Original Document
Original Document
Pennsylvania's "Big Four" professional football teams, 1900.

"College Men Playing for Money on Pittsburg's 'Big Four.' KEEN RIVALRY AND GOOD GAMES, Five "'All-American' Players on Homestead Team Which Won Most Honors – Latrobe and Duquesne Follow."

Professional football has been tried in many sections of the country, but has been made to pay only in the vicinity of Pittsburg in this state. When the big college teams refused to meet athletic elevens interest fell off in professional football and most of the teams were forced to disband. The season just past has furnished a surprise in Western Pennsylvania, for there a number of teams have been developed which in point of strength and rivalry are second to none outside of the "big four." Elevens, the personnel of which includes the stars of the college world, together with local talent, were formed and maintained, playing a regular schedule and giving to thousands an opportunity of witnessing some of the greatest contests of the year.

This "Big Four," as the teams are termed by the Pittsburg press, consists of Homestead, Duquesne, Latrobe and Greensburg. All of these teams are situated in or near Pittsburg. Latrobe is the farthest away, being forty miles from Pittsburg. Greensburg is only thirty miles from Pittsburg and ten miles from Latrobe. Both of these towns are in Westmoreland County, and the rivalry for the county championship is almost as great as for first place. The homestead team is located at the town bearing that name, just outside of Pittsburg, and Duquesne is the city club.

Professional football has flourished in this part of the country with varied success for many years, but never before with such success as has attended this season. The four teams have been ably coached by some of the best college players, and the games have been unusually close and exciting. Not only is there local rivalry between these teams, but there is also a rivalry resembling that among colleges. This is easily accounted for, since the players come from different institutions, and it is but natural that they should retain some of their old college spirit. These teams are supported by the gate receipts, and if conditions are favorable the scheme is a paying one. Nine thousand people witnessed the game between Homestead and Duquesne on Election day at Exposition Park, Pittsburg, and on Thanksgiving day the Steel Works Park, at Homestead, where the Latrobe-Greensburg game was played, was jammed, every seat being taken and standing room being at a premium. About 7000 people witnessed the game and 2000 were turned away.

The most interesting team of this section of the country is the "all star" aggregation at Homestead. This team includes five college players, who have been chosen on the all-America teams. These are Overfield, of Pennsylvania; Church, of Princeton; Hall, of Yale; Poe, of Princeton, and Brooke, of Pennsylvania. The other members of this star team were the equals of these men, and include Bemmis Pierce, of Carlisle; Fultz, Gammons and Richardson, the famous backs from Brown University; Young, of Cornell; Miller, of Carlisle; Lawler, formerly a Duquesne player; Lewis, of Columbian University, at Washington; McNulty, of Ohio University; Wagonhurst, of Pennsylvania, and Farr and Winstein, local men. The latter is perhaps the most famous of this galaxy of players. He is an enormous man, weighing 230 pounds, although only 5 feet 8 inches tall and is as strong as an ox. He is a fearless player and one of Homestead's surest ground gainers. Homestead won the championship of this part of the country, with /Latrobe and Duquesne tied for second honors. Homesteads was scored on but once throughout the season. In the first game with Greensburg. Hutchinson, formerly the star Princeton quarter-back, kicked a field goal in this game.

The result of the games between the big four was as follows: October 13 – Duquesne, 12; Latrobe, 0. October 20 – Homestead, 6; Greensburg, 5. October 27 – Latrobe, 6; Greensburg, 0. November 3 – Duquesne, 24; Greensburg, 0. November 6 – Homestead, 12; Duquesne, 0. November 10 – Latrobe, 5; Duquesne, 0. November 10 – Homestead, 12; Greensburg, 0. November 17 – Latrobe 11; Greensburg, 0. November 29 – Homestead, 12; Latrobe, 0.

It will be seen that Homestead was easily the champion team, while Latrobe and Duquesne each won one game in their two contests, and each defeated Greensburg twice and were in turn defeated by Homestead.

