Anderson High First Football Season
The Anderson High School football team won all of its games in the first season. Before 1892, there was a lot of interest in sports at the school but until that year nothing had been done about it. In the spring of 1892, 20 progressive students formed the Anderson High School Athletic Club. The Club's object was to foster an interest in athletics.
The Club members considered baseball first, but the spring was too far advanced to arrange any games, so the Athletic Club decided to practice football in the fall. They did not have much to work with. The School Board had arranged for them to have a basement for practice. They had no equipment and probably had to furnish their own uniforms. There was also the problem of finding opponents to play. Not many schools had football teams at the time. Thus, they played high school, college and town teams. All these groups were amateur athletes and not necessarily of high school age. For its 1893 schedule, Anderson High School was to play the Elwood town team, Muncie High School and the prep squad of Butler University.
On the afternoon of November 11, 1893, the Anderson team and a crowd of well-wishers, took the 12:43 Interurban to Elwood. They were met by the Elwood team, given dinner at the Stevenson House and then everyone proceeded to East Main Street Park where the game would take place. Elwood won the toss and chose the west goal, giving Anderson the ball first.
On the first play, Anderson's fullback, Frank Pulse, made a 40 yard run. He was tackled and brought down by Elwood player identified only as Gifford. This is when the trouble began! Gifford was primarily a baseball player and may have been older than most of the students. He not only tackled Pulse; he also slugged him "for fun." The Anderson team decided they could have some fun too. They "laid out" Gifford and took every opportunity to punch, trip and gouge him. Play continued, but so did the fighting and the game became more like a running prize fight than a football game.
Anderson managed to score 22 points, several extra hits and one TKO. After some thirty minutes, Gifford had a banged up chin and a bloody nose. The rest of the Elwood team weren't in much better shape. Their clothes were torn and they had scratches and bruises that looked like they had been in a railroad wreck. The game was called. Anderson had won!
Who was at fault for this ruckus behavior? It really depends on whom you believe. Anderson claimed to be the much smaller team and that the Elwood players were the thugs. The Elwood newspapers claimed that four of the Anderson players were not students and were brought in to win the game against them. Both newspapers decried the brutality of football. The Elwood newspaper hoped that "the Elwood boys will be too manly to offer a return game after such treatment."
Anderson played two more football games that November, both against Muncie High School. At least one of those games had to be called after the first half because one of the Muncie players was hit so hard that he ended up with a broken collarbone. The Anderson team went on to win all the games in that first season without being scored upon. The school continued its winning ways into the spring.
The 1894 baseball team, composed of many of the football players, was so formidable that no one but Marion High School was willing to play them. Marion lost the game. Anderson also sent a team to the State Inter-Scholastic Championships for track in the spring and did well enough to come in second to Indianapolis High School. Anderson High School's first competitive endeavors were successful. Not a bad outcome for their teams which had no equipment, uniforms, practice facilities, or coaches.
Source: Anderson Herald Bulletin...Author: Beth Oljace, Anderson Public Library
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