Golden Football Magazine
Memorable Game Article
Memorable Game: Princeton-Yale 1893 - I
When Yale and Princeton decided to play their annual clash in the Big Apple starting in 1880, they unwittingly started a process that produced a huge increase in interest in football throughout the nation. Newspapers from coast to coast published syndicated articles provided by the New York papers. People who had never heard of football read about the gridiron battles (in heroic Victorian-era prose) and the excitement surrounding them. Moving the game to Thanksgiving in the 1890s only increased attendance in the nation's largest metropolitan area and put even more money in the coffers of the two universities. Here's an example.


Madison Square looking north;
New York City 1893

Broad Street, NYC, 1893

Walter Camp

Samuel Thorne, Yale

The lower portion of the city yesterday seemed football mad. From the upper dry goods district to the Battery about every fifth man who was met on the street wore either the colors of Yale of Princeton. ... When it came to Wall Street and the district of the ex­changes, there the colors were the more prolific, and the fun the faster and more furi­ous. So far as could be ascertained no body of men on the exchanges sent up the "rahs" of Yale or the more fetching "brok-a-coax, coax, coax" chorus of the skyrocket cry of Princeton. They did, however, in instances show unmistakable preferences for one or the other college.
The orange and black of the Tigers and the all-blue of Yale fluttered in every direc­tion yesterday. The college colors have been utlilized in the formation of rosettes, buttons, flags, banners, and in every other conceivable device to catch the general eye and make profit for the nimble fakir.

The occasion for the frivolity reported in the New York Herald November 30, 1893, was the annual Thanksgiving game between Princeton and Yale.

  • This wasn't just any game. It was "the football game of the year."
  • The Tigers came into the fray 10-0 as did the Men of Eli.
    The term "Men of Eli" came from Elihu Yale, a benefactor of the Collegiate School in the Colony of Connecticut which in 1718 was renamed Yale Col­lege in his honor.
  • Yale had outscored its opponents 336-6 and was riding a 37-game winning streak dating back to a loss to Harvard in 1890.
  • Princeton had bested its foes by a cumulative total of 264-14, and was seek­ing to avenge its 12-0 loss to Yale the previous year.
  • Comparative scores against the two common opponents weren't much help in pre­dicting the winner.
    Princeton 4 Pennsylvania 0 | Yale 14 Pennsylvania 6
    Princeton 36 Army 4 | Yale 28 Army 0
  • One advantage for Princeton was that Yale had played its archrival, Har­vard, just five days earlier, winning 6-0. The New Jersey boys hadn't played since traveling to West Point November 18.
  • Despite being the underdog, the Princeton men expected to win. They knew Yale's tactics thoroughly and were certain they would score for the first time in the annual battle since 1889.

The two schools had played in New York City every season since 1887.

  • With so many grads working in and around the Big Apple and thousands more a short train ride away, the game had consistently drawn good crowds. But no previous con­test could top the excitement generated in 1893.
  • The Daily Princetonian editorialized two days before the game: It is safe to say that the interest in the final football struggle on Thanksgiving Day has never in the history of Princeton been greater than this year. As the eventful day draws near, the tremendous importance of the struggle is more indelibly im­pressed on the feelings of every one whether football enthusiast or not. The spirit of unity on the part of the college at large, which has been so noticeable during the whole season, manifesting itself in a lack of fault finding and criti­cism of the team, in the confidence in the coachers and management, and in the content with which vague reports of secret practice have been received, is the spirit which we believe is a great factor in winning the game. ... Let the remaining hours be filled with eager expectancy, let every man go to New York calm, cheerful, determined. While enthusiastic, let him remember that on the conduct of the students this year hangs the future of the Thanksgiving game.
  • The 15,000 seats at Manhattan Field (originally called Polo Grounds #2 in 1889) had all been sold but more than double that number would try to wit­ness the gridiron battle. Scalpers were expected to have a field day. Seats in the grandstands were quoted at $10, but the resale price would be $15. Spectators were expected to gather on "Deadhead Hill," the mammoth mound west of the grounds. Those entering the fenced off area would have to pay 50 cents each. One, by going early and securing a "soft" rock, can, with the aid of a pair of field glasses, get a fairly good view of the game.
  • A dispatch from New Haven reported: Yale men are making all sorts of bets on tomorrow's game. Financially flushed with the victory over Harvard, every Princeton offer to Yale men has been smothered with Yale shekels. A score of Yale pools have been formed and put against as many Princeton piles of mon­ey. Yale has even placed bets of 2 to 1 that Princeton will be again whip­ped and laid dozens of wagers that the Tigers will not score at all. Yale had two three straight over the Black and Orange.

