The Games

They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): Varsity’s busy pregame preparation against Occidental includes reading letters from co-eds

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The front page of the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 7, 1914, the day Arizona's Varsity became the "Wildcats"

The front page of the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 7, 1914, the day Arizona’s Varsity became the “Wildcats”

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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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An early 1900s picture of Los Angeles' Arcade Station, where Arizona's train stopped for its game with Occidental in 1914 (USC photo)

An early 1900s picture of Los Angeles’ Arcade Station, where Arizona’s train stopped for its game with Occidental in 1914 (USC photo)

Arizona coach J.F. “Pop” McKale and his Varsity awoke in their train to beautiful conditions near downtown Los Angeles the morning of their historic game with Occidental on Nov. 7, 1914.

No precipitation was in the air for the entire day. The high temperature was an unseasonably warm 82 degrees. When Arizona’s contingent awoke at the Arcade Station it was likely in the high 60s.

If they paid the 5 cents for the Los Angeles Times that morning they learned that the United States’ public debt was $2.7 billion, down from $2.8 billion the month before. A headline at the top of the front page of the Times that day: “Public debt of America: It’s mighty close to three billions, but who cares?”

The developments pertaining to World War I includes positive news of Japanese and British forces overwhelming the Germans into surrendering their Tsing-tao fortress in China.

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THE LAST WEEK IN THE SERIES:

No. 10: Enthusiastic Varsity travels to Los Angeles to face Occidental
No. 11: Tribute to 1914 team members in lingo of that generation
No. 12: 1914 team member Condron one of Tucson’s historic developers
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

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A six-paragraph preview of Arizona’s game with Occidental was published on the front page of the Times’ sports section. “Arizona vows vengeance on Occidental Tigers,” the headline reads, referring to the Varsity’s 28-0 drubbing by Oxy the year before in Tucson.

“The (Arizona) players are reported to be in excellent condition. They have made this their game of games. Every effort, every move, every play has been made with the sole purpose of defeating the Occidental Tigers. If they are not in condition, it is not because they have not tried to round into shape. There is blood on the moon in Arizona. Ever since the Tigers stepped off at Tucson last year and defeated its varsity 28-0 the university has vowed vengeance. Every Oxy man who went to Arizona last summer heard nothing but threats.”


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

Thursday, Aug. 20, 1914

Pope Pius X passes away from a year-long bout of complications following a heart attack. Reports indicate the outbreak of World War I affected his health condition because of his emotional state. Shortly after his passing, his sister Anna dies after fainting by his side. She knelt beside him when he passed away and assisted in the effort of taking him from the death chamber. She fell to the ground, developed an extremely high fever and did not recover.

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The Arizona-Occidental preview in the Los Angeles Times on the day of their game on Nov. 7, 1914

The Arizona-Occidental preview in the Los Angeles Times on the day of their game on Nov. 7, 1914

Albert Condron, a tackle on Arizona’s team, was also an editor with the Desert Yearbook staff that school year (1914-15). When the Varsity left Tucson on Nov. 6, 1914, he wrote that they were sent on their “conquest” with “every man willing to tear up at least two Tigers.”

Condron writes about Arizona meeting with Occidental on a “battlefield” that day.

“Our journey had brought us safely to our battlefield and we were greeted by a beautiful California day,” Condron writes. “The squad felt none the
worse for the trip and all urged Manager (Harry) Hobson to transport us to our breakfast. After this feed we wandered up town to await the Occidental Reception Committee, to be taken on a short spin around the city, and finally to be landed at the field. Here we left our equipment and gave the manager another chance to feed the hungry mob.”

The game was scheduled at 3 p.m. at Occidental’s Baer Field. McKale and his team got the most of that day beforehand. The agenda included reading motivational letters from Arizona’s student body, most of which were written by the female students. Much to its surprise, the Varsity was also met by a strong contingent of Arizona fans.

“After lunch the squad went to the training quarters, donned suits and received from the Coach the last instructions, after which ‘greetings’ from the girls at home were passed out and read,” Condron writes. “It was now drawing near the ‘hour’ and eleven Arizona Wild Cats tore out upon the field amid the cheers from a big crowd of Arizona rooters, organized and led by our special yell leader, Peterson.”

George S. Peterson was an Arizona freshman who attended high school in Yuma with the Varsity’s Emzy Lynch and Orville McPherson.

In the program’s second trip to California (the first and only previously was in 1905), Arizona was greeted by a large group of its own fans. Occidental was introduced to the Red and Blue’s pride as kickoff neared. McKale’s motivated men were ready.

Tomorrow: Just how tough are these Occidental Tigers?

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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