May 28, 2018

NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & top offensive players + 1959 NFL attendance data. / 1959 NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts.

Filed under: NFL>1959 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 2:31 pm

NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & attendance data

By Bill Turianski on 28 May 2018.
-1959 NFL season.
-1959 Baltimore Colts season (
-1959 NFL season (
-1959 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1959] (

The map… The map, done in the style of late-1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1959. (Note: this map includes the newly-incorporated states of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which were granted statehood in 1959.) Final standings for the 1959 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1959 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1959 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see the next 8 paragraphs, and the illustration, below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1959 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Charley Conerly, Giants. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs & Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs [tied]: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards & Receiving TDs and Total TDs [tied]: Raymond Berry, Colts.

    In a re-match of the 1958 NFL title game, the 1959 Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants (again).

The Colts were the reigning champions, but they had a hard time of it to win the Western Conference in ’59. They had to gain 2 games over San Francisco, and did so, late in the season, with two wins over the 49ers, and the Colts ended up at 9-3, one game above the Bears. The Giants, however, won the Eastern Conference easily, clinching in week 10, and the Giants had the best record in the league in 1959, at 10-2. The New York Giants also had the best defense in ’59, allowing only 14.1 points per game (170 PA), and the Giants also had the second-best offense (with 284 PF). Meanwhile, the Colts were the most potent offensive threat by far (374 PF), averaging 34.1 points. As to the Colts’ defense…well, on paper, the Colts’ D was only ranked 6th-best in terms of points allowed that season (251 PA); nevertheless, the Colts had the most interceptions by far (40, which was 18 more than any other team). And in the end, it was the Colts’ swarming defense, and particularly their ability to pick the ball off, that would decide the 1959 NFL title game.

Because of the NFL’s rotating-home-venue-for-title-game rule back then, the Western Conference was slated to host the 1959 title game, so that meant Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium would host the event, which was on Sunday December 27, 1959. A full-capacity-crowd (57,545) was on hand: the game had been sold out the day after the Colts won the Western Conference championship. Odds-makers were “ambivalent”: Colts by 3 1/2 in Baltimore, Giants by 3 1/2 in New York City. Game-time conditions were mild: 51°F with a slight breeze.

The Colts scored early in the 1st quarter, with a 60 yard pass play from Johnny Unitas to HB Lenny Moore. But then the formidable Giants defense shut the Colts down for the remainder of the first half, and deep into the 2nd half as well. Yet meanwhile, the Colts defense was containing the Giants, and the much-vaunted New York offense could only muster 9 points (off of 3 Pat Summerall FGs). So, midway through the 3rd quarter, the Giants held a slight lead, at 9-7.

Then, late in the 3rd quarter, the game turned on a 4th-and-1 play. The Giants had the ball on the Colts’ 27, which would have been a relatively easy 34-yard FG attempt. However, with their narrow 2-point lead, the Giants decided to go for it, and ran a running play. FB Alex Webster was stopped cold for a 1-yard loss by Colts DT Ray Krouse. The Memorial Stadium crowd erupted, and the momentum was shifting.

Then the Colts answered with 24 points, starting with a swift march down the field that culminated in a 4-yard Johnny Unitas option-rush-TD. The Colts led 14-9 at this point, with 12 minutes to go. Both offenses were then held to 3-plays-and-a-punt. Then, in 3 consecutive possessions, the Giants turned the ball over, via interceptions. The first of the 3 turnovers occurred with the Giants back on their 7-yard line: New York QB Charley Conerly’s pass was picked off at midfield by Colts All-Pro DB Andy Nelson, and Nelson returned it to the Giants’ 15. Two plays later, Unitas used a misdirection-play to connect with TE Jerry Richardson at the 8, and Richardson reached the end zone, and it was now 21-9 Colts.

Then the Giants made another turnover: Conerly’s 3rd-and-eight pass was intercepted by Colts DB Johnny Sample, who streaked 45 yards to a TD, and it was now 28-9 for the Colts. And then three minutes later, with New York at the 50 yard line but even more desperate, Johnny Sample made another interception, this time off of a Frank Gifford halfback-option. Sample returned the pick-off 24 yards, to the Giants’ 26. A few plays later, Colts K Steve Myhra made it 31-9, with a 25-yard FG. It was much too late in the game for New York to mount a serious comeback, although the Giants did drive for a late TD. That made it 31-16, and that was the final score.

And so the small-market Baltimore Colts had defeated the big-city Giants for the second straight year. Johnny Unitas had an MVP-worthy 18-for-29/264 yds/2 TD/0 Interceptions performance, and HB Lenny Moore had 124 yds from scrimmage and a TD. The Colts faithful stormed the field after the final whistle, and had a celebratory goal-post-razing. And then the joyful mob swiped every memento they could get their hands on, including DT Gino Marchetti’s helmet, the sideline benches, and even the iron goal posts themselves (which were smuggled out of the stadium, and later cut into mantle-piece-worthy trophies). Colts DE Art Donovan, who would go on to have a second career as a raconteur and an in-demand late-night talk-show guest, quipped, “Isn’t it great? The Giants shot their mouths off all week. But we played the football.”

But due to the epic battle that was the 1958 NFL title game [aka the Greatest Game Ever Played], the re-match in ’59 (and the repeat Colts’ victory), was fated to be a barely remembered thing (see a 2009 article from the Baltimore Sun for more on that, below).
-The greatest game nobody remembers (Mike Klingaman at
Photo and Image credits above- 1959 NFL title game program, photo unattributed at Aerial shot of Colts v Washington at Memorial Stadium [photo circa 1960], photo by Robert F. Kniesche attributed (for once) at[Colts v Washington]. Unitas in pocket under pressure, photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via Conerly pursued by Marchetti and Donovan, color-tinted photo unattributed at Johnny Sample, 2nd interception, photo unattributed at Colts fans’ celebratory goal-post-razing, photo by AP via Colts’ ’58/’59 champions logo, image from

1959 Baltimore Colts: 7 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’59 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1959 AP, 1st team. -Johnny Unitas: 1959 All-Pro (QB), and 1959 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979. -Gino Marchetti: 1959 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972. -Jim Parker: 1959 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Raymond Berry: 1959 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Lenny Moore: 1959 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975. -Gene Lipscomb: 1959 All-Pro (DT). -Andy Nelson: 1959 All-Pro (S). -Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968. -Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1959 NFL… There were very few uniform changes in the 1959 NFL (see Packers and 49ers sections below). However, it would be a different matter in the next few seasons, as more teams finally introduced helmet logos. But as of 1959, just 4 teams wore helmet logos (Rams, Eagles, Colts, Washington). 1959 was the third year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams (because in the past, both teams often ended up wearing a dark-colored jersey). This rule would last 7 seasons (1957-63). Then in 1964, teams were given the option of wearing their white jerseys at home; that rule exists to this day.

-In 1959, the Green Bay Packers, now under the leadership of new head coach Vince Lombardi, introduced new uniforms, the template of which has remained the Packers’ signature look to this day. Gone were the white helmets that had been part of the Packers’ uniforms for the previous three seasons, and gone was any navy blue, and also gone was the dark-bluish-forest-green color the Packers had toyed with in the 1956-58 time period {see my 1958 NFL post for more on that/scroll down to ’58 uniforms section there}. While the Packers had worn kelley-green in the late-1940s-to-mid-1950s time period, starting in 1959 the green was now plain-dark-green. The gold was still yellow/orange, and that would be the Packers’ helmet color once again. The helmet featured a dark-green/white/dark-green center-striping. But the new Packers helmet was otherwise blank…the Packers’ now-iconic football-shaped-G logo would not be introduced until 2 years later, in 1961. {1959 Packers uniforms (} The Packers experimented with dark-green facemasks during this time, but abandoned it, probably because the green paint was prone to easily flake off, as you can see in the following post from the excellent (Note: The Baltimore Colts also experimented with a colored facemask in this era [a dark-blue facemask]. But the first team-wide introduction of colored facemasks did not occur until 15 years later, when the Chargers got Riddell to embed the color (yellow) into the rubberized coating of the facemask. {See this article by Paul Lukas at, Uni Watch’s Friday Flashback: How the Chargers started the colored face mask revolution.})

Green Bay Packers helmet history –
Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above –

-In 1959, the San Francisco 49ers switched, yet again, from gold to silver helmets (plain silver helmets). The 49ers switched from gold to silver pants as well in ’59. And the Niners also slightly changed the detailing on their white jerseys, introducing a second arced shoulder stripe (similar to the striping on the Colts’ jerseys {1959 49ers uniforms}. All this chopping and changing was blurring the 49ers visual identity during this era. The 49ers of the 1952 to 1964 time period could not make up their mind what their look should be, switching their helmet color 5 times in a 13-year-span…from silver to red to white to gold to silver to gold. {You can see that in Gridiron Uniforms Database’s SF 49ers page.}

Photo and Image credits on map page…
Colts… Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from Johnny Unitas [photo from 1958 title game], photo by Neil Leifer at Jim Parker, [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at Raymond Berry [photo from 1960 v Eagles]], photo by Focus on Sports/Getty Images via Retro Colts logo from Gino Marchetti [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at[Baltimore football greats...]. Andy Nelson [photo from 1959 title game], photo unattributed at[Baltimore Colts]. Jim Mutschellar [photo circa 1960], photo by Baltimore Sun at Art Donovan [photo circa 1958], photo unattributed at Lenny Moore [photo from 1958], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images at Gene Lipscomb [photo from 1959], photo by John G. Zimmerman/Getty Images at

1959 Offensive stats leaders…
Charley Conerly [photo from 1959], photo unattributed at Johnny Unitas [photo from 1959], photo from Complete Pro Sports Illustrated magazine via[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [1959 Topps card], from Raymond Berry [photo from 1963], photo by Walter Iooss, Jr/Getty Images via

Map was drawn with assistance from images at this link…
-Thanks to the contributors at
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1959 season (
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

January 30, 2018

NFL 1958 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data & info on 1958 NFL teams’ uniforms.

Filed under: NFL>1958 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 5:07 pm

NFL 1958 season, map with helmets and final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data

By Bill Turianski on 30 January, 2018;
-1958 NFL season
-1958 NFL Championship Game (
-1958 NFL season (
-1958 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1958] (

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1958. Final standings for the 1958 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map page. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. At the lower-right-corner of the map page there is a small section devoted to 1958 NFL attendance data (also see attendance section further below). At the top-right of the map page is a section devoted to the 1958 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see next 12 paragraphs and the illustration below). And at the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1958 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Passing Yards: Billy Wade, Rams. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs and Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards: Del Shofner, Rams.

    Johnny Unitas led the 6-year-old Colts to the 1958 NFL title, over the NY Giants 23-17 (first-ever OT game)

Johnny Unitas, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, was a Pittsburgh-born graduate of Louisville University. At college, he played the dual role of QB and Safety for the Redbirds. Unitas had been a 9th round selection by his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1955. But Unitas was cut by the Steelers in the ’55 preseason, with Steelers coach Walt Kiesling under the impression that Unitas was not smart enough to run an NFL offense, even though Kiesling (duh) never even let Unitas take one snap during the entire preseason. So Unitas worked in construction jobs in Pittsburgh in the latter half of 1955, to support his family, and he played semi-pro football for 6 bucks a game.

In the following year of 1956, Unitas got a second chance, when, after a successful tryout, Weeb Ewbank and the then-4-year old Baltimore Colts signed him. A few games into the ’56 season, backup-QB Unitas got his shot, when starting QB George Shaw was injured in the 4th game; and in 1956 the Colts finished 5-7. The next year, 1957, with Unitas now the starting QB, the Colts went 7-5…this was the team’s first winning season. And 1957 was also the first time the Colts drew above 40 K per game (attendance in ’57 for the Colts increased by 6.9 K, to 46 thousand per game). In the following season of 1958, the Colts shot out of the gate, winning their first 4, and the fans continued to flock to Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Colts saw an eye-popping 16.9-K-increase in crowd-size, to 53.6 K (which was an impressive 93 percent-capacity), at the 57.5-K-venue [which they shared with MLB's Baltimore Orioles]. The Baltimore Colts (a small-market team) had the third-best attendance in the NFL in 1958 (see attendance section on the map-page, as well as the league-attendance section further below).

So in 1958, the Colts won the Western Conference, going 9-3. The Colts had the league’s most potent offense, averaging 31.75 points per game. Unitas led the league in passing yardage and passing TDs (2,007 yards and 19 TDs). Unitas’ three main targets in ’58 were Hall Of Famers Lenny Moore (HB) and Raymond Berry (End/WR), as well as Jim Mutschellar (TE). Lenny Moore, who was a running back and not a wide receiver, gained a league-second-best 938 yards receiving, while Raymond Berry gained 724 yards receiving (which was the 4th-best that season), and TE Jim Mutschellar gained 504 yards receiving. The Colts ground game was spearheaded by FB Alan Ameche and HB Lenny Moore: Ameche gained a league-2nd-best 791 yards (second only to MVP Jim Brown of the Browns), while Moore ran for 598 yards. And Lenny Moore also had a league-best 1,536 yards from scrimmage. So, the Colts offense was dominant in ’58, and the Colts defense was second-best in that year (behind only the Giants). The Colts’ front four featured two future Hall of Famers: DE Gino Marchetti, and DT Art Donovan. And the Colts had the most prolific secondary that season, with 35 interceptions (including 8 pick-offs by both Ray Brown and Andy Nelson, and 7 by Carl Taseff). The dominance that the Colts had in the NFL Western Conference in 1958 can be seen in the fact that the Colts had the league’s best point-differential by far: +178 pd (which was almost triple the Giants’ pd, of +63).

The Colts had clinched the NFL Western Conference title in the 10th week, and thus, crucially, were able to keep key players rested on the bench for their last 2 regular-season games (which they lost). The Colts won the West by a game, over the 8-4 Chicago Bears and the 8-4 LA Rams. That meant the Colts would face the Eastern Conference champs, the 9-3 New York Giants, who featured a tough defense led by DE Andy Robustelli and LB Sam Huff, and a potent offense featuring the wily 37-year-old-veteran QB Charlie Conerly, star Halfback/End Frank Gifford (the 1956 league MVP), and Flanker Kyle Rote.

But, to get to the 1958 title game, the Giants had to play an extra game – an Eastern Conference tiebreaker – versus the Cleveland Browns, and New York had beaten Cleveland 10-0, a week before the Championship game. So the Colts players were much more rested than the Giants players. The Giants had won the title 2 seasons before (in 1956), 47-7 over the Bears, on a frozen surface at Yankee Stadium. Two years later, for this Giants versus Colts title game of 1958, game-time conditions were much better: 44ºF (7ºC) and dry, with virtually no wind. About 20,000 Colts fans from the Baltimore-area had made the trip up to Yankee Stadium for the game, by car, bus, and specially organized trains. There was a full-capacity crowd of 64,185 on hand at Yankee Stadium. The Colts were 3.5 point favorites (probably due to both the Colts’ offensive capabilities, as well as the Colts being the more rested squad).

Because of the sheer excitement that the closely-fought game caused, and because it was the first NFL championship game to be broadcast nationally on television (on NBC, to an estimated audience of 10.8 million homes), and because of its pivotal timing in the late 1950s (just as the medium of television had begun to broadcast pro sports nation-wide), the Colts versus the Giants in the 1958 NFL title game came to be known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. From, ‘The Greatest Game Ever: 1958 NFL Championship‘ (5:33 video uploaded by vslice02 at

The 1958 NFL title game was the first NFL game, play-off or otherwise, that went to sudden-death overtime. It featured two hard-nosed teams with offenses that had the capability to move the ball down the field with lightning-quick efficiency. The Giants were coached by Arkansas graduate Jim Lee Howell, who coached the Giants from 1954 to 1960. Howell’s two main assistant coaches are both in the Pro Footballl Hall of Fame – the Giants’ defensive coach in 1958 was future Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry (whom Howell had converted from a Giants LB to defensive coordinator 2 years previous in 1956); the Giants’ offensive coach in 1958 was future Packers’ head coach and football demi-god Vince Lombardi (whom Howell had hired from West Point, where Lombardi was Army’s offensive line coach 4 years previous in 1954). The Colts were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had got his pro coaching start under Paul Brown at Cleveland, and was hired as the Colts’ head coach in their second season (in 1954). Ewbank gave the Colts an unusual pre-game talk… “Not known for emotional speeches, Weeb gave one to his men before the game, reminding them of how they were unwanted by other teams. ‘Unitas, Pittsburgh didn’t want you. We got you for a 75-cent phone call. Lipscomb, the Rams got rid of you. We got you for a hundred bucks. Berry? One leg shorter than the other, with bad eyesight to boot. … So you should win this game for yourselves’…” {-Excerpt from[1958 NFL Championship Game]).

The Giants/Colts 1958 title game had multiple big plays, swift scoring drives, and changes in momentum – the biggest when, in the 3rd quarter with the Colts leading 14-3, the Giants stopped Baltimore on a fourth-and-goal-to-go on the 1 yard-line, for a 4-yard-loss (see color photo in the illustration below, where Unitas is about to hand off to Alan Ameche for that 4-yard-loss). Then the Giants went 95 yards for a TD in 4 plays. That drive was highlighted by a 86-yard pass play from deep within the Giants’ own territory: QB Charlie Conerly threw to WR Kyle Rote downfield left-to-right across the middle. Rote broke a tackle at mid-field, but then he fumbled when hit from behind at the Colts’ 25…Giants RB Alex Webster, who was trailing the play, recovered the fumble and ran it all the way to the 1-yard line. RB Mel Triplett then scored on a 1-yard TD run, and the Giants were back in it, now behind by only 4 points, at 14-10. The Giants then went ahead 17-14 early in the 4th quarter – Conerly’s 46-yard completion to TE Bob Schnelker set up his 15-yard TD pass to Frank Gifford.

In the dying minutes of the 4th quarter, the Colts took over with 1:58 to go, at their own 14-yard line (after a Giants punt). Unitas then put together one of the most famous drives in football history. After two incomplete passes, Unitas made a clutch 11-yard completion to Lenny Moore on third down. After one more incompletion, Unitas threw three straight passes to Raymond Berry, moving the ball 62 more yards, to the Giants’ 13-yard line (Berry had 12 receptions for 178 yds, the most yards from scrimmage in the game, and an NFL title game record.) A 20-yard FG by K Steve Myhra with 7 seconds left sent the game into sudden-death overtime…the first overtime game in NFL history. In OT, the Giants won the toss but failed in their first possession. Then Unitas and Baltimore drove 80 yards on 13 plays on the tired New York defense, and, aided by a key block at the goal line by TE Jim Multschellar, the Colts scored on a 1 yard TD by Alan Ameche, to win the game 23-17. Here is something that has went a little bit forgotten amidst all the hoopla surrounding this game…Johnny Unitas had called all 13 plays of the winning drive.

The 1958 NFL title game became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played…
Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Colts and Giants 1958 helmets from[1958]. Game program, unattributed at Screenshot of video [Yankee Stadium, exterior shot], image from video uploaded by NFL at, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ 1958 NFL Championship: Colts vs. Giants. Photo of Unitas in pocket, photo unattributed at Raymond Berry diving catch in ’58 title game, photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images at Screenshot of Giants D about to stop Ameche on 4th-and-goal, unattributed at Photo of Unitas passing long, late in game, from Unitas watches after handing off to Alan Ameche (winning TD in OT), photo by Neil Leifer at Colts fans carry Ameche off the field as the goal-posts are torn down, photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated via Fans carry Ameche off the field, screenshot of video uploaded by NFL at

The broadcast of the game by the NBC television network is credited with growing, almost overnight, the fan interest in the NFL. The 1958 NFL Championship Game marked the start of the popularity-surge for the NFL… a popularity-surge that has not abated to this day. As pro football historian Bob Carroll notes in his book When the Grass Was Real …’The next morning…for the first time in history, the National Football League was the number-one topic at watercoolers from sea to shining sea. Among the oohs over Johnny Unitas’s passes and the ahhs over Sam Huff’s tackles came many plaintive wonderings why “our town” didn’t have its own pro football team.’…{end of excerpt from page 12 of When the Grass Was Real, by Bob Carroll, published in 1993 by Simon and Schuster, available at here}.

-Video: The Greatest Game Ever Played – 1958 NFL Championship Highlights – Colts vs Giants (12:31 video [fuzzy color video] uploaded by Savage Brick Sports at
-From Golden Rankings, 1958 NFL Championship Game, Baltimore Colts @ New York Giants [illustrated article in chart form] (

1958 Baltimore Colts: 6 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’58 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1958 AP, 1st team.
-Johnny Unitas: 1958 All-Pro (QB), and 1958 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979.
-Gino Marchetti: 1958 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972.
-Jim Parker: 1958 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Raymond Berry: 1958 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Lenny Moore: 1958 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975.
-Gene Lipscomb: 1958 All-Pro (DT).
-Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968.
-Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

1958 NFL attendance figures, and notes on stadia.
In 1958, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the second straight year. There were 3,132,346 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1958 NFL season, making an average attendance of 43,504. The public were being captivated by the NFL, and the turnstiles told the tale: in a 5 year span, the NFL increased its average attendance by a staggering 11.1 thousand per game…in 1954, the NFL averaged 32.4 K; five years later, in 1958, the NFL was averaging 43.5 K.
Credits above – sources for figures:; Helmet icons:[1959]. Chart:

In 1958, the highest drawing NFL team was, once again, the Los Angeles Rams, who drew an astounding 83.6 thousand per game. Second-best-drawing team was the 9-3 Cleveland Browns (at 67.1 K). The Baltimore Colts drew third-best (at 53.6 K [which was a league-2nd-best 93.1-percent-capacity; only the Packers at their Green Bay venue filled their stadium better]). Two more teams drew above 50-K: the reigning-champs the Detroit Lions (at 53.4 K), and the San Francisco 49ers (at 52.4 K). And two more teams drew in the mid-40-K-range: the New York Giants (45.7 K) and the Chicago Bears (43.9 K). So there you go: in 1958, these were the 7 NFL teams that were drawing big-time crowds…Rams, Browns, Colts, Lions, 49ers, Giants, Bears. Then there was a rather large divide between those 7-high-drawing teams, and the other 5 NFL teams of 1958.