Hundreds of students at the two august universities hurried to the train stations as soon as they were dismissed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • They affected long hair, long overcoats and wide trousers ...
  • Alighting from the trains, they hurried to the nearest florist to purchase large chrysanthemums to stick into buttonholes alongside their college colors.
  • Girls and women shared the general enthusiasm for the game and discuss­ed the contest just like the men.
  • Vendors by the hundreds lined the curbstone offering banners, scarfs, and "ribbon decoration sticks" in the colors of the two teams.

Every hotel lobby became packed as Thanksgiving Eve wore on.

  • Yale blue predominated at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, where the team would be quartered. Princeton black and orange prevailed at the Murray Hill Hotel.
  • The common meeting ground was Delmonico's and the Hoffman House. Hun­dreds of professional bettors mingled with partisans of both schools. A re­porter saw up to $300 change hands on a single bet.
Even the staid Stock Exchange got caught up in the madness before closing for the holiday.
There were about ten football elevens in active operation in the Stock Ex­change for a few minutes yesterday afternoon just about closing hours, and the results were the smashing of one chandelier, the fining of about 100 members from $1 to $5, and some bruises and rumpled attire, due to the great energy with which the games were played. Princeton and Yale feeling ran high, and it was deter­mined to settle beforehand the merits of the two teams by regulation games on the floor. One of the most enthusi­astic Yale men sent out and purchased a score of large-sized rubber balls. A few minutes before the closing hour of the Exchange the fun started and inside of two seconds a riot began. Chairman Mitchell tried his best to secure order, and used his gavel industriously until a broker made a goal by sending a ball plump into the chairman's face. That ball was retired from play, and the offending member will probably find himself fined the amount of not less than $10 when the list of delinquents is made up.
Another broker caught a ball fairly on the bound and sent it into the chan­delier, sending down a shower of broken glass. The chairman wished many times while the fun lasted that he was a shorthand-man so that he could take down the names of the players. ... For the first kick the chair­man put a man down for a fine of $1, and he doubled this fine as often as the man could be caught.
The Cotton Exchange members did not have quite so much fun, but it cost them considerably less. There all the rules were suspended, and the bro­kers played football and worked off practice jokes on one another with im­punity.
Members of both exchanges as well as the Produce Exchange wagered furi­ously on the game. Yale proponents showed complete confidence in their boys, betting as much as $100 to $40 on the Blue and White. Those odds generally followed what the professionals set. Yale was consistently favored at the betting parlors from 2 to 1 to as much as 4 to 1. The even money wager was that Princeton would not score.
The Yale Daily News, in its last edition before Thanksgiving, listed essential info for students attending the game.
Because several thousand students will be in New York city Thanksgiving day the Students' Club (branch of Young Men's Christian Association) has arranged that there shall be an especially cordial welcome to college men in some of the city churches, and indeed the hour of service has been changed in several instances to 10:30 for the benefit of those who also wish to attend the football game in the afternoon. ...
In the evening a very informal reception will be given to the visiting college men by the students of New York city belonging to the Students' Club ... Refreshments of a Thanksgiving character will be served, and brief after-dinner addresses will be given by prominent college graduates.
