Tuesday, July 23, 2019

University Field

TigerBlog was walking into Jadwin Gym one day last week when he was stopped by a family who asked him how to get to the E Quad.

Giving directions to places that you go to all the time isn't always easy. You can drive on the same roads every day and never notice small things, like, say their names.

Before smartphones came along, giving directions was a pretty big thing. TigerBlog remembers having to regularly call high schools when he first started out in the newspaper business and ask how to get there for whatever game he needed to cover.

For that matter, when he first started at Princeton, the number of phone calls he got looking for directions was pretty high. Now? It's been years since he's gotten one.

Back then, there was a main number for the Office of Athletic Communications that had four options, one of which was directions to Princeton athletic facilities.

As he remembers it, by the way, TigerBlog used to get more than a thousand calls per month on his office phone. These days, most days he doesn't get any.

It's a trade-off, of course.

The ease of getting information is undeniable. So, too, is the result of that, which is a continuing track of less and less human interaction.

TigerBlog used to get a lot of calls that started out something like this:

Caller: Hi, my (son or daughter) plays (fill in the blank sport) for (fill in the blank college) and their team will be playing at Princeton this weekend. Can you give me directions on how to get there?

In most cases, that led to something of a conversation. Nothing serious. Just a quick pleasant chat.

Now? That same person is just entering "Jadwin Gym" or whatever facility into Waze or another app, thereby rendering the conversation unnecessary.

Anyway, giving directions is one of the tasks that long ago vanished. There was a certain charm to it.

Meanwhile, back at the directions to the E Quad, TB told the people to walk up the road next to the football stadium, head up Roper Lane at the top of the stadium and then turn right.

The E Quad - the "E" is for "Engineering" - at one point was University Field, the home of Princeton football.

University Field, in fact, became Princeton's home stadium in 1876. Princeton football began in 1869 with the first game ever played (and the second, a week later, both against Rutgers). By the time 1876 rolled around, Princeton had played nine total games, against four teams.

Who were the four?

Rutgers, of course. And the second team Princeton ever played, Yale. And then Columbia. And then a school that is currently Division III and does not have a football team.


While you contemplate that, the interesting thing about University Field to TigerBlog is that it had seating for 20,000. It seemed like football was taking off almost from the start.

Princeton played only one home game in 1876, against Penn. That was one of four total games that year, along with road games against Yale, Penn and Columbia.

Princeton played four games in 1877 also, which marked the first time that Harvard appeared on the schedule.

By 1881 Princeton was playing a nine-game schedule, a season that included a game against Michigan. By the way, the score of that game was Princeton 1g, 2t, 1s, Michigan 3s.

Goals? Touchdowns? Safeties?

It wasn't until 1883 that games started to have scores that had one number for one team and one number for the other.

Oh, and the answer to the question about the fourth team Princeton had played?
It was Stevens Tech. 

Princeton has had only two other home stadium's since University Field - Palmer Stadium from 1914-1996 and then Powers Field at Princeton Stadium from 1998 through the present.

You may have noticed the one-year gap in 1997 during the construction. For the 1997 season, Princeton played eight road games and had two neutral site games, one at Giants Stadium (which also no longer exists) against Yale and at The College of New Jersey's Lions Stadium against Fordham.

The E Quad, by the way, opened on that spot in 1962.

For 38 years, that spot was the home for Princeton football.

TB wonders what a home game there must have been like.

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