Saturday, November 30, 2019

Have We Got Our Arsenal Back?

Unai Emery is out as Arsenal manager. Freddie Ljungberg is in.

The Emery experiment was a spectacular failure. But then, given the circumstances, almost anyone would have been a failure after Arsène Wenger.

There's an old saying: You don't want to be the guy who follows the legend, you want to be the guy who follows the guy who follows the legend, so people can say, "He's not the legend, but at least he's not that guy!"

From 1996 to 2006, Wenger led Arsenal to 3 Premier League titles (in 1998, 2002 and 2004), just missed 2 others (in 1999 and 2003), 4 FA Cups (in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005), including twice winning both in the same year (in 1998 and 2002, known as "doing The Double"), an undefeated League season in 2003-04, and the Final of both the UEFA Champions League (in 2006) and the UEFA Europa League (in 2000, then known as the UEFA Cup).

Then the team moved out of its old (1913) 38,000-seat Arsenal Stadium, a.k.a. Highbury, and moved a few blocks away into the new 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium. In order to pay off the stadium debt, Wenger's superiors couldn't spend big on great new players, so Wenger went with a youth movement, hoping to replicate the success of his 1st 10 years.

It didn't work, for various reasons, including some nasty injuries, some horrifyingly bad officiating (whether incompetent or corrupt doesn't really matter), opposing teams suddenly getting rich (West London team Chelsea and Manchester City joining the already-wealthy Liverpool and Manchester United), and some highly-touted kids just not working out.

A big reason was some highly-touted kids thinking that they had worked out enough, and that they didn't need Wenger anymore, and that they should now go for the big money at wealthier teams. And so, they stabbed Wenger, and by extension all Arsenal fans, in the back. We will not mention their names here, because they do not deserve the attention.

In the last 5 seasons before Wenger, Arsenal finished, in the 20-team Premier League, 4th, 10th, 4th, 12th and 5th. In his 1st 10 seasons, they finished 3rd, 1st, a close 2nd, a distant 2nd, a distant 2nd, 1st, a distant 2nd, 1st, a distant 2nd, and 4th. From 2006-07 to 2012-13, they finished 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd and 4th -- with 4th being enough to qualify for the Champions League.

Some fans began to get angry that this was no longer enough. They wanted Wenger to "challenge" for the PL and CL titles, not just be in them. The 2011 League Cup Final, which Arsenal lost to Birmingham City due to a late mixup, was the beginning of the Wenger Out Brigade, or WOB. They wanted Wenger to "spend some fucking money" on "world-class" players; or, if he wouldn't, resign; or, if he wouldn't do that either, for team ownership to fire (or, in English parlance, "sack") him.

Early in the 2013-14 season, Wenger spent some money on a world-class player: Mesut Özil. Arsenal would win the FA Cup in 2014, 2015 and 2017, giving Wenger 7 FA Cup wins, more than any other manager -- almost more than any other team.

But, for some fans, this still wasn't enough. Arsenal were leading the Premier League in January 2014, but the annual injury crisis and some what-the-hell officiating hit, and they finished 4th, and these idiots said Wenger "bottled it" (blew it). Arsenal were neck-and-neck with surprising Leicester City until March 2016, but finished 2nd, and these idiots said Wenger bottled it.

In 2016-17, the wheels came off. Alexis Sánchez, who seemed to be a great acquisition for the 2014-15 season, was now exposed as a player who gave the ball away 20 times a game, turning him from a goalscoring threat to a net liability. And his attitude got worse and worse, to the point where he became, in American sports slang, a clubhouse cancer. Arsenal finished 5th, the 1st time not qualifying for the following seasons's Champions League under Wenger. Wenger sold Alexis in the 2018 January transfer window, but the team finished 6th.

The abuse from the entitled, selfish brats, led by the igornant mugs of "Arsenal Fan TV," got worse and worse. The Arsenal organization did little to protect Wenger from this: They successfully sued to push them off the stadium grounds, and to have "Arsenal" taken out of their legal name (they are now "AFTV Media").

But they still claimed to represent all Arsenal fans, and to "give them a voice" that they had never had before, both of which were damnable lies. They sang songs about wanting Wenger to die. They showed up at players' entrances to boo him as he came out of the stadium. They hired a plane to fly a banner over the stadium, reading "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH #WENGER OUT" -- forgetting to leave out the space in the hashtag. They announced that they were going to do this. But they got upstaged by fans supporting him, who, without announcing it beforehand, hired a plane to trail a banner reading "#ONEARSENEWENGER." The 1st plane was booed by most of the fans. The 2nd plane was cheered.

The WOB shouted, "We want our Arsenal back!" Which Arsenal is that? The Arsenal that won trophies? Wenger brought them that.

Did they mean Arsenal before Wenger? George Graham, a fine player on their 1971 "Double" team, managed them to League titles in 1989 and 1991, and both domestic cups in 1993. He also won the 1994 European Cup Winners' Cup, and the WOB pointed out that he had won a European trophy, while Wenger hadn't.

They forget that the Cup Winners' Cup doesn't even exist anymore: UEFA thought it so devoid of meaning, its qualifiers (the winners of each European country's FA Cup equivalent) were put into the UEFA Cup instead, starting with the 1999-2000 season. (It became the Europa League in 2010-11.) Graham never came close to winning the Champions League, or the European Cup as it was known until 1992 (and the trophy is still so named).

Graham notably had an all-English defensive back four. (Sometimes, goalkeeper David Seaman was included, to make it an all-English back five.) These fans said that Wenger only won because he inherited Graham's back four/five.

Graham's back four/five finished 10th in 1993, and were 14th in February 1995 when Graham was fired -- not for losing, but for financial improprieties. They ended up 12th. Wenger made them Double winners in 1998. Graham never won the Double, coming within an FA Cup Semifinal in 1991. Then Wenger replaced all four, and won another Double in 2002. Then he replaced Seaman, and went unbeaten in 2004. Graham never did that, coming within 1 loss in 1991.

In American college football, the classic definition of a great coach is one who can take his team and beat yours, and take your team and beat his. Wenger took Graham's players, made some minor adjustments, and topped Graham's greatest achievements. Then he replaced them, and topped even that.

Still, he was abused. I began to think they hated him simply because he wasn't English. Some of them may have thought Graham was English. He's not: He's Scottish. (Today is his birthday: He's 75, and has been largely forgiven for his sins by Arsenal fans, and is remembered as the only man to be a club legend as a player and a manager.)

They said that any manager could do better than Wenger, if only they would spend more money. I kept telling them, online, it's not how much you spend, it's how wisely. They refused to accept this.

And every time a manager did well elsewhere, they began to demand his hiring in place of Wenger. Most of these got exposed as not good enough. The most oft-cited examples were Pep Guardiola of Spanish team Barcelona and German team Bayern Munich, who took Manchester City to its greatest heights; and Jürgen Klopp of German team Borussia Dortmund, who ended up at Liverpool.

These people ignored the simple facts: They cheat. Dives and dirty tackles are the Barça way. Since they are also the Bayern way -- German fans often refer to "Der Bayern Dusel," or "The Bavarian Luck" -- Bayern also hired him. It has continued at Man City. And Klopp at Liverpool? For 4 years, he came close to trophies, but won none, until Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah began diving all over the place. Last season, they won the Champions League.

Such actions would not work at Arsenal, because referees hate them. Arsenal players have been sent off for cheating, even when visual evidence proves that they didn't. The same tactics would result in sendoffs and suspensions, and those managers would not have massive sums of cash to replace them, and they would be exposed as bad managers.

We just went through the same thing: These same people wanted Jose Mourinho, who turned Chelsea into a great team with massive cheating, but he signed with North London arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur instead, and they are angrier than ever. They forget how Mourinho flopped at Manchester United.

Finally, on April 22, 2018, at the age of 68, Wenger decided that he had had enough. Even his great patience toward the abuse finally came to an end. He resigned after 22 years, with a press release that closed with, "To all the Arsenal lovers, take care of the values of the club. My love and support forever."

*

The WOB presumed that the team could overcome anything; and, when it didn't, they felt personally betrayed. So they made it personal against Wenger, then owner Stan Kroenke, and eventually against the remaining Wenger players.

Wenger ended up being replaced by 2 men: Unai Emery as head coach, and Raul Sanllehi as director of football -- in other words, what North American sports fans would call the general manager.

Emery, then age 46, is from the Basque Country of Spain. Once a mediocre midfielder in Spain, he managed in his homeland, Russia and France, including winning 3 Europa League titles with Sevilla (Seville, Spain), and 1 Ligue 1 title and 2 Coupes de France with Paris Saint-Germain.

The WOB got what they wanted: A new manager. The "Arsene Knows Best" people, including myself, a.k.a. the AKB, were willing to give the new manager a chance.

After losing his 1st 2 games, against PL powers Man City and Chelsea, Emery began a 14-game winning streak, which became a 22-game unbeaten streak, which included games in the League Cup and the Europa League.

And the WOB liked that he was always jumping out of his seat like he's been bitten on the ass, and waved his hands in the air as if he's Kermit the Frog, announcing the next act on The Muppet Show. As opposed to Wenger, who would just sit there, and not show emotion or "passion," except maybe to slam his water bottle down on the ground.

The WOB were ecstatic. They said they had "their Arsenal" back.

Then came the annual defensive injury crisis, and Emery did not handle it as well as Wenger did.

On top of this, Emery was showing great disrespect to 3 of his 4 best players: He frequently left Özil off the team sheet entirely, only played forward Alexandre Lacazette for a half (if at all), and did both with midfielder Aaron Ramsey. The other of the 4, forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, played nearly every minute of the Premier League season.

Emery cited "tactical reasons" for leaving Özil out. There was talk that Özil "doesn't fit the system."

Mesut Özil is one of the most accomplished active soccer players -- and rises further up the list when you take out players who have cheated, or have benefited from their teammates' cheating. If he does not fit your system, you change your system. You don't punish your players by leaving your best player out of the lineup completely.


"He has to clean up the mess that Wenger made!" is no excuse. Only an idiot would believe that Wenger left a mess, and only a liar would say so.

Instead, Emery followed the pattern he set at Paris Saint-Germain, the first big team he ran, of alienating his best player (in the case of PSG, Brazilian superstar Neymar), and the team underachieved as a result.

In the end, the 1st season under Emery was a disaster. It is true that the team finished 5th, 1 place higher than they did the season before. And that they amassed 7 points more than they had the previous season (3 points for a win, 1 for a draw). And that they came 11 points closer to qualifying for the next season's UEFA Champions League than they had before, missing it by only 1 point.

In the end, there were 5 games which, if Arsenal had won any 1 of them, they would have qualified for the 2019-20 Champions League. They ended up failing to win any of them: Lost 3-2 at home to South London team Crystal Palace, lost 3-1 away to Birmingham-area team Wolverhampton Wanderers, lost 3-0 away to Leicester, drew 1-1 at home with Sussex team Brighton & Hove Albion, and then, in a game whose winner would qualify for the CL if it hadn't already, lost 4-1 to Chelsea in the Final of the Europa League, on neutral ground, in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Emery managed all season long as if the League, even finishing Top 4 in it, was a lost cause -- clearly, it wasn't -- and that the Europa League, which he had won 3 times with Sevilla, making it "his tournament," would be the key. And he ended up completely mismanaging the Final.

He had one job. He had five chances at it. He blew all five.

He should have been fired before he got on the bus to go back to the hotel in Baku.

And then, he let Ramsey go. Juventus of Turin, the biggest team in Italy, signed him. Clearly, they thought he could still play, but Emery didn't.

*

Here is what Arsenal needed to do during the Summer 2019 transfer window:

* Find a centreback who would be an upgrade on their weakest one, Shkodran Mustafi.
* Find an attacking midfielder who could properly replace Ramsey.

That's it. Two players. It should have been easy to get them, and still fall within the Arsenal transfer budget, which the English media, frequently stupid and nearly always opposed to Arsenal, said was £45 million.


Then, French centreback Laurent Koscielny, the team Captain, demanded to be transferred. He played 8 seasons under Wenger, and was never a problem (except when he was hurt). But 1 season under Emery, and he couldn't wait to leave.

Now, the team needed 2 competent centrebacks, or else we'd be going into the season with the centrebacks being, in descending order of talent, Rob Holding, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, the error-prone Mustafi, the prospect who never turned out Calum Chambers, and the still-prospect Konstantinos Mavropanos.

If Holding and Sokratis could start 32 out of 38 League games, Arsenal would have been fine. But the team seems to have an injury crisis every season, especially among defenders: Last season, it should have been Hector Bellerin - Koscielny - Holding - Nacho Monreal, but for most games it turned out to be Ainsley Maitland-Niles - Sokratis - Mustafi - Sead Kolasinac.

Sanllehi got 1 centreback, former Chelsea player David Luiz. Luiz is not an upgrade on Mustafi. He is a horrible player. What's more, he dives. He got away with that at Chelsea because team owner Roman Abramovich is a corrupt Russian energy mogul who bribes referees.

Arsenal players don't cheat, not just because it's wrong, but because they wouldn't get away with it. One move by Luiz that even looks like a dive, and he will get sent off, leave us down to 10 men for the rest of the game, and get suspended for the next 3 domestic games.

To make things worse for the defense, Monreal was sold, to Real Sociedad in his native Spain. So now, we needed a left back, too.

The "replacement for Ramsey" is Dani Ceballos, on a 1-year loan from Real Madrid. Seriously? This is like getting George Lazenby to take over from Sean Connery as James Bond. He's not only not as good as Ramsey (few players are), but we'll have to replace him next Summer.

The disappointing Alex Iwobi was sold to Liverpool-based Everton, and overrated forward Danny Welbeck was allowed to play out his contract, and signed with Hertfordshire team Watford. So that was some big wages off the books.

Left back Kieran Tierney was bought from Glasgow team Celtic, for £25 million, or about 5 times what the best left back in Scotland's league would be worth in England's. He's not better than either Monreal or Kolasinac, nor is he likely to become better than either over the course of the season.

Gabriel Martinelli was bought from Brazilian club Ituano. He's 18, and it will be a long time before he can be a suitable substitute in case Auba or Laca go down.

And Sanllehi broke Arsenal's transfer record -- previously £46.5 million for Lacazette -- by spending £72 million on Nicolas Pépé, a 24-year-old winger from the Ivory Coast and French team Lille, who has never won a trophy.