The Latrobe team is one of interest to Philadelphians, since there were six members of that team from this city. They are Merriam, Geiger and Kennedy, of the University of Pennsylvania; Bader and Smith, who formerly played on the Riverton team, and /Maxwell, a Bryn Mawr boy, who last year played half-back on the State College eleven. The Latrobe team, whose colors are Red and Blue, are thorough believers in guards back. Coached by Knight, of Lafayette, and Kennedy, of Pennsylvania, they played Woodruff's style of game almost entirely. The other members of the team were Hammer, of Washington and Jefferson; Warren, of Carlisle; Trenchard, of Princeton; Lang, of Susquehanna University; Yeager, of [the] University of West Virginia; Barney, of Iowa University; Cummings, of Georgetown; Shannon, of Grove City College and Ryan, captain; McDyer, Fightener, Saxman and Abbattichio, local men. The latter is the baseball player who for a time played with the Phillies. He is a good full-back. Trenchard is the only all-American man of this team.

The Duquesne team, coached by Jackson, the former Pennsylvania half-back, put up a fast article of football. Injuries to several of their best men caused a slump during which they suffered their two defeats at the hands of [the] Homestead and Latrobe teams. Besides Jackson there were three old Pennsylvania stars on this team. They were Hedges, Gelbert and Uffenhelmer. The other members of the football squad were Hudson, of Carlisle; Comerford, of Harvard; Pierson, of Cornell; Smith, of Brown; Rayl, of Cincinnati University; Pratt, of Brown; Kiefer, of Yale; Nieman, of Cincinnati University; Roller, of Purdue; Fiscus, of Indiana State University;, and Bruff and Steen, local men.

The Greensburg team was made up chiefly of Western players, coached by Hutchinson, of Princeton, and they played strictly Princeton formations. The only All-America man of this team was Seneca, the Carlisle half-back. The other members of the team were Steckle, captain and tackle, of last year's University of Michigan team; Slegmund and Carr, of the same institution; Studebaker, of Notre Dame; Hanley, of Purdue; Duvall, of Cornell; Theurer, of W. and J., and Thomas and Lantz, local men. There was no reason why this aggregation should not have played winning ball had they been properly coached. This team disbanded a week before the close of the season and was the only team which lost money.

Compared with the big college elevens these teams rank among the leading teams of the country. Several of the minor colleges were played and defeated by overwhelming scores. Homestead defeated Lehigh 50to 0. Duquesne defeated Bucknell and State College 29 to 0, and Washington and Jefferson, who had tied Carlisle, 10 to 2. These scores are larger than the scores made by the big college teams against the same elevens. It is very doubtful, however, if any of these teams would have defeated any of the big teams. Homestead, for instance, with Church and Fultz as coaches, did not develop fast play. While the[y] were individually a fine class of players, there was not the feeling of unity and play together which makes a first class college team. Penn could have defeated any of these teams.

It is a noticeable fact that many of the college players have improved since their graduation. Gammons played a fair game at Brown, but now is a star player at Homestead. Richardson, of the same university, who played at half and full-back, has been developed into a quarter-back, where he plays steady game. There was a wealth of good quarter-backs among the eWstern [sic] Pennsylvania teams. They included Pratt, captain and quarter of last year's Brown team, who played with Duquesne; Hudson, last year's Carlisle captain and quarter-back, who was with the same team; George Young, quarter of Cornell's '97 eleven, and Richardson, at Homestead, and Hutchinson, Princeton, at Greensburg, and Kennedy, of last year's Pennsylvania team, at Latrobe.

Marcus Saxman, a member of the Latrobe team, has been playing football for fourteen years and is still a lively player. He is one of Latrobe's best backers and will probably be on the team for years to come. He is a graduate of Swarthmore, where he used to play against Penn in the days when Swarthmore could easily defeat the Red and Blue.

Credit: Philadelphia Record, December 3, 1900.
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