Archive for the ‘James Johnson’ Category

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.

Where Did Bill Warner Go

July 13, 2012

I received a question today about Pop Warner’s brother Bill. The questioner wanted to know what Bill Warner did in 1904 after Pop replaced him as head coach of Cornell. I was vaguely aware of all this before but hadn’t thought about it much. I even recalled reading an announcement of Bill’s new job, so I was able to confirm what I thought I knew. A little background is required.

That Pop Warner coached Carlisle from 1899 to 1903 and returned to Cornell in 1904 is well known. The details of the transaction are less clear but will be made clearer in Jeff Miller’s upcoming biography of Pop Warner. It’s fairly well known that Warner and star quarterback James Johnson had a confrontation in the late-season road trip to the West Coast. You’ll have to read Jeff’s book to learn the details of what happened. Ironically, all three, Warner, Pratt and Johnson, each for his own reason, were gone from Carlisle before the start of the 1904 season.

Now let’s get back to the original question. Pop Warner replaced Bill as head coach of Cornell after Bill who went 6-3-1 in 1903 with ugly losses to Princeton and Penn, 44-0 and 42-0, respectively. Pop understandably had misgivings about taking his brother’s job and, likely, made up for it a bit by helping Bill get another job. By virtue of coaching at Carlisle for five years, Pop surely had contacts within the Indian school system and at Sherman Institute in Riverside, California in particular because Bemus Pierce coached there in 1902 and 1903. Bill Warner took the reins at Sherman Institute in 1904 while Bemus Pierce returned to Carlisle to assist Ed Rogers. Bemus and his wife might have wanted to return east to be nearer to family in New York State.

Bill Warner led the Sherman Institute Braves to a more-than-respectable 6-1 season with wins over USC and Stanford and a loss to Cal. That record likely led to him being hired by North Carolina for 1905.

Even More 1903 Carlisle Stars

February 13, 2012

Ed Rogers and James Phillips weren’t the only Carlisle Indians to play for a future Big Ten team in 1903.  Player #4 (players on team photos in Spalding’s guides are conveniently numbered for the ease of the reader) on the University of Wisconsin team photo on page 20 is William Baine. He played for the Indians  from 1899 to 1900, then returned to Haskell Institute to play before enrolling at Wisconsin in 1903. Prior to coming to Carlisle, Baine had played for Haskell and its cross-town rival, the University of Kansas. While at Carlisle, William was enrolled in Dickinson College Preparatory School.

The photo of the 1903 Macalester College team on page 68 includes Lone Star Dietz as player #11. Dietz played for Friends University part of the 1904 season but a Friends team photo is not to be found in the 1905 Spalding’s Guide. Dietz enrolled at Carlisle in 1907. It isn’t clear what he did during the 1905 and 1906 seasons.

On page 123, Archie Rice, Sporting Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, named Weller of Stanford as fullback of his 1903 All-Pacific eleven but mitigated that with his next sentence: “There is a possibility that Bemis [sic] Pierce of the Sherman Indians, but formerly of Carlisle, might be more valuable for the team than big Weller….” When Pierce left Carlisle for Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, the Carlisle school newspaper reported that he was to coach that Indian School team, but it appears that he also donned the moleskins to get into the action as a player.

That the 1903 season results and team photos for both Haskell Institute and Sherman Institute were omitted from the 1904 Spalding’s Guide is unfortunate. According the David DeLasses’ www.cfbdatawarehouse.com, Sherman Institute went 4-4 in 1903 with a win over Southern Cal and losses to Stanford and Carlisle. That site has Haskell Institute going 7-4 with wins over Texas, Kansas and Missouri and losses to Nebraska, Chicago and Kansas State. The 1905 Spalding’s Guide has a lot more about Haskell.

More 1903 Carlisle All Stars

February 9, 2012

Walter Camp didn’t name any other Carlisle players to All-America team teams that year but James Johnson wasn’t the only Carlisle player to receive an honor. Walter Camp also picked an All-Western Team for 1903 “from the University teams of the Middle West,” essentially the teams that would become the Big Ten plus Notre Dame. “What does this have to do with Carlisle Indian School?” you say. Plenty.

