Arizona Football

Arizona “Varsity” departs for fateful game vs. Occidental 100 years ago today

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An article in the L.A. Times published on Nov. 6, 1914, previewing Arizona's monumental game with Occidental. The "Varsity" slept on a train that night before playing the mighty Tigers.

An article in the L.A. Times published on Nov. 6, 1914, previewing Arizona’s monumental game with Occidental. The “Varsity” slept on a train that night before playing the mighty Tigers.

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1914Link

Relive the series on Arizona’s historic 1914 team produced by AllSportsTucson.com’s Javier Morales and Andy Morales. Look for all of the information condensed to book form to Amazon.com’s site soon.

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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.”

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The restored Southern Pacific Railroad Depot downtown, where Arizona had a grand sendoff the day before its historic game with Occidental in 1914 (TucsonDailyPhoto.com picture)

The restored Southern Pacific Railroad Depot downtown, where Arizona had a grand sendoff the day before its historic game with Occidental in 1914 (TucsonDailyPhoto.com picture)

When Arizona prepared for its trip to Los Angeles to face the mighty Occidental Tigers in early November 1914, the Varsity’s program was literally going into the great unknown. Arizona’s previous and only trip to California was in 1905 when it lost to Loyola 55-0 in the program’s first night game.

The Varsity of 1914 had some players that prepped in Los Angeles, including end Albert Condron and tackle Charles Beach, but most of the team had never ventured into California.

Imagine the euphoria around campus when Arizona’s traveling party of 18 players, one coach (J.F. “Pop” McKale) and a student manager (Harry Hobson), gathered at Southern Pacific Depot downtown on Nov. 6, 1914, for their sendoff.

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The 50th anniversary celebration of Arizona's homecoming game in 1964 commemorating the 1914 football team that earned the school its "Wildcats" nickname.

The 50th anniversary celebration of Arizona’s homecoming game in 1964 commemorating the 1914 football team that earned the school its “Wildcats” nickname (Arizona Desert yearbook photo).

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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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“Yes, it was some enthusiastic crowd that morning,” the 1914-15 Arizona Desert Yearbook reads. “Everybody was making speeches. Faculty members joined with students in serpentines and yells. Everyone was smiling and happy through and through. Thus were (they) sent on their conquest, every man willing to tear up at least two Tigers.”

Arizona’s traveling party for the Oxy game was determined by McKale after the Varsity completed a scrimmage between freshmen and sophomores and two practice games against the Douglas Y.M.C.A. and Tempe Normal (now ASU). The “Red and Blue”, as they were called, gathered their best to face the challenge against the Tigers, who were unbeaten in the previous two seasons, including a 27-0 drubbing of Arizona in Tucson in 1913.

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An article in the Los Angeles Times that reports on Arizona's arrival for the game with Occidental on Nov. 7, 1914

An article in the Los Angeles Times that reports on Arizona’s arrival for the game with Occidental on Nov. 7, 1914

“Yes, it was some enthusiastic crowd that morning. Everybody was making speeches. Faculty members joined with students in serpentines and yells. Everyone was smiling and happy through and through. Thus were (they) sent on their conquest, every man willing to tear up at least two Tigers.”
— 1914-15 Arizona Desert yearbook detailing Arizona’s sendoff from Tucson on Nov. 6, 1914, to Los Angeles to face Occidental

The approximate nine-hour train ride included a stop in Yuma, where they were met by a throng of fans at the train station there. They gathered to welcome former Yuma high school standouts Orville McPherson and Emzy “Swede” Lynch.

The Desert Yearbook describes the train ride as festive with McKale addressing the Varsity and the team’s “famous comedians” keeping the group loose.

A postcard of the Southern Pacific railroad station in Yuma Arizona passed through en route to play Occidental in Los Angeles (photo was taken circa 1910)

A postcard of the Southern Pacific railroad station in Yuma Arizona passed through en route to play Occidental in Los Angeles (photo was taken circa 1910)

“The time had quickly passed, for the squad was in good spirits and much entertainment was afforded by the famous comedians, Coach, (quarterback Richard) Meyer and Mysterious Louie (halfback Franklin Luis).”

Arizona’s train reportedly arrived at the Arcade Station near downtown Los Angeles at approximately 5:30 p.m. The players remained around Arcade Station that evening and slept on the train that brought them to Los Angeles.

They probably read a short report in the Los Angeles Times about their arrival.

“The University of Arizona eleven will arrive tonight,” the Times story stated. “They will not bother looking up a hotel, but will sleep in their berths on side track. There is no way of telling their strength.”

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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