Back to Football
The Decatur Daily Review, September 21, 1919
The Staley field will pass right from baseball to football following a meeting of the Welfare society of the plant Saturday morning, attended by a large number of fans, and in which it was decided to put a first-class team in the field.
The team will have a backing to start on of perhaps $1,000. This has pratically been decided on. Fritz Wasem, former Milliken star in baseball and football, has been elected manager and other high class officials will be secured for the team.
Manager Wasem has some mighty good prospects in view and probably will have the strongest independent organization ever traveling out of here. Two or three former Taylorville men are to be on the team, several former stars from Milliken. with the possibility of several big college stars. Several player that have always ranked high in local independent football will also be on the Staley team, one of these being Jack Mintun.
Manager Wasem also announces that any other local players can also try out for the team and do not have to wait to be asked. By applying to Wasem at the plant Monday or Tuesday their names will be put down for a tryout and will be allowed to show their ability along with the rest of the candidates.
“We are going to have the best independent team Decatur has ever had,” said Wasem, “and expect to have a big field to pick the material from.”
Anaconda Standard, December 28, 1919
By JACK VEIOCK.
International News Sporting Editor.
NEW YORK.—Professional football is slowly but surely coming into its own.
Each succeeding season sees the “pro” grid game increasing in popularity and many followers of sports now believe that it will be only a matter of time until a professional football league will be in operation.
The professional game has been played for many years by scattered teams. With a few exceptions these elevens, of “clubs,” have made a big success of the game financially. And as football grows in popularity, the chance for the professional game to flourish will grow in proportion.
Ohio is the stronghold of the “pro” game. Jim Thorpe’s brilliant aggregation, the Canton Bulldogs, who laid claim to the national title in their class after defeating the strong Massillon Tigers, 3 to 0, furnish a vivid example of what the game may develop if it is taken up by competent promoters.
Professional football players have been paid $500 or more for playing one game in many instances. There is big money in it for the stars, and there will always be plenty of good players available as l;ong as the colleges keep on turning out highly experienced men who have wound up their college days and who may still be tempted to play for the love of the game, as well as for the “velvet” there is in it.
A professional football league backed by big league baseball magnates has often been talked of. The idea has never taken root for various reasons. But it is a possibility, and that in the near future.
Monster crowds turn out in cities like Canton, Massillon and even smaller cities to root for the home town teams against invaders from rival cities or near-by states. A team made up of stars, such as the Canton and Massillon teams, the team which represented Hammond, Ind., the strong Rock Island, Ill., eleven and clubs in Cleveland and many other cities of greater size, is always sure of attracting attention, not only local, but wherever football is popular. And the grid game has become popularly contagious in practically every state in the Union.
Charles A. Stoneman, president of the Giants, is thinking seriously of getting a strong professional team together in New York next season and bringing the best professional clubs in the country here to play at the Polo grounds. New York, as is the case with many large cities, has no big university eleven of the first caliber to root for. But New York is wild about football. A professional team here would make a barrel of money.
Suppose Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit or Cincinnati should be suddenly stung by the professional football bug and a league formed. Do you think it would lose money? This has been the question that has always stood in the way of the formation of a professional league, together with the doubt that the game could be exploited successfully on a professional basis.
But the success of the Canton team, and many other in even small cities which pay surprisingly large salaries to players, has set men like Stoneman to thinking. The major league parks stand empty and gloomy for the most part during the football season. Opportunity to make a big and popular game out of professional football is knocking for attention. Some of these days the door will be opened wide.
Thorpe’s great team, with the Indian himself as the outstanding star, was composed of Chamberlain, Nebraska; Lowe, Fordham; Buck, Wisconsin; Pierce, Michigan; Feeney, Notre Dame; Spears, Dartmouth; Corcoran, Georgetown; Griggs, Texas; Calac, West Virginia Wesleyan; Guyan, Georgia Tech, and other players of wide reputation who made their marks =on the gridiron during their collegiate days. Such a team would draw monster crowds in every city of size, and six or eight teams of equally brilliant caliber could easily be recruited.
Of course it would be necessary to take means to prevent one or two clubs from cornering too many of outstanding stars, and a professional club playing league football would need more players than the average club of today carries. But this could be worked out in a satisfactory manner. It would have to be so before a football league could be successfully operated.
Chicago Tribune, Mar 23, 1920
DECATUR, Ill.—George Halas, one of the best all around athletes ever developed at the University of Illinois and last season given a trial with the New York Yankees, has signed to play with the Staley team of the Industrial league.
1920 Decatur Staleys.
The Akron Beacon, September 18, 1920
The American Professional Football association was organized last night at a meeting in Canton. Eleven cities were represented:
Canton, Rochester, N.Y., Rock Island, Il., Muncie, Ind., Decatur, Ill., Racine, Wis., Cleveland, Akron, Massillion, Dayton and Hammond, Ind.
The purpose of this new organization is to place professional football on a higher plane, prevent players from holding up managers for outlandish salaries. The professionals have agreed to players in colleges leaving their schools to join the big teams. A heavy forfeit will be placed on any manager playing any college football men who are still attending school.
Jim Thorpe of the Canton Bulldogs was elected president of the association; Stanley Cofail of Cleveland, vice president, and Art Ranney of Akron, secretary and treasurer.
