Discover more from Football Archaeology
Today's Tidbit... Walter Camp's California Adventures
It had to get boring playing football in California in the early Nineties, the 1890s, that is. Teams such as Cal and Stanford had few teams to play unless they or someone else spent the Christmas season traveling and playing football.
Cal, for example, played nineteen games from the fall of 1892 through 1895. They played:
San Francisco Athletic Club (AC) once
Olympic AC six times
Reliance AC eight times
Stanford four times.
Stanford had it better. Their regular season games during that stretch included:
One game with the Sacramento AC
Seven games with the Olympic AC
Seven games with the Reliance AC
Four contests with Cal.
However, the Stanford men also traveled to Los Angeles twice and the Northwest once over three holiday seasons to pick up nine additional games.
Despite the limited competition, Stanford convinced Walter Camp to head West to coach them over the holidays in 1892. After finishing with his undefeated Yale team that season, Camp had compiled a 67-2 record over five seasons. The 1892 holiday trip included two games with UChicago, who, led by fellow Yalie Amos Alonzo Stagg, was the first team to cross the Rockies for a football game.
Camp made a similar trip in 1893, and in 1895 arrived in time to watch Stanford play their first game of the season, a 4-0 win over the Olympic AC, after which he spoke to the team captain and manager.
Stanford beat Reliance AC in their next game and the Olympic Club twice to set up the big game with Cal on Thanksgiving. Cal lost the first game of the season against Reliance before beating them twice and Olympic AC once.
The Big Game occurred on a rain-soaked field with much punting back and forth before Stanford's Cochrane crossed the goal line and converted for a 6-0 halftime lead. The second half saw plenty of punting along with superior running by Cal's captain A. W. Ransome, eventually leading to him earning a touchdown and conversion. The game ended in a 6-6 tie, the third in four meetings between the two schools.
The game marked the end of the season for both teams while also ending Camp's California adventures. While he would be an ambassador for the game and remain involved with the rules committee for the rest of his life, he focused his efforts on Yale and let the Bay Boys fend for themselves.
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. If you are a regular reader, consider becoming a paying subscriber to support my work.