A lot of Arsenal fans were ecstatic: Not only had the team spent that much money on one player, something Wenger would never have done, but it was on a winger, something they wanted very badly.

They're idiots. Arsenal's tendency for the last 12 years or so, under both Wenger and Emery, was to make about 100 sideways passes before even attempting a shot, wasting time, and then not scoring anyway. The last thing Arsenal needed was more width. But these people refuse to accept this obvious truth.

So the transfer window ended, and, instead of needing 2 players, Arsenal now needed 3. They are worse off than before. And these #WeCareDoYou idiots were saying it's the team's best transfer window ever. They wanted a statue of Sanllehi.

Raul Sanllehi is a deadbeat dad: He bought all kinds of components for a great home entertainment system for his man cave, while the kids need food and new clothes.

And Unai Emery is a buffoon, who does not know how to manage players.

But the idiots still didn't blame Emery or Sanllehi. They blamed Wenger, and whichever of his players were left. 
They still blamed Wenger for "the mess" that "he put us in." And a player signed by Raul and managed by Unai couldn't possibly be at fault for any dropped points.

God help the last remaining Wenger player, whoever he turns out to be. He could score 3 goals in a game the team loses 4-3, but they will still blame him for "not tracking back" and helping with the defense.

Emery had already alienated Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal, Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi and Carl Jenkinson to the point where they wanted to be transferred to other teams, and have been. He had already alienated Mesut Özil, normally a very patient man and the best player Emery has ever managed, to the point where, when subbed off during the disastrous Europa League Final, he yelled at Emery, "I swear, you are not a coach!"

And he appeared to alienating his 2 world-class strikers, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose goals turned draws into wins and losses into draws, and basically saved Emery's job for a while; and Alexandre Lacazette. And alienating his 2 good central defensive midfielders, the veteran Granit Xhaka and the young Matteo Guendouzi.

Arsenal are currently in 9th place in the Premier League. They are actually in what the WOB said Wenger put them in: Midtable mediocrity. They are 22 points behind League leaders Liverpool. They are 8 points out of the Top 4. They are 2 points behind arch-rival Tottenham, although with a game in hand as I type this. (Tottenham played, and won, today; Arsenal play tomorrow.)

Being a Premier League team, Arsenal have a bye into the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, the 1st weekend in January;  and are likely to advance to the Knockout Stage of the Europa League. But they are already out of the League Cup, and, as I said, 9th in the Premier League.

Finally, after a home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany in the Europa League, the 7th straight game that Arsenal failed to win, Josh Kroenke, acting on behalf of his father Stan -- also the owner of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and MLS' Colorado Rapids -- fired Emery. As the man himself would say, "Good ebening."

It was Thanksgiving night, something for which American Arsenal fans could be thankful.

*

The new manager, at least on an interim basis, is Freddie Ljungberg, who had previously managed the Arsenal Under-15 and Under-23 teams. A 42-year-old native of southern Sweden, he joined Arsenal as a winger from Swedish team Halmstad in 1998, and helped them win the 2002 and 2004 League titles, and the 2002, '03 and '05 FA Cups.

On a personal basis, he was the 1st former Arsenal player I ever saw live, in 2010, playing for MLS' Seattle Sounders against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. (Thierry Henry would come to the Red Bulls a few weeks later.)

Known as Freddie the Red for his dyed Mohawk, he is now mostly bald, and, frankly, he looks better. He says he will manage the team the way he knows how. The Arsenal way. The Wenger way.

This will infuriate the WOB, who now know that it's not so easy, that not just anyone can manage Arsenal.

It is believed that Arsenal will look to hire a permanent manager, one with a winning pedigree -- if not soon, then after the season ends in May 2020.

This may not be necessary. What if Freddie turns out to be a good manager? Let's face it, he has no pressure on him. Win, and you're a bigger legend than ever. Fail, and fans will blame Emery -- or, if they're among the idiots, Wenger.

He has nothing to lose. He has much he can win. Gooners of the world, unite!

We may just get our Arsenal back!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Football On Thanksgiving: A Far-From-Fully-Comprehensive History

September 29, 1621: What we now call "The First Thanksgiving" is held at Plymouth, Massachusetts, about 40 miles southeast of present-day Boston. Attending the feast were 53 Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe.

The foods served that day included items we would now recognize as traditional in Thanksgiving dinners: Turkey, berries, fruit, and various squashes, including pumpkins. Also served at that meal were some items which would not become traditional to Thanksgiving, but would become traditional to what would become known as New England. These included fish, lobster and clams.

Since no game that would later be called "football" was brought over by the Pilgrims, it's unlikely that such a game was played at Plymouth Plantation that day. There may have been games of some kind, but not football.

November 26, 1789: President George Washington, 7 months after taking office as the 1st President of the United States, had, the previous month, proclaimed this to be a day of thanksgiving in America.

Still no football. Sport wasn't exactly a priority in America's infancy. Survival as a nation was.

November 26, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln, trying to tap into national patriotism and to seek God's blessings during the American Civil War, proclaimed this to be a day of thanksgiving. Thus did it become the last Thursday in November -- usually the 4th, but sometimes the 5th, Thursday.

The month before, the Football Association was founded in England. But English football -- or association football, abbreviated to "assoc." and eventually turned into the word "soccer" -- wasn't played by many Americans at this point. But the tradition of Thanksgiving caught on.

November 6, 1869: Rutgers College and the College of New Jersey -- later to become Rutgers University and Princeton University -- play what's now called the 1st college football game, at College Field in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on what's now the parking lot behind Rutgers' College Avenue Gym.

The game was played 25-a-side, and was, essentially, an overcrowded soccer game. The Rutgers men got scarlet fabric -- cheap and thus easy to obtain -- and, to more easily tell each other apart, wrapped it around their heads like turbans. Thus were invented both school colors and the football helmet. Thus distinguishable, Rutgers outscored Princeton 6 goals to 4. They played each other again the following Saturday, November 13, at Princeton, and, this time, Princeton more than got revenge, winning 8-0. But neither game was played on a Thanksgiving Day.

November 17, 1869: From that day's edition of the Evening Telegraph of Philadelphia:

Foot Ball: A match between twenty-two players of the Young America Cricket Club and the Germantown Cricket Club will take place on Thanksgiving Day at 12 1/2 o'clock, on the grounds of the Germantown Club.

Philadelphia's proximity to Rutgers and Princeton, who had played the first and second recognized college football games in America earlier in the month, suggests that this match was organized by players from those games, or at least by spectators at those games.

November 25, 1869: Said game was played, with the next day's Philadelphia Inquirer saying that the rules were "adopted chiefly from those of Rugby School, England," rather than soccer. While I can't find a reference to the final score anywhere, this 2018 Inquirer article says the Germantown team won.

The clubs merged in 1890, and the combined club kept the Germantown Cricket Club name. It is still in business today, although they now specialize in tennis and swimming. It hosted tennis' U.S. Open from 1921 to 1923, and the Davis Cup from 1924 to 1927, and again in 1938.

May 12, 1875: Norwich Free Academy and New London High School play each other in football for the 1st time, making this the oldest high school football rivalry not just in Connecticut, but in the entire country. By the 1890s, it is moved to Thanksgiving. The schools are 14 miles apart, and Norwich leads 77-68-11. (UPDATE: Norwich won the 2019 game, 49-12.)

November 30, 1876: The 1st Thanksgiving Day college football game is played. Two and a half years earlier, a game between Harvard University and McGill University was played, a hybrid of the soccer that the Bostonians (or, rather, the Cantabridgeans) had been playing and the rugby preferred by the Montrealers. Harvard had gathered the presidents of the various colleges that were already playing football, and had the rules standardized.

This game was played at, interestingly, the site of what was long alleged to be the 1st baseball game: The Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, outside New York City, roughly halfway between the schools involved: Princeton of New Jersey and Yale University of New Haven, Connecticut. Yale won, 2-0 -- under today's scoring, it would have been 14-0.

November 30, 1882: The Intercollegiate Football Association decides to hold an annual collegiate championship game in New York on Thanksgiving Day, between the 2 teams with the best records. Yale settles it, beating Princeton 2-1, at the original Polo Grounds, at 110th Street and 5th Avenue in New York. (Polo had actually been played there, but never was at its successors built in 1890 and 1911 at 155th Street and 8th Avenue.)

On the same day, west of Boston, the oldest public school football rivalry in the country begins: Needham vs. Wellesley, 3.5 miles apart. The rivalry is also close in margin: Wellesley leads 61-59-9. In 2015, Needham won, 12-7, in a game played at Fenway Park. The rivalry is 30 years older than Fenway, Major League Baseball's oldest ballpark.

November 24, 1887: The two oldest high schools in America, each playing football for the first time, begin their rivalry: The Boston Latin School and English High School. They are 2.8 miles apart, play annually at Harvard Stadium (which would seem to be natural). Latin has dominated the series, leading 81-36-13, including 51 of the last 54.

November 28, 1889: Baltimore City College and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute play each other for the 1st time. They have played at Baltimore's largest football stadium ever since: Municipal Stadium starting in 1922, Memorial Stadium in 1954, and M&T Bank Stadium in 1998. Crowds of over 25,000 would attend.

However, this game is no longer played on Thanksgiving, due to Maryland extending its State Playoffs. It is now played on the 1st Saturday in November, and it couldn't be much closer, with City leading 63-62-6. City won this year's game 10-6.

The City-Poly tradition is kept alive, however. Every Thanksgiving morning at 9:00 AM, alumni -- whether they played football for their respective school or not -- is invited to play in a flag football game at Herring Run Park in Baltimore.

November 30, 1893: Gonzaga College High School and St. John's College High School, both of Washington, D.C., begin playing each other. They no longer play on T-Day if either makes the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs. St. John's won this year's game, 32-28. Gonzaga leads the series 47-46-5.

T-Day is also the day that the DCIAA holds its annual football championship game. This season, it will be between Maret and Coolidge.

November 29, 1894: New Jersey's oldest and most-played high school football rivalry is 1st played, in Cumberland County, South Jersey: Millville vs. Vineland. Vineland leads 66-62-19. (Early in the 20th Century, they would play 2, sometimes even 3, times a season.)

November 25, 1897: North Jersey's oldest high school football rivalry is 1st played, in Newark: Barringer vs. East Orange. They play at Newark City Schools Stadium, for a trophy known as The Left-Footed Kicker. East Orange leads the series 59-39-9. They haven't always played on T-Day, due to their respective leagues' scheduling requirements, but they do so today.

November 24, 1898: The oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi River -- barely west of it -- is first played between schools in the St. Louis suburbs, 5 miles apart. Both sides can claim bragging rights: Webster Groves leads the rivalry 58-50-7, but, counting only Thanksgiving games, Kirkwood leads 40-37-5.

If those numbers sound low for a rivalry that began in the 19th Century, it's because they haven't played every season. In the event that either school reaches the State Playoffs, the schools have an agreement that their junior varsities will play on Thanksgiving Day instead, to keep the tradition going.

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November 28, 1901: The longest-running high school football game in the South is first played, between Woodberry Forest School of Woodberry Forest in Northern Virginia (but not close to Washington, D.C.) and Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia (just outside D.C.) Although 88 miles apart, it is still an intense rivalry known simply as The Game, played on the 2nd Saturday in November, rather than on the 4th Thursday. Woodberry Forest leads, 59-52-1, but Episcopal won this year's game 20-16.

November 21, 1903: East Boston and South Boston -- a.k.a. Eastie and Southie -- play each other for the 1st time, although not on Thanksgiving Day. Their T-Day tradition would begin in 1914. The game is held annually at White Stadium, which is well to the southwest of both schools. Eastie beat Southie last year, in the 100th edition of the game, and holds a 51-44-5 lead.

November 26, 1903: The 1st Harvard Cup is held, the championship of the City of Buffalo. The game was always held at All-High Stadium, before the Buffalo Public Schools joined the New York State Public High School Athletic Association after the 2009 season.

November 30, 1905: Xavier High School of Manhattan and Fordham Prep of The Bronx play New York City's Thanksgiving classic, officially named the Turkey Bowl. They played many games at the Polo Grounds, and then at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island.

These days, when it's Xavier's turn to host, they play at the Aviator Sports and Events Center at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. When it's Fordham Prep's turn, they play a few doors down at Jack Coffey Field on the Fordham University campus. Fordham Prep leads all-time, 52-40-4.

Also on this day, the annual cross-State, cross-river rivalry between Phillipsburg High School of New Jersey and what's now named Easton Area High School of Pennsylvania begins. Easton won the 1st game, 26-0, and leads the series 65-42-5. It's actually been broadcast live on ESPN a couple of times. They play at Fisher Stadium on the Easton campus of Lafayette College. As with many other rivalries, there is a girls' game known as a "Powder Puff" played the day before.

November 27, 1913: Stonington High School of Connecticut and Westerly High School of Rhode Island play for the 1st time. The game ends in a scoreless tie. Although across a State Line from each other, they are just 2.6 miles apart.

Stonington leads the overall rivalry 74-68-17. But if only T-Day games are counted (and you can be sure that this is how Westerly counts it), Westerly leads 47-44-9.

November 25, 1915: Abington Senior High School and Cheltenham High School, 3 miles apart in the suburbs north of Philadelphia, play each other for the 1st time. Abington leads 59-34-6. Future Baseball Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson was a senior in the 1963 game, leading Cheltenham to a 13-7 win.

November 27, 1919: Loyola Blakefield School and Calvert Hall College, private schools in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland, begin playing what is now the oldest continuous Catholic high school football rivalry in America. It has often been held as a doubleheader with City vs. Poly at Municipal, Memorial and M&T Bank Stadiums, and is televised on WMAR-Channel 2. Loyola leads the series 49-42-8. Today, they will play each other for the 100th time, at Johnny Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University.

*

November 25, 1920: The 1st Thanksgiving Day parade is produced, by Gimbel's department store in Philadelphia. Gimbel's went out of business in 1987, but the Philly parade is still held every year, and is billed as America's oldest Thanksgiving Day parade.

It features floats, balloons, marching bands (local and otherwise), and celebrities. It goes up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and ends at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, the building whose steps Rocky Balboa always ran up.

The American Professional Football Association, which would become the National Football League in 1922, plays its 1st season's T-Day games. Only one of the games could be called a local rivalry, and the Akron Pros, led by back-head coach Fritz Pollard and end Paul Robeson, both black, defeat Jim Thorpe's Canton Bulldogs 7-0.

