Monday, August 27, 2012

PHOTOS: Pennants and Team Colors of Cuban Football Teams

Here are three images of pennants from the Cuban Athletic Club (CAC), the University of Havana, and the Vedado Tennis Club. The first two are from the letterhead of correspondence between the CAC and University of Havana and US colleges and universities. The last image is from a bond issued by the Vedado Tennis Club.   

Up to the 1920s, the Cuban Athletic Club played the most games against North American teams. Similar to several US football teams, the CAC emulated Princeton University's football team by adopting orange and black as the team colors and "Tigers" as a mascot.

The University of Havana "Caribes" selected red and white.

The Vedado Tennis Club "Marquises" chose blue and white.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stetson vs. Club Atlético de Cuba (1920)

Photo of the Stetson Football team in 1919.  From the 1920 edition of the Oshihiyi
In 1919, Stetson University restarted its football program after a two year hiatus because of the First World War. Under the leadership of head coach Horace "Pug" Allen, the "Hatters"won four games and lost three during the regular season. In December 1919, Coach Allen accepted an invitation to travel to Cuba and play football and basketball games against the Cuban Athletic Club (CAC). 

On December 29, the team took a bus from Deland to Daytona where they boarded a train for Key West. After the short boat ride, the Stetson party arrived in Havana on the morning of December 31 and spent most of the day on a guided tour of the city. According to the yearbook account, the team attempted to go to bed early but the noisy New Year's celebration that included "whistles, guns, fire crackers, and Fords" prevented a restful night's sleep. 
Ticket for a game between Stetson and the Arcadia Flyers (1919).
Stetson won 18-6. From the Stetson University Digital Archives.
On New Year's Day 1920, the Stetson football team lost a game in Havana to the "Tigres" by a score of 6-0. The yearbook account described the encounter as a brutal game with two ambulances and police patrols on the sidelines. After the game, members of the CAC entertained the Stetson party for the rest of the afternoon and into the night. Apparently there were no hard feelings. On January 2, the American Club in Havana hosted a lunch for the players before some of them rode over to Oriental Park for the afternoon horse races. That night, the CAC completely outclassed the Stetson basketball team. Having suffered defeats on both the field and the court, the weary Stetson party began the long trip back home on January 3. 

To sum up their Cuban experience, the author of the yearbook account put it best: 

"The only sad part of it is that we cannot say but two words of that old saying, veni, vedi, vici, but those two words we can say as strong as Caesar, or any one else ever shouted them; we went and we sure did see, even if we did not conquer" (Oshihiyi, 1920, p. 119).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Florida Southern College vs. Club Atlético de Cuba (1915)

Taken from Heraldo de Cuba, Dec. 25, 1915, p. 9.
In the first international football contest in Cuba since the University of Florida's disputed game in 1912, the Cuban Athletic Club (CAC) defeated Southern College (Florida Southern) on Christmas Day 1915 by a score of 7 to 6. According to coverage from Diario de la Marina, the two teams' defenses dominated the scoreless first half. A poor kick-off at the beginning of the second half gave Southern College good field position. They took advantage and scored the first touchdown of the game but missed the extra point attempt. In the fourth quarter, the CAC overcame a few penalties by completing a couple of long passes. These long plays set-up a touchdown run and their go-ahead extra point. Despite this loss, Southern College got their revenge on New Year's Day by destroying the "Tigres" by a score of 47 to 0 in Tampa.

Monday, August 6, 2012

PHOTO: University of Florida's Cuba Trip (1912)

Here's another photo of the Florida football team clowning around on their trip to Cuba.

