When the Mansfield All-Collegians Welcomed Heidelberg

Football was still in its infancy in Mansfield 120 years ago when a group of college alumni set forth to host a game for the enjoyment of local residents.  Mansfield High had only had a team for three years by this time and the local YMCA played games when given the opportunity over the previous ten years.  On the national stage, it had only been 25 years since the original rules for American football were written. The sport was still four years away from President Teddy Roosevelt’s efforts to “minimalize the danger” of the game after the 1905 college season, which resulted in 19 player deaths and 137 serious injuries.[1]  Many may have been hoping for more of a spectacle than an enjoyable day at the game.

From the Shelby News, 13 December 1894

1897 Football Team, The Ohio State University, from the 1898 Makio.

Wellington Leonard spearheaded the effort to get a team to Mansfield for a Thanksgiving Day match-up.  Leonard, along with fellow gridder Charles Benedict, had the distinction of playing on the worst Ohio State team ever. The 1897 team went 1-7-1.[2]  Leonard first attempted to get Mt. Union’s eleven to Mansfield for a contest.  The Mt. Union team demanded a $50 guarantee and paid expenses to come to Mansfield.[3] The guarantee proved to be too much and Leonard contacted Heidelberg College who would accept the offer and make the trip to Mansfield.[4]  This was not the first time a Mansfield eleven squared off against Heidelberg. In 1892 a team from the Mansfield YMCA sent their best to Tiffin to play Heidelberg in the college’s first season.  Many in Mansfield expected the local boys to be slaughtered,[5] but Mansfield prevailed winning 10-6.[6]  Heidelberg would get revenge in 1893, beating Mansfield 36-10.[7]

Wellington Leonard and Charles Benedict

The weather was nearly perfect for the game and a “foot ball parade around town” proceed the contest.  The players and fans rode carriages, the wailing of tin horns was heard, and the colors of both teams were on display, red for Mansfield.  At 2:30 nearly 1000 fans assembled at baseball grounds after paying their admission, .50 for men and .25 for women and children, and watched one the best exhibitions of the sport Mansfield had seen to date.  Prior to the game,0 Heidelberg was 2-to-1 favorites and it was understood that a considerable amount of money changed hands.[8]

The starting eleven for the Mansfield All-Collegians was University of Wisconsin Alum, F. W. Oleson at left end; Thomas Hall, a Cornell man, at left tackle; George Hall at left guard, it’s unclear if the two were related; University of Pennsylvania alum, James H. Waganhurst at center; Frank Voegele at right guard; Elmer Fitch, who played on the Oberlin and Cornell teams, at right tackle; another Oberlin man and possibly the best athlete on the field, Howard Twitchell at right end; captain, Walter Floyd at quarterback; Charles Benedict started at left halfback next to his brother, Dr. LeRoy Benedict, at right halfback; and finally, Wellington Leonard filled in at fullback.[9]

Elmer Fitch at Oberlin College

The first twenty-minute half was hard fought.  Dr. Benedict ran hard, carrying the ball down to Heidelberg’s 25-yard line on one play. On the following play, Mansfield fumbled and Heidelberg picked the ball up and “ran like the wind for the Mansfield goal.”  The fleet-footed Twitchell gave chase and made a spectacular tackle, saving a touchdown.  Mansfield made another push for Heidelberg’s goal line but fumbled again.  When the first half finished tied at 0-0, “Dr. Benedict had suffered several knockouts and one or two other men were slightly cut in the face and bruised.” Benedict, “pluckily decided to remain in the game.”

Before the second half started, the better-conditioned Heidelberg team tried to get the Mansfield men to play a thirty-minute half instead of twenty.  Mansfield declined and the game resumed.  Mansfield took a different approach in the second half. Instead of running around the end, they utilized their size advantage and drove the ball right up the middle.  The Mansfield News reported that it appeared the Mansfield men were playing as if they were back in college.  Dr. Benedict was again injured and had to be carried off the field. Oleson took his place in the backfield and Vivian Abernathy, the Mansfield High football coach in 1901, took Oleson’s spot.  Just as time expired, Mansfield pushed the ball over the Heidelberg goal line, earning them 5 points and the game,[10] but there may have been some disagreement as the official Heidelberg records list the result as a 0-0 tie.[11]  When the game ended, Dr. Benedict recovered enough to be able to walk to the street cars and Mansfield fans celebrated one of the finest games they had ever seen.