Camp’s All-Western Team included Ed Rogers, Captain of the 1903 University of Minnesota team, at end and James Phillips, Northwestern University guard. Perhaps Camp shed some light on his picks when he wrote, “Rogers is an Indian, experienced, quick, and certain” and “Phillips is another Indian, and as he would not play against Carlisle, Northwestern’s line was correspondingly weakened. That game also showed what a large part Phillips had been in Northwestern’s defense.” Rogers and Phillips had both starred at Carlisle before leaving to embark on careers as lawyers. While at Carlisle, Rogers had taken courses at Dickinson College and Dickinson School of Law while playing football for Carlisle. However, in 1898 as a Dickinson College student, Ed played for Dickinson in their game against Penn State. The college’s school newspaper claimed that he was a bona fide player because Carlisle’s season was already over and he was a legitimate student enrolled in the college. However, his Dickinson College football career was limited to that one game. Later, he starred at Minnesota and captained his teammates to a 6—6 tie with Fielding Yost’s undefeated Point-a-Minute team in the first Little Brown Jug battle.

James Johnson and Ed Rogers were eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. James Phillips ended his collegiate football career at the end of the 1903 season, married, and migrated west to Aberdeen, Washington where he had an illustrious career, but that is a story for another time.

The story of Carlisle Indians starring for colleges and universities in 1903 is far from complete…

1903 Carlisle All Stars

February 7, 2012

The 1904 Spalding Guide includes various pundits’ All Whatever Teams, ranging from Walter Camp’s annual All America teams to others’ nationwide selection to various regional teams composed of who they thought were the best players from the 1903 season.  Not surprisingly, some Carlisle players’ names were included in some of these selections.  More surprising was that some former Carlisle stars were listed but as members of other teams, usually major universities!

Walter Camp named James Johnson to his All-American Team for 1903 First Eleven at quarterback, saying this about him:

“Johnson, captain and quarterback of the Indian team, demonstrated in his Harvard and Pennsylvania games his ability as a strategist as well as his power as a quarter-back. He is versatile, watches the ball splendidly, understands how to use his men, and plays so as to get good work out of them, and finally is a dangerous man on field-kick goals.”

Johnson’s photo differs from that of the other All Americans in that he is wearing a helmet. About half wear their playing clothes while the others sport their letter sweaters. Only Johnson wears his headgear. Perhaps Spalding selected this photo of him because he was wearing something that looks a lot like Spalding’s Head Harness No. A, which at $5.00 made it, along with the equally priced Pneumatic Head Harness No. 70, Spalding’s most expensive headgear at the time. (Less expensive headwear options started at $1.50.) Modern readers might find Spalding’s ad copy for Head Harness No. A interesting:

“Made of firm tanned black leather, molded to shape, perforated for ventilation and well padded. Adjustable chin strap. This head harness presents a perfectly smooth surface, and while giving absolute protection is one of the coolest and lightest made. When ordering specify size of hat worn.”

Next time, more on 1903 Carlisle Stars.

1903 Season Ender Against Sherman Institute

April 5, 2011

A while back, I was asked about the scheduling of the Carlisle-Utah game on December 19, 1903. Based on what I had read at the time, I concluded that the reason for the trip to California trip that year was to play Reliance Athletic Association on Christmas Day in San Francisco and that the game with Sherman Institute on New Year’s Day in Riverside was a side trip. Well, that may actually be the opposite of what was the case.

In 1902, Carlisle alum Bemus Pierce took the job of coaching the Sherman Institute team in Riverside, California and, apparently, took it pretty seriously. CFBdatawarehouse.com lists their record as 8-1-0 with the Stanford & Santa Ana All-Stars being the team that scored the 6 points total scored against them that season. Victories included a 34-0 thumping of Occidental College and a 28-0 thrashing of Southern California, which many call USC.