The Decatur Herald, February 17, 1921
George Halas has been appointed athletic manager at Staleys and he will have charge of all athletic activities at the Staley plant. Teams in all branches of sport will be under his direction and management. Halas will have supervision over baseball, football, basketball, indoor baseball, tennis, track and field and boating—which, with the new lake and club house on the lake, will be a major sport, among Staley employes.
In Full Charge.
Halas will appoint managers for the different teams and they will be directly responsible to him. Joe McGinnity will continue to pilot the baseball club and George Watkins will have charge of indoor baseball. Morgan O’Brien will act as business manager of all the Staley teams.
A committee has been appointed to act in an advisory capacity with Halas. The committee is composed of the following men:
A. E. Staley, G. E. Chamberlain, Morgan O’Brien, R. O. Augur and J. H. Galloway.
With a new athletic policy at Staleys and with George Halas appointed athletic director Staleys are making plans for a big year in all lines of sport.
Decatur Herald, September 19, 1921
Manager George Halas of the Staley team has his schedule for the season about completed. The Oct. 2 date is open but the Staley leader expects to have it filled within a few days. Several clubs have offered the Starch Workers big guarantees to play on Oct. 2 but Halas may bring the strong Muncie team to Decatur to open the season in that date. The Muncie club is one of the strongest in the country and if Halas schedules a contest with the Indiana outfit Decatur fans will see the Starch Workers in action against two “big league” clubs this fall.
Halas has not arranged his Thanksgiving Day game. Akron, Buffalo and Cleveland want to meet Staleys in Chicago on Turkey Day and Halas will give the date to the club out of the three making the best showing by mid-season.
The World’s championship will be decided on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 and if the Staleys are in the running at that time they will play on those dates. If the Starch Workers receive setbacks their season will be over on Thanksgiving Day.1
Chicago Tribune, December 5, 1921
With the national pro championship at stake, the Staleys beat the Buffalo All-Americans in a firecely fought game at Cub park yesterday, 10 to 7. Each eleven has lost one game, but the buffalos have had two ties, which puts the Staleys out in front. The greatest crowd of the season attended and was treated to many thrillers.
Near the start of the battle Chamberlain, the great end from Nebraska, intercepted a Buffalo forward pass and raced down the heavy field 70 years for a touchdown. Dutch Sternaman kicked the goal.
Block Punt and Score.
Along in the third quarter, with the Staleys on their own 15 yard line, Ken Huffine fropped back to punt.
Swede Youngstrom, Dartmouth All-American guard, blocked the kick, and Horning, Colgate All-American tackle, beat the gang to the ball and fell on it for a touchdown. Oliphant kicked the goal, making the score a 7 to 7 tie.
Sternaman Kicks Goal.
Near the end of the third quarter Sternaman booted a place kick from the 20 yard line, and it went straight across. This proved to be the ball game.
Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester), June 27, 1922
Cleveland, June 26.—Better professional football will be available for sport lovers in the future with the formation of a greater football league this week. The American Professional Football Association has changed its name to the National Foot ball League, and franchises will be given out soon to many cities known for their interest in the “pro” gridiron game.
There is a possiblility that Cleveland will each have two teams in the league and the Oorangs, of Marion, have already been admitted to the league. Rochester, Akron, Buffalo, Canton, Columbus, Dayton, Rock Island, Louisville and Minneapolis had representatives at the organizational meeting.
Important amendments were made to the league constitution. Each club must post a forfeit of $1,000 as a guarantee that it will observe the rules. Any club that uses a player while he is still affiliated with a college will be fined $500 and expelled form the league for a second offense. The Green Bay club, which violated the rule last year was expelled, and a new management has taken over the franchise for next fall. Any college player who gains entrance to a game through the use of an assumed name will be barred from all future league games.
Players’ contracts will be made similar to those in use for professional baseball, including the reserve clause. The season will open on the first Sunday in October and will continue the Sunday following following Thanksgiving Day.
Officials for each game will be appointed by the league president, rather than by the managers and coaches of the teams involved, as iun most college games.
Chicago Tribune, January 29, 1922
CANTON, O., Jan. 28.—Magnates of the American Football association, in session here today, ousted the Green Bay (Wis) Packers club from membership, because the Packers last fall used players still in college, thereby violating the rules of the association.2
A rule was adopred providing for a deposit of $1,000 by each club to guarantee observation of this rule. No agreement was reached on a standard salary. A player limit of eighteen was also adopted.
George Halas, with Decatur Staleys last fall, was granted a franchise for the Chicago Bears, to operate at Cubs park.
The assembly included representatives of fifteen cities:
Rochester, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Canton, Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Chicago, Louisville, Rock Island, Minneapolis, Decatur, Illinois, Racine and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Chicago was represented by both the (Racine) Cardinals and the Bears.
Chicago Bears Team of 1924.
From left: Ralph Scott, Oscar Knop, George Trafton, Ed Healey, Jim McMillen, Vern Miller, Hugh Blacklock, Frank Hanny, Joe LeFleur, Ralph Lanum, Roy White, George Halas, Hunk Anderson, Larry Walquist, Ed Sternaman and Joe Sternaman.
1 Due to low attendance at Decatur, the team was slowly migrated to Chicago. The 1921 season most of Staley’s home games were played in Chicago, and in 1922 the team was officially known as the Chicago Bears.
2 The foregoing message was sent to The Tribune by Joe F. Carr, veteran sport promoter of Columbus, O., and manager of the Columbus Panhandles, who was re-elected president of the pro league. The action of the American Professional association was the direct result of an exposé by The Tribune of conditions prevailing on the Green Bay team.