Monday, November 30, 2015

UMass Redmen (1951-52)

When studying the era when UMass used gold/yellow as an accent color, one can't help but notice a passing resemblance between the Red/Minutemen and their football brethren on Chestnut Hill, although that shouldn't be said too loudly around a UMass supporter.

But check out these uniforms from 1951-52: If they didn't have the UMass tag at the bottom, you would have thought it was a BC uniform, right? Hell, I'd have thought it was a BC uni.

The 1951 UMass uniform, right, with gold helmet and pants ...

... and the '52 version, when a funky white helmet
began to see action.

Gold continued to be bold at UMass throughout the '50s. In '52, a funky white helmet began seeing some playing time, and by '53, white helmets and pants had taken over, only for the gold to return in '55. The gold helmets were dumped in '58 and the pants hung around until '60. Gold stuck around as jersey trim on and off until 1985.

Much, much more from the Minutemen: 201420132000-021986-871978-84197419721966-68, 1960-621938-39.

Alumni Field, the home of UMass football until 1965, is shown in 1952.
Check out the close proximity of the track and baseball field.
I presume the stands on the right were moveable.
Wonder if a track meet and baseball game were ever held at the same time?

Friday, November 27, 2015

New Hampshire Wildcats (1936)

On Saturday, New Hampshire hosts Colgate in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs in what will likely be the final football game at ancient, wizened Cowell Stadium before a new stadium on the same site opens in 2016. 

Cowell Stadium (then Alumni Field), 1936. Going by my research,
I believe those are Maine players in the foreground.
Looks strange with no Lundholm Gym in the background.

Then known as Alumni Field (which I think was the name for every stadium in America in those days), the stadium opened for business on Sept. 6, 1936 with a 66-0 nail-biter against Lowell Textile (one of a couple schools that was a forerunner to UMass Lowell). The field's dedication game -- I've never understood why a stadium's dedication game happened after the opening game; talk about anticlimactic -- was on Oct. 10, a 27-6 loss to Maine.

The 1936 Wildcats, the first team to play in Cowell Stadium.

The Wildcats' uniforms were similar to what they wore in 1939, except for the helmets, which remained unconventional. Two different dark jerseys were worn, and I haven't the foggiest idea why.

There are plenty more Wildcat uniforms where this came from: 20142010-13199819751966-6719501947-48, 1938. Rivalry Week: Maine-UNH.

This page from the 1938 Granite yearbook (which covered the
events of the 1936-37 school year) celebrates UNH sports, including some shots
of the new football stadium. It looks state of the art here.
What would it be called now -- art of the state?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dartmouth Big Green (1944)

This past weekend, Notre Dame "hosted" Boston College at Boston's Fenway Park, the baseball shrine that housed plenty of college and pro football games until the late 1960s. In 1944, the Fighting Irish played their first-ever game in Boston at Fenway ... against the Dartmouth Big Green (a.k.a. Indians). This game and the 1945 rematch in South Bend marked the only times these schools squared off on the gridiron (World War II made for some strange football bedfellows). 

The Valley News, where I work as a sports guy, did a fun story on their historic encounters a few years ago, with plenty of cool pictures and memorabilia.

As the for the uniforms ... This was when Notre Dame wore green, not blue, jerseys at home. Although Dartmouth was technically the home team, the Irish apparently insisted on wearing the green shirts. According to the Oct. 14, 1944 Boston Globe:

"One team will be Notre Dame, in this corner, wearing a fetching Kelley green jersey ... The other team will be Dartmouth, attired in white above the waistline, but festooned with deep green satin pants ... thereby salvaging its traditional color scheme for the day."

The 1944 Dartmouth Big Green/Indians, decked out in all green.

From research, it appears Dartmouth also wore gray (possibly tan) pants that year, too, at least with the white jerseys. I have no record of the Big Green wearing the green pants before or after '44 ... at least until 2005.

Dartmouth, in white shirts and light-colored pants, takes on
Holy Cross in 1944. These pix are from the phenomenal
Dartmouth College Photographic Files.

As for the game, it was pretty much over before the coin toss. Notre Dame won, 64-0. The Irish also took the '45 game in South Bend, 34-0.

Some other Big Green unis we've profiled: 201420132005-062003-04, 1978-8619701955-561951-541936-38. Rivalry week: Dartmouth-Princeton.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Holy Cross Crusaders (1956-59)

In the early 1950s, Holy Cross used purple in more muted tones, as the Crusaders generally wore white jerseys at home to go with their silver pants and helmets.

That changed somewhat in 1956, when the Saders debuted purple helmets and pants. White shirts were still worn at home, but on the rare occasion when they broke out the purple jerseys ... Well, imagine a team of giant raisins taking the field. (Lousy comparison, but it's late, so gimme a break, OK?) As I think I've said before, purple has less margin of error than other colors, and late-50s Holy Cross stands as exhibit A, especially in an era when monochrome uniforms were uncommon.