Sources:

  1. https://www.history.com/news/how-teddy-roosevelt-saved-football
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ohio_State_Buckeyes_football_seasons
  3. 25OCT1901p3
  4. 16NOV191p2
  5. 04DEC1892p8MDS_YmcaVHeidelberg
  6. 08DEC1892p5_1MDS
  7. https://www.bergathletics.com/documents/2020/1/9/Football_Record_Book.pdf
  8. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 29 November 1901.
  9. ibid.
  10. ibid.
  11. https://www.bergathletics.com/documents/2020/1/9/Football_Record_Book.pdf
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The Ninth Grade City Football Championship

October 26, 1949 program for Appleseed v. Simpson (Sherman Room Archives)

Starting in 1940, with the opening of Johnny Appleseed and the new John Simpson Junior High Schools, an annual football battle would be fought by the ninth grade teams to determine the city champion. These games were immensely popular with over 6,000 fans watching in the late 1940s after the construction of Arlin Field. These games would be complete with cheerleaders, majorettes and marching bands for each school. For twenty years these two schools battled for the title of city’s best, with Simpson taking the advantage 13-8 between the years 1940-1960. In 1961 a new school entered the race, John Sherman. Simpson would repeat as Champion that year and a three-way tie would be the result in 1962. In 1963 John Sherman won its only championship. Johnny Appleseed would be the team to beat in the late 1960s and early 1970s before the championship came to an end with the reorganization of the schools when the ninth grade began attending Mansfield Senior High. Below is a list of the city champions, with the date of the game, score and attendance, if available, and the program above can be seen in full by clicking here.

From the Mansfield News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), 25 October 1949, p10.

Junior High City Championship Results 1940-1976

DateWinnerScoreAttendance
October 18, 1940John Simpson6-03,000
October 29, 1941John Simpson26-63,000
November 6, 1942John Simpson45-0N/A
November 3, 1943John Simpson13-9N/A
November 2, 1944Johnny Appleseed18-05,000
October 31, 1945Johnny Appleseed19-04,500
October 31, 1946John Simpson38-04,200
October 29, 1947John Simpson18-64,000
October 24, 1948Johnny Appleseed7-06,600
October 26, 1949Johnny Appleseed13-76,000
October 26, 1950Johnny Appleseed38-195,000
October 17, 1951John Simpson14-64,000
October 5, 1952John Simpson38-63,500
October 21, 1953John Simpson13-66,000
October 20, 1954Johnny Appleseed6-02,500
October 19, 1955John Simpson18-72,500
October 22, 1956John Simpson12-71,800
October 29, 1957Johnny Appleseed26-6800
October 25, 1958Johnny Appleseed36-01,100
November 7, 1959John Simpson42-82,000
October 29, 1960John Simpson32-221,500
October 14. 1961
October 21, 1961
October 28, 1961
John Sherman (defeats Appleseed)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson (defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Simpson
14-8
32-20
38-0
N/A
N/A
1,000
October 13, 1962
October 18, 1962
October 25, 1962
John Sherman (defeats Appleseed)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Champions: Three-Way Tie
19-14
22-7
22-20
3,000
2,000
N/A
October 6, 1963
October 12, 1963
October 26, 1963
John Sherman (defeats Simpson)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
John Sherman (defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Sherman
14-6
8-0
6-0
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 3, 1964
October 17, 1964
October 24, 1964
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
8-0
22-0
14-6
N/A
N/A
N/A
September 29, 1965
October 7, 1965
October 14, 1965
John Sherman (defeats Appleseed)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson (defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Simpson
16-14
48-8
24-16
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 15, 1966
October 22, 1966
November 7, 1966
John Simpson (defeats Appleseed)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Champions: John Simpson
20-12
12-0
6-0
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 14, 1967
October 21, 1967
October 27, 1967
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson( defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Simpson
46-8
26-0
20-0
1,000
N/A
400
October 12, 1968
October 19, 1968
October 26, 1968
John Sherman (defeats Simpson)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
35-22
8-0
28-7
N/A
1,500
N/A
October 11, 1969
October 18, 1969
October 25, 1969
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
John Simpson (defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Simpson
14-8
26-12
16-6
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 10, 1970
October 17, 1970
October 24, 1970
John Sherman/John Simpson Tie
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed/John Simpson Tie
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
6-6
13-6
0-0
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 9, 1971
October 16, 1971
October 23, 1971
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
John Sherman (defeats Appleseed)
John Simpson (defeats Appleseed)
Champions: John Simpson
38-0
8-6
41-6
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 7, 1972
October 14, 1972
October 28, 1972
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
8-0
14-12
14-12
750
1,000
750
October 6, 1973
October 13, 1973
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Note: Unable to find results for final game.
28-6
36-6
N/A
N/A
September 21, 1974
October 6, 1974
October 26, 1974
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
John Sherman (defeats Simpson)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed

