General History

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Honoring 1914 senior “football heroes”

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
General history
J.F. “Pop” McKale
The games
Comparisons then and now
Wildcats nickname
Military service
Rankings
LAST WEEK:
No. 58: Where most of “Varsity” lived in 1914
No. 59: Tucson’s entertainment in 1914
No. 60: Famous people born 100 years ago
No. 61: Other 100-year anniversaries
No. 62: Chain events leading to World War I begin
No. 63: Three yards, cloud of dust prevailed in 1914
No. 64: 1964 homecoming celebration

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Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

Clipping of actual L.A. Times article published Nov. 8, 1914

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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The Class of 1915 in the 1914-15 school year included a few influential seniors who played on the “Varsity” that earned the nickname “Wildcats” against Occidental on Nov. 7, 1914.

Among them were Charles Beach, George Clawson, Leo Cloud, Albert Condron and Lawrence Richard Jackson.

J.F. “Pop” McKale, in his first season as head coach at Arizona, decided to name junior guard Turner Smith as captain because he was one of only seven returners from the 1913 football team that went 1-2 under F.A. King, who lasted only one year as coach. The program was very much unstable with McKale becoming the 10th coach in its 14th season of operation.

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Therefore, the fresh start with McKale allowed him to go with Smith, who at 6’1″ and 173 pounds was a towering presence (at least for the size of players of that generation).

Clawson, Condron and Jackson were seniors who returned from the 1913 team but their roles were not defined when McKale took over. Cloud, a multi-sport athlete who excelled in tennis, gave football a try. Beach was also a basketball and baseball standout finished his career playing football with the “Varsity”.

A drawing in Arizona's El Sahuaro yearbook for the Class of 1915

A drawing in Arizona’s El Sahuaro yearbook for the Class of 1915


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)

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What they were talking about on this day in 1914

Friday, July 3, 1914

History suggests that Tucson’s minor-league baseball history started in 1915 with the Tucson Old Pueblos playing in the Rio Grande Association. But on this date 100 years ago, the Arizona Republican in Phoenix published a story that Tucson was to start a two-game series in Phoenix christening the ballpark at Riverside. After the Rio Grande Association disbanded midway through the following season (1915), Tucson did not have a minor-league team again until 1928. Anybody who writes about the development of minor-league baseball in Tucson needs to re-write history because the Old Pueblos were competing in 1914.

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Part of the creed of the Class of 1915, as it reads in Arizona’s El Sahuaro yearbook from that time, states: “I believe in our football heroes, makers of loyalty and fame.”

Seniors in that generation were called “Wearers of the ‘A'”.

Their pride was taken to another level when McKale came on board. It was only a matter of time — three games into his tenure — that the “Red and Blue” heroes became the “Wildcats”.

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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