The Dayton Triangles beat the Detroit Heralds 28-0. The Hammond Pros (who are an NFL team) lose to the Chicago Boosters (who are not) 27-0. The Rochester Jeffersons (who are an NFL team) lose to All-Tonawanda (who are not) 14-3. The Columbus Panhandles (who are an NFL team) and the Elyria Athletics (who are not) play to a scoreless tie.

And the Decatur Staleys beat the Chicago Tigers 6-0. An urban legend states that the stakes of this game was that the loser would leave the league. Actually, the evidence that the Tigers were even in the league is slim. But they played the next week, and then never played again. Meanwhile, the Staleys -- a "company team," or what English soccer fans would call a "works side," made up of employees of the A.E. Staley Starch Company -- move to Cubs Park (renamed Wrigley Field in 1926) the next season and become the Chicago Bears. The name lives on: Their mascot is named Staley Da Bear.

November 30, 1922: A vicious fight breaks out at Comiskey Park, and even George Halas, the Bears' founder/owner/head coach/two-way end, gets involved. The Chicago Cardinals win the crosstown rivalry 6-0.

November 27, 1924: New York's traditional parade begins with the 1st Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Every year, the parade begins at the American Museum of Natural History at 77th Street and Central Park West, turns down Broadway at 59th Street/Columbus Circle, turns down 7th Avenue at 45th Street/Times Square, and ends at 34th Street/Herald Square in front of Macy's headquarters store.

The first float includes an animatronic turkey wearing a Pilgrim hat, and the last has Santa Claus on a sleigh, thus signifying the start of the holiday shopping season. Ho, ho, ho!

The parade has never been canceled. Not during the Great Depression or World War II, when resources would have been conserved more than usual, and attendance might have been done. Not in 1938 or in 1989, when snowstorms hit New York on T-Day. Not in 1963, 3 days after the funeral of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. And not in 2001, just 72 days after the 9/11 attacks. They did, however, cancel the balloons in 1971, due to high winds, but the parade otherwise went on.

Also on this day, the San Francisco public high school championship is first held on Thanksgiving. The source I have said it's played at Kezar Stadium, but that can't be, because Kezar didn't open until the following year. The old 49ers stadium was demolished in 1989 -- before the earthquake that interrupted that year's World Series -- and was replaced with a smaller facility that now hosts only high school sports.

November 26, 1925: Harold "Red" Grange, just 5 days past his last game for the University of Illinois, plays his 1st professional football game. That was within the rules at the time, as there was no NFL Draft, let alone restrictions connected to it.

It is the annual Thanksgiving Day tussle between Chicago's NFL teams, the Bears and the Cardinals, and Wrigley Field is packed to the gills to watch "the Galloping Ghost" put on his Number 77 jersey for the Bears -- the same colors as UI, dark blue and orange, and the first truly famous uniform number in North American sports. (The NHL wouldn't adopt numbers for another year, and Major League Baseball not until 1929.) The game ends in a scoreless tie.

Grange is one of the greatest all-around players in football history, a sensational running back and one of the best defensive backs of his era. He is also, by far, the most important player in the history of the NFL: If he had failed, the NFL might never have become bigger than it was in 1925, and likely would have gone out of business during the Great Depression, and another sport would have had to fill the gap between the end of the World Series in October and Opening Day in April. Maybe it would have been soccer, that other "football."

But Grange did succeed, and, along with his coach George Halas and his contemporary Jim Thorpe, he was one of the 1st 3 men elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

November 25, 1926: Central Jersey's oldest rivalry is 1st played, Perth Amboy vs. Carteret. However, this year, for the 1st time, what had been the Thanksgiving rivalries were moved back to the opening game of the season, to aid in scheduling the State Playoffs. Amboy won this year's game 21-6, and lead the series 48-43-2.

Also, for the 1st time, an NFL game is played in New York City on a Thanksgiving Day. The New York Giants defeat the Brooklyn Lions 17-0 at Ebbets Field. The Lions will not play the 1927 season. The Giants will win the NFL Championship.

*

November 30, 1933: The New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers play each other in football on Thanksgiving Day. No, I'm not making that up: There was an NFL team in Brooklyn from 1930 to 1944. The Giants win 10-0.

The Giants had played the Staten Island Stapletons on T-Day from the Stapes' establishment in 1929 until they went out of business after the 1932 season, and would play the Dodgers through 1939. Aside from the New York Yanks -- officially "Yanks," not "Yankees" -- playing in Detroit in 1950, there would not be another New York team playing an NFL game on Thanksgiving until 1972, the Giants would not do so again until 1982, and no New York team would host another T-Day game until 2010.

November 29, 1934: Detroit Lions owner George Richards gets the NFL to schedule his team for Thanksgiving Day, against the defending NFL Champions, the undefeated Chicago Bears, with the greatest running back tandem ever, Red Grange (who is in his last season) and Bronko Nagurski. Richards owns a small radio network, and he thinks that, in this 1st season of Lions football in Detroit, this game can sell his team and his network.

It works, at least at the bank: The University of Detroit Stadium is sold out, 26,000 seats, and the listening audience is the biggest Richards has ever had. But the Bears win the game, 19-16. They do not, however, go undefeated, losing the NFL Championship Game to the Giants.

November 23, 1939: President Franklin D. Roosevelt moves Thanksgiving Day up. In this year that November had 5 Thursdays, he established the day as always the 4th Thursday in November. He thought an earlier Thanksgiving would produce more shopping time, thus helping both businesses and customers.

November 24, 1943: San Jose High School begins playing crosstown rival Abraham Lincoln High School on Thanksgiving. This is believed to be the only Thanksgiving high school football rivalry played west of Kirkwood and Webster Groves, Missouri. They play for the Big Bone, a cow femur donated by a butcher shop. Lincoln dominates the series, leading 40-24, including winning the last 21 straight going into this game.

*

November 26, 1953: The Lions beat the Green Bay Packers 31-15 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit -- renamed Tiger Stadium in 1961. This was the 1st Thanksgiving Day NFL game broadcast live on television, on the DuMont Network.

November 24, 1960: The American Football League plays a Thanksgiving game in its 1st season. The New York Titans beat the Dallas Texans 41-35 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. By 1963, these teams would be known as the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

November 23, 1961: The Titans host the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, and win 21-14 at the Polo Grounds.

November 22, 1962: Sacking Bart Starr 11 times, the Lions hand the Green Bay Packers what turns out to be their only loss of the season, 26-14 at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The Packers go 13-1 and then beat the Giants in the NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium.

November 28, 1963: For the 1st time, my alma mater, East Brunswick High School, in only its 3rd season of varsity football, plays on Thanksgiving. Jay Doyle, their 1st athletic director, wrestling coach and football coach (he remained AD and wrestling coach until his death in 1972, but gave up coaching football after the 1st 2 seasons) was from Long Island, where there isn't any tradition of playing on T-Day, and he didn't want to play on the day.

But the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the preceding Friday led to the postponement of the season finale against Sayreville, intended for the Saturday. So the game was moved to Thanksgiving, and EB won, 13-12.

We would not play on T-Day again until 1978, as pretty much every other school in Middlesex County was already locked into a Turkey Day rivalry. In 1978, we would begin playing Colonia High School of Woodbridge. More on that later.

November 24, 1966: The NFL wanted to add a 2nd game to Thanksgiving, to increase TV ratings. The only team, aside from the established Lions, who were willing to host it were the Dallas Cowboys. They beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 at the Cotton Bowl, and a new tradition is born.

From this point onward, Detroit hosts the early game, at 12:30 PM, because it would be before noon Dallas time. So Dallas hosts the 3:30 game. And, starting in 1970, after the NFL-AFL merger, since both Detroit and Dallas are in the NFC, CBS has the NFC games plus games where an AFC team hosts an NFC team, and NBC has the AFC games plus games where an NFC team hosts an AFC team, an AFC team, gets sent to either Detroit or Dallas every year. This held through the 2013 season, despite various network shifts and the addition of the 3rd game in 2006.

November 25, 1971: Nebraska vs. Oklahoma used to be a huge rivalry, before conference shifts split them up, and it was never bigger than on this Thanksgiving Day. Nebraska was ranked Number 1, Oklahoma was Number 2, and they met at Owen Field in Norman. In  seesaw battle, Nebraska won, 35-31. It was one of several college football games that have been nicknamed "The Game of the Century."

This also marks the Cowboys' 1st Thanksgiving game at their new Texas Stadium. They win 28-21 over the Los Angeles Rams. They move into AT&T Stadium in 2009.

November 28, 1974: The last NFL game is played at Tiger Stadium. The Lions lose 31-27 to the Denver Broncos. Their remaining games this season will all be on the road. The next season, the Lions began playing out in the suburbs, at the Silverdome in Pontiac. They move back into the city in 2002.

At Texas Stadium, Roger Staubach gets hurt, but backup Clint Longley steps into the quarterback role. With 35 seconds left, he throws a touchdown pass to Drew Pearson, and the Cowboys beat their arch-rivals, the Washington Redskins, 24-23.

Pearson had played at South River High School in New Jersey. Ironically, as a sophomore there, his quarterback was future Redskin Joe Theismann. South River played New Brunswick at Rutgers on Thanksgiving every year from 1919 to 1976, first at Neilson Field, and then at Rutgers Stadium. The schools still play each other, just not on T-Day, and alternate between their home fields.

But 1974 was also the 1st year that the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association played State Playoffs, and this would end up breaking up several longstanding rivalries.

November 27, 1975: The football version of the St. Louis Cardinals takes the place of the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, losing to the Buffalo Bills 32-14 at Busch Memorial Stadium.

In 1976, the Cards would visit the Cowboys, and the Cards would host again in 1977. But that was it: The Kirkwood-Webster Groves rivalry is king on Thanksgiving in eastern Missouri, and only twice more, both times in Dallas, would the Cards play on T-Day before moving to Arizona. Nor have the St. Louis Rams played on T-Day, either home or away, since moving from Los Angeles.

November 26, 1976: Rutgers University's football team completes an undefeated season, defeating Colgate University 17-9 at Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. They do not, however, go to a bowl game: They turn down an invitation to the Independence Bowl, thinking it too small for an undefeated team, even one with as weak a schedule as Rutgers had -- and don't receive any other invitations.

Suffice it to say, if there had been a Big East Conference at the time, the Scarlet Knights would not have gone 11-0, because this was the year that the University of Pittsburgh, led by Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, ran over everybody on the way to an undefeated National Championship season.

Also on this day, the Lions beat the Bills 27-14, but the Bills' O.J. Simpson rushes for 273 yards, a single-game NFL record (since broken).

*

November 22, 1984: East Brunswick needs to beat Colonia away to clinch its 1st-ever undefeated regular season, and its 1st Middlesex County Athletic Conference Championship in 12 years. But they trail 27-13 at the half, and between injuries and ejections after a fight, 3 key players are out.

The Bears come back, and score a touchdown in the last 30 seconds to win it, 33-27. It is often called the greatest game in EBHS' 59-season football history.

The next season's game gets postponed by rain, and EB will not play on T-Day again until 1994.

November 23, 1989: The Philadelphia Eagles crush the Cowboys 27-0 at Texas Stadium. The game is remembered as the Bounty Bowl, since it was alleged that head coach Buddy Ryan offered his defenders bonuses for knocking Cowboy players out of the game with injuries.

November 26, 1992: Alabama vs. Auburn, the Iron Bowl, is played at Legion Field in Birmingham. It is the last game as head coach for Auburn's Pat Dye, whom the NCAA had recently caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Alabama won 17-0.

November 25, 1993: Georgia plays Georgia Tech at Grant Field in Atlanta. Introducing the game on ABC, Keith Jackson says, "This is the day when the waistline takes a whuppin', and ancient rivalries are replayed." The Bulldogs-Yellow Jackets rivalry is known as "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." Or, as Jackson said, as he so often did in games like this, "These two teams just... don't... like each other."

Indeed, as the 4th quarter began, Georgia led 16-10, but began to run up the score. They scored 4 touchdowns in the quarter. The 4th made it 43-10, and Bulldog coach Ray Goff ordered a 2-point conversion. The Jackets didn't like that, and a fight started. When order was restored, Tech stopped the 2-pointer, and the score held at 43-10.

But this time around, Turkey Day football was just getting warmed up. The Bears beat the Lions 10-6 at the Silverdome. And then, as snow fell on the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and got through the hole in the Texas Stadium roof and covered the field, the Miami Dolphins lined up for a late field goal, but it was blocked. Leon Lett, who tarnished an overwhelming Cowboy victory in the previous season's Super Bowl, actually costs the Cowboys the game this time, by trying to recover the blocked kick in the end zone. Except he can't handle it, the Dolphins pounce on it, and it's the winning touchdown: Miami 16, Dallas 14. CBS announcer Verne Lundquist says, "Not Leon Lett!" Yes, Leon Lett.

November 24, 1994: With the former high schools in Old Bridge, original school Madison Central and newer Cedar Ridge, reconsolidating after 25 years, a new Thanksgiving Day rivalry is formed with neighboring East Brunswick. EB wins the 1st-ever "Battle of Route 18," 33-18 at Old Bridge's Vince Lombardi Field. (Although he lived much of his life in New Jersey, the old Packer coach had no connection to the town. They just wanted to honor him.)

EB has played OB, under its previous names Madison Township (the town's name was changed in 1975) and Madison Central (the school's name change didn't follow that of the town) every season since 1963, OB's 1st season. From 1963 to 1974, EB led 9-1-2. From 1975 onward, OB leads 35-11, including 21-3 on Thanksgiving. Overall, OB leads 36-20-2. This season, with the game moved back to the season opener, Old Bridge won, 17-14.

Also on this day, 20 Thanksgivings after the Clint Longley Game, the Cowboys again needs a backup quarterback to fill in for an injured future Hall-of-Famer. Troy Aikman went down, and Jason Garrett stepped in. The Cowboys beat Brett Favre and the Packers 42-31.

November 26, 1998: The Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers go to overtime. Referee Phil Luckett tells visiting Steeler captain Jerome Betts to call the coin as he tosses it in the air. Bettis starts to call heads, but stops himself and calls tails. Luckett goes with Bettis' aborted original call, and says the call was heads. The coin lands tails, the Lions get the ball, and kick a game-winning field goal without the Steelers even getting the ball back: Lions 19, Steelers 16.