26-14
30-6
N/A
N/A
N/A
October 5, 1975
October 11, 1975
October 18, 1975
John Sherman (defeats Simpson)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
18-6
19-12
6-0
N/A
N/A
N/A
September 25, 1976
October 9, 1976
October 16, 1976
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Simpson)
John Simpson (defeats Sherman)
Johnny Appleseed (defeats Sherman)
Champions: Johnny Appleseed
24-6
14-0
20-6
N/A
N/A
N/A

1910: The Year Shelby Had Two State Champions

Football has always been big in Ohio.  The Ohio League, which ran from 1902-1919, was a direct precursor to the NFL.  Many people know about Ohio League teams like the Massillon Tigers and Canton Bulldogs, where Mansfield Senior High School Alum Pete Henry played, but for a few years in those two decades Shelby, Ohio drew some of the largest names in the sport.  In 1909, in front of 4,000 fans, the Shelby Blues lost the state championship to the Akron Indians by a score of 12-9 at Nolan’s Park in Akron, Ohio.[1]  The 1909 Shelby team featured athletes such as player-coach George Watson “Peggy” Parratt, who, a few years earlier, was the first college player to be disciplined for moonlighting as a professional.  Parratt admitted playing for Shelby under the name Murphy and hiding his identity under a large nose guard.[2]  Parratt is also credited with completing the first forward pass in a professional game when it was legalized in 1906.  While playing for Massillon, Parratt completed a pass to Dan “Bullet” Riley in a victory over Benwood-Moundsville[3].  Also playing for Shelby was Homer Davidson.  Davidson, who played 6 games for the Cleveland Naps (later named the Cleveland Indians) in 1908, was regarded as one of the best kickers of his era.[4]  In 1910, Davidson would play with the Shelby Tigers and become their star player.  Parratt would stay with the Blues and that year Shelby would have not one, but two championship teams.

The first game of the season on October 2, 1910 pitted the Shelby Tigers against the Mansfield Independents.  The Independents were better known as the local baseball team, but, like many organizations at the time, they played other sports, including football and basketball.  The Independents were soundly defeated 21-0, as they had not yet practiced and had made up a list of hand signals on the way to the game.  The Mansfield players would merge with the Shelby Blues about three weeks later and the team would briefly be known as the Shelby-Mansfield Blues.  The Shelby Blues would play their first game a week later, October 9, defeating the newly formed Cleveland Hinkles 5-0.  The following week the Shelby teams would again roll over their opponents, with the Tigers beating the Broadway Athletic Club (Cleveland) 23-0 and the Blues defeating Norwalk 28-0.

The first vulnerability came the following week, October 23, when the Blues traveled to Canton to play the Canton Simpsons.  The teams fought to a 6-6 tie, with the blues scoring on an interception which was run back for a touchdown.  In 1910 touchdowns counted for 5 points with 1 for an extra point.  The Tigers were scheduled to play Toledo Athletic Club, but Toledo canceled.  Smith Athletic Club (Cleveland) stepped up and was defeated by the Tigers 38-0.  The next two weeks saw more victories where the opposition was unable to score against the Shelby teams.  The Blues defeated the Canton Tigers (21-0) and the Hinkel Athletic Club (24-0). The Tigers escaped the Akron Tigers (8-0) and defeated the Cleveland Lyceum (24-0).  The Tigers would finish their season with two more victories over East Toledo (47-0), where Davidson returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and scored two other times,[5] and the Cleveland Hinkels, a combined team of the Hinkel Athletic Club and the Cleveland Lyceum (11-0).  The Shelby Tigers finished the season 7-0, not allowing the opposition to score a point.

