football games of all times by experts.

All-Indian Backfield

November 25, 2010

While doing a little research at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio recently, I came across a photocopy of a newspaper article titled “Backfield of Indians—Plan of Jim Thorpe.” The article began by saying that Thorpe planned on fielding an Indian backfield for the Canton Bulldogs during the 1919 season. The name of the newspaper and date were not on the copy but the paper must have been local to Canton or nearby Massillon because the third paragraph began, “Guyon’s presence here…” which implies that the paper is local to the team’s location. Discussing the possible line-up for the 1919 season suggests that the article was written after the end of the 1918 season, definitely after Armistice in November 1918. Sometime in 1919 is more likely because the article stated, “…will reach shores not later than September.”

The writer discusses how Thorpe plans to reunite with three of his former Carlisle teammates all in Canton’s backfield. Gus Welch would play quarterback (blocking back in the single-wing, wingback in the double-wing), Joe Guyon and Thorpe would be the halfbacks, and Pete Calac would be the fullback. All had played together on the 1912 Indian team but Guyon and Calac were needed on the line to replace Lone Star Dietz and Bill Newashe at the tackle positions because they were no longer playing on the team. Welch, Guyon and Calac were all in the backfield on the 1913 edition but Thorpe had departed by then.

Thorpe’s dream of being reunited fell through because Gus Welch took the head coaching position that had opened up with Lone Star Dietz’s dismissal. Thorpe, Calac and Guyon played pro ball together for several years and won championships in 1919 and 1920. Thorpe tried to field the same all-Indian backfield in 1917 but Joe Guyon elected to play college ball for National Champions Georgia Tech, was named to Walter Camp’s All America Second team at halfback, the same honor he received in 1913, his last year at Carlisle.