The next season, the rule was changed: The captain is now required to call the coin before the toss. Another rule change, effective in 2012, means that a team can still win without giving the ball back if they score a touchdown, but not a field goal: If they kick a field goal, the team behind gets another chance.

November 23, 2006: The NFL goes to a 3-game schedule: Detroit in the 12:30 game, Dallas in the 3:30 game, and a 3rd game at 8:30, chosen for high ratings. The Lions lose to the Dolphins 27-10, the Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-10, and the Chiefs beat the Broncos 19-10 at Arrowhead Stadium.

November 22, 2012: Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez runs headfirst into the rear end of one of his own linemen, and drops the ball. Against his team's arch-rivals, the New England Patriots. It's picked up and returned for a touchdown. Not that it mattered: The Pats won 49-19. But "The Butt Fumble" marked the end of Sanchez' tenure as Jets starting quarterback.

*

Thanksgiving games, current NFL teams: Detroit Lions 80, Dallas Cowboys 52, Chicago Bears 36, Green Bay Packers 36, Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals 23, New York Giants 15 (oldest team to have never hosted), Denver Broncos 11 (most of any AFC team), Washington Redskins 11, Kansas City Chiefs 10, Buffalo Bills 9; New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings 8; Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 7; Cleveland/St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns 6; New England Patriots and San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers 5; Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons 4; New Orleans Saints 3; Baltimore Ravens 2; Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans 1; Jacksonville Jaguars 0.

The Jaguars are in their 25th season, and have never played on Thanksgiving. The Chargers have not played on Turkey Day since 1969. The Rams and Browns have also not yet played on T-Day in the 21st Century, and the Bills are doing so for the 1st time today.

Records:

1. Baltimore Ravens: 2-0, 1.000
2. New Orleans Saints: 2-0, 1.000
3. Houston Texans: 1-0, 1.000
4. Carolina Panthers: 1-0, 1.000
5. Philadelphia Eagles: 6-1, .857
6. Cleveland/St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams: 5-1, .833
7. Minnesota Vikings: 6-2, .750
8. Miami Dolphins: 5-2, .714
9. Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans: 5-2, .714
10. San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers: 3-1-1, .700
11. Dallas Cowboys: 32-19, .627
12. Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: 2-1-1, .625
13. Kansas City Chiefs: 6-4, .600
14. New England Patriots: 3-2, .600
15. San Francisco 49ers: 3-2-1, .583
16. New York Giants: 7-5-3, .567
17. Chicago Bears: 18-15-2, .543
18. New York Jets: 4-4, .500
19. Cleveland Browns: 3-3, .500
20. Seattle Seahawks: 2-2, .500
21. Jacksonville Jaguars: 0-0 (no winning percentage, as you can't divide by zero)
22. Detroit Lions: 37-40-2, .481
23. Buffalo Bills: 3-4-1, .438
24. Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders: 3-4, .429
25. Green Bay Packers: 14-20-2, .417
26. Denver Broncos: 4-7, .364
27. Atlanta Falcons: 1-2, ..333
28. Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals: 6-15-2, .304
29. Washington Redskins: 3-8, .273
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-6, .250
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0-1, .000
32. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-1, .000

*

Teams playing on Thanksgiving and winning an NFL Championship in the same season:

1920 Akron Pros beat Canton Bulldogs 7-0
1921 Chicago Bears lose to Buffalo All-Americans 7-6
1922 Canton Bulldogs beat Akron Pros 14-0
1923 Canton Bulldogs beat Toledo Maroons 28-0
1924 Canton Bulldogs beat Milwaukee Badgers 53-10
1925 Chicago Cardinals tie Chicago Bears 0-0
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets (Philadelphia) beat Green Bay Packers 20-14
1928 Providence Steam Roller beat Pottsville Maroons 7-0
1929 Green Bay Packers tie Frankford Yellow Jackets 0-0
1930 Green Bay Packers beat Frankford Yellow Jackets 25-7
1931 Green Bay Packers beat Providence Steam Roller 38-7
1932 Chicago Bears beat Chicago Cardinals 24-0
1933 Chicago Bears beat Chicago Cardinals 22-6
1934 New York Giants beat Brooklyn Dodgers 27-0
1935 Detroit Lions beat Chicago Bears 14-2
1938 New York Giants tie Brooklyn Dodgers 7-7
1948 Cleveland Browns beat Los Angeles Dons 31-14 (All-America Football Conference)
1949 Cleveland Browns beat Chicago Hornets 14-6 (AAFC)
1952 Detroit Lions beat Green Bay Packers 48-24
1953 Detroit Lions beat Green Bay Packers 34-15
1957 Detroit Lions beat Green Bay Packers 18-6
1961 Green Bay Packers beat Detroit Lions 17-9
1962 Green Bay Packers lost to Detroit Lions 26-14
1964 Buffalo Bills beat San Diego Chargers 27-24 (American Football League)
1965 Buffalo Bills tie San Diego Chargers 20-20 (AFL)
1967 Oakland Raiders beat Kansas City Chiefs 44-22 (AFL)
1969 Minnesota Vikings beat Detroit Lions 27-0
1969 Kansas City Chiefs beat Denver Broncos 31-17
1971 Dallas Cowboys beat Los Angeles Rams 28-21
1973 Miami Dolphins beat Dallas Cowboys 14-7
1992 Dallas Cowboys over New York Giants 30-3
1993 Dallas Cowboys lose to Miami Dolphins 16-14
1995 Dallas Cowboys over Kansas City Chiefs 24-12

Monday, November 18, 2019

Teams of the Year In New York Sports, 1901-2019

Given that neither the Giants nor the Jets has a snowball's chance in an Arizona stadium with the roof open of making the Playoffs, I feel safe in awarding the 2019 title and posting this now.

Note: The following refers to the calendar year. In other words, while the Jets' Super Bowl team would qualify for both 1968 (when they won the AFL Championship) and 1969 (when they won the Super Bowl), there is another candidate for 1969, whereas there really isn't for 1968, so the Jets only "win" 1968.

1901 Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers). Finished ahead of the Giants.
1902 Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers). Finished ahead of the Giants.
1903 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1904 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1905 New York Giants (baseball). Won the World Series.
1906 New York Highlanders (later Yankees). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1907 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1908 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1909 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.

1910 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1911 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1912 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1913 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1914 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1915 Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1916 Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers). Won the Pennant.
1917 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1918 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1919 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.

1920 Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers). Won the Pennant.
1921 New York Giants (baseball). Won the World Series, beating the Yankees.
1922 New York Giants (baseball). Won the World Series, beating the Yankees.
1923 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Giants.
1924 New York Giants (baseball). Won the Pennant.
1925 New York Giants (baseball). Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1926 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant.
1927 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Giants also won the NFL Championship.
1928 New York Rangers. Won the Stanley Cup. The Yankees also won the World Series.
1929 New York Rangers. Reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

1930 New York Rangers. Reached the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
1931 New York Rangers. Reached the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
1932 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Rangers also reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
1933 New York Giants (baseball). Won the World Series. The Rangers also won the Stanley Cup, and the Giants reached the NFL Championship Game.
1934 New York Giants. Won the NFL Championship.
1935 New York Giants. Reached the NFL Championship Game.
1936 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Giants.
1937 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Giants. The Rangers also reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
1938 New York Giants. Won the NFL Championship. The Yankees also won the World Series.
1939 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Giants also reached the NFL Championship Game.

1940 New York Rangers. Won the Stanley Cup.
1941 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Dodgers. The Giants also reached the NFL Championship Game.
1942 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant.
1943 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.
1944 New York Giants. Reached the NFL Championship Game.
1945 New York Yankees. Came the closest to winning a Pennant.
1946 New York Giants. Reached the NFL Championship Game.
1947 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Dodgers.
1948 New York Yankees. Came the closest to reaching a Finals.
1949 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Dodgers.

1950 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Rangers also reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
1951 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Giants. The Knicks also reached the NBA Finals.
1952 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Dodgers. The Knicks also reached the NBA Finals.
1953 New York Yankees. Won the World Series, beating the Dodgers. The Knicks also reached the NBA Finals.
1954 New York Giants (baseball). Won the World Series.
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers. Won the World Series, beating the Yankees.
1956 New York Giants. Won the NFL Championship Game. The Yankees also won the World Series, beating the Dodgers.
1957 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant.
1958 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Giants also reached the NFL Championship Game.
1959 New York Giants. Reached the NFL Championship Game.

1960 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant.
1961 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Giants also reached the NFL Championship Game.
1962 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Giants also reached the NFL Championship Game.
1963 New York Giants. Reached the NFL Championship Game. Yankees also won the Pennant.
1964 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant.
1965 New York Knicks. Came the closest to making the Playoffs.
1966 New York Knicks. Came the closest to making the Playoffs.
1967 New York Rangers. They were the only team in the Tri-State Area to make Playoffs.
1968 New York Jets. Won the AFL Championship.
1969 New York Mets. Won the World Series. The Jets also won the Super Bowl.

1970 New York Knicks. Won the NBA Championship.
1971 New York Knicks. Reached the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
1972 New York Cosmos. The Knicks and Rangers also reached their sports' Finals.
1973 New York Knicks. Won the NBA Championship.
1974 New York Nets. Won the ABA Championship.
1975 New York Islanders. Reached the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals.
1976 New York Nets. Won the ABA Championship.
1977 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.
1978 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.
1979 New York Rangers. Reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

1980 New York Islanders. Won the Stanley Cup.
1981 New York Islanders. Won the Stanley Cup.
1982 New York Islanders. Won the Stanley Cup.
1983 New York Islanders. Won the Stanley Cup.
1984 New York Islanders. Reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
1985 New York Giants. Reached NFC Divisional Playoff.
1986 New York Mets. Won the World Series.
1987 New York Giants. Won the Super Bowl.
1988 New York Mets. Reached the National League Championship Series.
1989 New York Giants. Reached NFC Divisional Playoff.

1990 New York Giants. Won the NFC Eastern Division.
1991 New York Giants. Won the Super Bowl.
1992 New York Rangers. Won the President's Trophy for best overall record in the NHL regular season, and reached the Patrick Division Finals. The President's Trophy gives them the tiebreaker over the Knicks, who reached the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals.
1993 New York Islanders. Reached the NHL Prince of Wales Conference Final.
1994 New York Rangers. Won the Stanley Cup. The Knicks also reached the NBA Finals.
1995 New Jersey Devils. Won the Stanley Cup.
1996 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.
1997 New York Rangers. Reached the NHL Eastern Conference Finals.
1998 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.
1999 New York Yankees. Won the World Series. The Knicks also reached the NBA Finals.

2000 New Jersey Devils. Won the Stanley Cup. The Yankees also won the World Series, beating the Mets.
2001 New York Yankees. Won the Pennant. The Devils also reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
2002 New Jersey Nets. Won the NBA Eastern Conference.
2003 New Jersey Devils. Won the Stanley Cup. The Nets also reached the NBA Finals.
2004 New York Yankees. Reached the American League Championship Series.
2005 New York Giants. Reached the NFC Wild Card.
2006 New York Mets. Reached the National League Championship Series.
2007 New York Yankees. Reached the American League Division Series.
2008 New York Giants. Won the Super Bowl.
2009 New York Yankees. Won the World Series.

2010 New York Jets. Reached the AFC Championship Game. The Yankees also reached the American League Championship Series.
2011 New York Jets. Reached the AFC Championship Game.
2012 New York Giants. Won the Super Bowl.
2013 New York Red Bulls. Won the Supporters' Shield.
2014 New York Rangers. Reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
2015 New York Mets. Won the National League Pennant.
2016 New York Islanders. Reached NHL Eastern Conference Semifinals.
2017 New York Yankees. Reached American League Championship Series.
2018 New York Red Bulls. Won the Supporters' Shield.
2019 New York Yankees. Reached American League Championship Series.

Yankees 35
Giants (B) 20
Giants 14
Rangers 11
Islanders 7
Knicks 6
Dodgers 6
Mets 5
Devils 3
Nets 3
Jets 2
Red Bulls 2
Cosmos 1
Liberty 0
NYCFC 0

Last Title
2019 Yankees
2018 Red Bulls
2016 Islanders
2015 Mets
2014 Rangers
2012 Giants
2011 Jets
2003 Devils
2002 Nets
1973 Knicks
Never Liberty
Never NYCFC

Baseball 66
Hockey 21
Football 16
Basketball 7
Soccer 3

Warm-Weather 69
Cold-Weather 44

Outdoor 85
Indoor 28

Manhattan 42
Bronx 38
New Jersey 16
Long Island 10
Brooklyn 7
Queens 6

Outer Boroughs 51
Manhattan 42
Suburbs 26

Old Teams 90
New Teams 23

From 1968 onward:
Old Teams 29
New Teams 23

Sunday, November 17, 2019

How to Go to the Harvard-Yale Game

Next Saturday begins College Football Rivalry Week, and it includes the original rivalry: Harvard vs. Yale. Or, as they call it, The Game.

Not "The Big Game." "The Game."

*

Before You Go. While New Haven weather is practically identical to New York City weather, Boston weather is a little different, being a little bit further north. Mark Twain, who lived the last few years of his life in nearby Hartford, said, "If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute."

You should check the websites of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald -- or the New Haven Register -- before you leave. For the moment, they're predicting mid-40s by day and the high 30s by night for Saturday, with a chance of rain.

Wind is sometimes an issue inside Fenway Park, and it might be one if this game were being played in Harvard Stadium, which is just inland from the Charles River. But it shouldn't be one if it's played in the Yale Bowl in New Haven.

The Berkeley Building, a.k.a. the Old John Hancock Building, has a spire that lights up, and is a weather beacon, complete with poem:

Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead.

If it flashes red during the baseball season, that doesn't mean snow. It means the game has been called off. Or, as one wag added to the poem:

But if it's baseball time and Boston
and the weather is to blame
if you see the light is flashing red
that means there'll be no game.

If the game is at Harvard, leave any New York sports team gear you may have at home. Boston is the easternmost city in Major League Baseball (and in the other North American sports leagues, too, and will remain so even if Quebec City returns to the NHL), but it is still in the Eastern Time Zone, so adjusting your watch and your smartphone clock is not necessary. And, of course, despite the silliness of the concept of "Red Sox Nation," you do not need a passport to cross the New Haven City Line, or to change your money.

