Monday, September 7, 2015

Harvard Crimson (1948-49)

Recently, Harvard unveiled a revamped uniform that includes a black alternate jersey. Why a team called the "Crimson" has phased out crimson in favor of black as its primary sports color is a good question, but that's a debate for another time. 

There is a precedent for black as a primary color, as in 1948-49, Harvard coach Arthur Valpey ditched the traditional (even then) crimson helmets and tan/gold pants for black helmets and pants. As for what happened ... Well, let me quote Bruce Wood in the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia (aka The Greatest Book Ever; who cares if it's 10 years old):

"A former Michigan assistant coach, Valpey brought with him a variation of the Wolverines' distinctive winged-helmet design, as well as new uniforms featuring black nylon pants and crimson socks. After his second season ended with a 1-8 record and no Ivy wins, Valpey and his uniforms were canned."

This Harvard-Cornell program from 1949
shows the black pants in all their "glory."

Also of note: The Red Sox-style numbers on the home jerseys, which lasted into the 1950s; I know of no other football team ever wearing their numbers like this. Just me, but I prefer them on baseball shirts. You'll also notice that some, but not all, of the helmets had a extra horizontal line around the crown.

Harvard (in white) takes on Stanford in the 1949 season opener.
You'll be shocked to know the Crimson lost, 44-0.

But wait, there's more! Other Harvard unis you may have missed: 2012-14; 2008-111980-831975-79; 1972-731967-701962-63. Rivalry Week: Harvard-Yale.

Harvard takes on Brown (top) and Army (above) in 1949.
Note the Red Sox-style numbers on the jersey backs, if you look closely.
The photos are from the phenomenal Digital Commonwealth site,
where you can get lost for hours exploring images from Massachusetts history.

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