Cal and Stanford first met on the gridiron in March 1892. They played again in December of that year and then annually until 1905, a game represented in the RPPC below. The image, of course, is a fabrication created using scissors and glue in the pre-Photoshop days.
The fans in the background attended the game in 1904, not 1905, when designated men wrapped white shawls and turbans to form a giant S in the stands. To the right, another group supported their team by wearing cardinal and white striped hats.
On the field of play, we see a ball carrier running to his right (our left). A defender in a dark jersey is being clipped, which remained legal a the time. Most of those whose faces are visible in the image wear nose guards.
The large figure to the left is captain Chalmers or L. S. Jr. U or Leland Stanford Jr. University. His counterpart, Force, led the University of California footballers.
The sender scribbled, "California! From an old sweetheart of yours," signing it with an unrecognizable scrawl.
During the game, the teams played evenly. However, Stanford received the breaks despite captain and quarterback Chalmers exiting the game due to injuries, with the Cardinal leaving the field victorious, 12-5.
Unfortunately, during the postseason turmoil about football's future, the presidents of Cal and Stanford opted to drop football in favor of rugby. Most California colleges and high schools followed suit, and the Big Game became a rugby union match. That remained the case until 1915, when Cal returned to football, playing the next four Big Games against Washington. Stanford had a football team in 1918 under the Students Army Training Corp banner but did not play Cal. They fielded a varsity squad in 1919 when the traditional Big Game restarted. By then, under Andy Smith, Cal began dominating West Coast football, winning the 1919 game and the next four.
Today, Stanford leads the series 65-49-11.
A final note about the postcard concerns the photographer, whose name appears below captain Force. Arthur Clarence Pillsbury entered Stanford in 1895, invented various photographic techniques, and became a top photographer of the American West. His images of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake were seen across the world. Nevertheless, his fanciful image of the 1905 Big Game remains among his coolest.
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