Tickets. This is "The Game," so tickets are in short supply. But, when available, all seats at Harvard home games are $25. For Yale, all tickets are $20. This is the Ivy League, which has not been "major college football" for a long time.

Getting There. It's 81 miles by road from Times Square to the New Haven Green, and 214 miles to Boston's Downtown Crossing. Getting to either city is fairly easy. However, I do not recommend driving in or around Boston, including Cambridge, especially if you have Yankee paraphernalia on your car (bumper sticker, license-plate holder, decals, etc.). Chances are, it won't get vandalized... but you never know.

To Yale, it's fairly easy: Just take Interstate 95 North into Connecticut, to Exit 48 in New Haven. That should take about 2 hours. From the Green, take Chapel Street 2 miles west, and the Yale Bowl will be on your left.

Union Station, a mile south of the Green at 50 Union Avenue, serves Amtrak, Metro-North and Greyhound. Amtrak out of Penn Station is a lot more expensive than Metro-North, and doesn't save that much time, so take Metro-North's New Haven Line out of Grand Central Terminal. It takes 2 hours and 23 minutes, and is $47 round-trip. Greyhound from Port Authority to New Haven is $46 round-trip, but it can drop to $28 with advanced purchase.

To Harvard: When you get to New Haven, take Interstate 91 North toward Hartford. When you reach Hartford, take Exit 29 to Interstate 84, which you will take into Massachusetts and all the way to its end, where it merges with Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike. (And the locals call it "the Mass Pike" – never "the Turnpike" like we do in New Jersey.)

Theoretically, you could take I-95 all the way to Boston as well, but that will take you through downtown Providence, Rhode Island, up to the Boston suburbs. I like Providence as a city, but that route is longer by both miles and time than the route described above.

Although you will see Fenway Park, or at least its light towers, from the Mass Pike a couple of minutes before you reach the exit for the park, you'll take Exit 22 for "Prudential Center" – not to be confused with the Newark arena that is home to the New Jersey Devils. This is a skyscraper with a major area mall on its 1st 2 levels. You will end up on Huntington Avenue, and make a right on Belvidere Street, then a left on Boylston Street, and then a right on Ipswich Street, which will take you to Fenway's parking deck.

If all goes well, and you make one rest stop (preferably around Hartford, roughly the halfway point), and you don't get seriously delayed by traffic within the city limits of either New York or Boston (either of which is very possible), you should be able to make the trip in under 5 hours.

But, please, do yourself a favor and get a hotel outside the city. It's not just that hotels in Boston proper are expensive, unless you want to try one of the thousands of bed-and-breakfasts with their communal bathrooms. It's also that Boston drivers are said to come in 2 classes, depending on how big their car is: Homicidal and suicidal.

So my recommendation is that, whenever a Yankee series in Boston approaches on the schedule, whatever your plans are for going, bag them, and make your game ticket and lodging plans for the next series.

For any lodging in Cambridge rather than in Boston proper, take Exit 18 off the Mass Pike and follow the signs for Cambridge, across the Charles River to the north. For lodging in Newton, Exit 15, 16 or 17. For lodging south of the city -- in, for example, Quincy -- take Exit 15 off the Mass Pike, for I-95/495 South (Boston's "beltway," in which case, it might be more convenient to take I-95 all the way up), to Exits 12 to 15; or, if going further, where it flows into Interstate 93, Exits 1 through 12.

Boston, like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, is too close to fly from New York, and once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, it doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train. It certainly won't save you any money.

The train is a very good option. Boston's South Station is at 700 Atlantic Avenue, corner of Summer Street, at Dewey Square. (Named for Admiral George Dewey, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, not New York Governor and 1944 & '48 Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, and not for former Red Sox right fielder Dwight "Dewey" Evans, either.) It'll be $154 round-trip from New York’s Penn Station to South Station, and it will take roughly 4½ hours. The Acela Express (the new name for the Metroliner, a more expensive option) will take about 3½ hours.
That pointy thing in front of it is a subway entrance.

South Station also has a bus terminal attached, and it may be the best bus station in the country – even better than New York's Port Authority. If you take Greyhound, you'll leave from Port Authority's Gate 84, and it will take about 4½ hours, most likely making one stop, at Hartford's Union Station complex, or in the Boston suburbs of Framingham, Worcester or Newton. New York to Boston and back is tremendously cheaper on the bus than on the train, usually around $114 round-trip, and it could drop to as little as $62 with advanced purchase), and is probably Greyhound's best run. On the way back, you’ll board at South Station's Gate 3.

Once In the City: Cambridge. Although their athletic facilities are on the south, Boston bank of the Charles River, Harvard University is on the north bank, in Cambridge. It was named for the University of Cambridge in England, as the founders of Harvard were Puritans, some of whom had gone to that school, founded in 1209. That city was named for a bridge over the River Cam.

One of those Cambridge graduates was John Harvard, a minister known in his time (1607-1638) as "a godly gentleman and a lover of learning." Unfortunately, he was only 31 when he died of tuberculosis. Upon his death, he left money for The New College, founded in 1636 as the 1st college in America. So he's not quite the founder of what was subsequently renamed Harvard University. He's more the benefactor, as Colonel Henry Rutgers would be of Queens College in New Jersey, 189 years later.

Radcliffe College, a women's school, was founded in Cambridge in 1889. It was integrated into Harvard in 1977, making America's oldest college co-ed at last.

The city grew around the University, with Harvard Square being the centerpoint, for town activity, though not for street addresses. It is formed by the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street (formerly Harvard Street).

Since 1912, the Square has been served by the Harvard station on the Boston subway, now part of the MBTA Red Line, and I suspect the color was chosen to match Harvard's color, crimson, which is also the name of the school newspaper (The Harvard Crimson) and the name of its sports teams. Harvard Square is also a major bus service hub.
Harvard Station

Also is Cambridge is the Kendall station on the Red Line, mentioned in the song "M.T.A.": "Charlie handed in his dime at the Kendall Square Station... " Today, a ride costs $2.75 with cash, the same as New York's subway, and if you're there for the entire series, it may be cheaper to get a 7-day pass for $21.25. The MBTA 1-day pass is $12, so the 7-day pass is a better option.

But the Harvard Square Kiosk, in place since 1928, and home to the newspaper and magazine store known as Out of Town News since 1955, is no more. Out of Town News closed this past October 31, and the Kiosk is being renovated, expected to reopen sometime next year.
Harvard Square, including the Kiosk, with Dudley House behind it

Harvard Yard is bounded by Broadway on the north, Quincy Street on the east, Massachusetts Avenue on the south and Peabody Street on the west. There are signs stating that motorized vehicles are banned. So the phrase designed to show off the Boston accent is pointless: Legally, you cannot "Pahk yuh cah in Hahvahd Yahd."

In the Yard, in front of University Hall, is a statue of John Harvard, dedicated in 1884. His left shoe is shiny, because people rub it for good luck. In 1934, some Harvard students kidnapped Handsome Dan, the Yale Bulldog mascot, and let him loose at the statue. Sacrilege? No: They'd smeared the shoes with hamburger grease, and got a photograph of "Yale licking Harvard's boots." The dog was not otherwise harmed, and was soon returned.
Cambridge is also the location of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The city is home to 120,000 people, but it's as much "town" as "gown," and the "town" is very blue-collar, home to Thomas "Tip" O'Neill, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1986; and actors Matt Damon and Ben and Casey Affleck.

The Area Code is 617, with 857 overlaid; and the ZIP Codes run from 02138 to 02142. The sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent, less than New Jersey's 7 percent and New York City's 8.875 percent. The Boston area's electric companies have been unified under a company called Eversource Energy. Cambridge was 91 percent white as recently as 1970, but is now 63 percent white, 16 percent Asian, 13 percent black and 8 percent Hispanic.

As America's oldest college, a list of Harvard's (and Radcliffe's) notable graduates would be either extensive or short-changing. Let me thus list the biggest of the big names:

* Presidents: John Adams (Class of) 1755, John Quincy Adams 1767, Rutherford B. Hayes 1845 (Law School), Theodore Roosevelt 1880, Franklin D. Roosevelt 1904, John F. Kennedy '40, George W. Bush '73 (Business School), Barack Obama '91 (Law School).

Also, Vice President Al Gore '69; President Syngman Rhee 1909 of South Korea, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf '71 of Liberia; and Prime Ministers Pierre Trudeau '45 of Canada, and Benazir Bhutto '73 of Pakistan.

First Lady Michelle Obama got her law degree at Harvard in '88. First Daughter Caroline Kennedy graduated in '80, and Malia Obama is on schedule to graduate in 2021. Masako Owada '85 is now Empress Masako of Japan,

* Cabinet members: Many, including Secretaries of State Edward Everett 1814, Richard Olney 1858, Dean Acheson 1918 (Law) and Mike Pompeo '94; Secretaries of Defense Robert Todd Lincoln 1864, Henry Stimson 1889, Caspar Weinberger '38, Robert McNamara '39, James Schlesinger '50; Secretaries of the Treasury Donald Regan '40 and Robert Rubin '60; Attorneys General Robert F. Kennedy 1948, Janet Reno '63, Loretta Lynch '81; Secretaries of Labor Willard Wirtz '37, Elizabeth Dole '65 (also a Senator) and Elaine Chao '79; Secretaries of Housing & Urban Development Robert C. Weaver '34, Henry Cisneros '73 and Julian Castro 2000; and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross '61.

Castro's twin brother Joaquin Castro, currently a Congressman from Texas and a candidate for President, also graduated in 2000.

* U.S. Supreme Court: 23 Justices, including Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 1861, Louis Brandeis 1877, Felix Frankfurter 1906, Harry Blackmun '29, William J. Brennan '31, Lewis Powell '32, William Rehnquist '50, Antonin Scalia '60, Anthony Kennedy and David Souter '61, and current Justices Stephen Breyer '64. Neil Gorsuch '67 and Elena Kagan '86. This means that, from 1990 to 2005, 4 of the 9 Justices, nearly a majority, were Harvard graduates, either undergraduate or Law School. In addition, Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox '34.

* Governors: Among others, Samuel Adams 1740 of Massachusetts, John Hancock 1754 of Massachusetts, Leverett Saltonstall 1914 of Massachusetts, Christian Herter 1915 of Massachusetts, John Davis Lodge '25 of Connecticut, Alfred E. Driscoll '28 of New Jersey, John Chafee '50 of Rhode Island, Michael Dukakis '60 of Massachusetts, Jay Rockefeller '61 of West Virginia, Bob Graham '62 of Florida, Pete du Pont '63 of Delaware, William Weld '66 of Massachusetts, Jim Doyle '72 of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney '75 of Massachusetts, Ned Lamont '76 of Connecticut, Deval Patrick '78 of Massachusetts, Phil Murphy '79 of New Jersey, Mark Warner '80 of Virginia, Bruce Rauner '81 of Illinois, Jim McGreevey '82 of New Jersey, Tim Kaine '83 of Virginia, Eliot Spitzer '84 of New York, and Jennifer Granholm '87 of Michigan.

Saltonstall, Chafee, Rockefeller, Graham, Warner and Kaine were also U.S. Senators.

* U.S. Senators: Among others, not including those previously mentioned: Rufus King 1777 of Massachusetts, Charles Sumner 1830 of Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge 1871 of Massachusetts, Robert Taft 1913 of Ohio (Law), Sam Ervin of North Carolina '22, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. '24 of Massachusetts (grandson of the earlier Senator), Claude Pepper '24 of Florida, William Proxmire '40 of Wisconsin, Robert Taft Jr. '42 of Ohio (Law), Thomas Eagleton of Missouri '53, Ted Kennedy '56 of Massachusetts, Paul Sarbanes '60 of Maryland, Pat Toomey '61 of Pennsylvania, John Heinz '63 of Pennsylvania, Harrison Schmitt '64 of New Mexico (also astronaut who walked on the Moon), Richard Blumenthal '67 of Connecticut, Chuck Schumer '71 of New York, Al Franken '73 of Minnesota, Jack Reed '73 of Rhode Island, Paul Tsongas '74 of Massachusetts, Mike Crapo '77 of Idaho, Bill Frist '78 of Tennessee, Russ Feingold '79 of Wisconsin, Bob Torricelli '80 of New Jersey, David Vitter '83 of Louisiana, Martha McSally '90 of Arizona, Ben Sasse '94 of Nebraska, Ted Cruz '95 of Texas, and Tom Cotton '98 of Arkansas.

* Others: Declaration of Independence signer Robert Treat Paine 1749, civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois 1890, State Department official and accused spy Alger Hiss '29, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly '45, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker '51, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg '52, Mayor Kevin White '57 of Boston, Presidential speechwriter Richard Goodwin '58 and his wife historian Doris Kearns Goodwin '68, consumer advocate and 2000 3rd party Presidential candidate Ralph Nader '58, Mayor Michael Bloomberg '66 of New York, Presidential advisor David Gergen '67, physician and 3rd party Presidential candidate Jill Stein '73, conservative economic guru Grover Norquist '78, and Mayor Eric Johnson '98 of Dallas.

* Science: Psychologist William James 1869, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey 1919, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer '25, astronomer Neil de Grasse Tyson '80. Alas, also "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski '62.

* Business: Banker David Rockefeller '36, Levi Strauss CEO and former Oakland Athletics owner Walter Haas '39, Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone '44, New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman '62, Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer '77, Enron fraudster Jeffrey Skilling '79, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon '82.

* Journalism: Ben Bradlee '44, George Plimpton '48, Lou Dobbs '67, Thomas Oliphant '67, James Fallows '70, Frank Rich '71, Michael Kinsley '72, E.J. Dionne '73, Evan Thomas '73, William Kristol '73, Walter Isaacson '74, Jill Abramson '76, Jim Cramer '77, Jonathan Alter '79, Nicholas Kristof '81, Andrew Sullivan '86, Soledad O'Brien '87, Suzanne Malveaux '87, Joy-Ann Reid '90. If you count sports journalism: James Brown '73, Pablo S. Torre 2007.