1958 NFL attendance: A chasm of 12-thousand-per-game separated the top 7 draws (see above) and the 5 lower-drawing teams (see below).
Just as the NFL was becoming more popular circa 1958, there were still 5 franchises that were under-performing at the turnstile. Each of these low-drawing NFL teams back then had their own reasons for drawing poorly. The Chicago Cardinals drew so poorly because the team was doomed to being the after-thought-team in the Windy City, thanks to the Bears’ predominance there (and so the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis two years later, in 1960). The Pittsburgh Steelers were just so consistently bad back then (or at best, mediocre), and were bad for so long, that their crowd-sizes were perpetually stuck in the mid-20-K-range. But also, the aging Forbes Field, which the Steelers rented from MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, was pretty decrepit at this point and had a somewhat small capacity of around 41,000. Washington, like the Steelers, also had to rent from an MLB team and play in an outdated venue; plus, Washington in the late-’50s was in the midst of a 13-year-slump without a winning season, and crowds at Griffith Stadium had plateaued to the point that they were drawing only 1.2 K better than they were eight seasons earlier in 1950 (Washington drew only 25.4 K in ’50; and 8 years later in ’58 they were only drawing slightly better at 26.6 K). So, in an 9-season-span (1950 to ’58), while the NFL as a whole increased its average attendance by over 14 thousand per game, Washington increased their crowds by only twelve-hundred or so per game.

The Packers’ low attendance in 1958 is a complicated issue. First off, one would expect a drop-off in attendance for the Packers in ’58, because 1958 was the absolute worst season the Green Bay Packers ever had (1-10-1). The Packers were the only NFL team that had two venues, and from 1933 to 1994, the Packers played 2 or 3 games each season in Milwaukee (they played 4 games in Green Bay and 2 home games in Milwaukee during the 1958-60 time period). In 1958, the Packers were not able to draw higher than the 29.7 K they averaged that season for two reasons: small capacity in their new venue in Green Bay (City Stadium (II), which opened in 1957), and low attendance in Milwaukee. The Packers’ City Stadium (II) [now called Lambeau Field] only had a capacity of 32,500 back then. In 1958, the Packers had the league’s best percent-capacity figure, that is, for their four Green Bay home games. The Packers played to an average of 30.8 K in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity). But in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium (which had a much larger capacity of 43.7 K), the Packers drew poorly: 24.5 K v Rams in October and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. The Packers fortunes would improve vastly with the arrival of Vince Lombardi in the following season of 1959, and the team would, um, pack even more fans in their soon-to-be-expanded stadium, and by 1961, the Packers were back to their title-winning ways. And despite being located in the smallest NFL market by far, the Green Bay Packers have been playing to basically-full-capacity ever since then. And after the 1994 season, the Packers’ organization came to the conclusion that, because demand for tickets was so great, they no longer needed to play a few of their games each season in Milwaukee. But as early as 1958, looking at the poor support Milwaukee residents gave the (admittedly bad) ’58 Packers, one could say that the small-town Green Bay Packers could already could stand on their own, without the crutch of a big-city venue.

There was one more team that was drawing significantly below the NFL average of 43-K in 1958, and that was the Philadelphia Eagles (see next two paragraphs).

1958: Philadelphia Eagles move into Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania…
Franklin Field dates back to 1895, with its current structure installed in the 1920s. When the Eagles played there (for 13 seasons, from 1958-70), it had a capacity of 60 thousand. It was, and still is, the home of the Ivy League college football team the Penn Quakers. It was also the home of the annual Army-Navy Game from 1899-1935. As the Stadiums of Pro site says, “Franklin Field is the answer to a trivia question that even the most dedicated NFL fans might not know. It is the oldest football stadium in the country.” {-Quote from Frankiln Field at} The Eagles move to Franklin Field was beneficial purely because it was a move from a baseball park to a venue designed for rectilinear sports like gridiron football. The Eagles moved into Franklin Field not as renters (the U. of Penn is a not-for-profit organization), but the Eagles donated about $75-to-100-K per year to stadium upkeep. However, the Eagles were not allowed to profit from sales of food and drink, or from parking fees. So, it was not an ideal set-up, and the Eagles later jumped at the opportunity to move into the city’s new multi-purpose venue, Veterans Stadium, in 1971 (which, of course, was also the home of the Philadelphia Phillies MLB team [from 1971-2003]).

Prior to 1958, the Eagles, like the Steelers and like Washington, had played in an MLB ballpark that was antiquated. Since 1942, the Eagles had played at Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], which only had a capacity of around 39,000, unless temporary bleachers were installed (as the Eagles were doing during their dual-championship-era of 1948 and ’49). And, like Pittsburgh and like Washington, the Eagles circa the mid-to-late-1950s were also bad, so this contributed to their small crowds. The Eagles drew worst in the league the year before, in 1957, when, in their last season at Connie Mack Stadium, and as a 4-8 team, they drew only 21.6 K. The next year (1958), with the move over to Franklin Field, the Eagles increased their crowd-size by 7.4-K-per-game (to 29.0 K per game). Their attendance had increased thanks to the venue-change, and despite the fact that Eagles were in a re-building mode and were really bad in ’58 (finishing last in the East, at 2-9-1). The next season of 1959, the Eagles, under aging-but-still-very-effective QB Norm Van Brocklin, vastly improved (to 7-5), and that helped to draw 10-thousand-more per game to Franklin Field (the Eagles drew 39.2 K in ’59). And then in 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles would be NFL champions. These days, the Eagles draw very well and have no attendance issues (well, other than a disproportionate amount of unruly fans).

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1958 NFL…
1958 was the second year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams.

Below: Washington’s ‘feather-helmet’ (worn from late 1958 through to 1964; replaced by the feathered-spear helmet)
Photo and Image credits above –[Washington 1958]; helmet photos from

-In 1958, Washington introduced the ‘feather-helmet’, which was worn for the last two games of the season. Washington was the fourth NFL team to introduce a helmet-logo {here are the first three helmet-logos in the NFL}. The feather-helmet was an unusual back-of-the-helmet-oriented logo, of a large feather, in pale-red-and-white, on a brownish-burgandy helmet {1958 Washington}. {Here is a photo from 1960, Washington v Eagles, that shows the feather-helmet from several angles.} The weird feather-logo helmet lasted 7 years, and that was replaced in 1965 by a diagonally-positioned gold-spear-with-feather logo {1965 Redskins uniforms}. Washington’s feather-helmet had the same problem that the original Colts’ horseshoe helmet (of ’54) had…the logo was oriented to the back of the helmet, making it hard to see from the front.

-In 1958, the Chicago Cardinals ditched their alternate red-helmets, wearing only a (plain) white helmet {Cardinals 1958}. The Cards kept the plain white helmet again in ’59, and then upon moving to St. Louis in 1960, introduced their now-iconic frowning-cardinal-head helmet, which in my opinion is one of the best looking helmets ever made {1960 Ken Gray game-worn Cardinals helmet {}.

-In 1958, the Los Angeles Rams ditched their yellow/orange [aka gold] jerseys, which the Rams had worn for some games in every one of their 14 previous seasons (going all the way back to their last year in Cleveland {1945 Cleveland Rams}). {Here is what the Rams looked like in 1957, when they were the only NFL team to sport 3 different jerseys; here were the rather plain 1958 Rams uniforms.} {Here is a photo of Rams HB Frank Arnett from 1958, on the bench during a Rams game at the LA Memorial Coliseum. By the way note, in the background of this photo, the huge crowd at the Coliseum that day; again, this was when the Rams were drawing 83 thousand per game, which was 40 thousand per game more than the league-average.} The Rams have worn yellow/orange jerseys a few times in the modern era {throwback-uniforms in 1994, and an alternate uniform (color rush) in 2014}.

-In 1958, the Green Bay Packers did not wear any gold in their uniforms (no yellow/orange gold or metallic-gold). Green Bay, in ’58, for some strange reason, only wore dark-forest-green-and-white at home, and wore white-and-dark-blue on the road…and their helmet was a plain white helmet with a dark-green center-stripe. This Packers’ alternate helmet-and-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn for parts of 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). Green Bay’s 1958 gear was the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when any shade of gold was not in their colors. It was also, coincidentally or not, the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. By the way, if you look closely at the ’58 Packers home jersey you can see that the green had a bit of blue in it: a dark-bluish-grey-shade-of-green (ie, forest-green), not the simply-dark-green they have worn since 1959. So, after their strange 3-year-experiment with white helmets and a weird shade of dark-bluish-green, in 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and plain-dark-green. A couple years after that, the Packers’ introduced their football-shaped-G-logo. The Packers’ helmet logo was introduced in 1961…which just so happens to be the year that the Packers started winning NFL titles again.
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Baltimore Colts…
Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from Johnny Unitas, photo [from commemorative issue of Baltimore Sun, following Unitas' death in 2002], photo unattributed at[Johnny Unitas feature]. Unitas and Colts offensive line after a snap, Life magazine photo [from 1960], photo unattributed at Jim Parker [segment of 1959 Topps card], from Gino Marchetti [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at[Baltimore Colts]. Raymond Berry [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at Gene Lipscomb [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at Lenny Moore [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at Art Donovan, photo [from 1958 preseason] by Baltimore Sun at Alan Ameche [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at pinterest.
1958 Offensive stats leaders…
Johhny Unitas (Colts) [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at Billy Wade (Rams) [1960 Topps card], from Jim Brown (Browns), [action-photo from 1958 game v Steelers], photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images via Del Shofner [photo from 1958 game v Colts], photo by Al Paloczy/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images at

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada,
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans,
-Thanks to the contributors at
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1958 season (
-Thanks to and to for attendance data from 1958; thanks to Mike at for swift reply and correction of Packers’ attendance discrepancy, of 1958 week 9 game, at
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

December 17, 2017

NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions./+ 1957 NFL attendance data & info on 1957 NFL teams’ uniforms.

Filed under: NFL>1957 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 10:34 am

NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions

By Bill Turianski on 17 December 2017
-1957 NFL season
-1957 Detroit Lions season (
-1957 NFL season (
-1957 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1957] (

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1957. Final standings for the 1957 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1957 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map-page is a section devoted to the 1957 NFL champions, the Detroit Lions (also see the next 6 paragraphs and the illustration below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1957 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating & Passing Yards & Passing TDs: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards & Rushing TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Total Yards from Scrimmage & total TDs: Lenny Moore, Colts. Receiving Yards: Raymond Berry, Colts.

The 1957 Detroit Lions are champions, demolishing the Cleveland Browns 59-14, and winning their third NFL title in 6 years.
During the 1950s, in just a 6-year span, the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns faced each other 4 times in the NFL title game. They had previously met in 1952, 1953, and 1954, with Detroit winning in close games in ’52 and ’53, and with Cleveland winning big in ’54. But in 1957, the underdog Detroit Lions won big over the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, thanks to 5 turnovers and the steady leadership of back-up QB Tobin Rote.

The betting line was Browns by 3 points, and the Las Vegas odds-makers probably gave that 3 point edge to Cleveland because it was a case of a veteran coach (Paul Brown) versus a rookie coach (the Lions’ George Wilson). And also, the Lions’ team leader and longtime-QB, Bobby Layne, was out injured. And looking at the regular season stats, Detroit had, on paper, a mediocre +20 points difference, which was only 6th-best in the league that year. But the Browns had never won in Detroit. Plus, the Lions were the hottest team in the league at that point, having won their last 4 games, and 6 of 7 (including beating Cleveland 20-7 in week 11). And the Lions were coming off a Tobin-Rote-led 24-point comeback-win over the 49ers, in the Western Conference tiebreaker playoff game, a week earlier. So, the oddsmkers might have thought Cleveland were favorites, but there were plenty of signs pointing to a Detroit win.

1957 NFL Championship Game: Detroit Lions 59, Cleveland Browns 14…
Photo and Image credits above – Aerial photo of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo from Virtual Motor City via Detroit Lions 1950s-era logo [2014 retro-redesign], image from Interior shot of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo by Wayne State University via Virtual Motor City via Photo of Tobin Rote [in 1957 NFL title game], by Marvin E. Newman at Illustrations of Lions and Browns 1957 helmets, by[1957]. Bobby Layne, on crutches, hugs Tobin Rote post-game, photo by AP via Detroit Free Press front page [Dec. 30 1957], photo from

Aided by two 1st-quarter turnovers (1 FR, 1 INT), all 3 possessions by the Lions in the first quarter led to scores (1 FG, and then two 1-yard-TD-runs: the first by QB Tobin Rote, and then another 1-yard-TD by HB Gene Gedman). Then, early in the 2nd quarter, Detroit pulled a trick play…Tobin Rote, who was also the place-holder for Field Goal attempts, called for a fake-FG in the huddle. It resulted in a 26-yard TD pass to End Steve Junker. That made it 24-7, and the rout was on. A 19-yard interception for a TD, by Lions DB Terry Barr, gave the Lions a 24-point lead at halftime (31-7). In the 2nd half, the Browns scored an early 3rd quarter TD, but the Lions answered with 4 TD passes, 3 by Rote, and the final TD pass by 3rd-string QB Jerry Reichow. In the 3rd quarter, Rote threw a stupendous 78-yard-pass to End Jim Doran, and then a 23-yard-TD-pass to Steve Junker. In the 4th quarter, Rote threw a 32-yd-TD-pass to End Dave Middleton. And so, with the game safely in hand, Rote was substituted for Reichow, who then threw a 16-yard TD pass to HB Howard ‘Hopalong’ Cassady. Final score: Lions 59, Browns 14.

The 45-point margin of victory by the Lions made it the most lopsided NFL title game since the Bears’ 73-0 win over Washington in 1940. The Lions had won their fourth (and last) NFL title.

1957 Detroit Lions: 3 All-Pro players; plus 7 from the ’57 Lions that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1957 AP, 1st team.
-Jack Christiansen (DB/KR): 1957 All-Pro; Christiansen was inducted into the HoF in 1970.
-Joe Schmidt (MLB): 1957 All-Pro; Schmidt was inducted into the HoF in 1973.
-Lou Creekmur (OT): 1957 All-Pro; Creekmur was inducted into the HoF in 1996.
-Bobby Layne (QB); Layne was inducted into the HoF in 1969.
-Yale Lary (DB/P); Lary was inducted into the HoF in 1979.
-Frank Gatski (C); Gatski was inducted into the HoF in 1985.
-John Henry Johnson (FB); Johnson was inducted into the HoF in 1987.

Two games into the next season (1958), the Lions front-office decided to stick with Tobin Rote, and part with the older and more expensive Bobby Layne. Layne was traded to the basement-dwelling Pittsburgh Steelers, and it is said that an incensed Layne predicted that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. He was right. The Detroit Lions have gone 1-10 in the playoffs since 1957, and are the oldest NFL franchise that has never won a Super Bowl title. They haven’t even made it to a Super Bowl: the closest that the Detroit Lions have ever got to a Super Bowl appearance was a loss to Washington in the 1991 NFC championship game. As of late December 2017 [with the Lions failing to qualify for the playoffs], it has been 60 years and counting since the Lions have been the NFL champions. There is just one thing I don’t understand…why is the player who led the Lions to their last NFL title, Tobin Rote, not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? (See following link.)

-From the Detroit Athletic blog, Tobin Rote belongs in Canton (by Howard Bak at
-From the Detroit Free Press, 1957 Detroit Lions: Full 60th anniversary coverage (
-From Golden Football Magazine site, NFL Championship Games: 1957, Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions [illustrated chart-style article] (
-Video of 1957 NFL Championship Game (at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, MI), Detroit Lions 56, Cleveland Browns 17 [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 1]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 2]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 3] (videos uploaded by Vol Brian at

1957 NFL attendance.
Note: also see the 1957 NFL Average Attendance chart at far-lower-right of the map page {source:}.
In 1957, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the first time. There were 3,062,449 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1957 NFL season. That averaged out to 42,534 per game (up an impressive +3,914 per game or up 10.1%, from 1956). The highest drawing NFL team was once again the Los Angeles Rams (at 68 K). Second-best draw was the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers (at 65 K), who drew 19-thousand-more-per-game than in 1956 (a league-best 43.9% increase). The 49ers drew so well in ’57 because they had an almost-championship-caliber team, one that came very close to winning the Western Conference (Detroit beat them in a rare conference [divisional] playoff tiebreaker game). So Bay Area fans responded by flocking in droves to Kezar Stadium, to see the Niners. Third-best attendance in 1957 was Detroit (at 55 K). The Detroit Lions of the 1950s, who won 3 NFL titles in that decade (1952, 1953, 1957), really packed them in at Briggs Stadium [aka Tiger Stadium], back then. Fourth-best crowd-size in 1957 was the much-improved Cleveland Browns (at 54 K), who featured rookie sensation Jim Brown (rushing yardage-leader & Rookie of the Year). The Browns had the second-best attendance improvement (17-thousand-more-per-game or +36.2%, from 1956). The other NFL teams of 1957 which drew above 40-thousand were: the reigning champions the New York Giants (at 48 K), the Baltimore Colts (at 46 K), and the Chicago Bears (at 44 K). The Colts are noteworthy here, as it was the still-young franchises’ first plus-40-K-attendance season (6.9-K more per game than in 1956). Their increase in attendance came thanks to the galvanizing presence of Johnny Unitas, who, in his first full-season as their starting QB, led the Colts to their first winning season (7-5). Unitas led the NFL in passing yardage and QB rating in 1957. In the following two seasons (1958 and ’59), the Colts would be champions.

New stadium for Green Bay in 1957. One more thing with respect to attendances deserves a mention…1957 was the first season of Green Bay’s new City Stadium (II) [renamed Lambeau Field in 1965]. The stadium the Packers had played in from 1932 to ’56, the bare-bones City Stadium (I), had just a 25,000-capacity {see this aerial photo circa mid-1950s}. A few years previously, the then-basement-dwelling Green Bay Packers had been told by the league office to either build a bigger stadium or move full-time to Milwaukee (Green Bay played 3 of their 6 home games, each season, in Milwaukee, during this era; in 1958 they started playing 4 in Green Bay and 2 in Milwaukee). When the Packers opened their new stadium in 1957, City Stadium (II) had a 32,500 capacity. {Here is an aerial photo of the first game played at what is now called Lambeau Field, from Sept. 29 1957.} The Packers were drawing 22.4 K in the last 3 games at the old stadium in 1956 (which was 89.7 percent-capacity). In 1957, the Packers drew to almost full-capacity for their first 3 games in the brand-new City Stadium (32.1 K at 98.7 percent-capacity). And remember, this was when the Packers were really bad (3-9 in ’57; 1-10-1 in ’58). The next year of 1958, the Packers drew 27.9 K overall, averaging 30,824 in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity), but in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium [capacity: 43.7 K], the Packers drew worse: 24.5 K v Rams mid-season and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. So their brand-new and 7.5-K-larger stadium was being filled pretty well, despite how bad the Packers were in this era. The problem was the Packers’ Milwaukee games in the 1956-58 time period: they were getting lousy attendance (like less than 50 percent-capacity in the 43.7-K Milwaukee County Stadium). One might be tempted to say that that was an example of how the small-town Packers were no longer able to hold their own in the modernizing NFL of the late 1950s. But the problem wasn’t in their small-town venue (in Green Bay). The Packers’ attendance problem was in their big-city venue, in Milwaukee. (How ironic, and a foreshadowing of the fact that the Packers, way down the road, in 1995, stopped playing games in Milwaukee, because they could sell out Lambeau Field easily and they did not need the crutch of the big-city venue in Milwaukee anymore.) Today, the only thing that still remains from Lambeau Field’s original structure of 1957 is some concrete that comprises the nearest stands to the field, and the structural steel below that. {For more on that, see this article with a great photo of old City Stadium (II)/Lambeau Field circa early 1960s, Lambeau Field started with a chain-link fence around it (by Cliff Christl, Packers team historian, at}. Lambeau Field is the oldest continually-operating NFL stadium, and after the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park and the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field is the third-oldest continually-operating major league venue in the USA and Canada. (Lambeau Field now has a 81.4-k-capacity.) The next NFL team to change their venue would be the Philadelphia Eagles in the following year (1958), when the Eagles moved from the decaying Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], into the much-larger Franklin Field.

Helmet and uniform changes in the NFL in 1957.
{1957 NFL uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database site.}
-In 1957, it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visiting team to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. Previously, NFL teams could wear whatever colored jersey they wanted, even if the two teams both ended up wearing dark-colored jerseys. And some teams only wore one jersey the whole season (as the Bears, the Lions, and the 49ers did, the season before, in 1956). This rule change showed the growing influence that television had on the NFL…the rule change was necessary because, on their black-and-white televisions, viewers at home could not distinguish between the two teams when both were wearing dark-colored jerseys. So home-team-dark-jerseys, and visiting-team-whites, was mandated.

-In 1957, the Baltimore Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day; likewise the Colts new jersey design which featured arced shoulder stripes {1957 Colts}. The Colts had previously worn a small-horseshoe-on-the-back-o-f-the-helmet {see this illustration I made for my 1956 NFL post}. Sixty years later, the Colts wear still this exact same helmet-design, with only the dark blue color having changed (and only very slightly, see this illustration I made in 2013, Baltimore/Indianaplois Colts: the 4 shades of blue the Colts have worn}.

