Wednesday, June 19, 2013

University of Alabama "B" Team vs. University of Havana (1946)

Ad from the Dothan Eagle, Sept. 22, 1946, p.18.
The date was wrong in the ad.
On November 9, 1946, the University of Alabama "B" Team hosted the University of Havana in Dothan, AL. The "Crimson Ripple" easily defeated the "Caribes" by a score of 53-18. I wrote a piece that was posted on www.rollbamaroll.com about a year ago.

Here is a link to the story:
http://www.rollbamaroll.com/2012/7/12/3154638/alabama-havana-1946

Friday, May 31, 2013

Games Held in Cuba, December 1939

Headline from the Havana Post, Dec. 10, 1939, p. 7.
As mentioned in the previous post, Georgia Teachers College played a game against the University of Havana in Cuba on December 9, 1939. This game marked the first of several played during holiday season between American and Cuban teams. The Rollins College "Tars" and the University of Tampa "Spartans" challenged the University of Havana "Caribes" at their home stadium. Rollins and Tampa also played a rematch while in Cuba. 
Headline from the Havana Post, Dec. 24, 1939, p. 11.
In the second contest of the year between Rollins College and the University of Havana, the Tars maintained their dominance by shutting-out the Caribes again, this time by a score of 71-0. Held on December 23, the one-sided game was played at night before about 3,000 spectators. Rollins scored practically at will. A touchdown run made by Rollins's substitutes in the second half stole the show. Their amazing display spanned 94-yards and included six laterals.
Headline from the Havana Post, Dec. 28, 1939, p. 7.
On December 27, Rollins College and the University of Tampa played a rematch at the University of Havana's stadium. In their first encounter on November 17, the Tars destroyed the Spartans by a score of 46-0. The Tampa Eleven wanted to prevent another shut-out in Cuba. Accounts of the game from the Havana Post and the Tampa Daily Times describe the game as a "roughly-played contest" including fist fights between players on the field and fans in the stands. Fred Manucy, right guard for the Spartans, was ejected for fighting with a Rollins player. Despite the closer margin, the Tars controlled the game by outscoring the University of Tampa 26 to 7 in the first three quarters. The victory capped a successful year for Rollins, ending the year with a record of 10 wins and 1 loss to the University of Miami Hurricanes.
Headline from the Havana Post, Dec. 31, 1939, p. 7.
The games between American and Cuban teams in December 1939 concluded with a match between the University of Tampa and the University of Havana on December 30. Played in the drizzling rain in front of a crowd of about 3,000 spectators, the game remained tight with the Spartans taking a 16-6 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Tampa team extended their lead by two more touchdowns, ending the game with a 28 to 6 win.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Georgia Teachers College (Georgia Southern University) vs. University of Havana (1939)

Photo of the 1939 team from The Reflector, p. 102.
[Seated: Hall, Ellison, Cox, Joyner, Anglin, Rountree, Reiser, Waller; Kneeling:
Morrison, Cason, Morgan, Dunn, Barnes, Davis, Mize, Robertson; Standing: Moss,
Coach London, Horne, Hammill, Langley, Paschal, McGowan, Pafford, Smith, Coach Smith]
In the fall of 1939, the football team from Georgia Teachers College won two games against the University of Havana. Located in Statesboro, GA, Georgia Teachers College (GTC) changed names several times over the years to reflect the school's maturation from the First District A&M School in 1906 to Georgia Southern University in 1990. The Stateboro school's first football program competed from 1924 to 1941. Its intercollegiate sports teams called themselves the "teachers" or the "professors," nicknames that referenced the institution's primary focus as a "teacher college." The athletic teams were also identified by other mascots and nicknames at various times, such as the "Culture," the "Aggies," and the "Blue Tide." Byron L. "Crook" Smith coached football and basketball at GTC from 1929 to 1941. The 1932 season produced the best results with his team going 7-3, but the 1939 season marked the school's first international contests and ended with a trip to Havana.       
The George-Ann, Oct. 25, 1939, p. 3.
In October of 1939, Georgia Teachers College played a football game against the University of Havana in Statesboro, GA. The actual date is hard to find, but it occurred roughly between October 11 and October 14. As the headline notes, the Teachers won 14-0. The account of the game from the GTC student newspaper describes the game as being hard fought. The Caribes threatened to score on several occasions but the Teachers' line held firm. GTC's two touchdowns came in the second and third quarters. The first resulted from a short run by quarterback Rountree and the other from a 25-yard halfback pass from Cox to Parker. Despite the intensity of the close game, both sides displayed good sportsmanship. 
The George-Ann, Dec. 18, 1939, p. 3.
In December of 1939, the Georgia Teachers College football team traveled to Cuba for a rematch against the University of Havana. On December 9, the Caribes hosted the Teachers at their home stadium. Similar to the first contest, the first half ended with the Teachers leading 7-0. GTC scored their first touchdown on a wild play that included a pass from Rountree to Parker and then a lateral to right tackle Pafford. The Teachers broke the game open in the third quarter, adding a touchdown from a blocked punt and another from a 5-yard run by Ellison. Both teams scored touchdowns in the final quarter, the Teachers with a 15-yard pass from Rountree to Morgan and the Caribes scored in the closing minutes of the game.

