When Out Of Bounds Balls Were Live ($)
Before 1926, the ball remained live when fumbles, blocked kicks, or other circumstances sent the ball across the sideline or beyond the goal line (or end line after 1911). Ten months ago, I wrote about the days ten in a story focused on the obstacles surrounding football fields that players faced when pursuing the live ball. Spectators, substitutes, water buckets, or other objects got in their way as they tried to claim the ball.
Recently, a reader asked if I had images or illustrations of players fighting for the ball out of bounds. I did not have such an image, so I set off to find one and ended up with one illustration and a handful of amusing stories of off-the-field derring-do.
The patron saint of players retrieving off-the-field balls is Rev. Addison "Ad" Ewing, who played football and ran track for Chicago's early teams. Often described as a hurdler in track, Chicago's 1895 yearbook suggests he had more success in the pole vault. Nevertheless, when Chicago traveled to California in 1894 to play a few games, the ball went out of bounds and over a fence. Since a Stanford player was closer to the ball than Ewing, the Reverend used his hurdling skills to cross the fence and touch the ball down while the Stanfordian slowly scaled the fence.