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.

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