The Players

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Sadness overcomes campus with star’s accidental death

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
General history
J.F. “Pop” McKale
The games
Comparisons then and now
Wildcats nickname
Military service
Rankings
The players

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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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Leo F. Cloud, a four-sport star Arizona, was also very active with other facets of campus life

Leo F. Cloud, a four-sport star Arizona, was also very active with other facets of campus life

Leo F. Cloud did so many things at the University of Arizona, including painting structures every Saturday morning to bring home living expenses.

Cloud’s list of duties as a junior in 1914-15 included business manager of The Desert yearbook, captain of his battalion company on campus and member of the newly established “A” Club by athletic coach/administrator J.F. “Pop” McKale.

As an athlete, Cloud was as diverse as any who has worn the navy blue and cardinal red. He was a three-year letterman in basketball and tennis. He captained both of those teams in 1914-15. He lettered two years in football and served as a backup halfback and quarterback for the historic 1914 Varsity. He also lettered one season in baseball.

Cloud, a native of Butler, Mo., who attended Arizona Prep before enrolling at Arizona in 1912, was also a university employee on Saturday mornings with his painting jobs.

At 8 a.m. on March 6, 1915, Cloud was assigned to paint a cement tank behind the electrical and mechanical arts building.

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THE LAST WEEK IN THE SERIES:

No. 14: Top 14 reasons why 1914 Arizona football team important to program’s history
No. 15: Varsity member created idea of “A” Mountain 100 years ago
No. 16: A calendar look at 1914 season in unique way
No. 17: 1914 team member, wife constructed Vail’s Santa Rita in the Desert
No. 18: Talents of 1914 football Varsity went well beyond playing field
No. 19: Emzy Lynch family member recalls peculiar prediction by great uncle
No. 20: Two 1914 Varsity football members part of student newspaper staff

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According to a report in the Bisbee Daily Review, William Bray, the superintendent of the campus grounds, assigned Cloud to help Hugh Swaney, the head university painter, with the project. Cloud and Swaney began to paint a strip on the cement tank, which was used as a water tank in the top half and a storage room in the bottom half.

Bray mentioned to them to be cautious of the high-tension electrical wires near where they painted. Cloud said to Swaney that he had gloves on and the wires would not harm him, but he would be careful, according to the report.


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

Sunday, Aug. 16, 1914

Pope Pius X, suffering from gouty catarrh (inflammation of mucous membrane), is ordered to take a complete rest in bed by his physician. The pope, who suffered a heart attack in 1913, has been slowed by deteriorating health. His condition was at its worse on this day. All audiences at the Vatican have been suspended.

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Leo Cloud as a member of the historic 1914 Varsity (University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

Leo Cloud as a member of the historic 1914 Varsity (University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

In one of the opening pages of the 1914-15 Desert yearbook pages, Leo Cloud is honored

In one of the opening pages of the 1914-15 Desert yearbook, Leo Cloud is honored

The electrical wires were in the way when Swaney and Cloud tried to lower the scaffold to get to an area on the tank they needed to paint. Swaney was on his way down the scaffold to retrieve a ladder when he heard a disturbing buzzing sound. He saw Cloud’s body jolted as Cloud held a wire with one hand. Cloud’s body slumped and his feet laid on a metal pipe on the scaffold, causing 23,000 volts of electricity to be grounded his body.

Frantic attempts by Swaney and nearby students to save Cloud were futile. One student, identified as Lawrence Kreighbaum, climbed the roof of the transformer station nearby and pulled the plugs. That proved to be useless because it stopped the wrong flow of electrical current.

The men tried to shake Cloud off the scaffold by rocking it but that endangered Swaney. When Swaney jumped through the wires off the scaffold, the movement caused the scaffold to swing and Cloud’s body fell to the ground. A fire broke out. After the students quickly put out the flames, a doctor named Charles A. Meserve attempted artificial respiration but it was too late.

Cloud’s promising young life, with such vigor, came to an abrupt end. He was only 20.

Two days later, the university staged a military funeral at Evergreen Memorial Park and Mortuary for Cloud with the entire student body in attendance (including his 1914 football teammates and coach McKale). Hundreds of Tucsonans also attended the funeral.

“Leo’s accidental death this spring cast over the campus the darkest gloom it had ever known,” the 1914-15 Desert Yearbook states.

Four years later, on March 19, 1919, the Arizona Superior Court awarded Cloud’s family $3,250 for the compensation of his death as an employee of the State of Arizona.

(Excerpt from the 1914-15 Desert yearbook)

(Excerpt from the 1914-15 Desert yearbook)

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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