Singing of college songs will follow and in general, an opportunity will be afforded of spending the evening discussing the game and in meeting me from other col­leges - all are asked to wear their college colors.
The NOTICES section of the same issue also contained listed requests for tickets: $1 each for three open stands seats although another offered $2 each and $5 apiece for seven tickets. Several others didn't specify a price.
The visitors packed the theaters and music halls after sundown. Back on the street, and fortified by adult libations, the multitude sang their college songs and rang out their school cheers. But police reported only three arrests of students as of 2 AM.
The objects of the passions, the players, stayed clear of the chaos. Both squads arrived in NYC by train the night before the game. Captain Hinkey and his Eli brigade stayed at a Fifth Avenue Hotel.
The trainer, Murphy, kept a watchful eye on his men, and saw that all were put to bed at an early hour. The only Yale stalwart not in tip-top condition was Samuel Thorne, but he hoped to work out his problem sufficiently to participate Thursday afternoon.
The Princeton team substitutes, rubbers, coaches and their trainer, McMasters, went to the Murray Hill Hotel, which was the Orange and Black headquarters last night. (Presumably, "rubbers" meant trainer's assistants who massaged the aching muscles of the players.)
The railroads ran special trains on Thanksgiving to accommodate football fans. Trains left Princeton starting at 9 AM. That evening, additional trains returned from 6 PM to midnight. The roundtrip cost $2. Similar arrangements were available from Yale's home in New Haven to NYC. When fans arrived at one of the train stations, they could travel to the field by elevated subways or even by boat. Some coaches were reserved for Yale fans, others for Princeton.
Walter Camp, former Yale player and coach and the most respected football mind in the country, assessed the squads in a syndicated article which, like all the arti­cles on the game, included line drawings of players.
Princeton's rush line is so strong and active that the Yale line will find it re­quires different handling from any other line they have met. ... Princeton's tackles will be a hard problem for Yale on account of their agility, combined, nevertheless, with good weight.
Yale has a pair of fine plungers behind the line in the person of Butterworth and Thorne, against whose running Princeton has been planning ever since the Yale-Pennsylvania game.
... (They) have in their games shown up as better ground gainers than any two behind the Princeton line ...
Concerning the centers, who are "old friends": Each respects the other's strong points most wholesomely. Balliet knows that Stillman is a heavy man and Stillman knows that Balliet is an active and clever centre.
In the game to day, therefore, it will be largely a question of team work and ability to avoid mistakes that will eventually win. Yale has come down far from confident, for both coachers and men understand fully that the game they meet will be first class in every particular, and that either team that lets up even for a few moments is likely to rue it for the rest of the year. We shall, therefore, be sure of a hard, eager game with the cleverest kind of strategy.

1893 Princeton Tigers

The lineups looked like this. In addition, each team's roster included five extra men although, under the rules, a substitute could enter only to replace an injured player.

Pos. Yale Age Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
LE Hinkey, Frank (Capt) 22 5-9 157 Jr. Tonawanda NY
LT Murphy, Fred 22 5-11 1/2 178 So. Junction City Kans
LG McCrea, James 19 6-3 204 Jr. Poughkeepsie NY
C Stillman, Philip 20 6-2 208 Jr. Elizabeth NJ
RG Hickok, William 19 6-2 195 Jr. Harrisburg Pa
RT Beard, Anson 19 6-1 1/2 189 Jr. Poughkeepsie NY
RE Greenway, J. C. 21 6-0 164 Jr. Hot Springs Ark
QB Adee, George 19 5-8 152 Jr. Bartow-on-the-Sound NY
LHB Thorne, Samuel 21 6-1 163 So. New York City NY
RHB Armstrong, Richard 20 5-8 1/2 157 Jr. Hampton Va
FB Butterworth, Frank 22 5-11 158 Jr. Washington DC

