Friday, November 20, 2020

An Early Photograph of Baseball at Franklin Field


Earlier this month, soon after Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung passed away, I was alerted to a stunning color photograph of the gridiron great taken during the 1960 NFL Championship Game. Shot the day after Christmas 1960, “The Golden Boy” is seen kicking a field goal for the Green Bay Packers in their losing effort against the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Besides skillfully freezing the action on the field in a perfectly composed image, the unidentified photographer captured an absolutely gorgeous setting. The location is the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field, then the home of the NFL Eagles, and the majestic building in the background is Weightman Hall. Both structures still stand today.

I’m a baseball, not football, researcher, so when I first saw this exquisite, 60-year-old photo I immediately got to wondering if Franklin Field, with Weightman Hall as a magnificent backdrop, ever hosted a baseball game. I quickly found out that the answer is yes, as Penn’s baseball team played their home games there for decades after the stadium first opened in 1895. I then tracked down this gorgeous photograph of a baseball game being played at Franklin Field available at the University of Pennsylvania Archives:

The photo is ID’ed as “Baseball, Penn vs. Carlisle, 1907, action photograph” and dated to June of 1907. A quick perusal of newspapers from June of 1907 reveals that while the game was originally scheduled to take place on June 5, 1907, rain forced the teams to postpone their meeting for 10 days. The new date of June 15 meant that the contest would be the last of the season for both the Penn and the Carlisle Indian School varsity baseball teams. Brief coverage of the game made numerous newspapers, including this noted in New York Times:


Now take a look at this detail from the 1907 game action photograph showing Franklin Field’s scoreboard in right field foul territory:

I’ll call your attention to a few details:

  1. Note that Carlisle is listed at the bottom of the line score, suggesting they batted second. But in this era, it was not uncommon for scoreboards and newspaper accounts to list the home team at the top of the line score, even though they batted at the “bottom” of the inning.
  2. The scoreboard has numbers entered for 2½ innings, we know that the photo must have been taken in the bottom of the third with Penn at bat.
  3. The partial line score matches what we see listed in the New York Times for the first 2½ innings, thus corroborating that the photo does indeed show the Carlisle at Penn game of June 15.

The Carlisle Indians entered the game having won two of their last three games, but due to multiple rainouts those three contests were the only ones they had played over the previous two weeks. Meanwhile, the Penn Quakers (seen in their official team photograph below) were 17-15, but were riding a six-game losing streak.

The hand-written identifications on the photograph are a bit confusing and fail to give full names, so here is a clearer listing of who’s who:

  • Top row (left to right): W.J. Brady, Calet Sipple Layton.
  • Second row (left to right): James Graham Damon (student manager), Wilbur Donahue Twitmire, Oscar Sedgwicke Carter, John Blakeley (coach), Charles “Kid” Keinath, Rodney K. Merrick, Shunzo Takaki, Edward Biddle Clay.
  • Third row (left to right): Matthias Franklin “Matty” Fennell, William Taylor Webb, Frank Post Wilson, Gerrit Parmele Judd, Frederick Throckmorton Thomas, Walter Samuel Brokaw, Bertine Gillette Simpson.
  • Bottom row (left to right): Charles Parmenas Henry, Louis Van Zelst (mascot), Charles Taylor Brown, Sewell Hopkins Corkran.

A couple of players seen in this team photo had short minor league careers, including Wilbur Twitmire and Matty Fennell. But one individual pictured above actually made the big leagues: 12-year-old team mascot Louis Van Zelst (mistakenly labeled as “Van Zandt” on the photograph).

Van Zelst, who four years earlier had suffered an injury that resulted in a hunchback, later served as the mascot of the powerhouse Philadelphia Athletics from 1909 through 1914, over which time the club won four pennants and three World Championships. Here he is (at bottom right) with the Athletics as they took the field at the Polo Grounds for the 1911 World Series.

In March of 1915, Van Zelst passed away of Bright’s Disease at the age 20, and (coincidentally?) the Athletics dropped to last place in the American League. They would not reach the post season again until 1929.

Two other Penn players seen in the 1907 team picture deserve special mention:

  • Charles “Kid” Keinath was a multisport star at Penn. Beyond baseball, he quarterbacked the 1908 National Champion football team (though there is some controversy about what team should be recognized as champions for that year) and was a four-time All-American basketball player. You can learn more about Keinath in an excellent article at the Philadelphia Sports Nation web site. And here he is with the 1908 Penn football squad:

  • Shunzo Takaki starred at Penn in baseball, football, gymnastics, and tennis. According to historian Bill Staples Jr., the native of Tokyo “is believed to be the first person of Japanese ancestry to play baseball for a mainland U.S. college.” You can learn more about Takaki at Bill’s stellar blog site.

Returning to the contest of June 15, 1907, I was unable to track down a box score of the game, so it is difficult to state for certain which players on either club participated in the matchup. However, as seen in the New York Times clipping above, the batteries were Fennell (p) and Brown (c) for Penn, Garlow (p) and Wauseko (c) for Carlisle.

Southpaw Matty Fennell was generally recognized as Penn’s top pitcher. And his catcher, Charles Brown, was also a founding member of the Penn wrestling team, grappling at 135 pounds for the Quakers.

Carlisle pitcher William Garlow, seen winding up on the mound in our June 15 Franklin Field photo, played baseball, football, and lacrosse at Carlisle. He also apparently had a four-year minor league baseball career. Here he is pictured in his Carlisle football uniform:

The Carlisle catcher was listed as Wauseko, but this was a misspelling of Wauseka, an alias used by Emil Hauser. Like his batterymate, Hauser also played football at Carlisle and dabbled in minor league baseball. The image below shows Hauser after he left Carlisle to attend and play football for the Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State).

It seems likely that the first baseman seen in the Franklin Field photo is Carlisle’s William Newashe. As a member of the school’s 1911 football team, Newashe participated in one of the most celebrated college football games in history: Carlisle's stunning November 11 victory over Harvard at Harvard. In this photo of the legendary Carlisle team, Newashe can be seen in the second row, third from left:

The second baseman in the photo of the Quakers vs. Indians game may have been William Pappan, the school’s second sacker for most of the season. However, according to school records, Pappan was expelled less than week before the game, so that identification is very problematic.

In the following photo, Pappan can be seen seated in the third row from the top, second from left:

As for the right fielder in the Franklin Field photograph, a good guess is that it is Joe Twin, who played the position for Carlisle in 1907 regularly. Just a few weeks before the game, the school newspaper, The Arrow, published an “essay written by Joe Twin, the ‘Foxy’ right fielder for the Indians.” You can read it here.

It’s tempting to think that Carlisle legend Jim Thorpe, who starred in just about every athletic endeavor that one could imagine, was playing for the Carlisle Indian varsity team at the time the Franklin Field photo was taken. But it appears that the future Olympic gold medalist and major league baseball player did not make the varsity baseball squad until the following season. In 1907, his baseball activities were limited to playing for a school team called the “All-Giants,” as announced in The Arrow of April 26, 1907:

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the name of Carlisle’s baseball coach: Glenn Scobey Warner. That’s right! College Football Hall of Famer “Pop” Warner was head coach of the Carlisle baseball team. Take another look at the 1911 Carlisle football team photo above. That’s Warner in the top row, third from right, with Jim Thorpe in the second row, third from right.