Early Football Teams of Vallejo

Borne out of soccer and rugby on university fields between New Jersey and Connecticut in the 1870s and '80s, early American football was perhaps the most brutal game imaginable in a modern setting. Its dangerous hits resulted in the deaths of dozens of collegiate players each season, and the violent action simultaneously enraptured and disgusted the public. Attendance began matching that of baseball, the national pastime and most popular sport of the day, but football also drew public outrage and was in danger of being abolished.

The Farragut Athletic Club football team, circa 1895. Those identified are Ed Cavanaugh, Charles Lee, Thomas McGuire, Joseph McEnry, George Burnap, John Hurley, John Scully, Joseph Walsh, J. W. Cavanaugh, P. W. Brown, and P. Bagan. -- Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

The Farragut Athletic Club football team, circa 1895. Those identified are Ed Cavanaugh, Charles Lee, Thomas McGuire, Joseph McEnry, George Burnap, John Hurley, John Scully, Joseph Walsh, J. W. Cavanaugh, P. W. Brown, and P. Bagan.

Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

President Theodore Roosevelt is often credited for saving the sport. Beginning around 1905, the president began lobbying for changes in the game he loved. He invited team leaders of Princeton, Yale, and Harvard to the White House to discuss making the sport safer, but to little effect. The next season, with the sport in serious jeopardy as major colleges began dissolving their teams, Roosevelt publicly implored football's leaders to enact major rule changes, resulting in an intercollegiate conference that later became the NCAA.

The Vallejo High School football team in front of the high school, 1930. -- Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

The Vallejo High School football team in front of the high school, 1930.

Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

Football rebounded and grew in popularity in the early 1900s, and began more closely resembling the sport we know today with the organization of the NFL in the early 1920s. 

The Junior Moose football squad, 1920. Front row, from left: Antoine Johnson, Albert Strazzo, George Boyle, Richard Terret. Middle row: Dick Boyle, Big Fountain, Vince Walsh, Allie Kenworthy, Leo Little. Back row: Mike Malstead, Norman Seeney, Bert Killerb, Frank Peters. -- Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

The Junior Moose football squad, 1920. Front row, from left: Antoine Johnson, Albert Strazzo, George Boyle, Richard Terret. Middle row: Dick Boyle, Big Fountain, Vince Walsh, Allie Kenworthy, Leo Little. Back row: Mike Malstead, Norman Seeney, Bert Killerb, Frank Peters.

Courtesy of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum

These and hundreds of other classic Vallejo images can be found in the Times-Herald's new book, Vallejo Memories!

Vallejo Memories: The Early Years Cover
Times Herald presents Vallejo Memories: The Early Years

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