-In 1957, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from white to gold (a blank metallic-gold helmet), and they also switched to gold pants {SF 49ers 1947-48 gold helmets/3-stripe-red-jerseys [YA Tittle]}. Both the gold helmets and gold pants had been first worn by the 49ers back in 1949, when the team was in the AAFC. Also in 1957, the white jersey of the 49ers had a unique red-gold-red striping {1957 49ers}; {here is a very nice color shot of the 1957 49ers [running out onto the field v Rams at LA Coliseum}...a very nice look, but in the following season of 1958, the Niners went back to their plain-one-color-striping on the sleeves of their white jerseys, which was in the same style as the red jersey's striping, and which dated back to 1950, and which is still worn to this day. The 49ers would keep the gold-helmets-and-pants for one more season ['58], before switching back again to silver helmet and pants (and then introduced the S-F-in-football-logo on that silver helmet in 1962), then the Niners switched back to gold helmet and pants once again, for good, in 1964.

-In 1957, the Chicago Bears, because of the new dark-jerseys-at-home/light-jerseys-away rule, wore white jerseys for the first time in 17 years (worn last in 1940) {1957 Rick Casares game-worn jersey.} (The Bears still wear essentially the same white jersey to this day.)

-In 1957, the Cleveland Browns added jersey-numbers to their orange helmets. {Reproduction of 1957 Jim Brown helmet (} {1957 Browns.} {black-and-white photo of 1957 Browns helmet w/ jersey-numbers [Jim Brown].} This was the first instance of the color brown on the Browns’ helmet (brown stripes flanking the center-white-stripe appeared in {1960}). The Browns would only wear this jersey-numbers-on-helmet style for 4 years (1957-60).

-In 1957, the Green Bay Packers’ alternate helmet-&-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn (this color-scheme existed for 3 seasons for the Packers [1956, '57, '58]). The Packers wore this white-and-dark-forest-green gear only once in ’56 (on opening day). But here, in 1957, when the NFL introduced the aforementioned rule that said home teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green colors for all 6 of their road games {1957 Packers}; {1957 Packers at Rams, with Packers in white helmets-and-jerseys-with-dark-green-trim}. Then, in the next season (1958), the Packers wore white-helmets-with-dark-forest-green-jerseys for all games making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. 1958 was also the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} In 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and dark-green. And were much better.

-In 1957, the Los Angeles Rams wore white jerseys for the first time ever (they only had worn yellow/orange or blue or red/black ['37] or red ['49] jerseys previously). Like the Bears, the Rams had been wearing only one uniform for several seasons (the Rams wore just a yellow/orange jersey from 1951 to ’56). The Rams were the only NFL team in 1957 that had three jerseys (blue, yellow/orange, white) {1957 Rams}.

-In 1957, the New York Giants introduced a subtle alteration of their helmets, placing jersey-numbers on the front of their blank-dark-blue-helmet-with-red-center-stripe. This helmet-design does not get noted at Gridiron Uniforms Database, but at MG’s Helmets, and at the Helmet Project site, the numbers-on-front-of-helmet design for the Giants of this era is noted, but just not by a specific year [when the design originated]. Well, I’ve looked at plenty of 1950s-era Giants helmets recently, and I can tell you for sure that the numbers were added to the front of Giants’ helmets in 1957 (and the jersey-numbers stayed on the front of Giants helmets all the way up to 1974). All you have to do is look at this photo from the Giants’ 1956 title-march {1956 NY Giants on the bench: Gifford, Beck, Conerly, Webster}, and then look at this photo from 1957 {Giants defense takes down Jim Brown, 1957}. The Giants put those jersey-numbers on the front of their helmets in ’57. Even without the Giants’ small-case-NY logo {which wasn’t introduced until 1961}, that ’57 Giants helmet-design with the jersey-numbers on the front was a pretty solid look. I wish more teams would utilize that look (like the Steelers do; see below).

-In 1957, the Pittsburgh Steelers, like the Browns, introduced jersey-numbers on their yellow/orange-gold-with-black-stripe helmets {1957 Steelers}. The Steelers wore this style for 5 years, from 1957-61 {The next link show this style of helmet, 1960 Steelers [Bobby Layne in Steelers huddle].} In 1962, the Steelers got rid of the large-jersey-numbers-on-the-side-of-helmet, and kept the plain yellow/orange-gold-helmet-with-black-stripe, and then later in the ’62 season they finally introduced a logo…the Steelers’ US-Steel-with-starbursts logo (Nov. 1962). {Here is a shot of safety Willie Daniel in the 1962 Steelers’ gold-helmet with US-Steel-and-starbursts logo, which was worn for the last 5 regular season games in 1962.} The US-Steel-logo-with-starbursts on a black helmet was introduced in Jan. 1963. The US-Steel-with-starbursts logo has always been worn on only the right-side of the Steelers’ helmet. In 1963, along with the introduction of the modern-day black-helmet-with-US-Steel-logo, the Steelers re-introduced jersey-numbers on the helmet, but smaller numbers worn on the front of the helmet…a look that the NY Giants pioneered in 1957 (see Giants’ section above). The Steelers have worn the small-jersey-numbers on their helmets ever since 1963…{Steelers helmet circa 1963 (John Baker)}; { Steelers’ helmet ca. 1980 (Jack Lambert)}; {Steelers’ helmets ca. 2016}.
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Detroit Lions…
Detroit Lions mid-1950s-era leather helmet and plastic-shell helmet, photos unattributed at The Football Book published by ESPN via Bobby Layne, 1st photo (color) by George Gellatly at 2nd photo of Bobby Layne, photo unattributed at Lou Creekmur, photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at Color photo of four 1957 Lions players [Charlie Ane, Howard Cassady, Tobin Rote, Yale Lary], photo unattributed at Tobin Rote, 1st photo: 1959 Bazooka trading card from 2nd photo of Tobin Rote: photo of Rote from 1957 NFL Championship Game, by Marvin E. Newman at John Henry Johnson, photo unattributed at Joe Schmidt, photo unattributed at,Joe. Jack Christiansen, photo unattributed at
1957 NFL Offensive leaders…
Johnny Unitas [photo from preseason 1957], photo by Ozzie Sweet/Sport magazine [Dec. 1958] via[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [photo from 1957 v Cardinals], photo by Cleveland Browns via Lenny Moore [photo from preseason 1957], photo unattributed at Raymond Berry [photo of 1957 Topps card], from

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada,
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans,
-Thanks to the contributors at
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1957 season (
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

November 9, 2017

NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants.

Filed under: NFL>1956 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 1:06 pm

NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants

By Bill Turianski on 9 November 2017;
-1956 NFL season
-1956 New York Giants season (
-1956 NFL season (
-1956 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1956] (

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and primary jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1956. Final standings for the 1956 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. In the bottom-right-corner are 1956 NFL attendance figures by team. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1956 NFL champions, the New York Giants (also see next 9 paragraphs below). At the right-hand-center of the map page, are 1956 Offensive leaders in the following categories…QB Rating: Ed Brown, Bears. Passing Yards & TD passes: Tobin Rote, Packers. Rushing Yards & total TDs: Rick Casares, Bears. Total Yards from Scrimmage: Frank Gifford, Giants. Receiving Yards & TD receptions: Billy Howton, Packers.

The New York Giants demolished the Chicago Bears in the 1956 Championship Game, 47-7 (played at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30, 1956). The Giants were coached by Jim Lee Howell (Howell is best known for, in 1954, giving both Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry their first NFL coaching jobs). In 1956, the Giants had a balanced team, with the league’s 3rd-best-Offense and the 4th-best-Defense. They were led by the then-34-year-old, and long-time-Giants-QB, Charley Conerly, and featured the 1956 NFL Most Valuable Player, halfback Frank Gifford. The Giants’ defense was spearheaded by a bruising front four that included DE Andy Robustelli (who had just been traded from the Rams). The ’56 Giants had a swift-and-hard-hitting linebacker corps that featured that season’s Rookie of the Year, Sam Huff, and a defensive backfield that included a veteran interception specialist, Emlen Tunnell. (Tunnell had been the first black player to play for the Giants, eight years previously, in 1948.)

In the 1956 final, the New York football Giants faced a team which had the NFL’s highest-scoring offense that year – the Chicago Bears. There was mixed-snow-&-freezing-rain falling before the game, and by game-time, the field was frozen solid. After checking the field conditions, coach Howell ordered the whole team to leave their cleats in the locker room and wear sneakers, for better traction on the frozen field. The Bears, repeating something that happened 22 years earlier [in the 1934 NFL title game in NYC, which they also lost], did not wear the sneakers they had brought. {See this article from the Chicago Tribune, Carved In Ice: Bears-Giants ‘Sneaker’ Title Game}.

So the Giants, in their Pro Keds sneakers, on that frozen field at Yankee Stadium, ran circles around the Bears. Charlie Conerly threw two TDs, including one to Frank Gifford. Gifford was the main offensive force, with 161 yards from scrimmage including a 67-yard pass play. Giants fullback Mel Triplett rushed for 71 yards and a TD. And fullback Alex Webster racked up 103 yards from scrimmage, and ran for 2 TDs. {You can see a photo of FB Alex Webster (in sneakers) on a big-gain pass-play in the 1956 title game, in the photo-section at the top-right of the map page.} The blowout was pretty much sealed late in the 2nd quarter, after Giants DT Rosey Grier had sacked the Bears’ QB Ed Brown for a 9-yard-loss on the one-yard-line, forcing the Bears to punt. The punt was blocked by Giants guard/lineman Ray Beck {see him in photo on Giants’ bench, talking with Frank Gifford, at the top-right-center of the map-page}. And then the blocked punt was recovered in the end zone for a TD by Giants rookie DB Henry Moore. That made it 34-7 for the Giants at halftime. And then the Giants scored 13 unanswered points in the 2nd half, to make it a 47-7 final score.

Video: 1956 Football Championship (27:50 video uploaded by Newton Minnow at

1956 was the first year the New York football Giants played in Yankee Stadium. (The New York football Giants, as a renter of the New York baseball Giants, had played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan ever since the gridiron football team was formed, in 1925.) They left the decaying Polo Grounds and moved the mile east, across the Harlem River, to the South Bronx and Yankees Stadium. And with that move, the Giants’ attendance increased a whopping 26 thousand per game and more than doubled – from 21 K in the Polo Grounds in 1955, to 47 K at Yankee Stadium in 1956. (The New York football Giants would play 18 seasons at Yankee Stadium, before the 1973-76 Yankee Stadium renovation forced them to seek a temporary venue in New Haven, CT at the Yale Bowl [the Giants played in New Haven for the latter-part of the 1973 season and all of the the 1974 season], then in 1975 the Giants played one season at the New York Jets’ venue [Shea Stadium in Queens, NY]. Then in 1976, the Giants moved into Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.)
Photo credits above – Photo of the Polo Grounds in NFL configuration [photo circa 1955], photo unattributed at Shot of Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium [photo circa 1956], photo unattributed at Photo of New York Giants playing at Yankee Stadium [photo from 1960], photo by Neil Leifer at

In the 1956 NFL season, the Giants had finished 8-3-1, which was a game-and-a-half better than the 2nd-place-Eastern-Conference-finisher, the Chicago Cardinals. Their win over the Bears in the 1956 Championship Game got the Giants their first NFL title in 18 years, and their fourth NFL title up to that point. The Giants would not win another NFL title for 30 years (1986 season). (The Giants now have won 8 NFL titles including 4 Super Bowl titles [last in the 2011 season].) The 1956 New York Giants featured 5 Pro Football Hall of Fame players on their roster (Emlen Tunnell, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff), as well as two coaching greats who were early in their careers, and who also were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Vince Lombardi (Giants’ Offensive coordinator) and Tom Landry (Giants’ Defensive coordinator) {photo of Lombardi & Landry circa 1956}.

6 New York Giants players made the 1956 NFL All-Pro team…
-Frank Gifford (Halfback). Frank Gifford was voted 1956 Sporting News & UPI Most Valuable Player [Pro Football HoF, 1977].
-Sam Huff (Linebacker). Sam Huff was named 1956 NFL Rookie of the Year [Pro Football HoF, 1982].
-Emlen Tunnell (Defensive back) [Pro Football HoF, 1967].
-Andy Robustelli (Defensive End) [Pro Football HoF, 1971].
-Rosey Brown (Offensive Tackle) [Pro Football HoF, 1975].
-Rosey Grier (Defensive Tackle).

Here is a detailed and comprehensive look at the title-winning 1956 New York football Giants,
From Big Blue, The 1956 New York Giants [illustrated article] (by Larry Schmitt on May 30 2015 at

1956 NFL Attendance
Home average attendance (6 home games)
Los Angeles Rams: 61,189.
Detroit Lions: 55,161.
Chicago Bears: 48,476.
New York Giants: 47,063.
San Francisco 49ers: 45,314.
Baltimore Colts: 39,745.
Cleveland Browns: 36,941.
Washington Redskins: 29,148.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 28,392.
Philadelphia Eagles: 24,431.
Green Bay Packers: 24,054.
Chicago Cardinals: 23,545.

Helmet & unifom changes for 1956 NFL…
As of 1956, NFL teams could wear their dark jersey and the visiting team could actually also wear their dark jersey for the same game. Circa the mid-1950s, because of the increasing importance of televised broadcasts of NFL games, that would soon change. You see, if both home and road teams were wearing dark colored jerseys (or both wearing light-colored jerseys), it made it very hard for television viewers to differentiate between the two teams (this was the era of black-and-white television). Here, at[1956, week 1], is an example of color-clashes in NFL games, from the opening week of the 1956 season; note in this link that you can see that 4 of the 6 games in that week would have been very hard to watch on a black-and-white television. That would change the next year (in 1957), when it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visitors to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey.

In 1956, three teams ended up wearing their white jerseys more of the time than their dark jersey….the Browns (eleven times in white, including all their 6 home games), the Giants (8 times in white, including 4 of their 7 home games [including the Championship Game versus the Bears]), and the Eagles (7 times in white, including 3 of their 6 home games). The Colts wore their white jersey six times, including in 3 of their home games.

The Colts also changed their helmets in 1956 – from a blue helmet to a white helmet, and the Colts continued to feature their prototype-horseshoe-logo – worn on the back of their helmet (see illustration below).

In 1956, four teams did not wear a white jersey: the Bears, the Packers, the Rams, and the 49ers. And three of them only wore one jersey…the Bears (midnight-blue jersey), the Rams (yellow/orange [aka gold] jersey), and the 49ers (red jersey). The Packers wore two different color schemes…a strange dark-forest-green-and-white jersey for their first game, and then the Packers wore dark-greyish-blue-and-gold jerseys for their next 11 games (see more on that further below, in the ’56 Packers section).

[To see info on who wore what, and when, in 1956, go to[1956] and then click on numbers “1|2|3|4…[etc]“, found below the header that reads “1956 NFL Teams”.]

-In 1956, the Baltimore Colts went from blue to white helmets, retaining the small-horseshoe-at-back-of-helmet logo (see images below for the prototype-Colts-horseshoe logos from the 1954-56 era). Some players on the ’56 Colts wore a dark-blue facemask (see following link). {Here are photos of a reproduction of a 1956 Colts helmet (} (In the next year of 1957, the Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day.)
Above: helmet and jersey illustrations by Gridiron Uniform Database at[Colts].

-In 1956, the Green Bay Packers wore white helmets for the first of three seasons (1956-58); and in 1956, the Packers’ alternate color-scheme of white and dark-forest-green was introduced, and it too only lasted for 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg & Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. {Here is a black-and-white photo of Packers QB Tobin Rote in the 1956 Packers dark-green-and-white uniforms (it is from that aforementioned 1956 opening day game of Packers v Lions.} {Here are Gridiron Uniform Database’s illustrations for the uniforms of the 1956 Green Bay Packers.} The Packers wore their dark-forest-green-and-white gear only once in ’56 (as mentioned, on opening day), but in the following season of 1957, when the NFL introduced that rule that said all teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green for all their 6 road games {1957 Green Bay Packers}. Then, in the season after that (1958), the Packers wore dark-forest-green-and-white for all 6 home games (and wore a very similar-looking white-with-dark-blue-trim for all 6 road games), making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. It was also their worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers}.)

-In 1956, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from dark-red, to white, and wore gear that basically emulated the nearby Stanford college football team (ie, just white helmets and red jerseys, with no silver or gold at all…a very plain look). {Here are photos of 1956 49ers trading cards ; here is the uniform of the 1956 San Francisco 49ers.} The Niners not only looked dull in 1956, but they also looked too much like the Chicago Cardinals of 1956. (The 49ers’ helmets would change again the following season of 1957, to metallic-gold, before switching again back to silver, then to back gold once again, for good, in 1964.)

-In 1956, Washington changed their helmets (yet again), from burgandy, back to metallic-gold. In the early 1950s, Washington had worn a metallic-gold helmet with a burgandy-red center stripe, but in 1956 and ’57 Washington wore a Notre-Dame-style all-metallic-gold helmet {see this 1958 Gene Brito trading card, with Brito in the ’57 Washington uniform}. {Here is a page that shows many color photos of Washington uniforms circa 1950 to ’80,[Washington].} (Washington would keep the gold helmets until late in the 1958 season, when the team introduced their feather helmet [white-and-red-feather on back of burgandy-colored-helmet/used from 1968 to 1964].)
Photo and Image credits on map page…
1956 New York Giants…
Helmet, photo by NY Giants players on bench [photo from 1956]: Frank Gifford (16), Ray Beck (61), Charley Conerly (42), Alex Webster (29), photo unattributed at Frank Gifford [photo ca. 1956], photo unattributed at Sam Huff [photo ca. 1958], photo unattributed at Charley Conerly, [Dec. 3 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated], photo unattributed at Rosey Grier [photo ca. 1957], photo by Robert Riger at Andy Robustelli, [1981 retro-trading-card], from ar. Emlen Tunnell [photo circa 1955], photo by Associated Press via Alex Webster [photo from 1956 NFL Championship Game v Bears], photo unattributed at Rosey Brown [photo circa 1955], photo by David Durochik/Associated Press via

1956 NFL Offensive leaders…
Ed Brown (Bears), 1956 Topps trading card, photo from Tobin Rote (Packers), [1955 action photo v Browns], photo from Bettman Archive via Getty Images via[1955 Packers, game 5]. Rick Casares (Bears) [1957 color photo], original photo unattributed at Frank Gifford [1955 action photo v Colts], photo unattributed at Billy Howton (Packers) [1954 photo], photo by Vernon Biever via

-Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada,
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans,
-Thanks to the contributors at
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1956 season (
-Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 19, 2017

NFL 1955 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Cleveland Browns.

Filed under: NFL>1955 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 11:50 am

NFL 1955 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Cleveland Browns

By Bill Turianski on 19 September 2017;
-1955 NFL season (
-1953 NFL [Illustrations of 1955 NFL teams' uniforms] (
-1955 NFL season (

-Cleveland Browns 1955 (

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1955. (Alternate uniforms and alternate helmets can be seen in the links to Gridiron Uniform Database pages, in the 1955 NFL teams section further below.) Final standings for the 1955 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. At the top-right of the map is a small section devoted to the 1955 Sporting News & UPI Most Valuable Player, Otto Graham (QB of the Cleveland Browns). At the far-right/center are offensive leaders: QB Rating (Otto Graham), Receiving Yards (Pete Pihos of the Eagles), Rushing Yards (Alan Ameche of the Colts).

The 1955 NFL season was the 36th season of the league. Defending champions the Cleveland Browns, who had beaten Detroit 56-10 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game, won the NFL title for the second-straight year, again in convincing fashion…on December 26, 1955, before 87 thousand at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Browns, led by QB Otto Graham, beat the LA Rams 34-10. Graham was voted the UPI and the Sporting News MVP for the 1955 NFL season. Otto Graham had thus led the Cleveland Browns to 10 straight pro football title games, winning 7 of them (all 4 AAFC titles [1946-49], then NFL titles in 1950, 1954, and 1955). Graham, who had retired after the 1954 season, came out of retirement during the 1955 pre-season, when it was apparent that the Browns had no suitable replacement for him. Graham retired for good after the 1955 title game, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a decade later, in 1965 (which was the third year that the HoF, est. 1963, inducted players).

The NFL of this era (1951 to ’59) featured just 12 teams. There had been 10 teams during the late 1940s, when the NFL was competing with the All-America Football Conference. When the AAFC “merged” with the NFL for the 1950 season, three AAFC teams joined the NFL…the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, and the first Baltimore Colts (I/est. 1947 in the AAFC and est. 1950 in the NFL). That made the NFL a 13-team league, but only for one year (1950). That was because the original Baltimore Colts team (who wore green-and-silver) only lasted one season in the NFL, going 1-11 and playing to lackluster support in 1950, then folded. But the NFL gave the city of Baltimore another shot a couple years later, and this time, the blue-and-white Baltimore Colts (II/est. 1953), who were formed out of the remains of the ill-fated 1952 Dallas Texans, became an established and successful franchise in Baltimore, before moving to Indiana in 1984 as the Indianapolis Colts.

The NFL of 1955 was a league right on the cusp of success. That success in the following decades would be tied to television broadcasts of NFL games, but for now, the NFL was not that much of a profitable enterprise, was resistant to expansion, and still played second fiddle to both Major League Baseball and College football – in terms of media exposure, popularity, and revenue. In this era, the only truly stable NFL franchises were the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Bears, and the highest-drawing team, the Los Angeles Rams. The watershed moment for the NFL in terms of becoming a popular American institution was three years in the future. That would be the 1958 NFL Championship Game, dubbed the Greatest Game Ever Played.

