Thursday, August 22, 2019


TigerBlog received a request from a media outlet yesterday for any pictures he has of the first football game.

This is not the first time this fall this request has been made, and it certainly won't be the last. Not with Princeton's role as one of the two "founding fathers" of the sport of football, along with Rutgers, who played the first game back on Nov. 6, 1869.

The 2019 season is the 150th anniversary season of college football, and since college football predates professional football by more than five decades, it's really the 150th anniversary of the formalization of what is America's most popular sport.

And it started with Princeton and Rutgers.

Princeton didn't have a coach back then. In fact, it would be nearly 30 years before an official coach would be listed.

For those first few years, Princeton was listed as having captains. The captain of the first team was named William Gummere.

If you don't know the name, here's a little bio information on him. First, how old was he when he captained that first Princeton team?

How about 17?

He graduated a year later at the age of 18 and then studied law - in his father's law office. From there he ended up spending nearly 40 years on the New Jersey Supreme Court, the last 32 of which he spent as Chief Justice.

At least that's what it says on Wikipedia, so it must be true, right?

One of the pictures that TB has in a folder entitled "First Football Game" is of Gummere at Princeton. Here is it:
When TB first saw that picture, it made him think of a recently graduated Princeton athlete:

They could be twins, right? Well, maybe not twins, since Gummere died in 1933, or 63 years before his doppelganger was born.

The Princeton athlete, by the way, is former men's lacrosse player Emmet Cordrey, who graduated this past June. Cordrey had a huge senior year, with 30 goals and 19 assists for 49 points, after having 13 points for his career prior to the 2019 season.

Meanwhile, back at Princeton football, today is reporting day for the 2019 team. Included will be individual pictures and filming for the videoboard.

The first practice for the team will be Saturday. Opening day is Sept. 21 against Butler, with kickoff at Princeton Stadium at 5.

This season is noteworthy because of the 150th piece, which is another example of the obsession with round numbers that Fort Wayne sportscaster John Nolan spoke about when he did some work for Princeton. The 2019 Tigers will play a game at Yankee Stadium on Nov. 9 against Dartmouth as part of that 150th celebration. Dartmouth went 9-1 a year ago, with only a 14-9 loss to Princeton in an epic game.

By the way, you can go to (or click HERE) for much more on that game and the whole 150th celebration.

It's always good to be a major part of something this historic, and it's a great opportunity to celebrate the long history of a program that has won 28 national championships and 12 Ivy League titles.

At the same time, there's the matter of the season about to be played. It's still the same 10-game schedule, with the same goal as last year.

The 2018 Tigers went 10-0, as you might recall, giving Princeton its first perfect season in 54 years and its third Ivy League championship in six years. There are big questions for Princeton heading into 2019, such as who will take over for John Lovett, the two-time Bushnell Cup-winning quarterback, and Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted, the touchdown machines at wide receiver. All three of them are currently fighting for NFL roster spots.

Princeton was picked third in the Ivy League preseason poll, behind Yale and Dartmouth. There are some early dates to circle on the schedule, most notably the Oct. 5 home game against Columbia.
Despite probably having the most injuries of any team in the league, the Lions went 6-4 a year ago, tying with Penn and Yale for fourth place, behind Princeton, Dartmouth and Harvard. The Ivy opener between Princeton and Columbia is huge for both.

Of course, that all seemed pretty far away Tuesday night, when Princeton head football coach Bob Surace hosted his annual a-few-days-before-it-all-starts picnic. As with every other year, it was warm, welcoming, fun and laid back, with a ton of food.

That picnic is definitely the calm before the storm.

The rest is about to kick off.

1 comment:

D '82 said...

Besides Cordrey, William Gummere also bears more than a passing resemblance to Chad Kanoff '18 right after the latter has finished his morning shave.