The 1903 season didn’t turn out as well. Sherman Institute lost its season opener to Pomona-Pitzer in a more lopsided score than they had defeated them the previous year. They also lost to Stanford 18-0 but beat USC 12-0. With a 4-3 record, they were called West Coast Champions—surely a dubious title that year. Regardless, they suited up to play the eastern powerhouse in a New Year’s game.

Game reports indicate that this was one of the hardest fought games of football ever played in Southern California. Carlisle scored a touchdown just three and a half minutes into the game and would have been held with that score had it not been for a disputed play. Wilson Charles broke through the Sherman left tackle for a 45-yard touchdown run that the captain of the Sherman Institute team claimed was blown dead by Umpire Hauberman. Referee Tappan allowed the play. Sherman scored six points and lost 12-6 (Correct this score on page 47 of Steckbeck). Carlisle lost quarterback James Johnson and fullback Charles Williams early in the game to injuries. Sherman’s stars were Captain Neafus, for his fast playing, and Pierce for his defense work. So, it appears that Bemus Pierce suited up to play his old comrades. His playing days weren’t completely over. 

It wouldn’t be until 1916 that USC would beat Sherman Institute in the first game in which they scored on the Indians.

Were Carlisle Players Really Older?

March 17, 2011

While researching the last blog, I noticed that James Johnson was 24 at the time Walter Camp named him quarterback on his 1903 All America first team. His “advanced” age for a college football player brought to mind the criticisms that Carlisle Indian School played older players than did their college opponents. It seems logical that the Indians would have been older because most Carlisle students had little formal education prior to entering it. That Pop Warner considered their ages to be an advantage probably added to critics’ belief that Carlisle’s players were older. Something I saw on the list of Johnson’s All America cohorts caused me to see this in a different light.

Tackle J. J. Hogan (Yale) and guard A. Marshall (Harvard) were both 24 also and three others–end C. D. Rafferty (Yale), halfback W. M. Heston (Michigan) and fullback R. C. Smith (Columbia)—were 23. The others were 20, 21 or 22 as one would expect college All Americans to be. Perhaps 1903 was an anomaly, a year in which players were older than in other years. 1902 was a bit different; guard E. T. Glass (Yale) was 25! However, only one other player, tackle J. J. Hogan (Yale), at 23 was over 22. 1901 was greatly different than the two following years; three players—end D. C. Campbell (Harvard), tackle O. F. Cutts (Harvard) and guard W. G. Lee (Harvard)—were all 28 years old!! The rest were 20 or 21, but those three 28-year-olds brought up the average age. In 1900, end D. C. Campbell (Harvard) and halfback W. R. Morley (Columbia) were 27 and 24, respectively. Quickly scanning lists of Camp’s selection for years prior to 1900 yielded several players who were older than 23, some significantly older. After 1903, players aged 23 and older occurred less frequently but continued to be named to All America teams, even after Carlisle fielded its last team in 1917. As late as 1923, end H. H. Hazel (Rutgers) was 27.

While Carlisle players may have been a bit older on average than many college players, many of the best college players were quite old, much older than what we would expect today.

1903 Rule Changes Quarterback Position

March 14, 2011

Recently, I have received several questions about football rules that I couldn’t answers because I don’t have all the old rules books. BTW, if someone sends me a complete set of the Spalding Football Guides, I will be eternally grateful. By chance–the way I learn most things–I happened upon a rule change that I wasn’t looking for and of which I was completely unaware.

An August 7, 1903 New York Times article titled “New Rules May Require Heavier and Fleeter Players to Replace Old Style Lightweight Quarterbacks.” The rules didn’t require that heavier players be assigned to the quarterback position. Rather, the rule change that allowed quarterbacks to carry the ball would make sturdier players with footspeed better candidates for that position. I was unaware that, prior to 1903, quarterbacks were not allowed to run with the ball after receiving the center snap (which could have been anything from a heel back to a ball skidding across the grass), the quarterback had to get rid of the ball quickly by handing it or passing (we would call it lateraling today) the ball to another player because he wasn’t allowed to advance the ball himself.