This time period (mid-1950s) saw only 3 NFL teams sporting helmet logos…
1955 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

Up to 1957, there were only 3 NFL teams with logos on their helmets…the trail-blazing Rams (ram horns helmet logo introduced in 1948), the Eagles (eagle-wings helmet logo introduced in 1954), and the Colts (horseshoe-logo introduced in 1954, albeit a smaller white-horseshoe-on-blue helmet, with the now-famous big-blue-horseshoe-on-white-helmet not being introduced until 1957). By the late 1950s, the proliferation of helmet-logos in the NFL was about to begin. And again, this is also tied to television broadcasting, because by the late 1950s, NFL front offices began to realize that a helmet with a logo would add immeasurably to the team’s brand-value. By 1963, every NFL team (with the exception of the Cleveland Browns) would sport a television-friendly helmet-logo.

-From Todd, How TV and Roy Rogers Helped Put Logos on NFL Team Helmets (by Todd Radom on Feb. 23 2016 at

    NFL teams in 1955 (listed in order of 1955 NFL standings), with helmet histories noted…
    1955 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

1955 NFL Eastern Conference
1. Cleveland Browns 1955: (9-2-1/1955 NFL champions), QB: Otto Graham.
{1955 Browns’ uniforms.} Under innovative head coach Paul Brown (whom the team was named after), the Browns simply dominated pro football in the immediate post-War era, first in the rebel-league the AAFC (winning all 4 AAFC titles), then playing in 6 consecutive NFL title games (1950-55), winning 3 of them. I don’t think many younger NFL fans understand this salient point…the Cleveland Browns of the AAFC joined the NFL in 1950, and promptly won the NFL title in their first season there! The Browns wore white helmets in their AAFC years (this being some of the last few years that leather helmets were worn). Then Paul Brown introduced a higher-visibility orange helmet for the Browns, upon entering the NFL in 1950. A white center-stripe was added to the orange helmet in 1952, which was the first year the Browns wore the modern plastic-shell helmets. Flanking center-stripes of brown were added in 1960. The Browns wore player-numbers on their helmets for a few years (1957-60), but switched back to the iconic plain-orange helmet that the franchise wears to this day. Although now the hapless Browns wear ugly brown facemasks (and appalling gear now), instead of the classic grey facemasks and understated uniforms they sported previously.
{Cleveland Browns uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}
Below is an illustration I put together in 2012 [originally, here...
NFL, AFC North - Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).]
Image and Photo credits above – Helmet and uniform illustrations from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of 1951 Bowman Paul Brown trading card from Tinted b&w photo of Otto Graham unattributed at Photo of 1950 Bowman trading card of Lou Groza at Photo of Jim Brown from Photo of Marion Motley in 1948 AAFC championship game from Cleveland Plain Dealer archive via

2. Washington 1955: (8-4), QB: Eddie LeBaron.
{1955 Washington uniforms.} Washington wore a duller shade of burgandy in this mid-1950s time period. Actually Washingtons’ burgandy color back then had more brown in it, and less red, and was more like plum. Washington’s modern-day burgandy color dates back to 1969, which was also when their gold color stopped being old-gold (brownish-gold) and was switched to the brighter yellow-orange gold they still wear {1969 Washington uniforms}. 3 years after 1955, in 1958, Washington was the fourth NFL team to introduce a helmet-logo…it was an unusual back-of-the-helmet-oriented logo – of a large feather, in red-and-white, on a brownish-burgandy helmet {1958 Washington}. The weird feather-logo helmet lasted 7 years, and that was replaced by a diagonally-positioned gold-spear-with-feather logo {1965 Redskins uniforms}. Washington wore the spear helmet-logo for just 5 seasons. They should have kept it: in my opinion it is a very strong emblem, and proof of this can be seen in the fact that Florida State have basically created their brand on the back of this now iconic symbol. Washington switched from burgandy helmets to yellow-orange helmets with a capital-R-with-feathers logo, for a two-year period, in the early 1970s, when former Packers head coach Vince Lombardi was the Washington GM and head coach. Then Washington switched back to burgandy helmets in 1972, with the Indian-in-profile-with-feathers logo they still use to this day, and with white-burgandy-gold-burgandy-white center-striping. Yellow facemasks were introduced in 1978. {See a condensed evolution of Redskins’ helmets in this nice illustration, unattributed at pinterest, here.}
{Washington uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}

3. New York Giants 1955: (6-5-1), QB: Charley Conerly.
{1955 Giants’ uniforms}. Red was the Giants’ primary jersey color in their early days, and all the way up to the early 1950s, but the New York football Giants have worn helmets of dark-royal-blue-with-red-accents for over 80 years. The first year with that color-scheme for their headgear was all the way back in 1931 (their 7th season) {1931 Giants’ uniforms}. The Giants tried white-helmets-with-blue-accents for a few years (1934-36), but went back to the much stronger blue-with-red, and have stayed that way since 1937. In 1949, the Giants introduced a subtle but effective red center-stripe on their dark royal blue helmets, and that look has stood the test of time {1949 Giants’ uniforms}. The similarly subtle-yet-effective small-case-‘ny’ logo was introduced in 1961 {1961 Giants’ uniforms}. They tried messing with their helmet in 1975 {1975 Giants’ uniforms}, adding white facemasks and needlessly adding flanking white center-stripes to their 1975 helmet, but which, more importantly, had a very poorly-thought-out new NY-logo in a hideous font (that font can be described as dystopian-future-sans-serif). What a headache. That abomination lasted exactly one season, and then the all-caps-italicized-GIANTS logo was introduced in 1976. That logo lasted 24 years. Then, in 2000, the Giants went retro and futuristic simultaneously, reviving the small-case-‘ny’ logo, as well as the white-jerseys-with-red-numbers-/-silver-pants look they sported in the 1950s and early 1960s, plus adding a modern touch with a metallic sheen to their blue helmets, which were once again combined with grey facemasks.
Here is a great article on Giants uniforms from the Big Blue Interactive site, Becoming Big Blue – A History of the New York Giants Uniforms (by Larry Schmitt on July 8 2013 at
Image credits above –
{New York Giants’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniform Database.}

4. Chicago Cardinals 1955: (4-7-1), QB: Lamar McHan.
{1955 Cardinals’ uniforms}. The Chicago Cardinals usually wore white helmets, but in the early-and-mid-1950s they would wear red helmets for night games. And when, in 1957, the NFL made it a rule that home teams wore dark jerseys and road team wore white, the Chicago Cardinals wore red helmets (with white jerseys/red pants) for all their away games. But that was the last time the Cards sported red helmets (1957). The Chicago Cardinals were always obscured by the more-dominant Chicago Bears, and it was only a matter of time before the franchise moved to greener pastures…5 years after 1955, the franchise relocated to St. Louis, MO. And 28 years after that, the franchise moved from Missouri to Arizona (in 1988). Both times they moved, they kept their colors of deep-red-and-white (with black trim added in 1964). {1960 St. Louis Cardinals’ uniforms.} When the Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960, the Cardinals introduced their bold frowning-cardinal-head logo, which in my opinion is one of the best looking helmets ever made {1960 Ken Gray game-worn Cardinals helmet {}. The Cardinals tweaked the helmet-logo in 2005, with the cardinal looking more angry and more cartoon-like. {You can see the difference between 1960-cardinal and 2005-cardinal here (} {2005 Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms.} But at least they kept the grey facemasks.
{Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

5. Philadelphia Eagles 1955: (4-7-1), QBs: Adrian Burk & Bobby Thomason.
{1955 Eagles’ uniforms.} A Depression-era expansion franchise (est. 1933), the Eagles were named after the emblem of the National Recovery Act, which was an eagle (see this article, The Other NRA (Or How the Philadelphia Eagles Got Their Name), by Rebecca Onion at As mentioned earlier, the Eagles, in 1954, were the second-ever NFL team to introduce a helmet logo. This was a few years after the Eagles had sported an unusual helmet-design, sort of a proto-logo, which some call the feather logo {see this, 1948 Eagles’ uniforms}. But it wasn’t really a feather, it was simply the silver top-and-center-section of the helmet, painted in along a seam-line of their primarily green leather MacGregor helmets; {Steve Van Buren circa 1948}. This design lasted from 1941 to 1949; it was on those quirky MacGregor helmets from ’41 to ’48, then the last year they wore it, in ’49, they were playing with the new plastic-shell helmets { [Pete Pihos 1949]}. It looked pretty cool. The Eagles, perhaps not incidentally, won titles with this helmet (1948 & ’49 NFL titles). I don’t really think it was a coincidence that the eagle-wings helmet logo the Eagles came up with a few years later very closely resembles the general wavy-line shape of that “feather” helmet of the late 1940s. {1954 Eagles’ helmet.} It also, of course, looks pretty cool. And the Eagles of this era also, perhaps not incidentally, were title-winners (1960 NFL title). So why mess with it? The Eagles have tweaked it several times, though, starting in the early 1970s, when they reversed the colors so it was a green-eagle-wings on a white helmet (plus sweet black-bordered numbers on the jerseys) – a very under-rated uniform {1973 Eagles}. In 1974, the Eagles went back to green helmets, and re-introduced silver into the uniforms. Since 1996, the Eagles have worn a much darker shade of green, dubbed midnight-green, and introduced black facemasks; these days the Eagles now feature black more prominently {2016 Eagles}.
{Philadelphia Eagles’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

6. Pittsburgh Steelers 1955: (4-8), QB: Jim Finks (led 1955 NFL in passing yardage).
{1955 Steelers uniform.} Pittsburgh only wore one uniform in 1955. In the pre-Super Bowl era (before 1965), the Steelers were a cash-strapped and perennial last-place team most seasons. They always wore yellow-orange (gold) helmets. In 1953, they added a black center-stripe to the helmets, then added player-numbers for a few years (1957-61). In November 1962, the Steelers introduced their now-famous US-Steel-with-starbursts logo {1962 Steelers.} It was also on a yellow-orange helmet, with a narrow black center-stripe. The Steelers wore that design for the last couple games of the 1962 season, but they just put the helmet-logo-decals on one side of the helmet, in case it didn’t look too good and then they wouldn’t have to scrape off so my decals (true story). Turned out the logo (and the blank-side of the helmet) looked good, {1962 Steelers helmet.}. A few months later, in a post-season exhibition game in January 1963, the Steelers decided to try the logo out on a black helmet, and then the Steelers debuted the black-helmet-with-Steel-logo for the 1963 regular season, and the Steelers never did end up putting a logo on the left side of their helmet. That was a genius move.
{History of the Steelers logo (}
{Pittsburgh Steelers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database

1955 NFL Western Conference
1. Los Angeles Rams 1955: (8-3-1), QB: Norm Van Brocklin.
{1955 Rams uniform.} Like the Steelers, the Rams only wore one uniform in 1955, but the LA Rams could easily afford more gear, seeing as the Rams were hands-down the top draw in the NFL back then (often drawing well above 60 K at the then-100-K+-capacity LA Memorial Coliseum). The Rams started out in Cleveland and wore red-and-black their first season in the NFL {1937 Cleveland Rams.} The Cleveland Rams are one of the only Major League teams to ever win a title and then re-locate before the following season. This happened in 1945/46, when the 1945-title-winning Cleveland Rams decided to move to Los Angeles rather than face the prospect of being out-drawn and overshadowed in 1946 by the brand-new Cleveland Browns of the AAFC. So the Cleveland Rams moved to LA in 1946 and became the first Major League team on the West Coast. And a couple year later the Rams became the first team to sport a helmet-logo. The first helmet logo in the NFL was the famous golden Rams horns worn by the 1948 Los Angeles Rams (and are worn to this day by the franchise). The Ram’s-horns logo was created by LA Rams halfback and defensive back and off-season commercial artist Fred Gehrke. He came up with the idea, presented it to the Rams owner, and ended up painting every Rams player’s leather helmet in the dark-blue-and-yellow-orange ram’s-horn design (this took Gehrke the whole summer of 1948, and he got paid 1 buck per helmet, and then he was obliged to keep pots of blue and gold paint in his locker that whole 1948 season in order to repair and repaint scuffs and dings on his teammates’ helmets.
{Article on Rams 1948 helmet here,[category/nfl-1948-season].} The next year {1949}, the Rams front office tried to tweak the uniform by getting rid of the dark blue and playing in red, but that garish look lasted just the one year, and the Rams wisely went back to blue the next year (1950). By then the Rams were playing in the plastic-shell helmets and the ram’s-horns were decals. The Rams got rid of the yellow-orange and wore white Ram’s-horns for 9 years (1964-72). After moving to St. Louis, MO in 1995, the Rams kept their dark-blue-/-yellow-orange uniforms the same for several years, then switched their yellow-orange to metallic-gold in 2000, which was the season after the franchise won its first and only Super Bowl title (in 1999). When the Rams moved back to LA in 2016, they re-introduced the white ram’s horns in an alternate uniform, and in 2017 re-adopted the white ram’s-horns look.
{Los Angeles Rams’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

2. Chicago Bears 1955: (8-4), QB: Ed Brown (also: George Blanda).
{1955 Bears uniform}.
The Bears were one of the strongest NFL franchises all through the first 4 decades of the NFL (1920s-50s), and the Bears are still the second-most-successful NFL franchise (with 9 NFL titles, behind only the Packers’ 13 NFL titles). The Bears won their 8th NFL title in 1963, but by the early 1970s the rot of the late George Halas era had set in. It then took the Bears 22 years to win their 9th title (and only Super Bowl title), in the 1985 season. And it is now 31 more years without another title. The Bears have not actually always worn midnight-blue-and-orange. Gridiron Uniforms Database has shown, through research into old news clippings, that the franchise, which started out in Decatur, Illinois as the Decatur Staleys, wore red jerseys for their first three seasons (1920-22). {1921 Chicago Staleys [Bears].} {1922 Chicago Bears.} {See this article at the site from June 2014, The Chicago Bears Weren’t Always Blue-and-Orange, by Phil Hencken and Bill Schaefer [of the Gridiron Uniform Database] at} The Bears also have not always only worn plain dark-navy-blue helmets…in the 1930s, their helmet designs varied wildly, from Michigan-Wolverine-type striping {1932 Bears}, to white helmets or bizarre orange-helmets-with-starburst-navy-blue-converging-stripes {1934 Bears}, to plain orange helmets or rather nice navy-blue-helmets-with-3-orange-center-stripes {1937 Bears}. But by 1940, the Bears had gotten rid of the excess flourishes in their gear, and their modern-day look was established {1940 Bears}. And right when they had finally nailed down their (very solid) look, in the early 1940s, the Bears began their greatest era ever, with 4 NFL titles in 7 seasons (NFL titles in 1940, ’41, ’43, and ’46). {George Halas with Sid Luckman, ca. 1947.} From 1941 to 1954, the Bears did not wear a white jersey (for 15 years). {Here is a nice color photo from 1948, Bears v Cardinals.} In the early 1950s, the Bears began sporting their unique rounded-and-sans-serif numbers (as opposed to the block-shaped-and-serif numbers that were standard template for the rest of the NFL teams). And for a long time, like up to the early-1990s, the Bears were the only NFL team that had a significantly different font for the numbers on their jerseys {Bears 1958 uniform illustration by Heritage Sports} {Mike Ditka ca. 1962}. The Bears’ pointed-C- helmet-logo was introduced in 1962 (a white C); the orange-pointed-C-with-white-trim helmet-logo was introduced in 1973; midnight-blue facemasks were introduced in 1982.
Chicago Bears Helmet History
Image credits above –
{Chicago Bears’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

3. Green Bay Packers 1955: (6-6), QB: Tobin Rote.
{1955 Packers uniforms.}
The Green Bay Packers pre-date the NFL by one year, and started out in 1919, as the company-team of a central Wisconsin meat-packing concern called the Indian Packing Co. The semi-pro Packers turned pro 2 years later, joining the NFL in the league’s second season, in 1921. As you can see in the next link, {1921 Green Bay Packers}, the Packers did not originally have green in their uniforms. Why did the Packers wear navy-blue-and-gold originally? Probably in emulation of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish college football team, who of course, have always worn navy-blue-with-plain-gold-helmets, and who were, without any doubt, the most famous football team in the USA in the 1920s (and on). Here is what the Packers looked like when they were in the middle of their still-unprecedented 3-straight-title-wins of 1929/’30/’31 {1930 Packers.} The Packers first sported green in their color-scheme in 1935 {1935 Packers.} For a 23-year stretch (1934 to 1957), the Packers basically couldn’t decide whether to wear blue-and-gold or green-and-gold, switching between the two color-schemes 8 times…but they never wore navy-blue along with green on the same article of clothing (also sort of like the Notre Dame college football team, which only brings out the green gear once in a while, for big games). This latter part of this time period, from the late 1940s to the late 1950s – when the Packers had an identity-crisis in regards to their colors – also just happens to coincide with the Packers most futile years. When the Packers were in the middle of a basement-dwelling 7-season/23-wins-and-60-losses stretch (from 1948 to ’54), here is what they wore {1951 Packers.} Those green pants the Packers wore in 1951 look pretty bush-league. It got worse, as you can see in the following link…{1958 Packers.} White helmets for the Packers? Talk about erasing your brand-identity for no good reason! Oh, and by the way, the 1958 Packers, in that wishy-washy dark-greyish-green-and-white gear, had their worst season ever (1-10-1). Coincidence? I think not. But salvation was just around the corner, because Vince Lombardi arrived in Green Bay the next season, and he put the team in the uniforms-of-champions that we all associate with the Pack {1959 Packers.} Two season later the Packers’ football-shaped-G logo was introduced {1961 Packers/first season with football-shaped-G-logo}. And since then, the Green Bay Packers, the biggest community-owned pro sports team in the world, have not messed with their uniforms in any fundamental way…except for one small detail: in 1983, dark-green facemasks were introduced.
{Green Bay Packers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

4. Baltimore Colts 1955: (5-6-1), QB: George Shaw.
{1955 Colts uniforms.}
The Baltimore Colts of 1955 were a 3-year-old-expansion team. Circa 1955, the Colts still had not yet established themselves…both in terms of on-field success, or in terms of a visual identity. Their uniforms then did feature the soon-to-be iconic horseshoe-logo (although in reverse colors to what it later became). But the horsehoe logo circa 1954-56 was not prominently displayed – it was placed on the lower-back of each side of the helmet (behind the ears). It was as if the franchise was unsure of the logo, and was hiding it. I mean, why even bother having a helmet logo if you are going to place it on the lower-back part of the helmet, where it is hard to see? Well, the Colts finally realized this, and two seasons later, in 1957, they placed the horseshoe-logo, now much larger, front-and-center on the helmet. Also in 1957, the Colts introduced the uniform design that has been in use by the franchise ever since. This uniform design features jerseys that look simple but are rather brilliant: the jersey has two arced stripes on the shoulders, which mirror (in reverse) the arc of the horseshoe on the helmet. You don’t even have to notice that to notice how bold-yet-understated the Colts’ uniform-design looks. I mean, I spent over 40 years looking at Colts uniforms before I realized that their jersey-stripes mirrored the horsehoe’s shape on their helmet. (I finally realized that when I put together this Colts uniform-history-chart…, which is from this post from 2013.) Exactly one year after they introduced these built-to-last uniforms, and led by QB Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts were NFL champions (in 1958 and 1959). In 1984, the Baltimore Colts moved to Indiana, as the Indianapolis Colts; they did not mess with their uniforms when they moved. In fact, there have been very few changes in the Colts’ uniforms in the 60 years since 1957 (and you can see them in the chart I made at the link in the previous sentence). But for all intents and purposes, the look the Colts established in 1957 remains to this day. Colts’ facemasks: white facemasks from 1978-94; blue facemasks from 1995-2003; grey facemasks re-instated since 2004. Some might say the Colts uniforms are boring. I say they look like champions.
{Indianapolis Colts’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

5. San Francisco 49ers 1955: (4-8), QB: YA Tittle.
{1955 49ers uniforms.}
Like the Browns, the 49ers were an AAFC team before they joined the NFL in 1950. The San Francisco 49ers changed their helmet-color 9 times before they finally settled on the gold helmets that all NFL fans know. It seems obvious that a gridiron football team named after a gold rush would wear gold helmets, and the Niners actually did wear gold (leather) helmets in their second season {1947 49ers}. But in their early days, the 49ers wore helmets that were usually white {1946}, or red {1954}, or silver {1962}. That last link shows the first year the 49ers had a helmet-logo {again, 1962}. That lasted two seasons, then the 49ers finally went with gold helmets in 1964 {1964 49ers}. So in 1964, the 49ers trademark look was introduced…a gold helmet with grey facemasks and with the plain-but-dignified football-shaped-SF-logo and with red-white-red center-stripes, and a jersey with 3 stripes on the upper-arms that had no gold in it at all, and with gold pants. That classic uniform-design was used for 32 years. The helmet-logo got a black oval outline in 1996 {1996 49ers}. But in 1996, the 49ers changed a whole lot more as well, and, in my opinion, the changes were not for the better…the helmet got center-stripes of black-red-black, plus they made the facemasks deep-red. And they also messed with their jerseys and pants in 1996: to a garish look with drop-shadow numbers in gold and black. Now, I know the Niners had worn drop-shadow numbers before (in 1955 and ’56, as a matter of fact), but after they had worn their classic gear for over 3 decades, it just didn’t work. The additions really ruined the 49ers’ look in this time period. The red facemasks and the loud jerseys made them look like an arena football league team. It also broke their visual link to their championship-glory-days. The lack of gold pants for the 49ers only existed for 2 seasons (1996 and ’97), but those tacky jerseys lasted another 11 years. Then the 49ers wisely went back to their classic look in 2009 {2009 49ers}. I guess you could say less is more. And grey facemasks always look better.
{San Francisco 49ers’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}

