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Today's Tidbit... Photobombing The 1907 Eastern Illinois Football Team
The official records for Eastern Illinois football show the 1907 team had a 3 - 1 - 3 record, though a recent media guide can identify only three games played that season. A bit of searching identified additional games or suspects, but details on their season are generally lacking.
Here's their schedule as best as I can tell, though another win is missing if their 3 -1 - 3 record is correct:
9/28/07: Rose-Hulman 0-0
Indiana State 35-0
11/2/07: Indiana State (win?, score unknown)
11/16/07: Illinois State 6-6
11/21/07: St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons 11-11
Eastern Illinois opened its doors in 1899 as the Eastern Illinois State Normal School, or E. I. S. N. S. for short. Like other normal schools across the country, its purpose was to train prospective teachers in that part of the state.
Eastern Illinois played its first football game 45 days after it opened and had some good seasons here and there. Early on, they were coached by volunteer faculty members, including the chair of the Mathematics Department, Joseph Clinton Brown, who led them from 1904 to 1909. Brown attended Columbia as an undergrad. The Lions’ all-time letter winners list only goes back to 1917, so it is unclear whether Brown played at Columbia.
The only box score available for the team comes from their first game versus Rose Poly (now Rose-Hulman).
Among those in the lineup is Zimmerman, who was severely injured late in the St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons game, at which point they called it a tie game. Concussed and near death, news of his injuries was reported widely, but Zimmerman recovered and went on to a distinguished career as an academic in agricultural sciences.
Now, for the moment you have all been waiting for, the photobombing. Here's an RPPC of the 1907 team that includes only two misspellings among its nine printed words. Illinois is missing the second I, and Charleston lacks an E, so we know the quality control procedures were not working the day the RPPC was laid out.
In addition to the spelling errors, two women stand on the other side of the glass door on the right side of the image. Whether they deliberately photobombed the team picture or were innocently waiting to exit the building is unclear, but we hope it was the former.
Now, you might think that photographs were expensive at the time, and perhaps the photographer took only one shot, so the team had to accept the only image taken. However, the Eastern Illinois Archives has another photo taken shortly before or after the one on the RPPC, and our photobombing friends also appear in that one.
So, either the photographer did not care about photobombing or did not have a good eye, neither of which was a good attribute for a photographer. The only saving grace for these images is that they may be the earliest examples of football photobombing. Please let us know if you have evidence of an early photobombing.
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