Archive for the ‘Isaac Seneca’ Category

1899 Carlisle-Hamilton College Game

March 28, 2011

Recently, I received a question about the 1899 Carlisle Indian School-Hamilton College football game. That person hadn’t been able to find anything about it and wondered if it was actually played. I had never given that game any thought because the Indians played three of the Big Four and beat Penn for the first time that year. 1899 was also Pop Warner’s first year at Carlisle and Walter Camp named Isaac Seneca to his All America First Team, the first Carlisle player to be so named. It’s easy to see why the game with Hamilton College could be overlooked. For starters, this was the first, and only time these two schools played. Secondly, the game was played in Utica, NY and was probably the only time Carlisle played in that town. Thirdly, even though Hamilton had been having decent seasons the past few years, they weren’t in the class of the big teams Carlisle normally played on the road. After all, Pop Warner’s Cornell team beat them 41-0 the previous year. But that may be the hint we’ve been looking for.

Pop Warner may have had a relationship with Hamilton’s coach plus Hamilton College may have offered Carlisle a good bit of money to play them. Clinton, NY, Hamilton’s home is near Colgate and Cornell plus Warner’s home was in Springville, NY. So, there may have been some familiarity. Hamilton was more than holding its own against Colgate at that time and was even competitive against Cornell in 1899. Hamilton supporters may have thought that they had a pretty good team that year and wanted to see how they stood up against a powerhouse.

I found Carlisle Indian School newspaper mention and New York Times coverage of the game, so it was definitely played. What is most interesting is why was it played? More research is needed to determine that.

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Correct Information Is Hard to Find

January 8, 2010

A November 27, 1949 newspaper article by Deke Houlgate discussed the problems Warner Brothers were having with a screenplay for Jim Thorpe’s biopic. Several scripts had been written and discarded but a new one, titled “All-American,” was expected from the screenwriters soon. However, he questioned how good it would be given the problems the writers faced. He wrote, “One of the present problems at the Burbank studio seems to be that the records for this famous team–records that must reach back prior to World War I—no longer exists or are easily obtainable. The Army of the United States took over the school or campus, without asking, for the use of its fledgling doctors in 1917 and scattered students plus pertinent data all the way from Lawrence, Kansas, to Riverside, California.”

Like most newspaper reporters, Houlgate had some details wrong but he did better than most. First, the Army took Carlisle Barracks back in 1918, not 1917. Second, the facility wasn’t used for “fledgling doctors” as that came later. In 1918 it was used as a hospital to treat soldiers wounded in WWI. Houlgate went on to attempt to set the record straight on some legends that unfortunately still persist:

First off, Carlisle never had an undefeated, untied season. The Indians came close to a perfect record many times but always managed to lose at least one game. Next Jim Thorpe was not the first or only All-American. Third, Pop Warner did not bring Carlisle from obscurity to fame because Bemus Pierce and Metoxen were recognized as All-Americans by Walter Camp in 1896 or years before Glenn Scobie ever coached there.

Houlgate is correct about everything in the last paragraph except that Walter Camp first recognized a Carlisle player as a first team All-American in 1899 when he selected Isaac Seneca as a halfback. He may have named Pierce and Metoxen to his second or third teams but I don’t have a reference at hand to verify that. Whether or not Camp named Carlisle Indians to his All-America teams does not mean that Houlgate’s point is incorrect. The team and its star players were indeed famous before Warner was hired to coach them.

Carlisle’s First All-America Selections

July 23, 2009

While researching the 1905 Carlisle-Massillon game for an article in an upcoming issue of the Professional Football Researchers Association’s (PFRA) journal, The Coffin Corner, I came across a statement in the late Robert W. Peterson’s Pigskin: the early years of pro football that caught my eye. Of course it has nothing to do with the article but it made me curious.

Peterson wrote, “It was not sectional chauvinism at work when 129 out of 132 All-American berths between 1889 and 1900 were filled by players from those four schools [Harvard, Yale, Princeton & Penn]. The best players were really there.” I recalled that Carlisle’s first Walter Camp first team All-American was Isaac Seneca in 1899. If Peterson was accurate, that would put Seneca and the Carlisle program at a lofty level.

The Walter Camp website lists all of his All-America teams beginning in 1892 when he created the concept of such a team. Sure enough, all the players named were from the Big Four until 1895 when Cornell’s Clinton R. Wyckoff was named to the team. The next non-Big Four player to be named was Clarence B. Herschberger of Chicago in 1898. Seneca became the third in 1899. The fourth was William Morley of Columbia in 1900. Whether Peterson was right depends on the meaning of between. Does between include the 1900 team?

Things changed a lot in 1901 when four outsiders were selected: two from Army, one from Cornell (Pop Warner’s younger brother) and one from Columbia. In 1902, Paul B. Bunker of Army, a repeat from the previous year, was the only non-Big Four player on the list. And in 1903, Carlisle had its second All-American in the person of James Johnson. H. J. Hopper of Dartmouth, Willie Heston of Michigan, and Richard Smith of Columbia were also on that team.

Here’s a question? Did Carlisle have a first Team All-American before any Big Ten school had one? (Disregard when schools entered and left the Big Ten for this question.)