6. Detroit Lions 1955: (3-9), QB: Bobby Layne (also, Harry Gilmer).
{1955 Lions uniforms.}
The Detroit Lions started out as the southern-Ohio-based Portsmouth Spartans, who wore purple-and-gold and were one of the last vestiges of the small-town-era of the early NFL (the Green Bay Packers of course being the last vestige of small-town NFL teams). {1932 Portsmouth Spartans.} After 4 NFL seasons (1930-33), and just missing out on the 1932 NFL title, the Portsmouth Spartans moved to Detroit as the Lions, and switched to their now trademark “Honolulu Blue” and Silver. In their second season in Detroit, the Lions won the 1935 NFL title {1935 Lions uniforms}, then stayed competetive on into the late 1930s, but were basement-dwellers through most of the 1940s. But the 1950s were the glory days of the Detroit Lions. The Lions have a modern history of failure, but in the 1950s, led by QB Bobby Layne, the Lions won 3 NFL titles (1952, ’53, ’57), beating the Browns all three times in the title games. Even so, several seasons in the 1950s saw the Lions with 3-or-4-win seasons, and 1955 was one of those seasons. The odd thing about the 1950s Lions was that for a while, the team ended up having gold helmets (and not their customary silver helmets). This happened in 1953 (and the Lions won their second NFL title that year) {1953 Lions}. Not only was the entire Lions squad in 1953 wearing gold helmets, but there is photographic evidence that as late as 3 seasons later (1956), some players on the Lions were still wearing a gold helmet, instead of a silver helmet (see link 5 sentences below for that photo, and an article). How the helmet turned gold probably wasn’t intentional (initially), and can be attributed to the fact that circa 1953, the plastic-shell helmets were still new, and processes for turning the blank helmets into an NFL team’s colors had not been perfected (the process back then involved spray-painting the insides of the clear-plastic-shell helmets). The Lions’ gold helmets of the 1953-56 era was the unintended result of a helmet-painting process where the paint turned from a silver color to a definite gold color (and then the paint degraded further, so that all the Lions 1953 helmets now show green splotches where a copper-colored pigment in the helmet paint turned green {1953 Bobby Layne game-worn helmet}. And then in the following seasons some Lions players opted to keep wearing their 1953-issue (gold) helmet, while the rest of the Lions squad were wearing newly issued ’54 and ’55 silver helmets. The following article at the Gridiron Uniform Database Blog goes very deep into this {…“Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold…” by Bill Schaefer from November 2013 at} The Lions introduced their rampant-blue-lion logo in 1961, on a helmet with blue-silver-blue center-stripes {1961 Lions}; the silver center-stripe turned white in 1968 (and was augmented by thin black stripes in 2009). Blue facemasks were worn from 1984-2002. Black facemasks were worn from 2003-16. The rampant-lion was given detail in 2009. Grey facemasks were re-introduced in 2017, when the Lions went back to a just-silver-and-blue helmet (good move) {2017 Lions helmet}.
{Detroit Lions’ uniforms history at Gridiron Uniforms Database.}
Thanks to all at the following links…
-1953 NFL [Illustrations of 1953 NFL teams' uniforms] (
-Blank maps… USA,
Section of Mexico, and coastlines-&-oceans,
Otto Graham photos: color photo unattributed at; shot of Graham scoring TD in 1955 NFL Championship Game, photo by AP at
-NFL 1955 stats leaders photos: Alan Ameche [photo from 1955 (v 49ers)], photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at Pete Pihos of Philadelphia Eagles [photo from circa 1948 (v Rams)], photo by AP via Otto Graham photo [from 1954 (v Eagles)], photo unattributed at
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

November 11, 2013

NFL, 1948 season, map of the teams with 1948 scoring leaders. / Plus a short article on high scoring NFL seasons and high scoring NFL teams. / Plus the 1948 Los Angeles Rams’ golden-horned helmet designed by Rams player Fred Gehrke – the first helmet logo in the NFL. / Plus the 1948 NFL championship game, aka the Blizzard Bowl. / Plus, all-time helmet histories of the 9 currently active NFL teams from 1948 (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, Rams).

Filed under: NFL>1948 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 10:49 pm

Please note – All helmet and uniforms illustrations on the map, and in the charts, and in the illustrations here, are from The Gridiron Uniform Database site, and were used by here with permission from

NFL, 1948 season, with offensive stats leaders & helmet histories of the 9 oldest NFL teams (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams)
NFL helmet and uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database.

    NFL, 1948 season

From Pro FootbalHall of Fame site, ‘NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1940s‘ (

1948: the highest-scoring season in the NFL
There are 3 reasons why the 1948 NFL season stands out. The first reason is, even though it pre-dated the passing era, 1948 was actually the NFL season that had the highest scoring average – 23.6 points per team (per game). From, from July 10, 2010, by Kerry Byrne, ‘The Spirit of ’48: a mind-blowing statistical orgasm‘. However, a mitigating factor must be mentioned. There were a few really bad defensive teams in the NFL in 1948, and, for example, the Eagles (who went on to be the 1948 NFL champions, and who had the league’s third-best offense in 1948 at 31.3 points per game) scored their season-high of 45 points in 4 games that year, three of which were against the three worst defenses in 1948 – the Lions (33.9 points allowed per game), the Giants (32.3 points allowed per game), and the Boston Yanks (31.0 points allowed per game), [more on the hapless Boston Yanks further down in this post] {see this,}. But to just blame the points surge in 1948, and also in the high-scoring era of 1947-to-1967, on just some bad defensive teams would be a disservice to teams like the 1948 Chicago Cardinals (32.9 points per game), and the 1948 Chicago Bears (31.7 points per game), and the 1948 Philadelphia Eagles (31.3 points per game). These teams, as well as the 1948 Los Angeles Rams and the 1948 New York Giants, really did have some offensive punch and some real standouts in their squads (illustrations of 1948 offensive leaders are shown on the map page {click on image above} and also further below).

    Below – the 20 highest scoring NFL seasons, as measured by average number of points scored per team

The chart below shows the 20 highest-scoring seasons in the NFL – not by total points (because that would skew the list to all the years recently when there have been the most number of teams [32 teams]), but by points per game (per team) average. Note how the list of the 20 highest-scoring seasons includes many of the recent seasons (the 4 most-recent NFL seasons), as well as many seasons from the 1940s (3 seasons), and from the 1950s (5 seasons), and the 1960s (4 seasons) – but zero seasons from the 1920s or the 1930s or the 1970s. In fact, if you go to the link at the bottom of the chart – to the page at where I got the data, you will see that the 17 lowest-scoring seasons in the NFL were all from the 1920s and the 1930s, and that the highest-scoring season from the 1970s was only the 44th-highest scoring year in the NFL (in 1975) [please note, to get the list at to show highest-scoring-average by season, click on the word 'Pts' at the top of the column at the far right-hand side of the chart there].

Please note: chart below will be updated once more, after all the final regular season games are played (ie, after Dec. 29, 2013).

Data for chart above from:

You might be thinking…’the scoring record in the NFL had to have been broken in the last couple years.’ And you would be pretty close to being right, because 2012 was the fifth highest points-per-game average in the NFL, and 2013 was the second highest. The NFL averaged 23.4 points per game (per team) in 2013, which was 0.2 points per game less than the NFL record still standing from the 1948 season.

The recent points-per-game numbers in the last several seasons of the NFL (2007 to 2013 NFL season) is a continuation of a trend towards more points-scored in the NFL…2007 was the 20th-highest (at 21.7 pts. per game), then 2008 was the 12th highest ever (at 22.0), then 2009 saw a momentary dip at 25th-highest ever (at 21.5), then 2010 was the 11th-highest ever at (22.0), then 2011 was the 10th-highest ever (at 22.2), and then last year [2012] was the 5th-highest ever (at 22.8), and now 2013 was the 2nd-highest ever (at 23.4). So it is really starting to look like it is only a matter of time before the team average scoring record set in 1948 is broken.

In case you are wondering, the NFL record for most points per game by one team was set two seasons after 1948 by the 1950 Los Angeles Rams, at a staggering 38.8 points per game {‘1950 Los Angeles Rams‘ (}. But like the situation two years previous [as mentioned in the first paragraph], the 1950 Rams played several games against very poor defenses- 3 of their 12 games in 1950 were against two of the worst defenses ever in the NFL, 2 games versus the 1950 Green Bay Packers, who gave up 406 points (or 33.8 points allowed per game); and one game versus the soon-to-be-defunct 1950 Baltimore Colts [the green-and-silver former-AAFC Baltimore Colts, who folded after one season in the NFL], who gave up 462 points (for a sieve-like 38.5 points allowed per game), went 1-11 and folded. Those green-and-silver Baltimore Colts of 1950 lost to the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 70-27 that season at Memorial Coliseum in LA. Those 70 points the LA Rams scored on October 22, 1950, as well as the 65 points the Rams scored one week later against the Detroit Lions, will always make it very hard for a modern-day NFL team to break the single season average scoring record, especially when you consider that teams in 1950 were playing one-quarter less games – 12 games instead of the present-day 16 games per season – so that 70 points and those 65 points factors in larger. {The 1950 boxscore for that Rams 70, Colts 27 score, plus a photo below the boxscore link (a photo of of Rams’ QB Bob Waterfield running for a TD as the Colts defenders are literally giving up the chase), can be seen in my post on the Cleveland/Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, here, scroll down the page half-way to the 9th paragraph there.}.

{see this, by Joe Dorish at Yahoo contributor network from Oct. 4 2013, ‘Highest Scoring Teams with Best Offenses in NFL History [top 5]‘ (

Illustration of the All-time highest scoring teams (1920 to 2013, regular season/points per game) -
#1: 1950 Los Angeles Rams, #2: 2013 Denver Broncos, #3: 2007 New England Patriots, #4: 1961 Houston Oilers (AFL), #5: 1941 Chicago Bears.

Photo and Image credits above –
Helmet illustrations,
helmet illustrations from The Gridiron Uniforms Database.
1950 Rams,
Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin photo, from Corbis at
Crazy Legs Hirsch, action photo from
Tom Fears, action photo from
2013 Broncos,
Peyton Manning, photo from USA Today Sports Images
Demaryius Thomas, photo unattributed at
2007 Patriots,
Tom Brady. photo from Sports Illustrated via .
Randy Moss, photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images via
1961 Houston Oliers (AFL),
George Blanda, photo from
Bill Groman, photo from
1940 Chicago Bears,
Sid Luckman, photo public domain from
George McAfee, photo from
Hugh Gallarneau, photo from

In 2013 the team average scoring record had a chance of being broken as well, by the 2013 Denver Broncos. The Broncos under Manning finished 13-3 and averaged 37.9 points per game. (Note: also in 2013, Peyton Manning broke the NFL record for TD passes, with 55 TD passes). The Broncos’ 37.9 points per game was 0.9 points per game less than the NFL record set by the 1950 Rams. The Rams of that era had an unusual [read: totally unheard of and unprecedented in NFL history] tandem-QB arrangement of Bob Waterfield and Norm Van Brocklin – both played all 12 games and both had over 120 completions. But don’t forget, those 1950 Rams played against two of the worst defenses ever, while the worst defenses Manning and the Broncos have faced were the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, who averaged 28.3 points allowed per game (453 points allowed), the 4-12 Jacksonville Jaguars, who averaged 28.0 points allowed per game (449 points allowed), and the 2-14 Houston Texans, who averaged 26.7 points allowed per game (428 points allowed). That is not as bad as the 1950 Packers defense (about 6-to-8 points-allowed-per-game worse) or the hapless 1950 Colts (I) defense (about 10-to-12 points-allowed-per-game worse). So to be simplistic about it, the 1950 Rams, as potent as their Bob Waterfield/Norm Van Brocklin-led offense was, still ended up having a bit more “inflated” offensive stats by virtue of the cumulatively worse defenses they faced.

The Broncos didn’t break the Rams’ 1950 NFL record for most points scored per game, but the Broncos broke the NFL record for most points scored by a team in a season, with 606 points. That record had been held by the 2007 New England Patriots, who scored 589 points that season, but then ended up losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl that season. Which brings up an important point – the highest-scoring team in the NFL does not usually win the NFL title that season. As the list below shows, the highest-scoring team in a season has won the NFL title in only 26 of the 93 seasons so far (27.9 percent of the time).

Below, NFL, all-time list of seasons that the league’s top scoring team won the title [since 1920], (with the team’s points per game average listed)
1923, Canton Bulldogs (20.5).
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets (13.6).
1931 Green Bay Packers (20.7).
1932 Chicago Bears (11.4).
1936 Green Bay Packers (20.6).
1941 Chicago Bears (36.0).
1943 Chicago Bears (30.3).
1946 Chicago Bears (26.2).
1949 Philadelphia Eagles (36.4).
1951 Los Angeles Rams (32.6).
1955 Cleveland Browns (29.0).
1958 Baltimore Colts (31.7).
1959 Baltimore Colts (31.6).
1961 Green Bay Packers (27.9) / 1961 AFL champions, Houston Oliers (36.6).
1962 Green Bay Packers (29.6) / 1962 AFL champions, Dallas Texans (27.8).
/ 1963 AFL champions, San Diego Chargers (28.5).
/ 1964 AFL champions, Buffalo Bills (28.6).
/ 1966 AFL champions, Kansas City Chiefs (32.0).
/ 1967 AFL champions, Oakland Raiders (33.4).
1969 Minnesota Vikings [NFL champions but lost Super Bowl IV to the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs] (27.1).
1971 Dallas Cowboys (29.0).
1972 Miami Dolphins (27.5).
1979 Pittsburgh Steelers (26.0).
1989 San Francisco 49ers (27.6).
1991 Washington Redskins (30.3).
1994 San Francisco 49ers (31.6).
1996 Green Bay Packers (28.5).
1997 Denver Broncos (29.5).
1999 St. Louis Rams (32.9).
2009 New Orleans Saints (31.9).

One note – in the list above I included the Vikings’ meaningless 1969 NFL championship title (it is meaningless because, like the Colts’ 1968 NFL championship title, both of those NFL teams went on to lose the Super Bowl that season to AFL teams [Jets and Chiefs]). For the purposes of this exercise, I had to include that, though, and I also felt it necessary to include the AFL seasons (see four sentences below). So there have been 26 NFL titles won by the top-scoring team that year – in 93 NFL seasons (2013 is the 94th NFL season). That means that only 27.9 percent of the time, the top scoring team in the NFL has gone on to be the champions that season. Which only goes to prove, once again, the old adage that Defense wins titles. The wild-and-woolly and high-scoring AFL is an entirely different matter though, seeing as how in 60% of the seasons the AFL played (6 out of 10 seasons), the highest scoring team in their league that year won the AFL title.

    1948 NFL offense leaders (passing, rushing & receiving, with TD leaders noted)


1948 NFL offensive leaders [Note: 1948 NFL was a 12-game season.]
NFL Passing Yardage/TD passes:
-Sammy Baugh (Washington Redskins): 2,599 Yds/22 TD passes (plus 1 rushing TD).
-Charlie Conerly (New York Giants): 2,175 Yds/22 TD passes (plus 5 rushing TDs).
-Tommy Thompson (Philadelphia Eagles): 1,965 Yds/25 TD passes (plus 1 rushing TD) (TD pass leader for 1948, with 25 TD passes).

1948 NFL Rushing Yardage/combined TDs:
-Steve Van Buren (Philadelphia Eagles): 945 Yds/10 TDs (rushing TD leader for 1948, with 10 rushing TDs).
-Charley Trippi (Chicago Cardinals): 690 Yds/10 TDs (6 rushing TDs and 2 receiving TDs and 2 punt-return TDs).
-Elmer Angsman (Chicago Cardinals): 638 Yds/9 TDs (8 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD).

1948 NFL Receiving Yardage/combined TDs:
-Malcolm Kutner (Chicago Cardinals): 943 Yds/14 TDs (recieving TD leader for 1948 plus overall TDs-scored leader for 1948, with 15 TDs [14 receiving TDs & 1 rushing TD]).
-Pete Pihos (Philadelphia Eagles): 766 Yds/11 TDs.
-Tom Fears (Los Angeles Rams): 698 Yds/4 TDs.

Photo and Image credits above & on the map page -
Sammy Baugh, Anniversary Team.
Tommy Thompson, [1950 Bowman trading card],
Charlie Conerly,
Steve Van Buren, [1950 Bowman trading card],
Charlie Trippi ,
Elmer Angsman ,
Mal Kutner,
Pete Pihos, screenshot of an NFL Films video at via
Tom Fears,
Illustrations of helmets from Gridiron Uniforms Database.

The second reason the 1948 NFL season it noteworthy is because it had the first-ever appearance of a logo on a football helmet
The first helmet logo in the NFL was the famous golden Rams horns worn by the 1948 Los Angeles Rams (and are worn to this day by the franchise [since 1995 known as the St. Louis Rams]). The Rams’-horn logo was created by LA Rams halfback and defensive back and off-season commercial artist Fred Gehrke. Here is an excerpt from the ‘Fred Gehrke‘ page at…
{excerpt}…’In the mid-1940s Gehrke toyed with the notion of painting a football helmet. Rams coach, Bob Snyder suggested that Fred paint a helmet with the ram horns on it that he could present to the team’s owner Dan Reeves. Fred painted two ram horns on an old college helmet and presented the design to Reeves, who was intrigued by the design. Reeves then contacted the NFL for a ruling on legality of having a football helmet painted. It was reported that the answer Reeves received from NFL was “You’re the owner; do what you want!” Reeves then tasked Gehrke to paint 75 helmets at $1.00 per helmet. The project took Gehrke the entire summer of 1948. The newly painted helmets debuted during a pre-season match-up between the Rams and Redskins at the Los Angeles Coliseum before a crowd of [77,000]. Upon seeing the new helmets the crowd began cheering which was followed by a five-minute standing ovation. To this day, Gehrke’s rams horn logo is still worn by the team.’…{end of except}.

Here is a good article on Gehrke and his designing of the Rams helmet logo, from Sports Illustrated, from Sept. 5 1994, by Mark Mandemach, ‘Rembrandt Of The Rams
Fred Gehrke got out his brushes and changed helmets forever
‘ (

Photo and Image credits above -

Before I get to the 3rd way in which the 1948 NFL season stands out from all the rest, I’ll add a fourth reason, an asterisk if you will. 1948 was the last season that the bizarrely-named Boston Yanks played in the NFL. It is kind of hard to believe, but there actually was once a professional sports team from Boston that was called the Yanks. Their owner was a New York City-based talent agent named Ted Collins (he managed the popular singing star Kate Smith). Collins didn’t really want an NFL franchise located in Boston – he wanted to locate the franchise at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, NY (his NFL team finally got to Yankee Stadium 6 years later, but not for long). The Boston Yanks (NFL, 1944-48) wore green and yellow {here are the Boston Yanks’ ghastly 1946 NFL uniforms ( teams). The Boston Yanks played from 1944–1948 to a lopsided losing record of 14-38-3, and to vast public indifference – when most every other NFL team was drawing 20,000 to 30,000 per game back then, the Boston Yanks were often drawing below 10,000 at Fenway Park. But you really could not blame Boston sports fans for not supporting the Boston Yanks – supporting a team in Boston named after the much-hated New York Yankees would be tantamount to treason.

After the 1948 season the Boston Yanks were folded and for a tax write-off the NFL allowed Collins to have a “new” franchise, which he moved to New York City, to become the New York Bulldogs (NFL, 1949), who played some home games in ’49 at the Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan, NYC, NY, and the 1949 New York Bulldogs also played a couple games in Boston. For some reason, the 1949 New York Bulldogs wore sky-blue-and-silver, which made them look more like lap dogs. In 1950, Collins was finally able to get his team to play in Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, NYC, NY, so he (finally) changed the team’s name to the New York Yanks (NFL, 1950-51), but in NYC, the franchise never had a shot at success because they were very bad in 2 of their 3 years in NY (going 1-10-1 in 1949, 7-5 in 1950, and 1-11-1 in 1951), and they had to compete with the vast popularity of the New York Giants’ NFL team.

In 1950, in their second year in New York City and their first year as the Yanks, the team wore sky-blue-and-white (why?) {1950 New York Yanks NFL uniforms}. In the third and last year of the franchise, 1951, the New York Yanks wore the more Yankees-appropriate dark-blue-and-grey {1951 New York Yanks NFL uniforms}. Those uniforms are actually kind of nice. They would be pretty much the same uniforms that the 1952/soon-to-be-defunct-Dallas Texans NFL team wore (see 2 sentences below). But it was too late – the New York Yanks’ debts had piled up and Ted Collins threw in the towel, and the NFL ‘bought back’ (read: took over) the worthless franchise, and folded it. The 12 players who remained on the 1951 New York Yanks’ roster (including future Hall of Famers Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti) were assigned to another soon-to-be-defunct-new-NFL-franchise, the short-lived Dallas Texans of 1952 (who wore almost the exact same uniforms as the 1951 NY Yanks – {1952 Dallas Texans NFL uniforms}). The NFL had to step in again and take over the 1952 Texans (who ended up 1-11 and never drew higher than 17,000 in their 4 home games in Dallas), and once again the remaining 12 players still on the defunct team’s roster (including, once again, future Hall of Famers Art Donovan and Gino Marchetti) were assigned to a new franchise for 1953 – the Baltimore Colts (II) (present-day Indianapolis Colts). That Dallas Texans team of 1952, which had its roots in the failed Boston Yanks/New York Bulldogs/New York Yanks team – that was the last failed franchise in the NFL. Here is a great little article about the Boston Yanks, from April 2009, by Jay Schreiber, from the, er, baseball blog at, ‘Remembering a Team of Rivals‘ (

    Brief summary of the 1948 NFL season

1948 NFL season‘ (
[Note, during this season and during the 1946 to 1949 time period, the NFL was fending off a challenge from a rival pro football league, the All-America Football Conference (the AAFC). For more info on that, you can see my recent post on the Cleveland Browns and the AAFC by clicking on the following, 'AAFC (1946-49) featuring the Cleveland Browns - map with selected uniforms and logos of the teams: Baltimore Colts (I), Brooklyn football Dodgers [AAFC], Buffalo Bisons/Bills (I), Chicago Rockets/Hornets, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Dons, Miami Seahawks, New York football Yankees [AAFC], San Francisco 49ers‘.]

