In December 1893, the University of Chicago under Yale alum rode the rails west to become the first Eastern team to cross the Rockies to play football on the West Coat. Another Yalie, Walter Camp, was coaching Stanford, so the two teams played in San Francisco on Christmas Day and met again on December 29th in Los Angeles. Chicago then returned to San Francisco to play the Reliance Athletic Club on New Year's Day.
Interestingly, both Chicago and Stanford played the previous New Year's Day, though they did not play one another. Instead, Stanford played the Multnomah Athletic Club in rainy Portland on a muddy field, winning 16-0.
Back in the Midwest, Chicago faced Notre Dame, which had beaten Kalamazoo, Albion, the De La Salle Institute, and Hillsdale to enter the clash undefeated. Chicago entered the game 5-4-2 playing the likes of Lake Forest, Northwestern, and Michigan twice each, as well as Purdue, Cincinnati, and others.
Although Stanford students are known for being smart, they played their New Year's game in the rain and mud. Chicago, which also claims its share of highfalutin theorists, showed their practicality by playing indoors. Their coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg, played in the second known indoor game at Madison Square Garden in 1891 and preferred the indoors for late-season games. As a result, Chicago had already played Michigan and Northwestern inside the friendly confines of the Tattersall Building in 1893 and would play a fourth game there in February.
It just so happened that most Eastern newspaper coverage of football on January 1, 1894, concerned the expected banning of alumni, ringers, and other skallywags from playing for college teams during the 1894 season. However, since that rule was not yet in effect, Stagg, short a player or three over the holidays, started at right halfback for the Maroon.
Details of the game action are scarce, but we know 2,000 fans saw Allen, Chicago's left guard, and Stagg score touchdowns while missing both extra-point attempts. The game ended with Chicago welcoming in the new year with an 8-0 victory.
Note: One of my New Year's resolutions is to research whether any college football games occurred on New Year's Day before 1894. As always, if you have information about an earlier game, please comment below.
Also, you might enjoy the following article if you are interested in football's early indoor and night games.
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