Even the Crusaders must have realized this, as the purple shirts were shelved for a few years after the '57 season. (Of course, they've been brought back in recent seasons ...)

The all-purple Holy Cross uniform, in all its glory.
What I'd give for a color picture ...

By '59, a plain short-sleeved white shirt was worn for early-season warm-weather games.

The not-as-gaudy uniform with the white shirts.

And the short-sleeved plain shirts worn for warm-weather games.
They don't look like more than glorified practice shirts.

Want more from Holy Cross? Look here: 201420132004-08, 19921986-911973-74197219711967-701951-55. Rivalry Week: Boston College-Holy Cross.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cornell Big Red (1950-51)

Some teams seem easy to research at first glance ... until you do a little digging and you want to bang your head against your laptop in frustration. Nineteen-fifties Cornell is one of them. Goofy-but-charming helmet, red shirt, white pants; not too bad. Oh, wait, but several Big Red players wore this Dartmouth-style helmet while some were wearing the other helmet, then you have the gray pants they broke out sometimes, and what about the socks??

And you thought it was hard to keep track of today's cornucopia of uniform changes.

I do wonder, however, if any uniform-obsessed Cornell fans existed in the early 1950s; if someone nudged his roomie at a game and said (with a little too much gleam in his eye), "Oooh, look! The Big Red's breaking out the gray pants today!!"

A nice shot of the early-1950s Cornell uniform,
from an eBay listing.
This 1951 photo shows the two different helmets Cornell wore
 -- check out No. 10's helmet on left and compare it with the other guys.
It eventually became the standard Big Red helmet as the decade went on.

Sarcasm aside, I was surprised how often gray popped up in Cornell's 1950s-60s uniforms after assuming that the current unis marked he first time the Big Red had gone gray. And I am eternally grateful to the Cornell Daily Sun photogs from the era who snapped virtually every game, home and road.

Another neat oddity: the sleeve stripes on the wrists instead of the upper arms, although I think I prefer the latter.

The early-50s home uniform, with the gray pants.
I love those 1960s-70s Dallas Cowboys-style numbers.

Can't get enough from the Big Red? Check out these uniforms: 2013-141999-200119941983-84, 1985-891977-821967-7519651961-64. Rivalry week: Cornell-Penn.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Penn Quakers (1954-55)

Sure, this looks like just another plain-Jane uniform from the 1950s, but Penn's mid-50s design has some intrigue to it:

1) It marked the only time the Quakers ever wore white helmets;
2) The classic red-and-blue striped sleeves, a Penn trademark since the nineteenth century, were ditched for more pedestrian trim;
3) As had been the case for several years, no dark jersey was worn;
4) Penn's record in this short-lived design was 0-18.

It's the last point I want to discuss more. For reasons that could fill an entire book (this one is a good starting point), Penn played the likes of Army, Navy, Penn State, Notre Dame, Duke and California even as it was undergoing "de-emphasis" with the rest of the Ivy League. The '55 team went 0-9, scored 34 points all season and was shut out five times. 

Penn takes on Cornell in 1954 (top) and '55.
Penn lost both Turkey Day tilts by a combined score of 59-13.
This is an oversimplification, of course, but I can't help but associate some short-lived uniforms with losing football:

* 1948-49 Harvard: 5-12.

As for Penn, the blue helmets and striped sleeves -- along with a more sane schedule --  returned in '56, and the Quakers went 4-5.

Penn and Princeton square off in 1955.
I love those shots of Franklin Field in the background.

The school's incredible Digital Image Collection has some awesome photos of the 1954-55 Quakers, and tons more goodies where those came from. Check them out here and here.

More Penn uniforms, old and new, red, white and blue (and gray): 201420131992-94, 1983-841981-821971-781965-661956-641948. Rivalry Week: Cornell-Penn.

I know I'm cheating by adding this 1956 pocket schedule (from an eBay listing),
but I think it's interesting how it highlights Penn's return to a traditional
schedule -- and traditional uniforms.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Brown Bears (1957-58)

I've spent the last few weeks researching the Ivy League uniforms of the 1950s, so I'll be sharing some results over the next couple weeks.

We'll start with Brown, one the Ivies' ne'er-do-wells in the league's early days ... OK, one the league's ne'er-do-wells until Phil Estes became coach in 1998. The Bears have burned through several secondary colors over the years -- gold, silver, red -- and tan was the color of choice in the '50s. The helmets had three stripes separated by white, an unusual look for the period. Also note the use of separate home and road socks to maintain continuity with the jerseys, a nice touch.

A nice shot of the '58 Brown jersey. The striping pattern on the pants
are slightly different from all the game-action pictures I've seen.
This is from Brown's digital collections site.
The '58 roads in action at Princeton. From the Daily Princetonian.

Midway through the '58 season, the helmets sprouted numbers, since that was the fashion fad in college football at the time. In '59 there was a coaching change, and with it, a uniform overhaul.

More unis from the sons of Bruno: 2014, 2012-132004-082001-03, 1997-20001984-89, 1981-831975-771967-71.