Pos. Princeton Age Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown
LE Brown, Harry 23 5-10 1/2 164 Jr. Irwin PA
LT Holly, Augustus 22 5-11 179 Jr. New York NY
LG Wheeler, Arthur 20 6-0 1/2 197 So. Philadelphia Pa
C Balliet, D. M. 25 5-10 1/2 183 So. Lehighton Pa
RG Taylor, Knox 20 6-1 1/2 186 Jr. Bound Brook NJ
RT Lea, Langdon 19 6-1 1/2 183 Jr. Philadelphia Pa
RE Trenchard, Thomas (C) 19 5-7 150 Jr. Church Hill Md
QB King, Philip 21 5-6 160 Sr. Washington DC
LHB Ward, William 19 5-9 154 Jr. Rochester NY
RHB Morse, Franklin 20 5-7 163 Jr. Tarrytown NY
FB Blake, J. R. 22 5-8 1/2 154 Sr. Newark NJ

Yale's eleven averaged 175 lbs per man to Princeton's 170. The Eli rush line averaged 185 to the Tigers' 177.

1893 Yale Bulldogs

Would the game live up to the hoopla?

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Memorable Games Archives - I

1912: Carlisle @ Army
1921: Centre @ Harvard
1924: Michigan @ Illinois
1929: Rose Bowl
1939: Texas Tech @ Centenary
1940: Bears @ Redskins
1941: Sugar Bowl
1941: Willamette @ Hawaii
1964: Alabama @ Georgia Tech

Memorable Games Archives - II

1947: Eagles @ Cardinals
1953: Iowa @ Notre Dame
1959: Oklahoma @ Northwestern
1966: Notre Dame @ Michigan State
1967: Ice Bowl (Dallas @ Green Bay)
1971: Nebraska @ Oklahoma

Memorable Games Archives - III

1967: Unlikely Hero (Super Bowl I)
1968: "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29"
1969: Believe in Bo (Ohio State @ Michigan)
1974: "Who Won the Damn Game?" (Ohio State @ Michigan State)
1979: "You Shoulda Passed" (Sugar Bowl)
1980: Revenge Is Sweet (Kentucky @ Tulane)
1985: Greatest Finish No One Knows About (Principia @ Illlinois College)

Memorable Games Archives - IV

1982: Kellen Gives His All (Chargers @ Dolphins)
1982: The Dolphins Wuz Robbed (Dolphins @ Patriots)
1984: No Tie for Tom (Orange Bowl)
1985: Let Sleeping Beavers Lie (Oregon State @ Washington)
1993: "Game of the Century" a Week Later (Boston College @ Notre Dame)
1997: Why It's Called "Foot"-ball (Nebraska @ Missouri

Memorable Games Archives - V

1948: The Snow Bowl (Cardinals @ Eagles)
1958: The Game That Made the NFL (Colts @ Giants)
1962: NFL Championship Game
1984: "We Don't Want No Stinkin' FG" (Florida-Miami)

Memorable Games Archives - VI

1929: Ernie's Record-Setting Day (Cardinals @ Bears)
1934: Gopher Deception (Minnesota @ Pitt)
1939: Why Didn't You Kick? (UCLA-USC)
1942: We Will Have Our Rose Bowl Trip!
1943: Sid Luckman Day (Bears @ Giants)
1952: Evy Surprises Woody (Ohio State @ Iowa)
1956: Unlikely Hero (Rose Bowl)
1963: Birth of Instant Replay (Army-Navy)
1965: A Day to Remember (49ers @ Bears)

Memorable Games Archives - VII

1942: East-West Shrine Game
1943: Del Monte Pre-Flight @ Pacific
1949: Notre Dame @ SMU
1950: The Snow Bowl (Michigan @ Ohio State)
1965: Chiefs @ Oilers
1969: Texas @ Arkansas
1970: Oregon @ UCLA
1972: Auburn vs Alabama
1984: Holiday Bowl
1986: Auburn @ Florida

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