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Baseball's 1902 NFL

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  • Baseball's 1902 NFL

    Dave Berry, one of football’s foremost coaches and promoters, formed the Latrobe, Pennsylvania team in 1895. Suffering financial hardship by the turn of the decade, Berry encouraged Phillies owner John Rogers to form a football team in 1902 to help create a rivalry.

    This was during the NL’s war against the upstart AL, a battle which was especially acrimonious in Philadelphia due to the loss of Napoleon Lajoie, Bill Bernard, Chick Fraser and Elmer Flick to the cross-town Athletics. Therefore, A’s owner Ben Shibe wasn’t about to be outdone. He recruited his manager, Connie Mack, and famed University of Pennsylvania tackle Blondy Wallace to build a better team.

    The Phillies, Athletics and Berry's club, the Pittsburgh Stars, officially formed the first professional football league, called the National Football League.

    The Baseball connection:

    Owned and financed:
    Philadelphia Phillies - John Rogers
    Philadelphia Athletics - Ben Shibe
    Pittsburgh Stars - William Temple and/or Barney Dreyfuss

    Philadelphia Phillies - Bill Shettsline
    Philadelphia Athletics - Connie Mack (and Blonde Wallace)

    Phialdelphia Athletics - Rube Waddell (guard)
    Pittsburgh Stars - Christy Mathewson (punter/fullback), Fred Crolius (halfback), Daff Gammons (back)

    The league folded after only one season when the Athletics pulled out after losing $4,000. However, it did make an impact. During the season, the aptly named Philadelphia Athletics won the first professional football night game, under a crude lighting system aligned along the sidelines.

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 05-23-2008, 12:17 PM.

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