The Players

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): 1914 team member Condron one of Tucson’s historic developers

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1914countdown

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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Al Condron was instrumental in Tucson's development, including the famous annual rodeo and the airport

Al Condron was instrumental in Tucson’s development, including the famous annual rodeo and the airport

The same man who came up with the idea of Tucson’s “A” Mountain, had much to do with the development of the city’s traditional La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros (Tucson’s rodeo) that is annually celebrated in February.

Albert H. Condron may not be a household name in Tucson now, but he was on the tip of the tongue of many Tucsonans in the early 20th century. A few years after earning a civil engineering degree at Arizona, Condron became Tucson’s city manager in the early 1920s with a progressive mind, developing plans for roads and an airport for passenger travel.

What he brought to the city adds to his mystique of being part of the historic 1914 Arizona Varsity team that earned the school the nickname “Wildcats”.

Condron came to Tucson in 1912 to enroll at Arizona with his Los Angeles High School classmate Charles Beach, also a member of the 1914 team. Condron, who became Arizona’s student body president in 1915-16, and Beach were lured by glowing accounts of Tucson and the Arizona campus given by former Los Angeles High School classmates Ed Goyette and Arthur Brewer, both of whom graduated from high school a year before Condron and Beach.

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THE LAST WEEK IN THE SERIES:

No. 13: Sadness overcomes campus with star’s accidental death
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

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That suggestion from Goyette and Brewer proved vital to Tucson. Not only was Condron essential in the development of “A” Mountain and the rodeo in Tucson, but Beach and his wife constructed one of the longest standing churches in Southern Arizona — the Shrine of Santa Rita in Vail.

Condron planned the first La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in 1926. He incorporated his family into the promotion of the event statewide and regionally.


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

Monday, Aug. 17, 1914

Joseph R. Scotti, owner of the Tucson Opera House at the time, and the Western Vaudeville Association traveled to Phoenix to spend a few days to “thaw out”. Scotti, a prominent booster of the University of Arizona, complained to the Arizona Republican that rain interfered with the show business in the Old Pueblo for the “past few weeks”. Scotti also said Tucsonans will be in Phoenix in droves for the state fair in the fall.

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Albert Condron was a left tackle on the historic 1914 Arizona football team (Desert Yearbook photo)

Albert Condron was a left tackle on the historic 1914 Arizona football team (Desert Yearbook photo)

“Since funds were limited in those days, we kids all piled into the Essex and traveled around the state, to California and as far east as El Paso, tacking up posters on every post and bridge advertising the rodeo,” Condron’s daughter, Margret Alberta Condron Birmingham wrote about her father. “You had to interest the cowboys to come in from the ranches as well as the public to attend. The ‘purse’ for which the real ranch cowboys vied was derived from the ‘gate’.

“Within a few years the sum of $600.00 was raised to relocate the Rodeo Grounds to South 6th Avenue, complete with box seats and bleachers. This was an incredible community effort. These ‘poster tacking’ trips were great fun and Dad always made them educational as he wanted us to love the land the way he did. We visited Indian Ruins, old forts left from the Apache Wars, ghost towns and all the places of natural beauty. Dad was a veritable textbook on Southwestern history, geology, mining and agriculture.”

Condron met his wife Mabel Margaret Pearce while working in Washington, D.C., after accepting a position with the United States Geological Survey following his graduation in 1917.

Birmingham writes that Pearce and Condron shared a strong bond despite drastically varied backgrounds.

“She was a young woman raised in an affluent Eastern society, with a five-year-old son, and never been out of the eastern United States,” Birmingham writes. “Dad was a good looking, rugged Westerner, born during the mining boom in Leadville, Colorado. His father owned and operated ore hauling teams, and his mother was the town’s most genteel young lady.”

When he was recruited by Tucson business leaders to assist in the city’s development, Condron convinced Pearce to move West with him after their marriage.

“During his college years 1912-1917, Dad had developed a passionate love for this young, but oldest city, and foresaw a time when Tucson would be important as a mecca for winter visitors, a land port of travel, a desert blooming with agriculture, history preserved, and a cultural center in this naturally beautiful part of the world,” Birmingham writes.

“Now, I cannot say that my Mother was quite as enthusiastic, because to her she was going to the ‘Wild and Wooly West’ that was only a few short years away from Indian raids and where the train came through less than once a day,” Birmingham writes. “Quite a change for a born and bred Eastern girl. Her family bade her goodbye with a certainty that she would never be seen again.

“Mother was pleasantly impressed to find there was refinement in Tucson! After dinner they drove down town to visit quarters on Stone Avenue which had been selected for Dad’s office and much to Mother’s consternation she thought she had truly come to the ‘Wild and Wooly West’ when a night gunman came shooting down the street, the victim to fall almost at her feet. This was not a typical occurrence in Tucson at that time but Dad had some difficulty convincing Mother that such shootings were not a daily happening. I think she was tempted to pack up and hurry out of town but there was no train leaving. By the time there was, she had calmed down and had begun to view her new home a little more happily.”

Birmingham added that her father “had ideas for a wide variety of projects and boosted Tucson at every opportunity.”

“He began work on two pet projects to ‘put Tucson on the map’ — a transcontinental highway to pass through Tucson and even an airport for passenger service,” she writes. “The airlines were then carrying only mail, but through his efforts and those of Guy Monthan, Kirke Moore, and Morris Reid, this airport was begun.”

The Hall of Fame induction letter sent to one of Albert Condron's children signifying the honor bestowed upon the 1914 team in 1996 (courtesy of Jake Jacobson, grandson of Albert Condron)

The Hall of Fame induction letter sent to one of Albert Condron’s children signifying the honor bestowed upon the 1914 team in 1996 (courtesy of Jake Jacobson, grandson of Albert Condron)

Monthan was a Tucson businessman who owned Guy Monthan Nurseries. He was a brother of Oscar Monthan, who was killed during an Army pilot training mission in 1924. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson bears Oscar Monthan’s name.

Moore, an Arizona and Stanford alum, was very active in the development of Tucson’s airport. He headed a group that raised funds for the purchase of land which was then south of Tucson.

Reid was another Tucson businessman who along with his wife formed a company that shipped citrus grown in the city nationwide. They also raised palm trees and produced dates.

Condron’s affiliation with prominent Tucson business people helped make the city flourish. The Tucson Daily Citizen complimented Condron in 1928 for his service to the city.

“He has, among other advantages, characteristics, the creative instinct necessary in an originator of practical plans and ideas for civic development; he can capably revise and put on a working basis the ideas and enterprises of others; he has clear vision in pointing out the snares and pitfalls that lie in impractical civic projects, and he is tolerant, patient and diplomatic,” the article reads.

“It is Al who must frequently apply the diplomatic unguent that causes wrinkles of friction and discord to vanish, during, committee meetings. He will even upon occasion lend a courteous and attentive ear while a crank unfolds his pet scheme for increasing Tucson’s population to a million by 1930.”

Condron served as a civil engineer in Tucson for most of his working life before moving to San Diego to be closer to family before his death in 1984. He was 93.

Condron’s grandson Jake Jacobson currently resides in Tucson. He e-mailed me a brief note about Condron delivered to him from a cousin.

“As you know Grandpa Condron played on the UA team,” the cousin writes. “I remember him talking about hurting both his big toes while training for football while wearing ‘tennis slippers’. This may be what we now call the dreaded ‘turf toe’ a common ailment of football players today.”

Something as small as stubbed toes could not keep Condron from making history with the 1914 Arizona football team and helping the development of Tucson into what it is today.

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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