There were 10 teams in the 1948 NFL, and for the second season, teams were playing a 12-game schedule as opposed to the 11-game schedule which the league had from 1937 to 1946. All teams played home-and-away games versus all the other teams in their division (8 games), and they played 4 of the 5 teams in the other division. All the NFL teams (that is to say, all the NFL franchises) from 1948 still exist, except for the previously-mentioned Boston Yanks (the ones that still exist being the Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams). This was the last season that players were only allowed to use leather helmets, because, while the new plastic-composite helmets were available and some colleges had started using them, they were banned in 1948 in the NFL because it was felt by the league officials that the much harder plastic helmets were being used more as a weapon than as protection (hmm, that sounds like what some critics say to this day).

Winner of each division would advance to the NFL Championship Game, which was played back then not at the home of the team with the better record, but rather, hosted on a rotating basis between the two divisions. As the Western Division had hosted the previous title game in 1947 (won by the Chicago Cardinals over the Philadelphia Eagles at Comiskey Park (I), by a score of 28-21), in 1948 it was the Eastern Division’s turn to host the title game.

1948 Eastern Division
In the Eastern Division, in the 5th week, the Philadelphia Eagles took a half-game lead on the Washington Redskins after beating them. 5 weeks later, the Eagles took the lead for good with their second win over Washington, putting the Eagles at 7-1-1 and Washington at 6-3. The Eagles finished 9-2-1, and advanced to their second title game in a row (and their second playoff game ever in their 16-year history). The Redskins had won 2 NFL titles at this point in time (their first title coming in 1937 in their first season in Washington DC [following 6 seasons in Boston]; and their second title in 1942). The Redskins were about to enter a long period of futility, with only 3 winning seasons in the next 21 years (up to 1969). As for the New York football Giants, well the Giants were in the midst of a several-seasons slump and, having won their first NFL title in their 3rd year in 1927, and after having won two more titles in a 5-year span (in 1934 and in 1938), the Giants would win only one more title in the pre-Super Bowl era in the NFL (ie, pre-1966 season), in 1956 (though the Giants came close many times otherwise). The Steelers were also in the East then, but the perpetually cash-strapped Steelers were the worst-team-ever in the NFL back then (and were the worst-ever up to the AFL/NFL merger in 1970). Of course, after that, the Steelers became the dynasty they are today, but 65 years ago, the Steelers were also known as the Lovable Losers.

1948 Western Division
In the Western Division, although the Los Angeles Rams were competitive and would finish at 6-5-1 in 3rd place (and would make it to the NFL title game for the next 3 seasons and then win their only NFL title in LA 3 years later in 1951), for all intents and purposes, the 1948 West was really all about the two Chicago teams. The Windy City was the only city in the NFL back then that boasted two NFL teams – the Monsters of the Midway (the Bears) and the perpetually overshadowed Cardinals (who would move to St. Louis 11 years later). The Chicago Bears were the most successful team in the NFL at this point in time, with 7 titles including the 1946 championship (Green Bay had the second-most titles then, with 5, but the cash-strapped Packers were, at this point, about to begin their worst run, with 12 straight seasons without a winning record [and would not have a resurgence until coach Vince Lombardi came to Green Bay starting in 1959]). To round out the NFL teams of this era, the Detroit Lions were horrible in 1948, but were on the cusp of their greatest period ever. The Lions had begun life as the second-to-last small-town team in the NFL – the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, who played 4 seasons in the NFL (1930-33) and finished in 2nd place twice. The franchise moved to Detroit, Michigan in 1934, changed their name to the Detroit Lions, and won their first title the following year in 1935. After 1948, the Lions began rebuilding and would go on to win titles in back-to-back seasons in 1952 and 1953, and win their fourth and last NFL title four years later in 1957.

For the two seasons of 1947 and 1948, the normal Bears/Cardinals dynamic was up-ended. Following massive player-spending prior to the 1947 season, the Cardinals, led by future-Hall of Fame running back Charley Trippi, were temporarily the dominant of the two (of course it didn’t last, and the Cardinals have never won a title since 1947). Here is an excerpt from the 1948 NFL page at Wikipedia (linked to above),
…{excerpt}…’[T]he Cardinals and Bears both had records of 10–1 going into the final week. A record crowd of 51,283 packed Wrigley Field on December 12 to watch. The Bears took a 21–10 lead, on George Gulyanics’ [touchdown run] as the fourth quarter began. Charley Trippi’s touchdown cut the margin to 21–17, but the Bears had the ball and time on their side. The turning point came when the Cards’ Vince Banonis picked off a pass from Johnny Lujack, and ran the ball back to the Bears’ 19, and [Cardinals' running back] Elmer Angsman scored the winning touchdown three plays later for the Western Division title and the trip to the championship.’…{end of excerpt}.

For the second-straight year, the usually-downtrodden Cardinals had beaten out the usually-dominant Bears for the divisional title. Some say that that 24-20 loss to the Cards in the last week of the 1948 season was one of the worst losses the Bears ever suffered. The gentleman who wrote the following article says it was the worst ever loss for the Bears. From, from Dec. 13 2011, by Captain Meatball, ‘Top 10 Toughest Losses in Chicago Bears History [#1. Chicago Cardinals 24, Chicago Bears 21, 1948]‘ (

    1948 NFL Championship Game

The final reason why the 1948 NFL season stands out is the title game that year
The 1948 NFL Championship Game, featuring the Philadelphia Eagles versus the Chicago Cardinals, was played in a full-scale blizzard in Philadelphia that almost was postponed. It is testament to the hardiness of the Philadelphia sports fan that the inclement weather did not depress turnout – the game drew a sell-out crowd of 36,000. I guess it wasn’t technically a sell-out, because admission was free if you helped shovel snow.

    1948 NFL Championship Game – Philadelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0.

The 1948 NFL Championship Game was played in a blizzard at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 19, 1948. Attendance was a full-capacity 36,309. The game was a re-match of the 1947 NFL final, which the Cardinals had won 28-21 at Comiskey Park (I) in Chicago, Illinois the previous December.

The 1948 NFL title game was the first NFL title game that was televised (by ABC), though it was not broadcast nationwide (the first nationwide television broadcast of an NFL title game was by NBC in 1958). The snowfall that day in Philadelphia was so heavy that the NFL commissioner Bert Bell considered postponing the game, but because broadcast rights had already been given to ABC and because the players on both teams wanted to play despite the snow storm, Bell decided to play the game. (It is very doubtful the game would have been played were it to happen today – and with the NFL now playing a Super Bowl this season in a cold-weather location in northern New Jersey in February 2014, this possibility of a snow-storm-during-an NFL-title-game suddenly now exists again.).

From, ‘Football Championship Game 1948 Eagles Cardinals‘, a 1:15 video uploaded by historycomestolife [no sound] ( [Note: that long pass play by the Eagles, shown in the video, was called back because of an offensive penalty...the reason why it was still featured in the newsreel of the game is that the snowy conditions prevented there being many significant offensive plays that day]. [Note: here is a much longer Youtube video of the 1948 title game, with sound, a 15:41 video uploaded by Caladiscafrosis, '1948 NFL Championship Game'].

The start of the 1948 title game was delayed 30 minutes, as the grounds crew needed the help of both teams’ players to remove the extremely heavy, snow-laden tarp. It snowed so hard all game that the yard-line markers were invisible, and the referee had to basically guess where the ball was to be placed after each down and where the first down line was. The snowfall was so heavy that, at the start of each play, players in the offensive backfield could not even see the opposing defensive backs 15 or 20 feet away. {Here is a classic photo of the freezing Eagles players on the bench that day [in that photo you can see the odd-shaped MacGregor leather helmets that the Eagles wore during the 1944 to '48 time period, which featured a more elongated, quasi-cone-head shape and a different set of seams than the more standard Rawlings leather helmets that most other NFL teams used in the early post-War era] (photo unattributed at[NFL Championship Game 1948]).}

Because of the white-out/blizzard conditions, both teams spent the bulk of their ball possession in three-and-outs and a punt. There was no threat of a score until early in the 4th quarter, when the Eagles recovered a Cardinal fumble on the Cardinals’ 17. Four plays later, Eagles RB Steve Van Buren ran in a 5-yard TD. The Eagles’ defense then held the score, and the Eagles were the 1948 NFL champions.

The Eagles would repeat as champions in 1949, beating the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 in muddy conditions at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with Steve Van Buren rushing for a then-title-game record 197 yards, as well as scoring both TDs. Steve Van Buren played 9 seasons for Philadelphia, and was a 7-time All-Pro, and was the first RB to gain 1,000 yards in a season twice (in 1947 and ’49). Van Buren was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He passed away at the age of 91 in 2012.

From the New York Times, from Aug. 25, 2012, by Andy Barall, ‘Remembering Steve Van Buren, Hall of Famer for Eagles‘ (

Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Cardinals and Eagles’ 1948 uniforms from
Photo of Steve Van Buren being pursued by Cardinals defenders from Getty Images via
Color photo of Steve Van
Photo of Steve Van Buren scoring winning TD from Cold Hard Football site via
Photo of Eagles’ post-game celebrations from via
Photo of 1948 NFL title game program from

Thanks to Vintage Inclinations, for the base map of United States circa 1940s,

Thanks to the contributors at, ‘1948 NFL season‘.

A big thanks to, for most of the stats used in this post.

Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving the permission to use the football uniforms illustrations at

January 31, 2013

NFL, 1936 season and 1937 season – with a map featuring 1937 final standings and 1937 uniforms & thumbnail profiles of the 10 teams / Plus the greatest triple threat in NFL history, Sammy Baugh / Plus Helmet History charts of the 9 currently-active teams from 1937 (Cardinals, Bears, Packers, Giants, Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Steelers, and Rams).

Filed under: NFL>1937 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 9:43 pm

NFL, 1937 map, with all-time helmet histories

Note: Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the Helmet History charts of the 9 currently-active teams from 1937 (1937 NFL teams: Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Rams, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York football Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh football Pirates, Washington Redskins).

    1936 NFL -

1936 NFL teams’ uniforms can be seen at the following link, 1936 NFL teams [uniforms] (

The 9-team NFL that made up the 1936 NFL season looked like this (teams listed in final order of finish):
Eastern Division
Boston Redskins, 1936 NFL Championship Game finalist.
Pittsburgh Pirates
New York Giants
Brooklyn Dodgers
Philadelphia Eagles

Western Division
Green Bay Packers, 1936 NFL Championship Game finalist.
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Chicago Cardinals

In 1936, the NFL played its 17th season. It was the first season where each of the teams played an equal amount of games (12 games). Yes, that is correct – it took 17 years for the NFL to finally have a season with a balanced schedule. (This is one of several reasons why the NFL doesn’t really like to mention, let alone celebrate, the league’s fly-by-night and quasi-bush-league early days.) The 1936 NFL champions were the Green Bay Packers, who beat the Boston Redskins 21-6, in a game played at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, NY. The 1936 NFL Championship Game was the only NFL title game [pre-Super Bowl era] in which the team with the home field advantage declined to play at their own stadium, and instead elected to play at a neutral site. The Boston Redskins, who had won the Eastern Division, had rights to home field for the 1936 title game (it was done on a rotating basis back then). The Redskins moved the venue to New York City because the Boston Redskins’ owner, George Preston Marshall, was so angry about the small turnout for what would be the last game the Boston Redskins played in Boston, Massachusetts. That game, their final game of the 1936 regular season, was a 30–0 win over the Pittsburgh (football) Pirates, and only 4,813 fans showed up at Fenway Park in Boston (where the Redskins played then). So in spite (and Marshall was a spiteful man), Marshall had the 1936 title game moved to New York City at the Polo Grounds, where the New York (football) Giants played their home NFL games [renting the stadium from the stadium-owners, the New York (baseball) Giants of the National League]. [Note: on the map page you can see 2 photos of the Polo Grounds, as it looked for Giants' NFL games (one is an action photo from a 1937 NFL game of New York vs. Brooklyn, and another photo is an undated aerial photo of the Polo Grounds in football configuration {you can see them at the far right-hand side of the map page near the blue-and-red caption-box})].

The 1936 NFL Championship Game was the 4th that the league had played {origins of NFL playoffs, here, ‘NFL/Playoff and championship history/Early years/1932 playoff game/Before the Super Bowl (}. The Western Division winners were the Green Bay Packers, who were the last-surviving small-town team in the NFL and who had won 3 straight NFL championships in 1929, 1930, and 1931.

1936 NFL Championship Game, Green Bay 21, Boston 6, at Polo Grounds, New York City. So in 1936, Green Bay claimed their fourth NFL title [all-time, the Packers have won 9 NFL Championship titles and 4 NFL Super Bowl titles].

    The 1937 NFL season

1937 NFL teams’ uniforms can be seen at the following link, 1937 NFL teams [uniforms] (

For 1937, the NFL added a 10th team, with the expansion team the Cleveland Rams. The Cleveland Rams were only technically an expansion team, because the same owner, and 4 players, were part of the 1936 Cleveland Rams of the AFL of 1936 [this AFL, AFL (II) was the second of four rival-leagues called the AFL, the last, of course, being the successful AFL of 1960-69, which ended up getting all 10 of its teams into the NFL in 1970 with the AFL/NFL merger].

If you are interested in reading further on the Rams’ early days, you can click on the following link, to my profile of the franchise here, ‘NFL Thumbnail Histories: the Cleveland Rams/ Los Angeles Rams/ St. Louis Rams.’

Like the 1936 Cleveland Rams of the AFL (II), the 1937 Cleveland Rams of the NFL wore red and black. [The Rams changed to dark blue and yellow-orange the following season, 1938.] The Rams were placed in the Eastern Division, balancing the two NFL divisions then at 5 teams each. Most importantly, the NFL returned, after a 3-year spell, back to a league set-up that featured an even number of teams. [Having an even number of teams is something that is always helpful for an organized league to have, because it makes scheduling less complicated, but it is even more important for a gridiron football league to have an even number of teams - because an odd number of teams means that one team has to sit out each week.]

The other change in league membership in 1937 was that the Redskins franchise moved from Boston to the nation’s capital in Washington, DC. The Redskins began playing at the Major League baseball team the Washington Senators’ Griffith Stadium (you can see an undated photo of the Redskins playing at Griffith Stadium on the map page [lower center of page]).

The 1937 NFL regular season
Midway through the 1937 NFL’s 11-game season, the Chicago Bears, coached by owner George Halas and led by an aging but still effective Bronko Nagurski at fullback, were unbeaten (5–0) in the Western Division, while the New York Giants were leaders in the Eastern Division (4–1). At the Polo Grounds on October 31, the Bears and the Giants played to a 3–3 tie. The Giants and Bears held their leads in their divisions through the middle and latter parts of the ’37 season, with the Bears clinching a spot for the title game with a 13–0 win over Detroit at the University of Detroit Stadium on November 25th.

The Giants, on the other hand, lost their lead. On December 5, the final game of the 1937 season had Washington (7–3 and .700) traveling to New York (6–2–2 and .750). A win or a tie would have given the Giants the Eastern title, but the Redskins, propelled by rookie QB Sammy Baugh, won 49–14, and got the division crown and the trip to Chicago to face the Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship game. The Redskins were coached by former New York Giants End Ray Flaherty (who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976). But despite the Redskins’ potent and innovative passing-oriented offense, the Redskins were the decided underdogs to the dominant pro football team of that era, the Monsters of the Midway, the Chicago Bears.

Below, 1937 NFL final standings of the regular season…

    1937 NFL Championship Game, December 12, 1937 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL.
    Washington Redskins 28, Chicago Bears 21.

It was so cold there that day at Wrigley Field on the North Side of Chicago that spectators tore up parts of the stadium to build large bonfires to keep warm. Both teams wore rubber-soled shoes to gain a better footing. The frozen, ice-shard laden and slippery surface of the field left players cut, bloody and dazed. The lead in the game changed hands 4 times. But the ahead-of-its-time passing-oriented offense of the unheralded Redskins prevailed in the end. The Redskins’ rookie QB Sammy Baugh went 17 for 34 for 352 passing yards and 3 TD passes. Those were unheard-of numbers for that era. Redskins’ coach Ray Flaherty further exploited Baugh’s passing prowess in that game by inventing, on that very day there in Chicago, the behind-the-scrimmage-line screen pass. Sammy Baugh completed three long touchdown passes in the 3rd quarter – 55 yards and 78 yards to End Wayne Miller; then the 35-yarder to Wingback Ed Justice that took the lead for good. The Washington defense held the Bears scoreless in the 4th quarter, and the Washington Redskins were professional gridiron football champions for the first time. Attendance was 15,878.

Below, via, a newsreel of the 1937 NFL Championship Game, December 12, 1937 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – Washington Redskins 28, Chicago Bears 21
Newsreel: World Football Crown – 1937‘ (Pathegram newsreel via, posted by weidvideos).

Below is an illustration which includes a screen-shot from the 1937 newsreel of the 1937 NFL Championship Game (linked to above) between the Chicago Bears and the Washington Redskins…
Image and Photo credits above -
Illustration of Bears’ and Redskins’ uniforms from
Screenshot of Pathegram newsreel via, posted by weidvideos.

1937 Washington Redskins season‘ ( [note: this link includes a team photo of the Redskins at Soldier Field in Chicago in Aug. 1938, 8 months after they had beaten the Bears for the title at Wrigley Field.]

From the Washington Redskins’ official site, from Feb.12, 2012, by Michael Richman, ‘Flashback: Redskins’ First season In D.C.

From NFL Network – ‘Top Ten Most Versatile Players, number one: Sammy Baugh‘ (3:31 video from
In the video linked to above, pro football historian Ray Didinger says, “You’re talking about one guy who was Peyton Manning, Ray Guy, and Ronnie Lott, all in one…” That one guy was Sammy Baugh, the QB/P/DB of the Washington Redskins for 16 seasons from 1937 to 1952. Slingin’ Sammy Baugh was a Texas-born halfback out of TCU. Baugh helped pioneer the quarterback’s role in the modern football game. Baugh, like many of his contemporaries, played both offense and defense – he excelled as a defensive safety, plus he took the Redskins’ punting duties. Baugh threw for 168 TD passes in a 16-year career for Washington. Baugh retired in 1952. In 1963 he was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

From, the salient points of Sammy Baugh’s NFL career…
» Drafted 6th overall in the first round of the 1937 draft.
» All-NFL seven times.
» NFL passing leader six times.
» NFL passing, punting AND interception champ, 1943.
» Only player to lead the NFL in an offensive, defensive, and special teams category.
» Top punter in NFL history.
» Career records: 21,886 yards, 187 TDs passing, 45.1-yard punting average, 31 interceptions.
» Only player in Redskin history to have his jersey retired (33).

From the Pop History Dig, ‘Annals of Sport – “Slingin’ Sammy” [Baugh]‘.

    Helmet Histories of the 9 oldest-still-active NFL teams (all teams still active from at least 1937)

Est. 1898 as the Independent semi-pro team the Morgan Athletic Club of Chicago, IL (Morgan Athletic Club {Independent}, 1898). / Name changed to Racine Normals (Racine Normals {Independent}, 1899-1901) [Racine being the street where the team's football field (Normal Park) was located, in the South Side of Chicago]. / In 1901 name changed to Racine Cardinals (Racine Cardinals {Independent}, 1901-06;1913-18; 1918-19). / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1920 as the Racine Cardinals (NFL [APFA], 1920-21). / In 1922 name changed to Chicago Cardinals (NFL, 1922-1959). / In 1960 moved to St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Cardinals (NFL, 1960-1987). / In 1988 moved to Greater Phoenix, AZ: Phoenix Cardinals (NFL, 1988-93). / In 1994 name changed to Arizona Cardinals (NFL, 1994-2013).
Arizona Cardinals Helmet History -
Arizona Cardinals Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1919 as the Independent semi-pro team the Decatur Staleys (of the A.E. Staley Co.) of Decatur, IL. / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys (NFL, 1920). / In 1921 moved to Chicago, IL: Chicago Staleys (NFL [APFA], 1921). / In 1922 their name changed to Chicago Bears (NFL, 1922-2013).
Chicago Bears Helmet History -
Chicago Bears Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1919 as the Independent semi-pro team the Green Bay Packers (of the Indian Packing Co.) of Green Bay, WI. / Joined NFL [APFA] in 1921, Green Bay Packers (NFL, 1921-2013).
Green Bay Packers Helmet History –
Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1925 as an NFL expansion franchise, the New York (football) Giants (1925-2013) of New York City, NY.
New York Giants Helmet History -
New York Giants Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1929 as the Independent semi-pro team the Portsmouth Spartans of Portsmouth, OH. / Joined NFL in 1930 as the Portsmouth Spartans (NFL, 1930-33). / In 1934 moved to Detroit, MI as the Detroit Lions (NFL, 1934-2013).
Detroit Lions Helmet History -
Detroit Lions Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1932 as an NFL expansion franchise, the Boston (football) Braves of Boston, MA (NFL, 1932). / In 1933 changed name to Boston Redskins (NFL, 1933-36). / In 1937 moved to Washington, DC as the Washington Redskins (NFL, 1937-2013).
Washington Redskins Helmet History -
Washington Redskins Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1933 as an NFL expansion franchise, Philadelphia Eagles (NFL, 1933-2013).
Philadelphia Eagles Helmet History -
Philadelphia Eagle Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1933 as an NFL expansion franchise, Pittsburgh (football) Pirates of Pittsburgh, PA (NFL, 1933-39). / In 1940 changed name to Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL, 1940-2013).
Pittsburgh Steelers Helmet History -
Pittsburgh Steelers Helmet History
Image credits above –

Est. 1936 as the Cleveland Rams of Cleveland, OH, a team in the second [of 4] AFL leagues that existed in the 20th century, the AFL (II) of 1936. / Joined NFL in 1937 as the expansion team the Cleveland Rams (NFL, 1937-45). / In 1946 moved to Los Angeles, CA as the Los Angeles Rams (NFL, 1946-1994). / In 1995 moved to St. Louis, MO as the St. Louis Rams (NFL, 1995-2012).
St. Louis Rams Helmet History -
St. Louis Rams Helmet History
Image credits above –


Photo credits on map (going clockwise from the upper left of the map page)-
Green Bay’s City Field (1920s) from History/Other Homes.
Brooklyn football Dodgers at Ebbets Field photo from: Brooklyn
Large action photo of New York football Giants vs. Brooklyn football Dodgers at the Polo Grounds from 1937: AP photo via
Polo Grounds aerial view:
Washington Redskins playing at Griffith Sradium photo [date and opponents indeterminate] from
Sammy Baugh photo, 1940 vs. Bears, unattributed at
Sammy Baugh color-tinted photo, unattributed at, ‘List of the day, Best Passing Yardage Seasons, 1940s NFL‘.
Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field aerial photo, unattributed at
Comiskey Park [Chicago Cardinals], unattributed at

Thanks to the, for score lines from 1937.
Thanks to, for this article, ‘Football at Wrigley has long, storied past‘.

