Posts Tagged ‘Army’

Lt. Frank Mt. Pleasant

December 22, 2009

 I just came across a photo of Frank Mt. Pleasant in his WWI army uniform. Unfortunately, there are a few errors in the associated text. He competed in the 1908 Olympics, placing 6th in both the broad jump and triple jump although injured at the time. In Paris, after healing, he beat the Olympic broad jump champ in a big meet. His name is misspelled in the caption under the dog. He was the first Carlisle Indian to get a degree, a Ph. B., from Dickinson College. However, some others previously got LL B. degrees from Dickinson School of Law.

He has been inducted into the Dickson College and Indiana University of Pennsylvania halls of fame as an athlete and a coach, respectively. He was earlier inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame. It is astounding that the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has not inducted him when you consider that the vast majority of his playing and coaching career was in Pennsylvania and he was a premiere athlete in two sports first at Carlisle Indian School and then at Dockinson College during his playing days.

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The Plain, The Plain

May 17, 2008

I just received a copy of Michie by James G. Sweeney. Michie is of course West Point’s venerable Michie Stadium, site of many historic football contests. Sweeney’s description is enough to make one want to spend an October Saturday along the Hudson taking in fall foliage, tradition, spectacle and even a football game all at once. Having served in the Air Force rather than wait for greetings from my friends and neighbors to don an army uniform, I know nothing about West Point. It seems that Army’s football tradition and history is as important to their alumni and supporters as is The Big House to my wife. However, it is not Michie Stadium that caught my attention, it was its predecessor, The Plain.

Before Michie Stadium was inaugurated in 1924, the cadets battled their opponents on The Plain, a large drill field that figures prominently on campus. The Plain was also the site of some historic football games, more historic in my estimation than those played at Michie, but then I’m not a West Pointer. It was on The Plain that the soldiers first met the Indians in hand-to-hand combat in 1905 and the Indians emerged victorious. The Indians of which I speak are the Carlisle Indians who wrestled with future officers for the pigskin three times in their glorious history. The Indians won the first two games, 1905 and 1912, but were routed in 1917, the last year Carlisle fielded a team. After athletics were deemphasized in 1914, Carlisle was no longer competitive and many of the athletes who would have been present in 1917 were in France fighting a shooting war. So, that game doesn’t count for much.

The 1905 and 1912 games were truly historic. Jim Sweeney tells me he is writing something about them. Hearing things from the other side’s perspective will be interesting. Another historic game was played on The Plain in 1913 when a team from a little-known Jesuit college in Indiana was booked to fill an open spot in Army’s schedule.

Pop Warner letter for sale

May 9, 2008

I have become aware that a historically significant letter written by Pop Warner is up for sale on an Internet site: http://www.historyforsale.com/html/prodetails.asp?documentid=227287&start=2&page=48

The letter was written on October 8, 1951 on Warner’s personal stationery as he was retired by that time and living in Palo Alto, California, where he had earlier coached Stanford University. The letter to Col. Alexander M. “Babe” Weyand contains Warner’s recollections as to when he invented various things and his opinions as to which Carlisle victories were the most significant.

This letter is important because it helps clarify issues currently being debated, some of which I am to blame for raising the issue. Due to Alison Danzig’s writing it had long been thought that Warner had developed the single- and double-wing formations later than Warner states in this letter. I based my 2006 documentary celebrating the centennial of the birth of modern football on statements Warner made in his landmark 1927 book on football and some other sources. This letter supports my position. In their recent books on Jim Thorpe, Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson generally support the position that Carlisle pioneered modern football when the rules changed drastically in 1906. But Warner’s letter partially debunks their positions that the double-wingback was first unleashed against Army in 1912. He also lists what he considered Carlisle’s most important victories. The 1912 Army game was not among them. More on that in a future post.

The question I have is: why is this important letter up for sale and not in an archive? Two repositories come quickly to mind; Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) or West Point – CCHS because it holds numerous records and artifacts from the Carlisle Indian School and West Point because it holds Weyand’s papers. I don’t know if West Point buys papers for its collection but CCHS certainly does. It recently purchased 28 letters written by Jim Thorpe in the 1920s that had nothing to do with Carlisle. The asking price for the Warner letter is about twice what CCHS paid for each of the Thorpe letters. One of the reasons historical documents are so expensive is that there are autograph collectors who are willing to pay large sums just for signatures of famous people. But Warner’s letter to Weyand is valuable for the information it contains.