Military Service

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Playing at outset of World War I

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Excerpt from L.A. Times, Nov. 8, 1914, authored by Bill Henry:
“Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes, despite heroic efforts on the part of their two halfbacks, (Asa) Porter and (Franklin) Luis, went down to defeat before the Occidental Tigers yesterday afternoon, the tally with all precincts heard from being 14 to 0 in favor of the Tigers.
Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces, but before the game was 10 seconds old they knew they had a battle on their hands.
The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

This site will conduct a countdown in a 100-day period, leading up to Arizona’s 2014 football season-opener with UNLV on Aug. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff countdown will include information daily about the historic 1914 Arizona team that helped create the school’s nickname of “Wildcats” because of how they played that fateful day against Occidental.

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Arizona’s legendary 1914 team became known as “Wildcats” against Occidental during a time of great unrest in the world. The game was played almost three months after World War I began.

The Great War, as it was called, started on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary (allied with Germany) invaded Serbia. Arizona’s loss at Occidental occurred on Nov. 7 in Los Angeles.

In the week leading up to that game, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be observed on Nov. 26. At that time in the nation’s history, presidents issued proclamations designating a specific date for celebration of a holiday.

The headline of the Bisbee Daily Review indicates German's plot to ally with Mexico to invade U.S. a month before the U.S. joined World War I

The headline of the Bisbee Daily Review indicates German’s plot in 1917 to ally with Mexico to invade U.S. a month before the U.S. joined World War I

“The year that is now drawing to a close since we last observed our day of national thanksgiving has been, while a year of discipline because of the mighty forces of war and of change which have disturbed the world, also a year of special blessing for us,” Wilson wrote.

The United States did not enter the war until April 6, 1917, after Germany’s sinking of American merchant ships and the British interception of the Zimmermann Telegram. The coded telegram sent by Foreign Secretary of the German Empire, Arthur Zimmermann, was an invitation by Germany to Mexico to fight against the U.S. in the Great War.

With funding from Germany, Mexico was promised recovery of lost territories in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. Mexico ignored the proposal, and after the U.S. entered the war, Mexico officially rejected it.


Caption here

The 1914 Arizona football team that earned the honor of being named the first “Wildcats” was composed of (front row, left to right): Verne La Tourette, George Seeley, Leo Cloud, Richard Meyer, Asa Porter. Second row: Franklin Luis, Lawrence Jackson, Ray Miller, J.F. “Pop” McKale (coach), Turner Smith, Harry Hobson (manager), Orville McPherson, Albert Crawford, Ernest Renaud. Back row: Albert Condron, Emzy Lynch, Charley Beach, Vinton Hammels, Bill Hendry, George Clawson, Harry Turvey.
(AllSportsTucson.com graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

Names of Arizona students, including a few from the 1914 team, that registered for World War I were published in the University of Arizona’s Record “The University of Arizona and The War” in September 1917.

The list included left tackle Albert H. Condron, quarterback Albert Harlan Crawford Jr., left end James Vinton Hammels, right tackle James William “Bill” Hendry, team manager Harry T. Hobson, right halfback Franklin Alfred Luis, center Emzy Harvey Lynch, fullback Orville Scharff McPherson, reserve fullback Ernest James Renaud, reserve right end George Wesley Seeley, left guard and team captain Turner Church Smith, and reserve fullback Harry Ellsworth Turvey.

The University of Arizona Record publication indicates in accordance with requests of the U.S. War Department and the
Bureau of Education, that courses for men at the university included military instruction.

Condron’s form of service for the U.S. was as a geological surveyor from 1917-1920. He performed field work in the Western and Southern Atlantic states.

Hammels, who played at Michigan for one season after his stint with Arizona, served with the National Army in France during the war.

Crawford received a bachelor of science degree in 1917 from Arizona. He was a chemist and metallurgist with the U.S. government at the time of the Great War.

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1914 ARIZONA FOOTBALL PLAYERS WHO SERVED DURING WORLD WAR I
Source: University of Arizona Record. Note: U.S.R. stands for U.S. Reserves
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William Asa Porter

William Asa Porter

The World War I draft registration card filled out by Arizona halfback Asa Porter in 1917 (Ancestry.com)

The World War I draft registration card filled out by Arizona halfback Asa Porter in 1917 (Ancestry.com)

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“It has been found that the men prepared in the University, upon going to the training camps, have shown marked ability in taking up the work of military science,” the publication states. “This has led the departments concerned to believe that the training in military drill and science justifies this additional emphasis on the military work in the universities.”

Vinton Hammels, who played at Michigan after being with Arizona in 1914 and 1915, served in France during World War I

Vinton Hammels, who played at Michigan after being with Arizona in 1914 and 1915, served in France during World War I

Six weeks after the U.S. entered the Great War, on May 18, 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed, which authorized the president to increase the military establishment of the United States. As a result, every male living within the United States between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to register for the draft.

More than 24 million men (born between circa 1872 and 1900) registered for the World War I draft, including U.S. citizens and immigrants.

Registration cards for the draft indicate Arizona’s standout fullback in 1914, William Asa Porter, who was later inducted into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, served despite having of a lung ailment.

Armistice Day, the end of World War I, came 19 months after America entered the conflict. The Arizona Republic reported on Memorial Day in 1999 that 127 Arizonans were killed while serving. None of them were from the 1914 team, although more than 30 were from Southern Arizona.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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