* Literature: Ralph Waldo Emerson 1821, Oliver Wendell Holmes 1836 (grandfather of the Justice), Henry David Thoreau 1837, James Russell Lowell 1838, Horatio Alger 1852, Ernest Thayer 1885 (wrote "Casey At the Bat"), George Santayana 1886, Gertrude Stein 1897, Helen Keller 1904, Robert Benchley 1912, E.E. Cummings 1915, John Dos Passos 1916, Thomas Wolfe '22, William S. Burroughs '36, Norman Mailer '43, Richard Wilbur '47, Edward Gorey '50, Robert Bly '50, Donald Hall '51, Ursula K. Le Guin '51, John Updike '54, Susan Sontag '57, Erich Segal '58, Peter Benchley '61 (Robert's grandson), Margaret Atwood '62, Michael Crichton '64, Scott Turow '78, Elizabeth Wurtzel '89.

* Actors: Jack Lemmon '47, Fred Gwynne '51, Wallace Shawn '65, Stockard Channing '65, John Lithgow '67, Tommy Lee Jones '69 (also a football player and roommate of Al Gore), Fred Grandy '70, Courtney B. Vance '82, Amy Brenneman '87, Donal Logue '89, Mira Sorvino '90, Nestor Carbonell '90, Matt Damon '92, Rashida Jones '97, Elisabeth Shue 2000, Natalie Portman '03, Jonathan Taylor Thomas '04, Scottie Thompson '05.

* Comedians: Andy Borowitz '80, Conan O'Brien '85, Greg Giraldo '88, Mo Rocca '91.

* Directors: Terrence Malick '66, James Toback '66, Edward Zwick '74, Jeff Zucker '86, Darren Aronofsky '91.

* Music: Composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein '39, musical satirist Tom Lehrer '47, Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison '71, cellist Yo-Yo Ma '76, Rage Against the Machine leader Tom Morello '86, jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman '91, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo '06.

* Architecture: Charles Bulfinch 1781, Philip Johnson '30, I.M. Pei '46.

You were wondering when I was going to get around to sports? Non-football athletes from Harvard include: Early tennis star Richard Sears 1883, baseball player and war hero Eddie Grant 1905, figure skater Dick Button '52, soccer goalie Shep Messing '73, rowing Olympic Gold Medalist Esther Lofgren '09, basketball player Jeremy Lin '10. Also, hockey general managers Robert Ridder '40 and Brian Burke '81, and Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred '83. If you count golf as a sport (I don't), Bobby Jones '24.

Once In the City: New Haven. Settled in 1638, and named as a "haven" for Puritans fleeing England, "the Elm City" is now home to about 130,000 people, making it about the same size as Cambridge.
The city and the school are both centered on the New Haven Green, bordered by Elm Street on the north, Church Street on the east, Chapel Street on the south and College Street on the west. The Green is 77 miles northeast of Midtown Manhattan, and 137 miles southwest of Downtown Crossing in Boston. This makes the city a convenient "neutral zone" for fans of New York teams and Boston teams alike.
New Haven faced some serious "white flight" after the 1960s: With a white population of 70 percent in 1970, it's now about 35 percent black, 32 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic and 5 percent Asian. The Area Code is 203, with 475 overlaid; and the ZIP Codes run from 06501 to 06540. The sales tax in Connecticut is 6.35 percent. Oddly, New Haven's electricity is run by Pennsylvania Power and Light -- Pennsylvania and Connecticut don't even border each other.

Connecticut Transit runs New Haven's buses, and when you board, you can press a button to get an All-Day Pass for just $3.50. New Haven's Union Station is served by Amtrak, Metro-North, the Hartford Line (connecting to Springfield, Massachusetts), the Shore Line East (connecting as far east as Old Saybrook), Greyhound, Megabus and Connecticut Transit buses.
The Collegiate School was founded in 1701 in Branford, Connecticut -- and the school's current people won't want to admit this, but it was by Harvard-educated ministers. It moved around a bit until it was set in New Haven in 1716, and stayed there.

As with John Harvard of Cambridge University (and Henry Rutgers of Columbia), it was a man from another school who became its benefactor and namesake, Boston businessman and Harvard graduate Elihu Yale (1649-1721). An official in the East India Company, "Eli" Yale made his contribution, and the school was named for him in 1718. The students and graduates have since been called "Men of Old Eli," and the teams were called the Elis before "Bulldogs" was adopted.
He has no statue on campus, and no shiny shoe.

Harvard's motto is simply Veritas, Latin for "Truth." Yale's is Lux et Veritas, "Light and Truth." One-upmanship? They've been trying to one-up each other for 300 years. They have more in common than they'd like to admit, but they like to think they're opposites, with Yale even using blue as a color rather than red. Yale's school newspaper is The Yale Daily News, or "The Daily Yalie."

As with Harvard, any list of notable Yale alumni would be exhaustive, and includes some who also got degrees at Harvard, but here goes:

* Presidents: William Howard Taft 1878, Gerald Ford '41 (Law), George H.W. Bush '48, George W. Bush '68, Bill Clinton '73 (Law).

* Vice Presidents: In addition to Ford and the elder Bush, John C. Calhoun 1804, Dick Cheney '63.

* Supreme Court: 18 Justices, including Chief Justice Taft, Potter Stewart '37, Byron White '46, and current Justices Clarence Thomas '74, Samuel Alito '75, Sonia Sotomayor '79 and Brett Kavanaugh '90.

* Cabinet members: Secretaries of State Henry Stimson 1888, Dean Acheson 1915, Cyrus Vance '39, John Kerry '66 and Hillary Clinton '73 (Law); Secretary of Defense Les Aspin '60; Secretaries of the Treasury Robert Rubin '64 and Steve Mnuchin '85; Attorneys General Alphonso Taft 1833 (founder of the family's political dynasty) and Edwin Meese '53; and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross '59. Kerry and Clinton were also U.S. Senators.

Also, abolitionist and later Ambassador Cassius Clay 1832 (namesake of the man who became Muhammad Ali), "Chicago Eight" defendant David Dellinger '36 (he titled his memoir From Yale to Jail), original Peace Corps Director and Kennedy in-law Sargent Shriver '38, notable Deputy Attorney General Burke Marshall '43, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. '78, "hippie lawyer" William Kunstler '41, and notorious Bush Administration official Lewis "Scooter" Libby '72.

* Governors: In addition to those previously mentioned, William Livingston 1741 of New Jersey (1st Governor), Samuel Tilden 1837 of New York, Averell Harriman 1913 of New York, William Scranton '39 of Pennsylvania, John Chafee '47, of Rhode Island, Lowell Weicker '53 of Connecticut, Robert Taft '53 of Ohio (son of Robert Jr. and great-grandson of William Howard), Pete Wilson '56 of California, Jerry Brown '64 of California (Law), George Pataki '67 of New York, Mark Dayton '69 of Minnesota, Jack Dalrymple '70 of North Dakota. Howard Dean '71 of Vermont, Gary Locke '72 of Washington. Chafee, Weicker and Wilson were also U.S. Senators. Also Mayor John Lindsay '44 of New York.

* U.S. Senators: Among them, in addition to those already mentioned, Robert Taft 1910 of Ohio, Prescott Bush 1917 of Connecticut (George H.W.'s father), Stuart Symington '23 of Missouri, Robert Taft Jr. '39 of Ohio, William Proxmire '48 of Wisconsin, Arlen Specter '56 of Pennsylvania (Law), John Heinz '60 of Pennsylvania, Gary Hart '61 of Colorado, Joe Lieberman '64 of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal '73 of Connecticut (Law), Sherrod Brown '74 of Ohio, Sheldon Whitehouse '78, of Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar '82 of Minnesota, Cory Booker '97 of New Jersey (Law).

* Members of Congress: Among them, Gerry Studds '59 of Massachusetts, the 1st openly gay Congressman; Eleanor Holmes Norton '63, longtime nonvoting delegate from the District of Columbia; and Sheila Jackson Lee '72 of Texas.

* Political commentators: William F. Buckley '50 and his son Christopher Buckley '75, Alan Dershowitz '62, David Gergen '63, Marvin Olasky '71, Fareed Zakaria '86.

Also, Revolutionary patriot spy Nathan Hale 1773; the founder of Cleveland, Ohio, Moses Cleaveland 1777; and New York building czar Robert Moses 1909.

* Journalism: Ogden Mills Reid 1904 and his son Whitelaw Reid '34, Gordon McLendon '42, Tom Wolfe '57, John Lahr '63, Margaret Warner '71, Jane Mayer '77, Stone Phillips '77, Naomi Wolf '84, Adam Liptak '84, David Leonhart '94.

* Business: Publisher Henry Holt 1862, aircraft pioneers William Boeing 1903 and Juan Trippe '21, newspaper publishers Joseph Medill Patterson 1901 (founder of the New York Daily News) and his cousin "Colonel" Robert McCormick 1903 (of the Chicago Tribune), Time magazine founders Henry Luce 1920 and Britton Hadden 1920, venture capital inventor and New York Herald Tribune
publisher John Hay "Jock" Whitney '26, automaker Henry Ford II '40, Federal Express founder Frederick W Smith '66.

* Science: Cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney 1792, painter and telegraph inventor Samuel Morse 1810, child psychologist Benjamin Spock '25, computer pioneer Grace Hopper '30, and neurosurgeons Harvey Williams Cushing 1891 and Ben Carson '73.

* Social Science: Reinhold Niebuhr 1914, Brendan Gill '36, Camille Paglia '72, Henry Louis Gates Jr. '73.

* Architecture: Eero Saarinen '34, Robert Stern '65, and Maya Lin '81.

* Art: Painters Mark Rothko '24, Chuck Close '64; cartoonist Garry Trudeau '70.

* Acting: Vincent Price '33, James Whitmore '42, Anne Meacham '47, Paul Newman '54, Sam Waterston '61, Henry Winkler '70, Ben Stein '70, Michael Gross '73, Sigourney Weaver '74, Harry Hamlin '74, Meryl Streep '75, Robert Picardo '75, Angela Bassett '80, Tony Shalhoub '80, Bronson Pinchot '81, David Hyde Pierce '81, David Alan Grier '81, Frances McDormand '82, Victoria Clark '82, John Turturro '83, Jodie Foster '85, Chris Noth '85, Enrico Colantoni '85, Jennifer Beals '87, Paul Giamatti '89 (son of former Yale President and Baseball Commissioner Bart Giamatti), David Duchovny '89, Ron Livingston '89, Phil LaMarr '89, Edward Norton '91, Bellamy Young '91, Jennifer Connelly '92, Liev Schreiber '92, Noah Emmerich '92, Sara Gilbert '97, Josh Saviano '98, Kellie Martin '01, Claire Danes '02, Jordana Brewster '03 (granddaughter of former Yale President Kingman Brewster), Allison Williams '10, Lupita Nyong'o '12, Winston Duke '13.

Also, directors George Roy Hill '43, Michael Cimino '61, James Burrows '62, Oliver Stone '68, Lloyd Kaufman '68, Thomas F. Lennon '73, Alex Gibney '74, Todd Solondz '81 and Jessica Yu '87; producer Dick Ebersol '70; film critic Gene Siskel '67; and chef Ming Tsai '86.

* Comedy: Dick Cavett '58, Lewis Black '77, John Hodgman '92.

* Literature: Noah Webster 1778, James Fenimore Cooper 1805, John Knowles '49, Harold Bloom '56, Larry Kramer '57.

* Music: Composers Charles Ives 1898, Cole Porter 1913, Mich Leigh '51, Maury Yeston '67, Michael Gore '73, Robert Lopez '97; jazz singer Rudy Vallee '72, Fugees singer Pras Michel '94, Pentatonix singer Kevin Olusola '11.

* Athletes, other than football: Yankee 1936 World Series pitcher Johnny Broaca, Met 1986 World Series pitcher Ron Darling, curse-breaking Red Sox and Cubs general manager Theo Epstein, former Knick coach Jeff Van Gundy, former Nets player Chris Dudley, Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer Don Schollander, Olympic Gold Medal-winning marathoner Frank Shorter, Olympic Gold Medal-winning figure skater Sarah Hughes; and the 1st notable openly transgender athlete, tennis player Richard Raskind, a.k.a. Renee Richards, who, yes, had to field some "mixed singles" lines.

Going In. Harvard Stadium is the oldest continuously-used college football stadium, having opened on November 14, 1903. Alas, they did not win their opener, losing 11-0 to Dartmouth. It's 116 years old. That makes it 9 years older than Fenway Park in Boston; 10 years older than the oldest stadium in major college football, Georgia Tech's Grant Field in Atlanta; and 11 years older than both the Yale Bowl and Wrigley Field in Chicago. In spite of that age, it is in very good shape. I suppose having America's wealthiest alumni base helps.
The address is 79 N. Harvard Street,about 4 miles west of Downtown Crossing, in the Allston neighborhood of Boston. If you drive in, parking is $20. The University recommends parking by Gate 8, 14, 16 or 20 if you want to tailgate.

Public transportation is a little tricky. You could take the Red Line to Central, in Cambridge, and transfer to Bus 70. Or, you could take the Red Line to Harvard, and walk across the Harvard Bridge over the river, and get there in about 15 minutes. Or, you could take the Green Line B Train to Harvard Avenue, and transfer to Bus 66.

Previously, Harvard played at Jarvis Field, where the Littauer Center of Public Administration now stands. 1805 Cambridge Street, across from the northwestern corner of Harvard Yard, across from Cambridge Common.
Jarvis Field, 1890

When it opened, Harvard Stadium seated 42,000. In 1906, as part of a study on game safety demanded by President Theodore Roosevelt, himself a Harvard graduate, Yale coach Walter Camp recommended widening the field. But with its new stadium, Harvard said they couldn't. In those days, what Harvard wanted, it usually got. So other measures were taken, including hashmarks and the legalization of the forward pass.

By 1929, Harvard Stadium was a bowl seating 57,166. But by 1952, a stadium that big was hardly ever needed, except against Yale. So the north stand was torn down, leaving the stadium in the horseshoe shape it retains today, with a capacity of 30,323.

The field runs southwest-to-northeast. From 1872 to 2005, Harvard played home games on real grass. Since 2006, they have used FieldTurf. That was also the year they finally installed permanent lights.
The Boston Patriots used Harvard Stadium in 1970, their 1st year in the NFL after the merger with the AFL, and their last year before moving out to the suburb of Foxborough and changing their name to the New England Patriots. The Boston Breakers of the USFL didn't use it (they used Nickerson Field at Boston University), but the team of the same name in the National Women's Soccer League used it from 2009 to 2014, before folding.