The Shelby Blues’ final two games of 1910 pitted them against the Akron Indians, the defending state champions, in two close contests.  On Saturday, November 12, the Blues arrived in Cleveland and had a secret practice before going to Akron the following day to play the undefeated Indians.  Before the game, the Akron team had said there wasn’t a team in the state who could defeat them.  As the game progressed, word was sent to Shelby via telephone and at halftime Akron was winning 0-6.  In the second half, Shelby would score 16 unanswered points to defeat the Akron Indians 16-6.  When the Blues returned home at 10 o’clock that night, they were met with a band and a large crowd of supporters.  On Thanksgiving Day, the Shelby Tigers were scheduled to play the Akron Indians, but Akron backed out and challenged the Blues to a rematch in Akron, which the Blues accepted.  The Tigers’ manager, Bert Heath, was unhappy with the decision and, in the November 15 edition of the Shelby Globe, wrote a letter calling it “an underhanded proceeding of the Akron Indians and Shelby Blues” and challenging the Blues to a game on November 20.  Local business owners even offered to put up money to have the two teams stay in Shelby and duke it out on Thanksgiving Day.  It was reported The Mission, The Wonderland, and the Princess Theaters offered $100 each if they could “take their machines out there and get a moving picture of the event.[6]”  There was no game on the 20th and both teams prepared for their Thanksgiving Day match-ups.

Heavy rain on Thanksgiving Day 1910 made the contest between the Akron Indians and the Shelby Blues a muddy affair.  It was reported 3,000 fans attended the game, but many more would have been there if the weather had been better.   Many times Shelby was close to scoring but fumbled the ball before crossing the goal line.  In the end, they squeaked out an 8-5 victory over Akron in the rematch.  The Shelby Globe stated in separate columns that both teams were state champions after their Thanksgiving Day victories and a game was scheduled for December 4 to determine the true champion.  It was agreed that each team would split the ticket sales 50-50, that being how players were paid at the time.  Parratt wrote from Cleveland saying the winner should receive 75 percent and the loser 25.  The Tigers agreed to this, but for some unknown reason, the Blues pulled out of the contest.[7]  Nothing else was reported on the matter.  Since a champion was never crowned, both teams are credited with being state champions in 1910.

The following year, the Blues and Tigers resolved their grievances and merged, keeping the name as the Shelby Blues and putting Parratt and Davidson on the same team.  They won the 1911 state championship by forfeit when Harry Turner, captain of the Canton Professionals, the revived Canton Bulldogs, got so upset about an offside call that he refused to finish the game and walked off the field.  Turner vowed never to play again but came back to the game in an effort to defeat Parrott.  Three years later, Turner would defeat Parratt, who was then coaching the Akron Indians, but in a twisted turn of events, Turner’s back was broken in the game after making a tackle on Akron fullback Joe Collins.  Turner died, the first player to die from injuries received during a game.  It was reported on his death bed Turner said “I know I must go, but I’m satisfied, for we beat Peggy Parratt.”[8]


Sources:

  1. Page 2 of Daily Globe, published in Shelby, Ohio on Monday, November 15th, 1909
  2. Page 1 of Shelby News, published in Shelby, Ohio on Friday, December 8th, 1905
  3. https://www.profootballhof.com/football-history/history-of-football/1869-1939/1906-the-forward-pass-is-legalized/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_Davidson
  5. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/homer-davidson/
  6. Page 1 of Daily Globe, published in Shelby, Ohio on Friday, November 18th, 1910
  7. Page 3 of Daily Globe, published in Shelby, Ohio on Thursday, December 1st, 1910
  8. https://web.archive.org/web/20120311103506/http://www.profootballresearchers.org/Coffin_Corner/09-An-320.pdf

Mansfield Athletes: Wilbur “Pete” Henry

Mansfield Senior High has had many great athletes in its history.  Wilbur Henry left his mark on the football world 100 years ago.  Wilbur Frank Henry was born on October 31, 1897 to Ulysses Sherman Henry and Bertha Frank.  His father, Ulysses, was born in Lucas, Ohio and was a lifelong resident of the area.  Ulysses worked at the Ohio State Reformatory for 32 years and was once attacked with a hammer by inmate Thomas Wardell.  Wardell was reportedly associated with the Chicago Car Barn Bandits, a group of young men who shocked Chicago in 1903 with their criminal exploits and was a known troublemaker.  Despite this, Wardell was employed as a carpenter at the institution and one day attacked Ulysses as he walked through the carpenter shop. Ulysses survived serious injury and was back to work the next day, only because he was so much larger than his assailant.  Ulysses retired from the Reformatory on January 1, 1938 and died a short time later on January 30, 1938 at the age of 72.  Wilbur’s mother was a German immigrant who came to America as a child.  She died on July 31, 1949.