Taken from The Seminole (1913)

University of Florida's Trip to Cuba (1912)

In December 1912, the University of Florida football team traveled to Cuba to play the Vedado Tennis Club and Club Atlético de Cuba (Cuban Athletic Club or CAC). The Gators demolished the Vedado Tennis Club team on Christmas Day by a score of 27 to 0. They faced the CAC three days later in a game that ended as a Florida forfeit and the arrest of Florida's head coach George E. Pyle. The Gators became "fugitives from justice" when Pyle and the team fled the island after Cuban authorities postponed his case.
University of Florida's only undefeated football team in 1911.
From the University of Florida Digital Archives.
Besides this international incident, Coach Pyle compiled an overall record of 26-7-3 from 1909-1913 at the University of Florida. His tenure included the Gators' only undefeated season (a 5-0-1 record in 1911), the team's largest margin of victory (144-0 win over Florida Southern in 1913), and the first postseason games. The 1912 season also marked the first time the Gators played against Auburn and Georgia Tech (the team's only losses for that season). The Vedado Tennis Club offered the University of Florida's team an "all expenses paid" trip to Havana to play an exhibition game on Christmas Day.

The Vedado Tennis Club. From the University of Miami Digital Archives.

Coach Pyle and the Gators accepted the invitation and began the first leg of the trip by traveling to Tampa on December 20. While in Tampa, the University of Florida destroyed the Tampa Athletic Club in an exhibition by a score of 44 to 0. The following day, the Gators departed Tampa by steamship for Havana. Upon arrival on Christmas Eve, representatives from the Vedado Tennis Club met the Florida team at the harbor, escorted them on a tour of historic sites, and carried them to the Plaza Hotel (Havana's premier hotel at the time). 

Photo of the Vedado Tennis Club football team in 1912. Taken from
the University of Florida vs. Vedado Tennis Club Program (1912).
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Christmas Day, 1,500 spectators, including Cuba's president-elect General Mario García Menocal, crowded into Almendares Park for the game. Aside from the notable play of L. Platt, a former football player at Yale and fullback for Vedado, the Gators dominated the "Marquises," scoring four touchdowns and three extra points and holding Vedado scoreless for a final of 27 to 0. Despite the game's outcome, the members Vedado Tennis Club continued to be gracious hosts to the Florida team, inviting them to parties with members of the highest strata of Cuban society. 

Cartoon from the University of Florida vs.
Vedado Tennis Club program (1912).
On December 28, the Gators met the Cuban Athletic Club's football team at Almendares Park. Similar to the first game against the Vedado Tennis Club, approximately 1,500 spectators attended the game, including Cuban officials such as the mayor of Havana. Considered the Champions of Cuba, the Cuban Athletic Club's team was renowned for defeating Tulane in 1910 and losing a close game against Mississippi A & M in January 1912. In the first half, the University of Florida and the CAC were both scoreless, even though the Gators almost scored two touchdowns. After a close fourth down conversion by the "Tigres," Coach Pyle disputed the play with the referee. The argument led to the Florida coach refusing to continue and the referee responded by awarding the game to the CAC by forfeit. The Cuban police arrest Pyle for violating a law against suspending a ticketed sporting event without finishing it or refunding the spectators. Arguing with referees was not new to the game, but it rarely resulted a head coach's arrest. The game's promoter eventually assumed responsibility for the debacle, but not before Pyle and the Gators hopped a steamer back to Florida. 

While the University of Florida's trip to Cuba had a less than ideal ending, it did cap the most successful stretch of the program's early years and the games they played are among the most interesting ones between U.S. and Cuban teams. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

PHOTO: University of Florida's Cuba Trip (1912)

Here is a photo from the University of Florida football team's trip to Cuba in December 1912. The Gators are practicing on a beach. Notice their fashionable swimwear.

Photo taken from the University of Florida yearbook, The Seminole (1913).
The full post on the games against the Vedado Tennis Club and the Cuban Athletic Club will be up tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

PHOTO: University of Florida vs. Vedado Tennis Club Program (1912)

I am working on a post about the University of Florida football team's trip to Cuba in December 1912. Would anyone be surprised that it ended with the Gators being listed as "fugitives from justice?"

The full story should be up by the weekend. Until then, here's a cover photo of the program for Florida's Christmas Day game against the Vedado Tennis Club.