Special thanks to Gridiron Uniforms Database, for allowing use of their NFL uniforms illustrations,

October 13, 2012

AAFC (1946-49) featuring the Cleveland Browns – map with selected uniforms and logos of the teams: Baltimore Colts (I), Brooklyn football Dodgers [AAFC], Buffalo Bisons/Bills (I), Chicago Rockets/Hornets, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Dons, Miami Seahawks, New York football Yankees [AAFC], San Francisco 49ers.

Please note – I am posting this AAFC map and parts of my upcoming NFL, AFC North post here, so that there will be a stand-alone article on the AAFC in my archive. The NFL, AFC North post can be seen by clicking on the following link,
NFL, AFC North – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).

    Below: map of the AAFC, with selected AAFC uniforms and logos

AAFC (1946-49) map
Image credits above – map of 1940s USA from Illustrations of AAFC uniforms from teams,, Photo of LA Dons ticket from: Photo of 1949 AAFC Chicago Hornets media guide from Photo of 1946 Cleveland Browns game program from,_September_1946.png. Logos of AAFC teams from and [look in NFL section near bottom of 1st page there].

    The Cleveland Browns, est. 1946 as a team in the rival league called the AAFC (1946-49)

The white-helmeted Cleveland Browns were the flagship franchise of a rival pro football league called the All-America Football Conference, which challenged the NFL in the late 1940s. The Browns origins date to 1944, when taxi-cab magnate Arthur ‘Mickey’ McBride secured the rights to a Cleveland franchise in the soon-to-be-formed All-America Football Conference. The AAFC existed for 4 seasons, starting in 1946, and for its first 3 seasons it had 8 teams, and in its final season in 1949 it had 7 teams.

The AAFC was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. Several of the AAFC owners were actually better capitalized than some of the NFL owners at the time (back then, basically, NFL teams other than the Bears, the Giants and the Redskins were usually in poor financial shape). The AAFC challenged the NFL directly in the USA’s 3 biggest cities – in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Dons, in Chicago with the Chicago Rockets, and in New York City with 2 teams…the New York Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC, 1946-48).

AAFC Stadia -
The Cleveland Browns played at the 78,000-capacity Cleveland Municipal Stadium (and would play there until 1995). One of the teams in the AAFC played in the same stadium that their NFL city-rival were playing in – from 1946 to ’49, the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA hosted both the Los Angeles Rams (NFL) and Los Angeles Dons (AAFC). The Brooklyn football Dodgers (AAFC) played at the Brooklyn baseball Dodgers’ Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY (note: the NFL’s Brooklyn football Dodgers played 15 seasons in the NFL but had folded two years before [in 1944]). The Chicago AAFC team, first called the Rockets then called the Hornets, played at Soldier Field (however, the NFL’s Chicago Bears played at Wrigley Field back then, and would not play in Soldier Field until 1971). The New York football Yankees of the AAFC played at Yankee Stadium (while the NFL’s New York Giants played at the Polo Grounds back then). The Buffalo Bisons, who changed their name to the Buffalo Bills (I) in the second AAFC season in 1947, played at the first version of War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, which only had a capacity of 30,000 and did not yet have the giant looming roofed grandstand (which was built in 1960). The Baltimore Colts (I) of the AAFC played in Balltimore’s Municipal Stadium, which only had a single deck back then and a capacity of 30,000 (back in the 1946 to 1953 time period) [the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts (II), also played at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium from 1953 to 1983]. The San Francisco 49ers of the AAFC played at Kezar Stadium, which was (and still is) a utilitarian-single-stand-with-bleachers-bowl-shape stadium with a 59,000-capacity that was built in a residential neighborhood of San Francisco which was adjacent to Golden Gate Park. The Forty-Niners played at Kezar Stadium from 1946-49 in the AAFC and from 1950 to 1970 in the NFL. The hapless and doomed Miami Seahawks played at the Orange Bowl to tiny crowds, then packed up and moved to Baltimore in ’47.

It may surprise some folks that the AAFC actually outdrew the NFL. From 1946 to 1949, the AAFC, averaged 38,310 a game, versus the 27,602 per game that the NFL drew back then {see this pdf, THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 2, No. 7 (1980). “ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE”, By Stan Grosshandler.

What made the AAFC a better draw than the NFL in the late 1940s? The huge popularity of the Cleveland Browns there in northeast Ohio, who drew 60,000 to fill Cleveland Municipal Stadium in their first AAFC game on September 6, 1946 (you can see the game program for that first Cleveland Browns game on the map page above), and went on to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 for most of their home games in the AAFC. {Here are the uniforms of the 1947 AAFC Cleveland Browns (} But it wasn’t just the Browns that were drawing above or near the NFL average – 3 other cities that had no NFL franchises at the time – San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo – had AAFC teams that were drawing in the mid-20,000s-to-30,000s-per-game-range. Those 3 teams were the red-and-silver San Francisco 49ers {here are the uniforms of the 1948 AAFC San Francisco 49ers}, the green-and-silver-Baltimore Colts {here are the uniforms of the ‘1948 AAFC Baltimore Colts}; and the original Buffalo Bills (AAFC, 1947-49), who wore dark-blue-and-silver {here are the uniforms of the ‘1949 AAFC Buffalo Bills}. Of those 3, Baltimore had the smaller crowds (low 20K range), Buffalo played almost to capacity in their 30K-capacity stadium, and San Francisco drew the highest of the three, usually drawing above 30,000 and even getting 40,000 a few times. Another solid and very-good-drawing team in the AAFC was the New York football Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49), who lost to the Browns twice in the AAFC championship game – by score of 14-9 in 1946 in front of 41,000 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, and in the following season (1947) the football Yankees lost again to the Browns in the title-game, by the score of 14-3 in front of an impressive 60,000 at Yankee Stadium. The AAFC Yankees, like their baseball namesakes, wore dark-navy-blue as their primary color, and added a secondary color of grey {here are the uniforms of the 1946 AAFC New York Yankees}. The Yankees of the AAFC probably would have been able to survive as an NFL team had the NFL allowed them to join in 1950, but the NFL chose not to let in any AAFC teams from cities which already had an NFL team or teams (ie, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City).

The only problem with the AAFC, one that would prove to be its undoing, was the fact that the Cleveland Browns were too successful, and that, coupled with the fact that the AAFC had no draft, made all the other teams in the league unable to stay competitive with the Browns. A very telling statistic was this…the last 2 AAFC title games, both played in Cleveland, only drew 22,000, because everyone knew it was a foregone conclusion that the Browns would win those games (they won over the Bills 49-7 in front of 22,981 in 1948 and 21-7 over the 49ers in front of 22,550 in the last ever AAFC game in 1949 {see this, ‘AAFC/championship games‘ (}. Another problem was the weakness of the last 2 AAFC franchises to form – the Brooklyn team and the Miami franchise (which moved to Baltimore after losing $350,000 as the Miami Seahawks in 1946). The Brooklyn team closed up after the third AAFC season (1948) and merged with the Yankees AAFC team for the league’s last season in 1949 (they were officially called the Brooklyn-New York Yankees, but no one called them that). The Miami-to-Baltimore franchise was always under-capitalized, while the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) were never able to muster the large support that the second (blue-and-white) Baltimore Colts (II) had. The Baltimore Colts of the AAFC were the weakest of the 3 teams that the NFL allowed to join in 1950 and only lasted one season. As it says in the AAFC page at, …{excerpt}…”There was some sentiment to admit the Bills rather than the Colts, as the Bills had better attendance and the better team. However, Buffalo’s size (only Green Bay was smaller) and climate were seen as problems”…{end of excerpt}. The NFL chose the Colts (I) instead of the Bills (I) as an expansion team in 1950, and the city of Buffalo would have to wait another 20 years before they got a modern-day NFL franchise.

Three AAFC franchises joined the NFL in 1950 – the Cleveland Browns (NFL, 1950-95; 1999-2012), the San Francisco 49ers (NFL, 1950-2102), and the short-lived original Baltimore Colts (I) (NFL, 1950/defunct).

In less than 4 years, the NFL went from officially ignoring and publicly mocking the AAFC to allowing three teams from the AAFC to join the NFL in 1950. In 1946, NFL commissioner Elmer Layden had remarked that the new AAFC should, “first get a ball, then make a schedule, and then play a game.” That sarcastic statement, often later paraphrased in the media as “tell them to get a ball first”, would not be forgotten. Especially when you consider what an ex-AAFC team did 4 seasons later…the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in their first season in the NFL in 1950, with virtually the same squad that had steamrolled through all four years of the AAFC.

    The Cleveland Browns – from AAFC champions to NFL champions in 1950, as an expansion team.

Image and Photo credits above -
Helmet and uniform illustrations from
Photo of 1951 Bowman Paul Brown trading card from
Tinted b&w photo of Otto Graham unattributed at
Photo of 1950 Bowman trading card of Lou Groza at
Photo of Jim Brown from
Photo of Marion Motley in 1948 AAFC championship game from Cleveland Plain Dealer archive via

The Cleveland Browns were founded in the 1946 as a charter franchise of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), with Paul Brown, the team’s namesake and a pioneering figure in professional football, as its first head coach and General Manager. Paul Brown first made his name as a 34-year-old head coach who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the school’s first national football championship (in 1942, as the AP #1). During World War II, Paul Brown served in the U.S. Navy near Chicago as a coach and instructor at the Great Lakes Naval Station, where he coached the football team. Later, in 1945-46, when he formed his first Cleveland Browns team, Brown utilized the contacts he had made within both the college football world and within the military. For example, during his time in the Navy there at the Naval Station near Chicago, Paul Brown first met his future Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Otto Graham, who was attending Northwestern University and who became a Navy flier. Brown then signed Graham in April 1945 plucking a future-gridiron-star before any NFL team could ever draft him. Many of the Cleveland Browns players in 1946 were military veterans. With standout players such as Otto Graham (at QB, running a then-innovative T-formation offense), pioneering player Marion Motley (a running back and linebacker and one of the first black players in pro football in the modern era), and northeast-Ohio-born Lou Groza (who doubled as the team’s placekicker and as an offensive tackle), the Cleveland Browns won all 4 AAFC championships.

From ‘Paul Brown‘ (,
{excerpt}…”Brown is credited with a number of American football innovations. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He invented the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He also played a role in breaking professional football’s color barrier, bringing some of the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era onto his teams.”…{end of excerpt}.

Under Paul Brown, not only did the Cleveland Browns win all 4 of the the AAFC’s championships, the Browns also drew huge crowds, averaging a record-setting 57,000 per game in the first season of the AAFC in 1946. Cleveland Browns’ crowds were often above 50,000, and the Browns averaged a much, much higher gate than the NFL of the late 1940s. The Browns continued to succeed after moving to the NFL in 1950. Cleveland won the NFL championship in its first NFL season, and won two more titles in 1954 and 1955. By then, the Browns had appeared in 10 straight championship games (4 in the AAFC, then 6 in the NFL), and won 7 of them.

    Enter Art Modell, exit Paul Brown, and the start of Cleveland Browns fans’ trials and tribulations…

Then Art Modell, who made his money in the New York City advertising industry, bought the team in 1961, fired Paul Brown two years later, and reigned over a team that won just 1 more NFL championship title but never made a Super Bowl appearance, then announced he intended to moved the team to Baltimore in 1996 despite the fact that the city of Cleveland was about to vote on a new stadium referendum (which passed). Art Modell never set foot in Cleveland again after he took the Browns’ front office and the Browns’ player roster to Baltimore, to become the Baltimore Ravens (NFL, 1996-2012). Cleveland Browns supporters raised such an outcry that the NFL was forced to make the unprecedented move of forcing Modell to return the Cleveland Browns’ records, history, colors, and uniform design back to Cleveland to await the re-birth of the Cleveland Browns’ franchise. That occurred in 1999. The only problem was – Modell took that 1995 Cleveland Browns team and turned it into the 2000 Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champions. So Browns fans might have got their team back, but they will always wonder what might have been if the ’95 Browns had remained in Cleveland.


Thanks to Logoshak for many of the AAFC logos.
Thanks to for several AAFC logos.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ‘All-America Football Conference‘.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page at, for some logos and for dates of logos.
Thanks to The Gridiron Uniform Database for allowing billsportsmaps the use of the site’s helmet and uniform illustrations, teams [APFA, NFL, AAFC),,

October 22, 2010

Major League Baseball: 1908 National League season, with map and NL uniforms; the post-season replay of Chicago Cubs v. New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on October 8, 1908; and an illustrated article on the Dead-ball Era in Major League Baseball (1900-1920).

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1908 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 4:41 pm


1908 National League

[Please note: a similar map was also posted for the 1908 American League, and I covered 1908 MLB attendance figures (for both the AL and the NL) in that post, here,
Major League Baseball - 1908, American League, with season highlights, 1908 uniforms and 1908 MLB attendances ( from 17 Oct. 2010).]

The 1908 National League season featured a three-way pennant race between the Chicago Cubs, the New York Giants, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because of an unusual sequence of events, the 1908 National League season required an unprecedented post-season replay of a game to decide the pennant winner. That is covered in the two articles on the left side of the map page. The final standings for the 1908 National League season are at the top, left. At the bottom, center of the map page are photos and thumbnail profiles of the prominent figures on the two teams that met in the re-played game which was held on October 8, 1908, at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan Island, New York City.
I recommend reading the text in the image sequence below, before jumping over to the map page [note: the bulk of the text below is repeated at the text block in the upper left on the map page]…

1908 World Series – Chicago Cubs (National League) defeat Detroit Tigers (American league) 4 games to 1 game…
After the extremely tight and unusual pennant races in both leagues {American League, 1908 season map, with 1908 attendances of all MLB teams, here}, the 1908 World Series was destined to be anti-climactic. [This was a re-match of the 1907 Fall Classic, which saw the Cubs sweep the Tigers, 4 games to 0.] In the first game of the 1908 series, at Detroit’s Bennett Field, in front of 10,812, the Tigers’ rookie hurler Ed Summers had a 6-5 lead entering the ninth inning, when he proceeded to give up 6 consecutive hits and 5 runs to the Cubs. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown got the win for the Cubs. In the second game, at Chicago’s West Side Grounds, in front of 17,760, the Cubs broke a scoreless deadlock with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, including a 2-run homer by Joe Tinker. Orval Overall was the winning pitcher. In game 3, the Tigers’ bats finally came awake, and Detroit beat Chicago 8-3 in front of 14,543 at the West Side Grounds. Game 4 was played back at Bennett Field in Detroit, and in front of 12,907, Cubs’ ace Mordecai Brown came through, and shut out the Tigers 3-0. By this time, the Tigers, and their fans, had given up the ghost, and in front of an embarrassingly small crowd of just 6,210 at Bennett Field, the Cubs again shut out the Tigers 2-0, behind Orval Overall. So the Chicago Cubs were again the champions. The Chicago Cubs have never won another World Series title.

The Chicago Cubs have never won another World Series title since 1908…
People love to talk about curses in baseball, but it is strange that the curse of unsporting behavior has never been popularly ascribed to the 1908 Chicago Cubs. Cubs shortstop Johnny Evers pressed the point that technically Fred Merkle should have been called out for not advancing to second base after the winning run had scored on that fateful game of September 23rd, 1908 (and in some versions, such as the New York Times account, first baseman/manager Frank Chance was described as having “grasped the situation” and directed the ball to be retrieved from the stands and be thrown to second base). Ball players had been doing what Merkle did for over 30 years in major league baseball, because crowds of unruly fans inevitably would storm the field after a winning run was scored, and it was very dangerous to be tarrying in what was essentially a mob scene. The umpire, Hank O’Day, was coerced into contravening the established procedures of the day, and for doing so he was later criticized by many, including the preeminent umpire of that era, Bill Klem. The whole incident was so convulsive that the National League President, Harry Pulliam, who was totally savaged by the media for allowing the Merkle’s Boner ruling to stand, committed suicide a year later.

On that day at the old Polo Grounds, the Cubs got a baseball from the crowd (it was probably not even the game ball, {see this}), and completed a play for an out when the field was already overrun by boisterous fans. The Cubs got their way that day, overstepping three decades worth of established procedure in baseball games. So the Cubs got their National League pennant in a sneaky way, then the Cubs won their second (and second-consecutive) World Series title…but the Cubs have never won another World Series title since. Hey Cubs fans, forget about that Curse of the Billy Goat malarky {see this}…The Curse of Merkle’s Boner is the real reason your ball club has never won another championship. The Chicago Cubs beat the New York Giants in 1908 with unsporting behavior, and it has been nothing but a century of failure for the Chicago Cubs since then. [The Cubs have failed to win a world championship in 13 post season appearances since 1908, including being 0 for 7 in World Series appearances (their last being in 1945, when they lost to Detroit in 7 games), and 0 for 6 in playoff-era post season appearances (their last in 2008, when they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS; their previous appearance being in 2003, when they fell to the Florida Marlins in the NLCS, a series made notorious by the Steve Bartman incident {see this}).

1908 National League map and 1908 NL uniforms...

The main feature of the map page {see it here} is a railways and population map of the United States, from 1900. To this map I have added the jersey or cap crests of the 8 National League ball clubs. The large crests shown at the top of the map are arranged to reflect the western-to-eastern distribution of the 8 NL ballclubs, while the very small club crests serve to locate the ball clubs' home cities on the map. On the far right of the map page I have shown the 1908 uniforms of the 8 NL ball clubs, as well as the 2010 home ball caps of the modern version of each of these 8 NL franchises, 5 of which still play in the same city over a century later. Those 5 ball clubs are the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals. 3 franchises have moved since 1908. The Boston Doves, originally known as the Boston Red Stockings, then the Boston Beaneaters, later became the Boston Braves (in 1911), before moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1953, becoming the Milwaukee Braves, but then moved again to Atlanta, Georgia, becoming the Atlanta Braves, in 1966. The Brooklyn Superbas (aka Trolley Dodgers) became officially known as the Brooklyn Robins from 1914 to 1933 (after their manager Wilbert Robinson) but all the while were more popularly known as the Brooklyn Dodgers (this name became official in 1934 {see this, a chart of Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers' uniforms and logos, from a post I made a year ago}). The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to California in 1958, becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers. The New York Giants also moved to California in 1958, becoming the San Francisco Giants.

    The Dead-ball Era, 1900-1920

The Dead-ball era in Major League Baseball is usually defined as the time period from 1900 to 1920, although some baseball people place the starting date of the Dead-ball era all the way back to the beginning of organized baseball, which is circa 1845 [the National League was founded in 1876; and the American League was established as the second major league in 1901]. For the purposes of this article, the Dead-ball era will be framed as the 21 National League seasons and the 20 American League seasons from 1900 to 1920. In 1920, Babe Ruth, newly arrived from the Boston Red Sox, (where he hit 24 HRs in 1919 as a pitcher and a utility outfielder), hit a then-inconceivable 54 home runs as a regularly starting New York Yankee outfielder. Also in 1920, changes were made to the ball (a different yarn and a different wrapping procedure was used), which, while Major League Baseball has always insisted had no effect on the ‘liveliness’ of the ball (citing a US Bureau of Standards test), was nevertheless labelled “the jackrabbit ball” by players and pundits alike. Also, one year later in 1921, a rule was put in place which demanded that baseballs be replaced when dirty. This aided the batter both by putting less “dead” balls in play as well as putting more visible balls into play. Diminished size of the outfields in ballparks also contributed to the surge in home runs in the 1920s. And the effect that Babe Ruth himself had on the end of the Dead-ball era cannot be discounted, as the conventional wisdom of “small ball” was swept away, bringing in an era (that remains to this day) where hitters were encouraged to, and often expected to, swing for the fences.

The Dead-ball era was a time when pitchers dominated the game, and records like Cy Young’s 512 wins or Ed Walsh’s 1.82 lifetime ERA will almost certainly never be broken. The Dead-ball era saw very few out-of-the-park home runs, and saw the lowest-ever slugging percentages {see this chart}. The Dead-ball era was characterized by a base-to-base style of play with the emphasis on advancing runners through stolen bases, sacrifice hits and bunts, hit-and-run-plays, and hitting techniques such as the “Baltimore chop‘ . Because of the vast outfields in many of the ballparks, there were a lot more triples in the Dead-ball era, and inside-the-park home runs were way more common than they are today. During the 1900-1917 time period there were 15 instances between the two Major Leagues when the home run leader hit less than 10 HRs (!)…this happened in the American League in 1905, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1914, and 1916; and this happened in the National League in 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1909. {From Baseball, Year by Year Leaders for Home Runs}. To give you an idea of how rare home runs were in the first two decades of the 20th century, the Philadelphia Athletics’ third baseman Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker got his nickname by hitting 2 home runs in the 1911 World Series, after he led the AL that season with 11 round trippers. Eleven home runs is a good month for sluggers these days. Baker finished his 13-season career with 96 HR, very good for his day, but the stuff of three good seasons post-1920. If you think all this made for boring baseball, there is perhaps one saving grace about the style of play during the Dead-ball era…the profusion of triples.