Olympic Trials for track and field were held there in the 1920s. The stadium hosted 6 soccer games of the 1984 Olympics, even though the Games were held all the way across the country in Los Angeles. It's held concerts, including what turned out to be Janis Joplin's last in 1970, and Bob Marley in 1979. The Boston Bruins are working with the University and the NHL to have the 2024 Winter Classic played there, to celebrate their 100th Anniversary.

The Yale Bowl opened on November 21, 1914, and Harvard spoiled the party, winning 36-0. (They were 7-0-2, while Yale finished 7-2. A week before, Yale had spoiled the opening of Princeton's Palmer Stadium, 19-14.) It was the 1st football stadium to be named a "bowl," because of its shape.
The address is 81 Central Avenue, 2 miles west of the Green. Bus 255 leaves from Chapel & Temple Streets, at the southeast corner of the Green, and drops you off at Derby & Yale Avenues, southeast of the stadium, 13 minutes later. If you drive in, parking is $20, the same as at Harvard. Not only is tailgating encouraged, but, supposedly, it was Yale football fans who invented the tailgate party in the first place.
The bowl held 70,896 fans, but it has rarely been filled from the 1970s onward. A badly-needed renovation in 1994 reduced capacity to 64,246. Another renovation in 2006 dropped it to the current 61,446, still more than is necessary for any opponent except Harvard. The playing surface, known as Class of 1954 Field, runs northwest-to-southeast. From 1872 to 2018, Yale played all their home games on God's own grass. This year, they switched to FieldTurf.
The Yale Bowl hosted the 1st-ever game between the New York Giants and Jets, a preseason exhibition on August 17, 1969 -- the Saturday of Woodstock. The Giants and their fans had talked about how, in spite of the Jets' recent Super Bowl win, they weren't the best team in New York, let alone the world. The Jets proved them very wrong, 37-14.

When the original Yankee Stadium was closed for renovations in October 1973, the Giants were out of luck: They had announced their intention to move to the Meadowlands of New Jersey for 1976, but Mayor John Lindsay wouldn't let them use City-owned Shea Stadium in the interim. So, for their last 5 1973 home games, and for all 7 in 1974, the Giants headed up I-95 and used the Yale Bowl, winning just 1 of 12 games (over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973). New Mayor Abe Beame let them use Shea in 1975.

The Yale Bowl was also the home of the Connecticut Bicentennials of the old North American Soccer League in the 1976 and '77 seasons. It's hosted 4 international matches: Brazil 4-1 Italy on May 31, 1976; Italy 0-0 Portugal on June 6, 1993; USA 0-2 Brazil on June 6, 1993; and USA 1-1 Greece on May 28, 1994. Despite also being a good hockey school, Yale has never hosted an outdoor hockey game at the Yale Bowl.


Nobody’s gone to Yale for the football since Walter Camp was coaching there, but it makes the Yale Bowl no less impressive. It’s historic, the sight lines are surprisingly good, and the campus is spectacular. Plus, it was a pioneer in how big-time football stadiums would be constructed in the years to to come.

To the south, across Derby Avenue, is Yale Field. Baseball has been played at the site since 1885, and in the current 6,200-seat stadium since 1928. It also hosted the New Haven Ravens of the Class AA Eastern League from 1994 to 2003, and the New Haven County Cutters of the Can-Am League from 2004 to 2007.
Image result for Quigley Stadium West Haven
Food. Honestly, in both Cambridge and New Haven, you're better off eating before and after the game. Harvard does not have a stadium concession map on their website, only mentioning that "Several concessions stands which offer a variety of food and drink options are available." Yale's website doesn't even say that much, although there are concessions stands.

Team History Displays. There is no display in the fan-viewable areas of either stadium for titles, which is probably just as well, given how long ago their big achievements were. Nor does either school retire numbers.

Harvard has won 12 National Championships, but all of them were retroactively awarded before the 1st Associated Press poll in 1936: 1874, 1875, 1890, 1898, 1899, 1901, 1908, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1919 and 1920.

The term "Ivy League" had been in use since 1934, but it wasn't until 1956 that a formal league -- encompassing Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown and Cornell -- began awarding sports championships. Harvard has won or shared it 17 times: 1961, 1966, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. (Dartmouth is going to win it this season.)

There are 18 Harvard players, and 3 coaches, in the College Football Hall of Fame, and all but 1 of those played before World War II:

* From the 1890s: Center William H. Lewis, tackle Marshall Newell, fullbacks Charley Brewer and Bill Reid. Lewis (1868-1949), playing from 1888 to 1893 while he was at Harvard Law School (the NCAA didn't have a rule against that at the time, because there was no NCAA at the time), had previously played across Massachusetts at Amherst College, where he became the 1st black American football player. He later served as an Assistant Attorney General under President Taft.
* From the 1900s: Quarterback Charles Daly, end Dave Campbell and tackle Hamilton Fish III.

* From the 1910s: Coach Percy Haughton, guard Bob Fisher, halfback Percy Wendell, end Huntington Hardwick, guard Stan Pennock, and fullbacks Eddie Mahan and Eddie Casey.

* From the 1920s: Halfback George Owen.

* From the 1930s: Coach Dick Harlow, center Ben Ticknor, quarterback Barry Wood.

* From the 1940s: Harlow, guard Endicott Peabody.

* From the 1950s: Coach Lloyd Jordan.

* Since the 1950s: Receiver and punter Pat McNinally, 1972-74, later to play on the Cincinnati Bengals' 1981 AFC Champions.

In addition to McInally, Harvard players in the NFL include guard Earl Evans of the 1925 NFL Champion Chicago Cardinals, cornerback John Dockery of the Super Bowl III-winning Jets, guard Joe Pellegrini of the nearly AFC Champion 1982 Jets, and Matt Birk of the Super Bowl XLVII-winning Baltimore Ravens. There are 8 current Harvardians in the NFL: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Miami Dolphins; running back Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers, centers Tyler Ott of the Seattle Seahawks, Nick Easton of the Minnesota Vikings and Adam Redmond of the Dallas Cowboys; defensive tackle Desmond Bryant of the Cleveland Browns, and tight ends Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Anthony Firkser of the Jets.

Harvard also invented American football. What's that, you say? Rutgers and Princeton played the 1st game in 1869? Officially, yes. But that was a soccer game, albeit 25-a-side. Harvard turned it into football as we know it.

In 1874, the football team at McGill University in Montreal challenged Harvard to a "football" game. Seeing themselves as sporting gentlemen, the Harvard team accepted. But when the McGill men got to Cambridge, they realized there was a misunderstanding. They thought they were going to be playing what's now called rugby union, while the Harvard men thought they were going to be playing association football, or soccer.

Seeing themselves as sporting gentlemen, the captains of each side agreed to play a game under each side's rules. On May 14, 1874, under "Boston rules," Harvard won, 3-0. The next day, under "McGill rules," they played to a 0-0 tie.

The Harvard men decided they liked the McGill rules, even though they hadn't won. Later in the year, they went to Montreal to play McGill under home rules again, and won. And they got the captains of the other football-playing schools in America together, and all agreed to play by the new rules, and American football was born.

Yale, of course, was one of those schools. Yale has won more National Championships than any other college football team, 27 -- but, like Harvard, all of theirs were retroactively awarded before the 1st Associated Press poll in 1936: 1872, 1874, 1876, 1877, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1888, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1897, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909 and 1927. Indeed, from 1879 to 1884, 6 seasons, Yale went 37-0-5. And from 1891 to 1895, 5 seasons, they went 65-1-2.

Yale has won or shared 15 Ivy League titles: 1956, 1960, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1999, 2006 and 2017. In 1960, they shared the Lambert Trophy, given to "the best college football team in the East," with the Naval Academy.

Yale has had 28 figures in the College Football Hall of Fame. As with Harvard, only 1 has played for them since World War II:

* From the 1880s: Coach Walter Camp, end Amos Alonzo Stagg (later one of the great coaches, but not at Yale), guard Walter "Pudge" Heffelfinger (who became the 1st man openly paid to play football, in 1892), and halfback Lee McClung.
Pudge Heffelfinger

* From the 1890s: Camp, end Frank Hinkey, halfback Sam Thorne and guard Gordon Brown.

* From the 1900s: Tackle James Hogan, end Tom Shevlin, fullback Ted Coy and end John Kilpatrick (who later ran Madison Square Garden, and is thus in the Hockey Hall of Fame). Howard Jones, later to be the founder of the USC football dynasty, coached Yale in the 1909 and 1913 seasons.

* From the 1910s: Coach Thomas "Tad" Jones, quarterback Art Howe (not related to the later Mets manager), end Doug Bomeisler and center Hank Ketcham (not related to the later Dennis the Menace cartoonist).

* From the 1920s: Coach Tad Jones, halfback Mal Stevens, tackle Century Milstead, fullback Bill Mallory (not related to the later Indiana coach, who was once an assistant at Yale) and guard Herbert Sturhahn.

* From the 1930s: Halfback Albie Booth, end Larry Kelley and halfback Clint Frank. Kelley won the Heisman Trophy in 1936, Frank in 1937.

* Since the 1930s: 1965-96 head coach Carmen Cozza and early 1970s running back Dick Jauron (later head coach of the Chicago Bears).

Not in the College Hall, but with notable pro careers are: Tackle Century Milstead, of the 1927 NFL Champion Giants; tackle John Prchlik, of the 1952 and '53 NFL Champion Detroit Lions; center Mike Pyle, of the 1963 NFL Champion Bears; running back Chuck Mercein, of the Super Bowl II-winning Green Bay Packers, having played for the Giants before that and the Jets afterward; running back Calvin Hill, of the Super Bowl VI-winning Dallas Cowboys, and father of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Grant Hill; tight end John Spagnola, of the 1980 NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles; and safety Gary Fencik, of the Super Bowl XX-winning Bears. There is 1 current NFL player who went to Yale, Atlanta Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun.

Probably the most famous Yale football player of all was Brian Dowling, a quarterback from Cleveland, who led Yale to a share of the 1968 Ivy League title. (More about that shortly.) That year, the Yale Daily News published a comic strip titled Bull Tales, whose lead character was "B.D.," a parody of Dowling.

In 1970, the strip's writer, Garry Trudeau, got to nationally syndicate the strip, which he renamed for another character, Doonesbury. Over the years, B.D. was shown as the quarterback and later the head coach for fictional Walden College, a backup quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams, a California Highway Patrol officer (a "CHiP"), and a soldier who loses a leg in Iraq. The character remains in the strip today, still more conservative than most of the main characters.

The real Dowling played for the Patriots from 1970 to 1973, the World Football League version of the Charlotte Hornets in 1974 and '75, and the Packes in 1977, before becoming a stockbroker and a venture capitalist, which you would tend to expect from a Yalie.
1968 Yale players Bruce Weinstein,
Calvin Hill, Kyle Gee and Brian Dowling

Walter Camp -- halfback 1876-1881, head coach 1888-1892, and writer about the game from then until his death in 1925 -- is known as "The Father of American Football." He invented the center snap, the seven-linemen-and-four-back system, the four-down system, and the current scoring system including the invention of the safety. He also named the 1st All-America Team, starting a tradition that continues to this day.
As for the rivalry: They first played each other on November 13, 1875, at Hamilton Park in New Haven. Harvard scored 4 goals and 2 "tries," which rugby still uses, but American football would later call a "touchdown," since a "try" was generally scored by touching the ball down inside the end zone. Under today's scoring system, this would have given Harvard a 26-0 victory.

Yale learned quickly, and won 10 games and tied 2 more before Harvard beat them again, in 1890. Through 1907, it was Yale 21, Harvard 4, with 3 ties. And they were rough: After same nasty injuries in Yale's 12-4 win in 1894, the series was suspended for 2 years.

Then, in 1908, new Harvard coach Percy Haughton allegedly strangled a live bulldog and threw its dead body on the locker room floor, in front of his players, to show them how much they should hate Yale. It worked, as Harvard won, 4-0. The legend is probably an exaggeration: A 2011 Los Angeles Times story suggested it was a papier-mache bulldog.
Image result for Percy Haughton
Harvard went on to dominate the rivalry, going 8-1 from 1912 to 1922. (Both teams suspended their programs for 1917 and '18, due to World War I.)

In both 1883 and 1887, the game was played on Thanksgiving Day, and high school football on that day, in retreat in so many places (including, to my regret, New Jersey), remains a big deal in New England.

From 1889 to 1894, it was played on neutral ground at Hampden Park in Springfield, Massachusetts. It's been played at Major League Baseball parks: In 1878 and 1880 at South End Grounds, home of the Boston Beaneaters (the team now known as the Atlanta Braves); those Thanksgiving games of 1883 and 1887, both on neutral ground at the original Polo Grounds in New York; and in 2018 at Fenway Park, as a Harvard home game.

John F. Kennedy was not good enough to make any sports team at Harvard. His brother, Robert F. Kennedy, was too small to start on the Harvard football team, but in the 1947 season opener, he scored a touchdown in a 52-0 win over Western Maryland (now McDaniel College, an NCAA Division III school). In the next-to-last game, he broke his leg in a win over Brown. Since the only way you could win your varsity letter at the time was to play in the Yale game, Bobby Kennedy played in the Harvard-Yale game with a broken leg. And in the 1955 game, the youngest brother, Ted Kennedy, scored a touchdown for Harvard against Yale.
What the Kennedy myth-makers don't tell you is that Bobby had "only" a sprained ankle; that Yale won both the 1947 game (31-21) and the 1955 game (21-7); and that, earlier in the 1955 game, before his touchdown, Ted dropped a pass in the end zone. However, Ted was considered good enough at the position we now call tight end that the Green Bay Packers were interested in him. Old Joe Kennedy said no, Ted was going to go to law school, which he did -- not at Harvard, but at the University of Virginia. The Game was pushed back a week in 1963, after JFK was assassinated. 
Ted Kennedy poses at Harvard Stadium.
Bobby wore Number 86.

The most famous game in the series came on November 23, 1968, when both teams walked into Harvard Stadium undefeated. (They hadn't both been undefeated going into The Game since 1909, and haven't since.) The winner would win the Ivy League title.

This game was played against the backdrop of a bad year, with the Vietnam War raging, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated, the riot at the Democratic Convention, Richard Nixon being elected President 18 days earlier, the civil rights demonstration at the Olympics the previous month, and demonstrations of all kinds on both schools' campuses.

