Thursday, November 12, 2009

Programs. Get Your Programs.

Yale is at Princeton Saturday in football. As with every other home game, we here at TigerBlog HQ were responsible for making the game program.

These days, with the advances in technology (and more importantly, the presence of Princeton football contact Craig Sachson), the game program is not quite an arduous task.

That was hardly the case 10-15 years ago, when producing the football game program was by far the most time-consuming, labor-intensive project here at HQ. It usually took the entire staff well past midnight on Monday nights in advance of a Tuesday noon deadline, and TigerBlog still has nightmares about writing, editing, laying out, coming up with headlines and everything else.

And this was before there was a TV here at HQ, which meant that we usually missed all of Monday Night Football. Ask anyone who worked here at HQ during that time, and they'll concur.

Of course, if the Princeton Athletic News in the 1990s was tough, imagine what must have gone into the game program from, say, 1908? Oh wait, we don't have to imagine, because while cleaning out a closet here at HQ, someone stumbled upon the Princeton-Yale game program from the 1908 game.

The game was played on Nov. 14, 1908, or just about 101 years ago. Extra credit to those who can instantly name who the President of the United States was at the time and how many states there were (answers are two paragraphs below).

The 1908 Princeton-Yale game predated Palmer Stadium by six years and was played on University Field, which sits where the engineering quad is now located. Unlike the program for this Saturday's game, which is free, the one in 1908 cost $1. How many places can you find something that you can get today that is cheaper than the same product in 1908? Not many.

Oh, and the answers to the questions. Theodore Roosevelt was the President of the United States on Nov. 14, 1908, though 11 days earlier, William Howard Taft had been elected as Roosevelt's successor after Roosevelt had decided not to seek a third term. And there were 46 United States (29 of whom went for Taft in the election; the remaining 17 went for William Jennings Bryan); Arizona and New Mexico were four years from statehood, while Alaska and Hawaii were several decades away.

As for the game program from 1908, it's not all that much different than the one for 2009 in some ways and radically different in others.

Let's start with the similarities. Both have rosters and pictures of administrators and campus scenes for both schools. There is a picture of Lake Carnegie in the 1908 program that looks like it could have been taken yesterday.

There is information specific to the game in each, with starters, all-time records, series history and general information in the 1908 program and game notes, records and such in the current one.

On the other hand, the 1908 one is in the shape of a football, complete with laces and a leather cover. The current program is 64 pages (down from 80 a year ago); the 1908 one is 116.

There are plenty of ads in both, proving that corporate sponsorship was around long before the 1990s. The ads in the 1908 program are overwhelmingly for New York businesses, an indication that many who attended games back then came by train from the city. There are also ads for rudimentary cars and accessories, including a revolutionary product called the "spare tire."

Modern products advertising in 1908 include Gillette razors ("It affords a clean, satisfying shave on any face or any skin, whether freshman, soph, junior, senior or alumnus."), Buick, Met Life, Spalding and Brooks Brothers.

There are three current Princeton-area businesses who advertised in the 1908 program that still exist today, two of which are current sponsors: the Nassau Inn and the Princeton U-Store. The third is Kopp's Cycle Shop; hey, Kopp's, come back to the fold.

There are advertisements for whiskey and beer, as well as tobacco. There are many ads for women's clothes and other women's products, which is interesting in that TigerBlog didn't realize that women attended the games in big numbers.

There's also an ad for the Royal Typewriter Company, which advertises its new standard typewriter for $65. That seems like a lot for 1908, no?

The 1908 program features the rules of football for the day, many of which are the same as now and several of which are different. For starters, games were played in two 35-minute halves for a total of 70 minutes, something TigerBlog did not know. There is also a scorecard, which enables fans to track touchdowns, goals and goals kicked from the field.

The diagram of the field on page 53 shows two goals, a field 110 yards long, and lines that divide the field with what today are the yard lines every five yards from end zone to end zone, as well as another line that divides the field every 16 feet sideline to sideline, a design from which the term "gridiron" emerged.

From an interesting political standpoint, the 1908 program features a picture of Roosevelt, Taft (a Yale alum) and Woodrow Wilson (then the Princeton president). Interestingly, those three would run against each other for President of the United States in the next election, in 1912. Wilson would win.

The 1908 Princeton-Yale game was won by Yale 11-6 on a cold, icy, snowy day. Legend has it that Yale's top back, Ted Coy, yelled before one play "to hell with the signals; give me the ball."

As for the program, TigerBlog can't help but wonder who produced it, how they produced it, how expensive it was, how it was delivered from the printer to the stadium, how many were printed, how long it took to produce and everything else that went into it. Those are, by the way, the same issues that we still deal with here at HQ in regards to game programs.

It's fascinating to find something that old in such great condition. It makes TB wish we had a museum for Princeton athletic artifacts. Who knows, maybe one day we will.

It's easy to forget that we're just passing through here, even those of us who have been here a long time and will probably be here for a long time to come. But that's years and decades.

The lost - and then found - 1908 game program is a reminder that Princeton has been doing this for a long, long time. Times have changed. Methods have changed. Some things are completely different. Others, like some of the sponsors, are still the same.

And 101 years from now? TigerBlog will be long gone. Princeton athletics will probably still be here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many Princeton athletic artifacts were lost in the fire which destroyed Dillon Gym in the early 1940s. However, a few items survived, some on display in the Dillon lobby while others now reside in the University Archives in Seeley Mudd Library, opposite the Computer Science Building and adjacent to Sherrerd Hall.