It stands to reason that such a rule might have been in place because, in rugby, the game American football evolved from, the hooker heels the ball back through the scrum to the scrum half (usually a diminutive player) who, as quickly as he can, passes the ball off to another back who runs with the ball or passes it along to another player. The quarterback position developed out of the scrum half and functioned much like its counterpart in the older game for some decades. Being small was considered as being an asset for early quarterbacks because smaller athletes were perceived to be better able to scoop up the ball, handle it, and get it off quickly to the ball carrier.

With the rule change allowing quarterbacks to carry the ball, speed became more important as did ruggedness. This 1903 rule change probably benefitted Carlisle because their quarterback that year, James Johnson, was definitely fleet of foot. However, at 5’7” tall and 138 pounds, he was lighter than any Walter Camp First Team All America quarterback since 1889. He must have been rugged enough, though.

Hidden Ball Play Mystery

January 27, 2011


Pop Warner told a different story on page 104 of his autobiography:

“When I was coaching at Cornell in 1897, I had the scrub team work the hidden ball play against the varsity in a practice game. The later in the season against Penn State, the hidden ball play was used for the first time in a game. In those days, Penn State was not as strong on the gridiron as they would later become and this game was merely a workout for Cornell.

“This play was used only once in the game and this was late in the fourth quarter after Cornell had already secured a big lead on the scoreboard….And the play worked like a charm. The Cornell ballcarrier untouched and scored a touchdown.”

Warner also wrote about how he had elastic installed in the hem of Charles Dillon’s jersey sometime before the 1903 Carlisle-Harvard game and how James Johnson placed the ball up the back of Dillon’s jersey after receiving the kickoff that opened the second half of the game. After Dillon crossed the goal line, another player (probably Johnson) removed the ball from his jersey and touched it down as was required by the rules at that time.

Determining the accuracy of Warner’s claim that his first use of the hidden ball play was in the 1897 Cornell-Penn State game could easily be verified by asking Joe Paterno as it would have happened early in his tenure in Happy Valley. Determining the accuracy of Heisman’s claim will be more difficult. It will likely require the perusal of newspaper coverage of the game by at least the Atlanta Constitution and the two schools involved. However, lack of mention in newspaper coverage doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen because sportswriters often get things wrong.

I guess we will have to wait for Jeff Miller’s biography of Pop Warner to know who first used the hidden ball play.

Carlisle Causes Eligibility Rule Changes

September 28, 2010

The on-field influences the government Indian schools, Carlisle mostly but also Haskell to some extent, had on the development of college football are well known. Less well-known are the impacts on the rules under which the game is played. Most football historians are aware that Carlisle Indian School was frequently criticized for not adhering to eligibility rules similar to those agreed to by the major colleges. In 1908, Pop Warner instituted a limit of four years of eligibility on the varsity team for Carlisle’s players. Years spent riding the bench without playing were most likely not counted against the four years. Something that is not known as well is that major colleges routinely ignored the fact that players they recruited from Carlisle had already played for four years prior to enrolling in college. That was about to change in 1905 if some had their way.

A November 29, 1904 article datelined Chicago that was printed in The Boston Globe announced that eligibility rules were about to be enforced more stringently, at least by some schools. “A meeting of representatives of leading western colleges” (read Big Ten) agreed on rule changes to which they were to comply. Two schools were singled out specifically: “Carlisle and Haskell Indian Schools, two formerly unclassified institutions, were raised to the ranks of colleges, and students who have competed for four years from those institutions in the future will not be allowed to compete in events controlled by western colleges.” Since Carlisle and Haskell seldom played more than a total of two games a year against the schools that became the Big Ten, this rule was probably aimed at the schools themselves. Several former Carlisle players had played for these schools after having used up their eligibility at the Indian school. Some that come quickly to mind are: Frank Cayou, Illinois; James Johnson, Northwestern; James Phillips, Northwestern; William Baine, Wisconsin; and Ed Rogers, Minnesota.

Next time – Freshmen.