And both teams were far bigger than they are now. This was before the New England/Hartford Whalers were founded, and before UConn basketball (men's or women's) meant much, so Yale football was the biggest sports team in Connecticut. And with the Patriots still in the AFL, and Boston College in something of a down period, Harvard was the biggest football team in Massachusetts -- briefly surpassing the ethnicity-and-religion-aided fandom of faraway Notre Dame. The Crimson were nicknamed the Boston Stranglers, after the city's recent serial killer (allegedly, Albert DeSalvo).

Yale jumped out to a 22-0 lead, and led 29-13 going into the last minute. But with 42 seconds left, Harvard scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to make it 29-21. They recovered the onside kick, and on the last play of regulation, quarterback Frank Champi threw a touchdown pass to Vic Gatto.

Fans stormed the field, but had to be cleared off. It was 29-27 Yale, but the game wasn't over. Harvard went for 2 again, and Champi threw to Pete Varney to end the game in a tie. (Varney went on to play pro ball -- not football, but baseball, as a catcher, for 4 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and 1 with the Atlanta Braves.)
Image result for Pete Varney Harvard
Varney's 2-pointer

The writers of The Harvard Crimson were moved to print what has become the most famous headline in the history of college newspapers.
MIT doesn't have a football team, but they've made their presence felt in this game. In 1982, they managed to release a balloon with "MIT" written all over it at midfield. Harvard won 45-7. In 1990, MIT launched a fireworks-shooting rocket from midfield. Yale won 34-19.
(Not to be outdone, MIT's West Coast archrivals, the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, hacked the scoreboard at the 1984 Rose Bowl, replacing "UCLA" and "Illinois" so that it looked like CALTECH 45, MIT 9. And a lot more people saw that prank, as live national TV beats ESPN highlights.)

In 2004, 80 years after the "Yale licks Harvard's boots" prank, Yale thought they had finally gotten even, by rearranging Harvard's "card trick." But the message turned out to be a lie, as Harvard won 35-3.
Along with Army-Navy, The Game is the biggest game among football teams not in the 5 major conferences (the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the SEC and the ACC). In 2014, ESPN hosted College GameDay from Harvard Stadium. Harvard has dominated in recent years, winning 10 of the last 12. But Yale still leads overall, winning 67 games to Harvard's 60, with 8 ties. This Saturday's game will be the 136th edition.

(UPDATE: Through the 2019 season, Yale leads 68-60-8.)

Stuff. Forget the souvenir stands at the stadiums. If you want souvenirs, you're better off going to the school bookstores, the Harvard Coop (co-op, but pronounced like "chicken coop") off Harvard Square at 1400 Massachusetts Avenue, and the Yale Bookstore at 77 Broadway. Both are now affiliated with Barnes & Noble, as college bookstores now tend to be.

As George Will (an Ivy Leaguer, due to his master's and Ph.D. from Princeton) put it, New England is "the literary capital of America." But while the Red Sox, as he put it, "get written about to death," and there are some good books written about the other Boston teams, neither Harvard football nor Yale football seems to have been much of a literary subject.

In 2018, Dick Friedman published The Coach Who Strangled the Bulldog: How Harvard's Percy Haughton Beat Yale and Reinvented Football. In 1999, the man then coaching Yale released the memoir True Blue: The Carm Cozza Story. In 2014, Rich Marazzi published A Bowl Full of Memories: 100 Years of Football at the Yale Bowl. Later this year, his book Yale Football Through the Years will be published.

In 2008, Stephen Fritzer published A View of The Game: Yale-Harvard Football Moments. (You can tell he's a Yale man, because Yale is listed first.) There are 2 good books about the 1968 game. For the 40th Anniversary, Kevin Rafferty published Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, and made a documentary film about it as well, interviewing most of the surviving players, including Tommy Lee Jones. And for the 50th Anniversary, George Howe Colt published The Game: Harvard, Yale, and America in 1968.

During the Game. This is the Ivy League. Boston, Cambridge and New Haven may be tough cities, but no one is going to take a swing at you if you root for the visiting team.

Eighty minutes before kickoff of a Yale home game, the entire team gathers under the Walter Camp Memorial to start "The Bulldog Walk." Led by the captain and the head coach, the players lock arms while following the Yale Precision Marching Band on the 1,000-foot march into the Bowl. Fans, students, parents and alumni line both sides of the path to cheer them on.
The Walk begins, at the Camp Memorial,
with Yale Field in the background

The night before the game, the Glee Clubs of each schools have a joint concert. Among the songs they sing is "Ten Thousand Men of Harvard." New players are required to memorize it in both English and Latin. Here's the English chorus:

Ten Thousand Men of Harvard want victory today 
For they know that ov'r old Eli fair Harvard holds sway. 
So then we'll conquer all old Eli's men, 
And when the game ends we'll sing again: 
Ten thousand men of Harvard gained vict'ry today.

Yale's official fight song is "Bull Dog" by alumnus Cole Porter:

Bulldog!  Bulldog! Bow, wow, wow, Eli Yale
Bulldog!  Bulldog! Bow, wow, wow, Our team can never fail
When the sons of Eli break through the line
That is the sign we hail
Bulldog!  Bulldog! Bow, wow, wow
Eli Yale!
"Down the Field" is played after every score and every win, mocking the Harvard version of the Boston accent:

March, march on down the field
Fighting for Eli
Break through that crimson line
Their strength to defy
We’ll give a long cheer for Eli’s men
We’re here to win again
Hahvahd’s team may fight to the end
But YALE!  WILL!  WIN!

But the best-known Yale song defies Ivy erudition. It is titled "Boola Boola":

Boola boola, boola boola
Boola boola, boola boola
When we rough house poor old Hahvahd
They will holler, “Boola boo”
Oh Yale, Eli Yale!  Oh Yale, Eli Yale!

Oh Yale, Eli Yale!  Oh Yale, Eli Yale! 

How do you make a mascot out of a color? In Harvard's case, crimson red? They have a guy in a foam suit, looking like a Pilgrim, allegedly John Harvard.
Image result for harvard university mascot john harvard the pilgrim
He doesn't look capable of carving a Thanksgiving turkey,
let alone taming Yale's Bulldog.

In 1889, Yale adopted a live bulldog mascot, Handsome Dan. That dog stayed with them through the 1897, when he was retired. There wouldn't be a Handsome Dan II until 1933, but they've had a succession of them since.

But unfortunate circumstances have abounded. As I said earlier, Handsome Dan II was dognapped in 1934, and made to "lick Harvard's boots." Handsome Dan III was retired in 1938, due to a fear of crowds. In 1952, the same thing was done, for the same reason, with Handsome Dan VIII. Handsome Dan IV was hit by a car and paralyzed in 1940.

Handsome Dan VI died in 1949, only 2 years old. Why? Depends on who you ask. Some said he was literally scared to death by a fireworks display during The Game. Some said he died of shame, because Yale lost to both Harvard and Princeton that year.

Handsome Dan VII was retired in 1952, due to a bad temper. In 1996, Handsome Dan XIV died of a heart attack in midseason, and Handsome Dan XIII, the longest-serving mascot, came out of retirement to finish the season, his 13th. In 2005, Handsome Dan XVI was dognapped by Harvard, but there was no replay of the boot-licking. 

In 1956, Handsome Dan IX became the 1st college mascot to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated -- not a surprise, given that the magazine's founder, Time, Inc. boss Henry Luce, was a Yale grad. In 1975, a bulldog named Bingo became the 1st female Yale mascot, Handsome Dan XII. (Turnabout is fair play: Lassie has always been played by a male collie.) The current version, Handsome Dan XVIII, is in his 4th season. There is also a man-in-a-suit mascot, also named Handsome Dan.
Image result for Handsome Dan XVIII
HD18 and his human counterpart at the 2018 game at Fenway Park

Yale legend has it that the reason the University of Georgia's mascot is a bulldog is that they were founded by missionaries from Yale. 

After the Game. Harvard and Yale hate each other's teams, but it's a respectful rivalry. No one is going to overturn cars or set fire to anything if they lose. You, and your car if you drove in, are going to be safe. Just don't talk trash about any of the Boston-area teams, as Harvard is (more or less) in Boston, and lots of Yalies are from New England.

There's not much to eat around either stadium. With Harvard, you're better off going back to Harvard Square or anywhere in Boston proper. If you've been to Princeton, Cambridge will seem familiar to you, with lots of cutesy shops and eateries, including some that seem to be off little streets too quaint to be called "alleys." One of the better-known Cambridge eateries is Grendel's Den, at 89 Winthrop Street, across from Winthrop Square. I've eaten there, and while you go for the atmosphere, the food and service are good, if not great.

The following establishments were mentioned as being Yankee Fan-friendly in a Boston Globe profile during the 2009 World Series: Champions, at the Marriott Copley Place hotel at 110 Huntington Avenue (Green Line to Copley); The Sports Grille, at 132 Canal Street (across from North Station and the Garden, Green Line to North Station); and, right across from Fenway itself, Game On! at 82 Lansdowne Street.

I've also heard that Jillian's, across from Fenway at 145 Ipswich Street, takes in Yankee Fans, but I've only seen it rammed with Chowdaheads, so I would advise against it.

The local Giants fan club meets at The Greatest Bar, 262 Friend Street off Canal, a block from the Garden. M.J. O'Connor's, at 27 Columbus Avenue in the Back Bay, has been suggested as the local home of Jets fans. (Green Line to Kenmore, then switch to Number 57 bus toward Watertown Yard, get off at Washington Street at Waldo Terrace.) However, there's so little overlap between the MLB and NFL seasons that showing up at either place with a Yankee cap on a non-NFL gameday may not be a good idea.

I have checked: All of these, with the exception of Jillian's, are still open. The Green Briar Pub, at 304 Washington Street in the Brighton section of town, the former local Jet fans' bar, has closed.

Likewise, the Yale Bowl is bordered on the north side by a residential area and on the other 3 sides by school athletic facilities. New Haven is known as an Italian city, and for its pizzerias. Supposedly, Louis Lassen, owner of Louis' Lunch, invented the hamburger in 1900. As with the classic Philadelphia cheesesteak 30 years later, he took beef scraps and put it on the kind of roll that he had available. The restaurant is still in business: Its current location is at 263 Crown Street, a block south and then west of the Green.

If your visit to Boston is during the European soccer season, as we are now in, there are 2 great area bars at which you could watch your favorite club. The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge is the original Boston-area footie pub, and is still the best. Red Line to Central. The Banshee Pub in Dorchester (which, unlike Cambridge, actually is in the City of Boston) is much more working-class, but if you think you're "hard enough," "come and have a go." (No, I'm not suggesting that anyone will try to fight you: As long as you show respect, you will have that respect returned.) Red Line to JFK/UMass.

New Haven's big "footie pub" is Christy's Irish Pub, at 261 Orange Street, a block east and then north of the Green. The other big one in New Haven, Anna Liffey's, at 17 Whitney Avenue, has gone out of business.

Sidelights. Boston is probably America's best sports city, per-capita. Which doesn't make it an easy place to be a fan of a non-New England team. On February 3, 2017, Thrillist made a list ranking the 30 NFL cities (New York and Los Angeles each having 2 teams), and Boston came in 8th, in the top 1/3rd. But the "Sidelights" section for them is long, so if you want to read it you might as well go to my 2019 Trip Guide for the Red Sox.

As for New Haven: I've already told you about Yale Field. From 1972 to 1982, the city had a team in adjoining West Haven, in the Class AA Eastern League. As the West Haven Yankees, they won Pennants in 1972, 1976, 1979 and 1980. As the West Haven A's, an Oakland farm team, they won another Pennant in 1982.

They played at Quigley Stadium, which stood from 1947 to 1987, and has been replaced by a high school football stadium. 362 Front Avenue. Bus 261 or 265, and then you'd have to walk a block west on the Boston Post Road (U.S. Route 1) before turning left on Front Avenue for about a 5-minute walk.
Image result for Quigley Stadium West Haven
For the 1983 season, they moved to Albany, became a Yankee farm team again in 1985, as the Albany-Colonie Yankees, moved to southeastern Connecticut as the Norwich Navigators in 1995, became a San Francisco Giants farm team in 2003, became the Connecticut Defenders in 2006, and moved to Richmond, Virginia for 2010.

With that team, the New Haven Ravens/New Haven County Crosscutters, and the Bridgeport Bluefish out of business, currently, Connecticut's only professional baseball team is the Hartford Yard Goats, playing at Dunkin Donuts Park, at 1214 Main Street, separated from downtown Hartford by the elevated Interstate 84. It's an even 100 miles southwest of Boston's Downtown Crossing, and 39 miles northeast of the New Haven Green.
Image result for Dunkin Donuts Park Hartford
From 1972 to 2007, the 11,000-seat New Haven Coliseum stood at 275 S. Orange Street, at the corner of George Street. It was home to a series of minor-league hockey teams, most notably the New Haven Nighthawks. They were a farm team of both the Rangers and the Islanders (at different times), and won division titles in 1979 and '80, and reached the final of the AHL Championship, the Calder Cup, in 1974, 1978, 1979 and 1989, but lost all 4.
Image result for New Haven Coliseum
The construction of The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, both designed after Camden Yards in Baltimore rewrote the rules of sports venue construction, made the Coliseum obsolete. Its teams moved out, and it was demolished. Housing has been planned for the site, but is tied up in legal wrangles, so, for the moment, it remains a parking lot.

Before the Coliseum, there was the New Haven Arena. Built in 1927 and seating 4,000 people, it, too, hosted minor-league hockey: The Eagles from 1936 to 1952, and the Blades from then until 1972, when the Coliseum opened.

It also hosted concerts, but its best-remembered concert was cut short. On December 9, 1967, The Doors were supposed to play, but before the show, lead singer Jim Morrison was caught back stage making out with a groupie (not Patricia Kennealy, as Oliver Stone's movie suggested), and was maced by a policeman. The misunderstanding and his eyes were cleared up, but he wouldn't let it go, stopped a song in mid-performance, told the crowd what happened, and became the 1st rock-and-roller ever to be arrested in mid-concert.
Image result for New Haven Arena
The Arena was demolished in 1974. The FBI built its local office on the site -- a touch of irony, given its connection with a "crime." 600 State Street, northeast of the Green.

*

Harvard vs. Yale may no longer be "The Game" to anyone but its own people (players, support staff, other students, coaches, alumni, etc.). But it is one of the most historic rivalries in North American sport.