MHS_1913

1912 MHS Football, Henry is second from left in the first row.

Wilbur Henry, or “Pete” or “Fat” as he was referenced in his senior yearbook, got his father’s size and used it to dominate on the field.  He began playing football in the 1912 season as a sophomore.  Only one player returned from the previous year: senior and Captain, Arno Kalmerten, and the young team had a horrendous start to the season being outscored 332-6 in the first 5 games, including an 87-0 loss to Massillon and a 99-6 loss to Akron Central.  Mansfield earned their first win against Marion on November 2, 1912, 13-0 with touchdowns by Henry and junior, Percy Pecht.  The team finished strong winning three out of their last four games.  Henry and eleven others received their letter at the end of the season.

mhs_1914

1913 MHS Football, Henry is seated with “M” on his sweater.

mhs_1914BB

1913-14 MHS Basketball team, Henry is Second from left in back row.

The 1913 season didn’t end much better.  Captain Percy Pecht and the Mansfield eleven only won 2 games, but the defense played well,  with the only exception being an 88-0 loss to Toledo.  Mansfield’s two wins would come against Galion (45-0) and Medina (46-0), unfortunately, these would be some of the only points scored that season.  Mansfield scored a total of 104 points, while their opponents garnered 187.  There was also a new addition to the team: Henry’s classmate, John Tressel.  Tressel would prove to be a companion to Henry for many years.  It was also in Henry’s junior year that he first participated in basketball.  His size once again proved a valuable asset.  With his 190 lbs. frame, he was a “tower of strength on defense and broke up play after play.”  The team won the Championship of Northern Ohio, losing the state championship game against Marietta.

mhs_1915

1914 MHS Football, Henry in back row fourth from left.

mhs_1915BB

Henry for 1914-15 MHS basketball

The 1914 football season would be more successful under the new head coach, Harry R. Patton.  Henry was moved to full back under Patton.   The team finished 8-1, their only loss coming from Wooster (9-0).  Wilbur Henry led the team as captain and the defense only allowed 30 points in nine games played, 8 of them played at home, the only away game hosted by Bucyrus.  Henry must have been quite a site stepping onto the field, weighing well over 200 lbs. his senior year when others on the field averaged around 150 lbs.  At the finish of the season, players were given a solid gold pin instead of the traditional sweater with an “M” on it.

mhs_senior

1915 senior photo

mhs_JTsenior

1915 senior photo

In October of 1915, it was announced that Wilbur Henry and his teammate, John Tressel, had made the football team at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.  The successful football program was started in 1890 and had a winning season every year except 1910.  In the three seasons before Henry and Tressel’s arrival, the team had gone 28-4 under Coach Bob Folwell.  Henry played and lettered his freshmen year, but was forced to leave school after contracting scarlet fever.  Folwell’s last year at Washington and Jefferson was in 1915, going 8-1-1, and it was rumored that Henry would follow him to the University of Pennsylvania.  Henry and Tressel returned to Washington and Jefferson for the 1916 season putting those rumors to rest.  The team would go 8-2 under new coach Sol Metzger.  1917 brought more success when Henry was elected captain and was named an All-American.  The 1918 season was cut short because of World War I.  Washington and Jefferson only played 4 games, going 2-2.  Henry only played in two of these.  Despite this, however, both Henry and Tressel won All-American honors.

1918 would be Tressel’s final college season.  He and Henry would team up to coach and prepare the team from the Mansfield Sheet and Tin Plate Company before Tressel left to play his only season of professional football for the Massillon Tigers and Henry returned to Washington and Jefferson for his senior year.  Henry’s eligibility was in question for the 1919 season, but colleges agreed to grant students a fifth year due to the shortened season and the Student Army Training Corps requirements, in which all able-bodied men were required to participate.  The University of Pittsburgh was not happy with Henry’s eligibility, even though they played other teams with fifth-year seniors and Henry agreed to sit out the game.  Pitt won the contest 7-6.  Henry would once again be named an All-American.

Wilbur “Pete” Henry would go on to play nine seasons of professional football with the Canton Bulldogs, New York Giants and Pottsville Maroons between 1920 and 1928.  He also served as coach of the Canton Bulldogs in 1926 and the Pottsville Maroons in 1928.  After retiring from his professional career, Henry returned to his alma mater and served as the freshman coach of the football team and head coach of the basketball and track teams.  He served as head coach of the football team in 1942 and 1945 and was the athletic director from 1932 until his death in 1952.  Henry was only 54 at the time of his death which was caused by sepsis due to gangrene in his left foot.  In 1949, his right leg was amputated due to the same ailment.  He was returned to Mansfield for burial and today the gym at Mansfield Senior High School is named in his honor.