Despite the positive momentum from the 1939 season, the football program ended in 1941. GTC president Marvin S. Pittman suspended all intercollegiate sports that year because of the United States' entry into World War II. After the war, most sports programs restarted, but the college football was not played in Statesboro again until 1981.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PHOTOS: Rollins College vs. University of Havana (1939)

Several U.S. teams played the University of Havana during the 1939 season. Rollins College played two games against the Caribes, once in Orlando and again after the season in Cuba. While researching, I came across a promotional card with the Rollins football schedule on the back.
Front of the promotional card.
Rollins College Archives and Special Collections.
Back of the promotional card.
Rollins College Archives and Special Collections.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rollins College vs. la Marina de Guerra Constitucional (Cuban Navy) (1938)

Photo of the gameday program's cover, 1937-1938.
Rollins College, Olin Library, Special Collections and Archives.
The photo above is the cover of a twenty-two page program for an American football game between Rollins College and la Marina de Guerra Constitucional (Cuban Navy). The game was scheduled for January 2, 1938, in Havana, Cuba, but a tragedy prevented it from being played. On December 29, 1937, three Cuban Naval airplanes crashed in Colombia while on a goodwill tour. The Rollins College football team arrived in Havana the following day and agreed with Cuban officials to cancel their game out of respect for the lost airmen. 
Photo of the rosters from the gameday program, 1937-1938.
Rollins College, Olin Library, Special Collections and Archives.
Unable to secure a replacement, Rollins coach Jack McDowall split his squad into two teams, one called “Rollins College” and the other “Cuban Navy,” and played an exhibition game that ended in a 26-26 tie. Similar to other American football teams that visited Cuba for a game, the Rollins football party visited popular tourist sites and attractions in Havana, such as the Capitol building, Morro Castle, the Prado, and a jai-alai match.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PHOTO: Havana Post Editorial Cartoon (December, 1937)

Appeared in the Havana Post, Dec. 18, 1937, p. 7.
Revised photo courtesy of C. J. Schexnayder.
This editorial cartoon appeared in the Havana Post on December 18, 1937. As you can see, it criticizes North American bowl games for being too commercial, with the players being exploited by colleges for large paydays. By contrast, the exhibition game played by Auburn and Villanova in Havana on New Year's Day of 1937 and the game planned between Rollins College and the Cuban Navy for January 1, 1938, were more in keeping with the amateur ideal.

Next time you come across a sportswriter's condemnation of the money involved or the exploitive nature of the bowl system, remember similar arguments have been around as long as bowl games existed (even in a transnational context). 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn) vs. Villanova College (1937)

Cover of the Cuban National Sport Festival Program, 1936-37.
On New Year's Day 1937, Auburn and Villanova played to a 7-7 tie in the closing game of the Cuban National Sports Festival. It was the first post-season game for both schools and the first attempt to stage a large-scale college football game between two North American teams in Cuba. The game, later labeled the "Bacardi Bowl," did not become an annual event, but it was intended to compete with the Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Cotton Bowls. Many Cuban football enthusiasts hoped a Cuban team would participate in the game in the future, creating an annual U.S./Cuban match-up.

In the fall of 1936, Carlos L. Henríquez, Jr., the Cuban Commissioner of Sports, organized an international sports festival to be held in Havana, Cuba, from December 26 to January 2, 1937. The festival included basketball, boxing, and tennis tournaments, a swim meet, athletic exhibitions, and two American football games opened and closed the event.

Villanova and Auburn captains, Tony Sala and Walter Gilbert,
shake hands before the game, 1937.
Columbia University, Henríquez's Alma Mater, participated in the basketball tournament along with Louisiana State, Club Atlético de Cuba, and National Autonomous University of Mexico. Amateur fighters from Hearst All-America, Miami A.A.U., Cuba, Panama, and Mexico competed in the boxing tournament. North American tennis players, such as Ray Thomas and Bobby Malloy, competed against the Cuban and Mexican Davis Cup Teams for the "America's Cup." A few athletic exhibitions were held: 1936 Olympic star Jesse Owens raced against a horse in a 100-meter dash, a mixed boxing/wrestling match pitted George Godfrey (an African American boxer) against Jack Sherry (wrestler), and a jai alai match. The Cuban professional baseball championship game between Almendares and Havana was also played.

Action photo taken during the Auburn-Villanova game, 1937.
Villanova punt forced to punt, 1937.
On December 26, the Cuban National Sports Festival opened with an football game between Club Atlético de Cuba (CAC) and the Cuban Navy at Tropical Stadium. The CAC won 7-6 but the highlight of the game was Jesse Owens defeating a horse in a 100-meter dash. Owens had a 40-yard head start and won by a 15-yard margin.  

Both Auburn and Villanova arrived in Havana on December 27. Even though the two schools had never met on the field, Auburn's head coach Jack Meagher and Villanova's head coach Maurice "Clipper" Smith were familiar with one another. In 1933, Smith's Santa Clara squad defeated Meagher's team at Rice, 13-0. Despite the head-to-head edge, Smith's respect for Meagher is apparent when he said, "Well, Jack Meagher is a Notre Dame man, so their attack is somewhat like ours; and they certainly seem to be a very alert, aggressive club," and, "They play a hard, tricky game and should give us all the opposition we'd ever need" (Villanovan, Dec. 15, 1936, p. 6-7).

Auburn team photo 1936. Glomerata, Vol. 40, 1937, p. 180. 
On January 1, in front of a crowd of about 9,000 spectators at Tropical Stadium, Auburn and Villanova met for the first and only "Bacardi Bowl." Auburn halfback Billy Hitchcock, brother of Auburn's first All-American Jimmy Hitchcock and future major league baseball player and manager, scored the first touchdown of the game on a 40-yard run in the first quarter. Auburn converted the extra-point and led the game 7-0. In the second, third, and most of the fourth quarter, the two defenses controlled the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Matty Kuber of Villanova blocked an Auburn punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Villanova's Bill Christopher kicked the extra-point to tie the game, 7-7. Although this meaning ended in a stalemate, it became the first of a series of games played between Auburn and Villanova. From 1937-1942, the two schools played seven times with Auburn holding an 4-1-2 edge in the series.