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Today's Tidbit... Iowa State @ Drake on Thanksgiving Day 1908
Thanksgiving Day was the primary day for rivalry football games before WWII, and so it was in 1908 in Des Moines. Drake had a good team that year, winning their first five games by shutouts against lesser competition before playing three tough games to end the season. They suffered a close loss to Missouri and won at Iowa, leaving them to host a season-ending Thanksgiving Day game against Iowa State for the state championship.
Luckily for us, a series of images are available of that game, the best being a panoramic shot of Haskins Field, a concrete stadium built into a natural amphitheater. The image, from the Library of Congress, shows a precisely-marked checkerboard field during the second to last season played on that design. A close look at the image (click to enlarge) shows the field sits several feet below the surrounding track. Since neither side has benches for the substitutes, both teams rest along the hill leading up to the track. An image from a Drake yearbook shows the same.
Football fields still had a 55-yard line in 1908, which went away when they added end zones in 1912. Still, adding ten-yard end zones may have required Drake to dig out the hill near the corners to fit the new field.
It is a well-attended game, with the stands largely filled on either side of the field.
The press box beneath the Drake pennant on the right side is small but appears rather full despite their lacking the technology to have a stadium announcer, or radio and television crews. Below the press box and slightly nearer the camera is a section of fans wearing white.
Another yearbook picture provides a game action shot and reveals the folks in white form a Drake D.
Besides the paying spectators, the tarp surrounding the field proved no match for the twenty or more fans watching from the trees on the left, and there may be more beyond the far end zone.
Although Drake led the game early on a safety and field goal, Iowa State's right halfback, Hubbard, carried the ball 30 times for 252 yards, carving up Drake to lead the Cyclones to a 12-6 Turkey Day victory and the state championship.
Now, 110-plus years later, the day’s big game is largely forgotten, but we can be thankful Frederick J. Bandholtz was there that day and took a beautiful panoramic image for us to enjoy.
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