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).

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