Thursday, July 27, 2017

Brown Bears (1914)

When I began this little uniform project, I had 1925 or so pegged as a cutoff date. Before then, all the uniforms start to look the same, and action photos are low-quality and taken from a mile away. The research, once fun, becomes a chore.

Then I stumbled upon a pair of Brown Bears photos on eBay from 1914, the year World War I kicked off, and of course I couldn't resist. 

Clear photos? Close-ups? There's far too much cool stuff to ignore here. 

First, the helmets. They actually appear to be plastic at first glance, but they are leather upon taking a closer look (and if the esteemed Paul Lukas says they're leather, I'm siding with him). That makes sense, since plastic helmets didn't gain traction until after World War II, more than three decades later. A cursory Google search doesn't reveal anything quite like these Brown lids, which appear to be tan in color.

And check out the helmet tops! They're almost flat, and appear to be removable. 

Next, the uniform numbers, which were a fairly recent invention credited to legendary coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. It appears they were stitched on a sheet of white cloth that was sewn onto the backs. Also note the unique font; this was long before someone decided block numbers were more readable. With all the crazy fonts used in college football today, I guess uni numbers have come full circle.

As for where these photos were taken? My guess is the old Polo Grounds in New York, as the Bears played three road games in 1914: Yale, Harvard and Cornell, with the latter occurring at NYC. The stadium bears no resemblance to Harvard Stadium or the Yale Bowl,  but does have a double-decked grandstand similar to the that at the famed home of the Giants (baseball and football versions).

Brown was 5-2-2 in 1914 under the guidance of Eddie N. Robinson (no, not that Eddie Robinson), who compiled a 140-82-12 record in three stints with the Bears from 1898-1925. (And in the Six Degrees to Maine department, he coached the Black Bears in 1902, going 6-2). In 1915, Brown went 5-4-1 and reached the Rose Bowl -- yes, that Rose Bowl.

More unis from the sons of Bruno: 201620152014, 2012-132004-082001-03, 1997-20001984-891981-8319781975-771973-7419721967-71, 1959-651957-581951-56.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Penn Quakers (1970)

A faithful reader of the blog brought up this uniform and was kind enough to guide me to the Daily Pennsylvanian archives, whose existence had previously eluded me. (Hey, sometimes Google isn't your friend.) This was one of two uniforms (1950 UConn being the other) that were my great white whales in my quest to document every non-NEC team in this project going back to 1950.

The 1970 Quakers wore a fascinating transitional uniform. The home look kept the blue shirt and red helmet of the last few seasons (which I have yet to post -- patience!), but the road jerseys -- which previously had been a mirror image of the homes -- made a return to the striped-sleeve look of yore. The jerseys closely resembled what Penn wore from 1971-80, only without the "PENNSYLVANIA" wordmark that was added upon Harry Gamble's arrival as coach in 1971. This also was the last Penn uniform to use blue home jerseys until 1981.

The "missing" 1970 Penn road uniform comes to light, at last.
Note the striped sleeves. Also note their unusual length for 1970.
Also note the excited cheerleaders in the background.

Another shot of the road uni. Ah the days when stats like 35 pass attempts
and 246 passing yards were considered knockouts ...

Gamble replaced Bob Odell, who was 24-29-1 over six seasons. Odell's final game was on Nov. 21, 1970, a 28-0 loss to Dartmouth in which the Big Green's kicker, despite the four-score lead, ATTEMPTED AN ONSIDE KICK IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. This also was the same season in which Dartmouth ran an end-around against Columbia (scroll down this link for more) with a 41-0 lead. 

If there's one thing I've learned researching for this blog, it's that Dartmouth coach Bob Blackman might be the most hated man in the history of the Ivy League. 

The home jersey cane in two different fonts
(check out the No. 2 in each pic).
These all are from the Daily Pennsylvanian archives.
BONUS: The aforementioned reader also noted that Penn's 1954-55 uniform wore red numbers, not blue. That post has been corrected. Check it out! 

More Penn unis: 2015-16201420131995-99, 1992-941983-841981-821979-801971-781965-661956-641954-551948, 1935-38. Rivalry Week: Cornell-Penn.