Problems with Proofs

July 4, 2009

Proofs for the text and cover of Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals arrived Thursday. The purpose of the proof is to determine that everything is perfect before printing the batch of books. The cover looks great to me. The colors are vibrant and Bob Carroll’s drawings of the players’ faces provides an attractive background for the text on the back cover. There is a problem with the text, however.

Rather than taking up space in the narrative with dry demographic about the players, I put this information in boxes, one for each player. The boxes were shaded in light gray for visual interest. Herein lies the problem. Five of the fifteen demographic data boxes appear to have no shading. The boxes looked perfect in the advance reading copies (ARCs), but those were produced by a different printer. Panic set in immediately. The PDFs sent to the printer look perfect. The printer’s technician informed us that the shading was done at 9% and they accept nothing below 15%. That doesn’t answer the question as to why two-thirds of the boxes were shaded correctly.

As it turns out, the boxes that printed correctly have graphics with transparency on the same page but the bad ones don’t. It appears that the printer’s software or equipment does something different in these cases. Be that as it may, I have to submit new PDFs with 15% gray shading. That means that I will probably have to pay the graphic designer for his time and the printer fees for resubmitting a new PDF and for a new proof. I also have to wait several days to see if this solves the problem.

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Rare, Pristine Football Program

June 22, 2009

Saturday night, Frank Loney contacted me about a new item he had just acquired. Never before had he been so excited about an acquisition. Yesterday, I went over to look at it. It is simply beautiful. I’ve seen a few old football programs before but none were in the condition of this one for the 1897 Thanksgiving Day game between the University of Cincinnati and the Carlisle Indians. Never before have I seen a 100-year-old program in perfect condition. This one must have been stored out of the sunlight most of its long life. Could it have been a reprint? Frank called the University of Cincinnati archives for an answer to that question. No, no reprint had ever been issued. That Cincinnati didn’t win may have had something to do with that.

In addition to being a historical artifact, it is beautiful. The program is decorated in an Indian motif, likely due to Carlisle being the opponents. This program may not have been in the hands of a spectator because the game was played in a drenching rain. The Indians won 10-0 less than five days after playing a night game against the University of Illinois in the Chicago Coliseum. Carlisle scored all of its points in the first half. According to one newspaper report, “Most of the time of the last half was taken up with fighting.” Isaac Seneca played right tackle. Two years later he would be a first team Walter Camp All-American at halfback. Two days later, missing quarterback Frank Hudson and center Edwin Smith due to injuries, the Indians beat The Ohio State University Medical College for their third victory in a week. The Indians were the only team to defeat Cincinnati, a team that beat Ohio State, Miami, Center College and LSU that year. Chicago was the only other team to beat Illinois.

The program includes a team photo I haven’t seen before and demographic data for the starters. It also includes a photo of W. G. Thompson, the unsung hero of early Carlisle football.

1897 Cincinnati-Carlisle program

Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

May 7, 2009

Galleys for Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, the first book in my upcoming series on Native American Sports Heroes, have arrived. At about 160,000 words, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs is too long for most middle school and many high school students to read. So, I am splitting it up into a series by state, the first of which is Oklahoma because it has the largest Indian population of any state. It also was home to many of the Carlisle stars. Splitting up the book into smaller volumes has another advantage; it makes room for some more players. Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs got to be so long that I had to stop adding players, but now I have places to tell their stories. For example, Henry Roberts and Mike Balenti  are in Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals but aren’t in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs.

The new book will be in hardback so that it is attractive to libraries and is under 200 pages long, including the index and appendices. My hope is that school and public libraries across Oklahoma, and elsewhere, add this book to their collections. A book reviewer suggested that grandparents may be interested in giving this book to their grandchildren as gifts. I would like that because my readers to date tend to be over 40. Young people should know about the lives and achievements of Carlisle Indian School students.

Like my other books, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals is heavily illustrated with rarely seen period photos and cartoons. Bob Carroll of the Professional Football Researchers Association even drew portraits of all the players for the book. This book will be released in September.

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Galleys Received

May 27, 2008

The advance reading copies (called ARCs in the trade) arrived for my new book and are being sent out to reviewers. This is a big moment in a writer’s life: seeing thousands of hours of hard work turned into something tangible. In the old days (pre-computer), ARCs were called galleys, bound galleys or galley proofs. Authors, editors and publishers go over these babies with a fine-tooth comb looking for errors, typos or things that have changed since writing was complete. It is an impossible task because, after all this scrutiny, some typos escape and find their way into the final book. But we try.

Another important use of ARCs is to see how the photos and artwork come out in print. Overall they came out very well, better than expected. But a cartoon about the Oorang Indians from a 1922 Baltimore newspaper is too dim. The challenge now is to figure out how to darken it without losing the detail.

This weekend I received some additional information and a correction regarding Louis Island from a family member who happened to see a previous blog. That was fortuitous because I want the book to be as accurate as possible. This blog is already proving to be of some value. That encourages me to continue with it.

Having these ARCs provides local booksellers the opportunity to provide their customers something extra. People can look at an ARC and pre-order the book if they choose. The bonus, besides being sure of getting a copy of the book as soon as it comes out, is to receive an inscription of his or her choice signed by the author. On-line booksellers also take pre-orders but personalized inscriptions are impractical.