Posts Tagged ‘Spalding Football Guide’

Were Carlisle’s Jerseys Unique?

January 6, 2012

As mentioned in this blog previously, I am in process of reprinting the Spalding Football Guides for the years that Carlisle Indian School fielded a team.  That process is progressing well but I have not yet found the 1901 and 1911 books as yet and don’t hold much hope of coming across books for the years from 1894 to 1898.  Be that as it may.  I am already discovering interesting things without having a full set.

While flipping through the 1906 volume, I noticed that the Cornell team was wearing jerseys quite similar to those worn by the Carlisle Indians (a Carlisle jersey is depicted in the color drawing on the masthead of this blog).  I had seen photos of many other teams wearing jerseys with stripes but none with the stripes located just below the elbow on an otherwise solid-color shirt.  Of course, I haven’t done exhaustive research on this matter, so the possibility remains that this pattern was not unique, just not widely used.  All the period photos are in black and white, so nothing can be known for certain about the colors on these jerseys just from the photos.  Regarding the dates of photos in Spalding’s guides, most team photos seem to have been taken at the end of the previous season.  In Carlisle’s case, players were generally wearing their letter sweaters which were a solid red and were acquired from Spalding in various styles (see photo below).

So, the Cornell team of 1905 wore jerseys similar to those that Carlisle was noted for wearing.  But when did the Indians start wearing them and were they special ordered?  A circa 1902 photo of James Phillips shows the stripes clearly as does the team photo for that year.  More research is needed to determine exactly when Carlisle and Cornell started wearing those jerseys and who made them.  What is known is that in 1902 Carlisle, then coached by Pop Warner, wore them as did the 1905 Cornell team that was also coached by Pop Warner.  Were these stripes another Warner innovation?  Much more research is needed to answer these questions.




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.

Researching the 1909 Aggies

April 29, 2009

I’m writing an article about the 1909 Texas A & M football team for the College Football Historical Society August newsletter and am making some interesting discoveries. Now you may be asking how this article relates to Carlisle Indian School. After being on the Carlisle team in 1908, Victor Kelley (backup quarterback) and Charlie Moran (assistant coach) left for College Station after a year in Carlisle bringing Mike Balenti (starting quarterback) with them. The three led the Aggies to an undefeated season and won the Southwest Championship. The article is the story of that team’s season, but writing it isn’t as easy as it first seemed.

That a fire destroyed many of A & M’s old records is unfortunately not an unusual circumstance that researchers encounter. The library does have a copy of the yearbook – always a good place to get an overview but often not as accurate as one would expect – and a librarian graciously scanned the section on the championship team into a PDF for me. The A & M library has incomplete sets of school and local newspapers on microfilms that aren’t available for inter-library loan, something else that is not uncommon.

Everything I previously read credited Charlie Moran with being the team’s head coach, but the yearbook stated that someone else started the season in that position and quit after the second game, at which time Moran was elevated into the position. The mystery is: why did the first coach quit. listed one more game – a game with Dallas University – that the yearbook didn’t include. One Wiki site listed this game but another listed a game on the same date with the same score with Trinity. David DeLassus of bailed me out. The Aggies beat Holy Trinity College 47-0 on 11-13-1909 at College Station. His source? The 1910 Spalding Football Guide. He also explained that Trinity changed its name to the University of Dallas in 1910.

Membership in the College Football Historical Society is a modest $17.00 a year. Send a check to: Ray Schmidt, PO Box 6460, Ventura, CA 93006 Subscriptions also make great gifts.