Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dillon’

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).

Advertisements

Line Ups for 1904 Carlisle-Haskell Game

June 20, 2012

Tex Noel recently sent me a link to a list of numerous books, programs and other football memorabilia that have been digitized and are available on-line. Included in the list was the program for the 1904 Carlisle-Haskell game which was held at the St. Louis World’s Fair, in part, for the entertainment of President Roosevelt who visited the fair but did not attend the game.

Page 3 of the program contains the proposed line ups for the two teams. At first glance, the Haskell line up looked similar to the one Steckbeck included in Fabulous Redmen,but the Carlisle line up was significantly different:

Program            Steckbeck

Jude           LE   Rogers

Bowen        LT   Bowen, Gardner

Dillen         LG   Dillon

Kennedy     C     Shouchuk

White          RG  White

Exendine    RT  Exendine

Flores          RE  Tomahawk

Libby           QB  Libby

Hendricks  RH  B. Pierce, Hendricks

Shelden        LH   Sheldon, Lubo

Lube           FB   H. Pierce

Jude, Kennedy and Flores didn’t get in the game. Coaches Ed Rogers and Bemus Pierce suited up for the game.  Hawley Pierce and long-time player Nikifer Shouchuk also played. The reason given for loading up the line up was that rumors swirled around that Haskell was even recruiting white ringers for the big game. That doesn’t seem to have happened. What did happen was that some of the best players ever to play at Carlisle could be found on both sides of the ball. Some, like Archiquette had previously played for Carlisle but were at Haskell in 1904 (and would return to Carlisle in 1905). Others like Charles Guyon (Wahoo), Pete Hauser and Emil Hauser (Wauseka), would star at Carlisle in the years that followed. The two line ups amounted to a who’s who in Indian football at that time.

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.

Hidden Ball Play Was More Complicated that It Appeared

August 26, 2010

I was just reviewing some materials on the hidden ball play that Carlisle ran successfully against Harvard in 1903 and learned that getting the play off correctly was more complicated than it seemed. For starters, the kickoff had to be deep enough to give the players time to assemble around the person who received the kick, James Johnson in this case. The Harvard kicker put his first kick out of bounds and had to rekick. There must not have been much of a penalty for that in those days because he was able to put the second kick on the goal line.

Johnson’s teammates had to line up precisely to make the other team think they were forming a wedge to block for Johnson. Room for Johnson to stand next to Dillon was essential to making the play work. It was (and probably still is) illegal to hand or pass the ball forward on a kickoff. The ball had to go backward or laterally. By standing alongside Dillon, Johnson was able to reach back to place the ball under his jersey, thus keeping the play legal. Doing it this way also screened what was he was doing from the prying eyes of the Harvard defenders.

Another potential hurdle that has to be cleared is the official. An official who is unfamiliar with the play may incorrectly disallow the touchdown and penalize the team for running it. Warner took care to inform the Referee, Mike Thompson of Georgetown, that the play was to be run so that he would pay special attention to the handoff and make sure that it was legal.

By paying attention to all the little details, including selecting a ball carrier with speed, especially for a big man, Warner pulled off a trick that is still being talked about over a century later.

Seek Restoration of Indian School

April 12, 2010

When looking for information on Asa Sweetcorn, I found a 1935 United Press article in which he was mentioned that had nothing to do with his exploits while at Carlisle. Titled “Seek Restoration of Indian School,” the article, datelined Carlisle, Pa., March 15, the article told of former Carlisle Indian School students’ attempt to reopen the school. Charles Dillon, who is best known for his role as “humpback” in the “hidden ball” play run against Harvard in 1903, spearheaded the movement. “Dillon, one of the greatest of the long line of football heroes who wore the colors of the old Indian School, was in town the other day sounding out sentiment on the proposed return of the Redskins.”

Dillon was on his way to Washington, DC to pry loose a few New Deal dollars to launch the program. He felt that little government money would be required to fund the school. He told some old friends in Carlisle, “Our aim is to build a college with Indian money, to be conducted by and for Indians. And only a comparatively few dollars are needed from the government to launch the program.” According to Mr. Dillon, “Scores of graduates of the erstwhile Carlisle Indian School are ready to contribute thousands of dollars toward establishing the school.”

He was to return to Carlisle the following week after negotiating with New Deal officials. Accompanying him were Jim Thorpe, Gus Welch, Albert “Chief” Bender and Asa Sweetcorn. That was a bad time for Indian schools to pry money out of the government. Lone Star Dietz left Haskell Institute in 1933 to coach the Boston Redskins after the government slashed Haskell’s budget. Gus Welch was well aware of funding issues as he replaced Dietz at Haskell. It is easy to understand why Dillon, Thorpe, Bender and Welch supported the initiative because they flourished at Carlisle. Sweetcorn’s involvement is curious because he was “canned” in Carlisle for his antics that reflected less than a studious attitude.

Carlisle Indian School Weddings

July 31, 2009

The subject of weddings at Carlisle Indian School recently came up in a conversation with the granddaughter of a Carlisle Indian School student. This subject hasn’t received much attention in the past. Sure, Jim Thorpe’s marriage to Iva Miller was a major national media event in its day, but weddings of non-celebrities or non-celebrities have received little attention since the actual events took place. Let’s take a look at one that might be more representative of student weddings.

Charles Dillon, who is probably best remembered as being the Sioux lineman under whose jersey the pigskin was concealed in the hidden-ball play, was the groom. Rosa LaForge, Crow, was the bride. Because the boys at the school were organized as military cadets, they wore their dress uniforms for the nuptials which were held in the school’s auditorium. The auditorium was full of students and “a large number of invited guests.” The stage was arranged as the alter area of a church, presumably similar to a Presbyterian church because the Rev. Dr. Norcross officiated the Presbyterian ceremony. “The scene already gorgeous beyond description was greatly enhanced by color-sergeant [Nicholas Bowen] taking position with the national and school colors [Mike Balenti] on each side of the stage.”

As the orchestra began playing the Wedding March from Tannhauser, the doors threw open and the bridal party consisting of maid of honor Louise French; bridesmaids Christine Childs, Savannah Beck, Minnie Nick and Annie Goyitney ; and the bride on the arm of Superintendent Major William A. Mercer proceeded up the aisle. “The tall and stately bride was attired in a beautiful white silk gown with a long train. She wore a long veil and carried a gorgeous boquet [sic] of bridal roses. Miss French the maid of honor carried a boquet [sic] of white carnations. Major Mercer appeared in the rich full dress of the army.”

<continued next time>