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Early days of V.P.I. football

I have been reading a book of history of the first one hundred years of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and find the parts about early football at the college to be very interesting.
For instance, I was not surprised to learn thet the first football purchased by the administration cost $1.25, a price some players considered exorbitant. This was around the year 1890, and it was a difficult task getting the students to join in even pick-up games on campus. It was necessary to go to the barracks every day and and beg men to come out and play. Since men played one evening, they became disgruntled, and wouldn’t come out the next day because they had not been chosen for the first team. A second team had to be secured each day by threats, coaxing, promises and appeals.
The description of how the game of football got underway in 1892 is interesting.
“There was no idea of team play; whoever got the ball by luck, ran with it. No one knew anything about interference, and though we had signals, it was a question of luck how each play went. The boundaries of the field were marked off with a plough, as were the 25 yard lines. The field was not as smooth as the new Blacksburg Railroad bed, but ran up and down hill with little hollows which hid the play from spectators on the other side of the field.
In spite of all this, a team was fielded in 1892 through the efforts of Professor W.E. Anderson, Professor E. A. Smyth , and cadets H. B. Pratt, J. W. Stull. Professor Anderson played right tackle, and served as captain, and Professor Smyth as trainer and business manager. The V.P.I. College Bugle reported, “It was not football, yet we had some fun. Suits were ordered, footballs of various descriptions bought, and general enthusiasm prevailed.”
The first game ended in a 14-10 victory over St. Albans, and the sport of football had kicked off at V.P.I.
The football program was at first financed by donations by faculty and students. Amateur theatricals and plays were given on behalf of the team, but until the year 1902, financial support came from the pockets of interested professors.
By the close of the 1902 season, the caliber of the opposition played had reached such such a level that the gate often collected by passing the hat amongst the spectatore left a small cash balance. Compare this pile of loose change with the gate receipts Tech received at the past two games at home.
After the year 1900, V.P.I. sports grew in popularity. Baseball, basketball and other sports became popular, and soon the university became one of the country’s football elite. It struck me as strange that during those early years, V.P.I. employed one coach to coach all sports.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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Early days of V.P.I. football

I have been reading a book of history of the first one hundred years of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and find the parts about early football at the college to be very interesting.
For instance, I was not surprised to learn thet the first football purchased by the administration cost $1.25, a price some players considered exorbitant. This was around the year 1890, and it was a difficult task getting the students to join in even pick-up games on campus. It was necessary to go to the barracks every day and and beg men to come out and play. Since men played one evening, they became disgruntled, and wouldn’t come out the next day because they had not been chosen for the first team. A second team had to be secured each day by threats, coaxing, promises and appeals.
The description of how the game of football got underway in 1892 is interesting.
“There was no idea of team play; whoever got the ball by luck, ran with it. No one knew anything about interference, and though we had signals, it was a question of luck how each play went. The boundaries of the field were marked off with a plough, as were the 25 yard lines. The field was not as smooth as the new Blacksburg Railroad bed, but ran up and down hill with little hollows which hid the play from spectators on the other side of the field.
In spite of all this, a team was fielded in 1892 through the efforts of Professor W.E. Anderson, Professor E. A. Smyth , and cadets H. B. Pratt, J. W. Stull. Professor Anderson played right tackle, and served as captain, and Professor Smyth as trainer and business manager. The V.P.I. College Bugle reported, “It was not football, yet we had some fun. Suits were ordered, footballs of various descriptions bought, and general enthusiasm prevailed.”
The first game ended in a 14-10 victory over St. Albans, and the sport of football had kicked off at V.P.I.
The football program was at first financed by donations by faculty and students. Amateur theatricals and plays were given on behalf of the team, but until the year 1902, financial support came from the pockets of interested professors.
By the close of the 1902 season, the caliber of the opposition played had reached such such a level that the gate often collected by passing the hat amongst the spectatore left a small cash balance. Compare this pile of loose change with the gate receipts Tech received at the past two games at home.
After the year 1900, V.P.I. sports grew in popularity. Baseball, basketball and other sports became popular, and soon the university became one of the country’s football elite. It struck me as strange that during those early years, V.P.I. employed one coach to coach all sports.

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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