All-Time Triples Leaders…
The list of all-time triples leaders is skewed heavily towards the early days of baseball and particularly the Dead-ball era of 1900-1920. And only 2 of the top 20 in the all-time triples leaders list had careers which came after the end of the Dead-ball era…#10 on the list, Paul ‘Big Poison’ Waner, and #19 (tied) on the list, Stan ‘The Man’ Musial. {‘List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples‘, from}.
All-time triples leaders. Below: The top 8 All-time Triples Leaders, all of whom had at least 200 triples, lifetime. Each player is shown in a photograph or an illustration, with his ball clubs and seasons listed, along with his high for triples in a season…[Note: all these players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.]
1. ‘Wahoo’ Sam Crawford. 309 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.
2. Ty Cobb, ‘the Georgia Peach’. 295 triples. {official web site of Ty Cobb}.
3. Honus Wagner, ‘the Flying Dutchman’ [he was German; "Dutch" being a mutilation of Deutsch]. 252 triples. {official site of Honus Wagner}.
4. Jake ‘Eagle Eye’ Beckley. 244 triples. {Jake Beckley bio at, by David Fleitz}.
5. Roger Connor [6 foot 3 inches tall and the man who gave the New York Giants their nickname]. 233 triples. {‘Roger Connor: The 19th Century HR King‘, by Mike Attiyeh at The Baseball}.
6. Tris Speaker, ‘the Grey Eagle’. 222 triples. {Tris Speaker bio at Baseball}.
7. Fred Clarke. [Player/manager of 4 of Pittsburgh's 9 NL Pennants]. 220 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.
8. Dan Brouthers. [First great slugger in MLB history]. 205 triples. {Hall of Fame bio}.

All MLB players with 200 Triples, lifetime
[Note: click on image below, for an enlarged version.]

The ball during the Dead-ball era, and the effect of widespread use of the then-legal spitball…
The name dead-ball is pretty straightforward, because back in the early days of professional baseball, the ball was not at all lively when struck by the batter, and the ball usually did not travel too far. Furthermore, as a cost-cutting measure (since balls were expensive back then), balls were very rarely replaced during the game, like in modern baseball games. In the Dead-ball era, balls were routinely used for up to 100 pitches. In the modern Major League Baseball game, a ball lasts, on average, 6 pitches, and 5 or 6 dozen balls are used in the average 9 inning game. { Number of baseballs used in a MLB game}.
Plus, before and during the Dead-ball Era, the moment a new ball was thrown into the field, a pitcher’s first job was to dirty up that ball. So if the baseballs started out soft and not very visble, you can imagine what they were like 3 or 4 innings into the game, after being tossed around, whacked by baseball bats, rolled in the dirt, grass, and mud, and spat upon and scuffed up by the pitchers. In other words, 100 years ago in Major League Baseball, baseballs were not very lively by design, and literally dead by overuse. And because of the inevitable dirtying up of the ball, it stopped being even close to a white orb and started looking like a misshapen brown blur to the batters. The batters had a real hard time seeing the ball.
The spitball was another major reason offensive production was so low in the Dead-ball era. Spitball was the catch-all term for putting something on the ball, it didn’t have to be spit…mud worked fine, and petroleum jelly was (and still is) a popular choice. With a spitball, the ball behaves erratically in flight due to the extra weight on one part of the ball’s surface.

1911: The cork-centered ball pushes up offensive numbers (temporarily)…
Another reason for low scoring and meager offensive numbers in the very early years of organized baseball was that, prior to 1911, the baseball had no cork center. The cork-centered ball was invented by Ben Shibe (who was then co-owner of the American League’s Philadelphia Athletics) and first marketed by the Reach Company, who were then the American League’s official baseball suppliers, in 1909, and were in use throughout Major League Baseball (ie, both the American League and the National League) starting in 1911, causing a spike in offensive statistics, but only temporarily. A telling statistic of the cork-centered ball’s initial impact is that the only two plus-.400 batting averages between 1902 and 1919 were attained in the first two seasons after the cork-centered balls began being used in 1911. Ty Cobb (of the American League’s Detroit Tigers) hit .420 in 1911. This was Cobb’s highest-ever season average. The next year, 1912, Cobb hit .410. Meanwhile, ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson (of the AL’s Chicago White Sox) batted .408 in 1911. And in the National League, the highest home run total by a player went from 10 HR in 1910 to 21 HR in 1911 (by Pittsburgh’s Frank Schulte); also in 1911 the new cork-centered ball allowed the Philadelphia Phillies’ home run total to jump from 21 in 1910 to 62 in 1911 (more on the Phillies and their home-run-friendly and odd-shaped ballpark later). {League by League Totals for Batting Averages , from Baseball}

Circa 1913: the scuff-ball gives the pitchers the upper hand again…
But a pitching innovation (more like a rule-infraction) that made its way to major league baseball circa 1912-13 countered the cork ball’s effectiveness…the invention of the scuffed ball, or emery pitch, in 1908, by then-minor league pitcher Russ Ford {Russ Ford bio at Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame site}. The scuffed ball is achieved by rubbing the ball against anything rough or sharp, such as a concrete wall, an emery board, or a sharpened belt buckle. The damage to the ball’s surface causes the ball to take an irregular flight path that with practice a pitcher can control (the scuff marks cause wind drag on one part of the ball’s surface). The scuff-ball was declared illegal in 1914, but that didn’t stop its use by any means. It just made it go “underground”. The scuff-ball still exists to this day…in the 1950s, Yankee legend Whitey Ford had his wedding ring sharpened to surreptitiously scuff the ball; in the 1980s Texas Ranger relief pitcher Rick Honeycutt was caught using an upside-down thumbtack held to a finger on his glove hand by a band-aid; plus the scuff ball was pretty much the basis of the entire career of Joe Niekro, who favored the good old emery board. How to throw a scuff ball?…{see this}. So between the still-legal spitball, and the illegal but soon prevalent scuff-ball, offensive production in baseball significantly dropped circa 1913 to 1919.

The role that ballparks with vast outfields played during the Dead-ball era…
West Side Park (II), Chicago, Illinois -1893 to 1915, home of the Chicago Colts (1893-1897) / Chicago Orphans (ca. 1898-1901) / Chicago Cubs (1902-1915)
Dressed to the Nines – A history of the Baseball uniform.

Exposition Park – 1891 to June, 1909, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates -

Another factor in low offensive production in the first two decades of 20th century baseball was the fact that most ballparks back then had gigantic outfield dimensions, with many ballparks having parts of their outfield fences well over 500 feet away from home plate (see Chicago Cubs ballpark, above, and Boston [AL] ballpark below), and/or having the foul poles around 400 feet from home plate (see Pittsburgh ballpark, above). But as the 20th century moved out of its first decade, things were about to change and the ballparks being built would start featuring smaller outfield dimensions. This did not happen over night, and some of the new ballparks still had vast outfield dimensions (like Shibe Park in Philadelphia, and the original Comiskey Park in Chicago, and especially Braves Field in Boston), but the trend was towards smaller outfields, or in the case of ballparks like two famous New York City ballparks, the Polo Grounds and the original Yankee Stadium (1923-2008), a mix of short outfield fences on either side of a vast centerfield area. After the 1911 renovation and expansion, the Polo Grounds was basically a very long U-shaped structure with an outfield that resembled half of a rectangle with rounded corners {see this, Polo Grounds [1911-1957] schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog }. Yankee Stadium (I) had right and left field foul poles less than 300 feet from home plate. The famous Short Porch of right field, which was designed to give maximum benefit to the compact, pull-the-ball swing of left-handed hitter Babe Ruth, was originally just 295 feet from home plate, and pretty much stayed that way until renovations in 1976 put it at 320 feet. {see this, Yankee Stadium, 1923 schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog}. {Dimensions of Yankee Stadium (I), etc. from}. But the original Yankee Stadium had a maximum outfield distance of 500 feet in left-centerfield. So you might say this is the best of both worlds…vast areas in the central outfield to encourage the excitement of a three base hit or even an inside-the-park home run; and short fences near the foul poles to encourage the long-ball, bash ‘em in style of offense that the public began to (and still does) embrace.

In the 1909-1923 time period (15 years), 11 Major League ballparks were built, and, 10 of them were asymmetrical…
Examples of ball clubs that built ballparks circa 1909 to 1923 that were pretty much uniformly smaller than their preceding ballparks were in Cincinnati, with the Cincinnati Reds NL ball club; and in Boston, with the Boston Red Sox AL ball club. In Cincinnati, the vast outfield of the Palace of the Fans ballpark was replaced by the much smaller confines of the new Crosley Field, which opened in 1912. The Palace of the Fans had dimensions of 390 feet in left field / 510 feet in center field / 450 feet in right field. That is huge. Crosley Field had the considerably smaller outfield dimensions of LF: 360 ft./ CF: 420 ft. / RF: 360 ft. The diminished outfield space in Cincinnati after 1911 [this is not mathematically precise, but it will still give you an idea] LF: minus-30 ft. / CF: minus-90 ft. / RF: minus-90 ft.

In Boston, the absolutely gigantic outfield of the Huntington Avenue Grounds was replaced in 1912 by Fenway Park (which is still the home of the Boston Red Sox to this day, and is the oldest currently operating MLB ballpark). Huntington Avenue Grounds was only an MLB ballpark for 11 seasons (1901-1911), and its outfield dimensions were significantly expanded for just its last three seasons (1908-11), but that coincides with the Dead-ball era’s lowest slugging percentage and lowest pitcher’s ERA. In 1908 to 1911, Huntington Avenue Grounds’ outfield dimensions were LF: 350 ft. / CF: 635 ft. / RF: 320 ft. 635 feet in center field is pretty darn far away from home plate. Fenway Park’s outfield dimensions when it opened in 1912 were 324 ft. LF / 488 ft. CF / 380 ft. right-CF / 314 ft. RF. The diminished outfield space in Boston (AL) after 1911…LF: minus-16 ft. / CF: minus-150 ft. / RF: minus-6 ft.
Huntinton Avenue Grounds, Boston, Massachusetts – 1901-1911, home of the Boston American League ball club (1901-1907) / Boston Red Sox (1908-1911)
More ballpark illustrations, etc, at Jeff Suntala Illustration – .

A confluence of events led to most of these ballparks-with-gigantic-outfields to vanish before the 1920s. Basically, ballparks would burn down to the ground with terrifying regularity all through the early days of organized baseball, and this didn’t stop until ballparks stopped being constructed primarily of wood, but rather of steel and concrete, which occurred in the 1909 to 1920 time period (the first ballpark made primarily of concrete and steel was the Philadelphia Athletics’ Shibe Park, which opened in 1909). 9 of the 16 MLB ball clubs built new ballparks between 1909 to 1923 {list of MLB stadiums [current and former] here}. Shibe Park did have vast outfield dimensions, but all of the 8 other subsequent ballparks built between 1909 and 1923 had at least part of the outfield walls a shorter distance to home plate than the previous ballpark. And these new MLB ballparks being built in the time period of 1909 to 1923 were going up right when urban areas all across the United States became more crowded… in other words, in the last stages of the Dead-ball era, the ball clubs could no longer build new ballparks with giant outfields because urban real estate was at a premium. The newly built ballparks would have to conform to the smaller, irregular-shaped lots that were available. This, in retrospect, has made baseball such a fascinating and appealing spectator sport…because most every ballpark that was built in the 1909 to 1923 time period was built on an asymmetrical plot of land. There are exceptions, of course, two of which can be seen in the two Chicago ballparks built in this time period. In 1910, the White Sox built the first Comiskey Park, which was virtually symmetrical (it is said that the White Sox organization consulted with their ace pitcher, [all-time lowest ERA holder] Ed Walsh, when laying out the dimensions for the original Comiskey Park). And Weegham Park, which came to be known as Wrigley Field [in 1926], was built in 1914 in the then-mostly-undeveloped North Side of Chicago. Weegham Park was built for the Federal League team the Chicago Whales [the Federal League lasted only one season], and the Cubs took over the ballpark in 1916. The area soon did become developed, though, and when the Cubs renovated in 1938, they couldn’t expand, and instead built outfield stands in areas that once were part of the field, specifically the power alleys. So in a roundabout way Weegham Park/Wrigley Field conforms to the smaller-ballparks-built-in-established-urban-areas thesis.

The Asymmetrical Ballpark…
The proliferation of asymmetrical ballparks with smaller outfield dimensions wasn’t really planned, but it sure made baseball more interesting. Of course, circa 1960 to 1988 or so, the people running ball clubs and the smug urban planners running metropolitan areas totally ignored this fact, and forced ugly, astro-turf laden cookie-cutter, multi-purpose concrete stadiums on the public. The whole idea was “we can put our baseball team and our NFL football team in the same stadium, and who cares if the dimensions of the two sports fields are totally incompatible”. The multi-purpose stadium era pretty much set baseball back a quarter-century, but I digress.

Perhaps the best example of the marvelous effect that an asymmetrical ballpark can have on the game of baseball can be seen in Fenway Park in Boston, which opened in 1912, and operates to this day. Fenway is simply baseball heaven, and it is all because of the fact that the Boston Red Sox were forced to build a ball park on a plot of land that looks like a rectangle drawn by a blind man with a shaky hand {see this, Fenway Park schematic at Clem’s Baseball Blog}. The key to what makes the asymmetrical ballpark so visually appealing is an outfield wall the defies any sort of uniform sweep or curve, and which also varies in height, and in fact features the much-coveted “nooks and crannies” in the wall’s facade, where batted balls ricochet in unpredictable ways. Fenway Park has a brilliant nook in deep right-center field, called The Triangle {see this}, plus it features a unique shallow right field foul pole, the “Pesky Pole” (after Sox legend Jimmy Pesky) {see the photo here}, in the farthest right field, which is around 60 feet shallower than right field just 50 feet more towards right-center, where the bullpens are, and where the outfield fence is only 3 feet high. Fenway, of course, also features the famous Green Monster {see this}, which is a 37-foot wall, built to prevent easy home runs because the outfield wall there in left field is only 310 to 315 feet from home plate. These days you can watch the game from seats on top of the Green Monster, which is a brilliant concept that should be emulated elsewhere.

Asymmetrical Ballparks Built to Last…
Below: 11 of the 12 MLB ball parks built between 1909 and 1923, 11 of which which had considerably smaller outfield dimensions than the ballparks they replaced – all except Braves Field in Boston had smaller outfield dimensions [not shown, Sportsman's Park in St. Louis (1920-66)]…
[with illustrations from Clem's Baseball Blog { }.
Click on image below for chart...

Philadelphia's Shibe Park ushered in an era of steel and concrete ballparks. Major League ballparks would no longer be built of wood, and thus no longer were the fire hazards of previous structures. So all these ballparks lasted considerably longer than the earlier ones. Several of these ballparks lasted for more than a half-century, and two of these ballparks are still in use today...Fenway Park (1912), and Wrigley Field (1914). It goes without saying that all baseball fans view these two parks as priceless, and the two pretty much give their respective ball clubs, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs their identities. What all these ballparks, with the exception of the Boston's Braves Field, had in common was that they had outfield dimensions that were smaller than the ballparks they replaced. Some, like Cincinnati's Crosley Field were extremely smaller (and got smaller with renovations). Many, like Yankee Stadium, had smaller dimensions at the foul poles, and vast outfield areas and deep fences around center field. This provided the opportunity for more home runs, but also still allowed for the chance of triples and inside-the-park home runs. And with the exception of Comiskey Park (I), all these ballparks featured layouts which were asymmetrical. In most cases, and particularly in the case of Griffith Stadium, Fenway Park, Crosley Field, Tiger Stadium, Ebbets Field, and Yankee Stadium, this was because the ball clubs were forced to build ballparks in dense urban areas. They had no choice but to fit the ballparks into the pre-existing urban grid. Because of this, each of the ballparks had its own unique charm, each with quirks of its own. Plus, in most instances, a city-view was prominent behind the outfield walls, which, with the slow pace of the game, was a crucial factor in the ambiance of a game at a Major League ballpark. After all, they are called parks, and you go to a park to relax. So premeditated or not, asymmetrical ballparks defined the MLB game until the onset of urban-planner-mentality and the spread of characterless and ugly multi-purpose stadiums circa 1960 to 1990. Thank goodness that era of misguided ballpark design is over.

The Baker Bowl- a Dead-ball era ballpark ballpark with smaller outfield dimensions and inflated home run numbers...
To give more credence to the argument that outfield size played a huge factor in the lack of home runs in the Dead-ball era...the modern era [post-1900] record for home runs in a season, prior to the emergence of Babe Ruth as a slugger (ie, from 1920 on), was set by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Gavvy Cravath, when he hit 24 HR in 1915, which was actually a higher total than 12 of the 15 other teams’ entire home runs totals for that season (think about it…one player on one team had more homers than all 25 players on 80% of the other teams in the league that year). Cravath was a powerful hitter who, against the conventional wisdom of the day, consciously tried to hit homers instead of singles or doubles. And he played in the Phillies’ extremely quirky ballpark, the Baker Bowl, which featured a short right-center power alley (300 feet from home plate) and a right field fence that was just 272 to 280 feet from home plate. Baker Bowl could not be built with a larger outfield because the Reading and Pennsylvania Rail Road had a sprawling rail yard bordering its right and center fields. The result was home run numbers at the Baker Bowl were an anomaly for the time period. Even the 40-foot tin-covered brick wall the Philladelphia management erected in right field could not prevent the high percentage of homers being hit there (after 1920, the wall was increased to 60 feet high (!), with the addition of a 20 foot chain link fence above the 40 foot wall).

The 1906 Chicago White Sox, known as “the Hitless Wonders”…
The low-water mark of the Dead-ball era was around 1907-1908, with a MLB-wide batting average of just .239, an anemic slugging percentage of .306, and a pitchers’ ERA of below 2.40 runs per game. The poster boys for the Dead-ball era would be the 1906 Chicago White Sox, who hit just .230 as a team, with only 7 HR, but still managed to win the AL Pennant, and then go on to upset the Chicago Cubs in the only all-Chicago World Series. The Hitless Wonders featured 4 starters, Frank Owen, Nick Altcock, Ed Walsh, and Doc White who won 77 games between them, and contributed to a team ERA of just 2.13, including Ed Walsh’s 1.52 ERA [Ed Walsh played 13 seasons for the White Sox with a 195-126 record and has the lowest ERA in baseball history, 1.82. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.] As anemic as their offense was, with the Pale Hose batting average team leader that year being second baseman Frank Isbell with a .279 BAvg., the team did manage to hit 52 triples, though, but one might say that just shows you how prevalent triples were back then.…

Ultimately, to this day, what exactly caused the end of the Dead-ball era is still debated. Here are the popular theories.
1. In 1919, balls began being wound with a higher grade of yarn, and it was machine-wound as opposed to being wound by hand, leading to the the so-called jackrabbit ball. Major League Baseball denied that the ball was any more lively than the previous balls, but many in the game felt the balls from 1919 on were way more lively, and that MLB did this on purpose to spur more offense and thus more fan interest. Think about it, machine-wound instead of hand-wound…logic has it that those machine-wound balls are going to be tighter and springier.
2. More balls used per game. A new rule for replacing baseballs once they got dirty was enacted following the fatal beaning of Cleveland’s Ray Chapman at the Polo Grounds on August 16, 1920. New York Yankee submarine hurler and notorious headhunter relief pitcher Carl Mays threw a spitball which hit Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians in the head; Chapman died later that day {NY August 17, 1920}. There is no doubt that the use of more balls during each game was of huge benefit to batters.
3. Outlawing the spitball [see above], first by limiting it to use by only 2 pitchers per team in 1919, and grandfathering out the spitball in 1920 (ie, phased out, but allowing established spitball pitchers to still use it so as to not harm their careers). This definitely aided batters.
4. The rise of Babe Ruth as a power hitter influenced the hitting styles of other batters and encouraged teams to place less emphasis on station-to-station “small ball’, and swing for the fences. Ruth utilized a pronounced upper-cut in his swing, and others soon emulated it. This thesis is pretty hard to prove one way or the other. There is no denying the fact that Babe Ruth seized the imagination of the nation. And there is no denying the fact that by the late 1920s, scores of players had home run totals into the 40 or 50 mark per season. But offensive numbers were rising before Ruth’s HR totals skyrocketed in the 1920-21 time period.
5. The disappearance of ballparks with huge outfields. Also hard to prove, because so many ballparks didn’t have accurate measurements. But it stands to reason, once ballparks were being built with smaller dimensions in some parts of the outfield, that more homers would be hit, like at Yankee Stadium or at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis (1920-66). But most all of the other ballparks that replaced older and much vaster outfield dimensions had been built in the 1909-to-1913 period (see Asymmetrical Ballparks illustration further above).

-> It probably was that the ball really was more lively. Combined with #2, #3, #4, and #5 above. The outlawing of the spitball (grandfathered in so that 17 spit-ballers were still allowed to use the pitch after 1920), led to increased offensive production. And, from 1921-on, more balls were used per game (after the death-by-hit-pitch Carl Mays/Ray Chapman incident in 1920/see #2 above). Tighter-wound/machine-spun balls – and more new, shiny-white, hard-and-hittable baseballs – were being put in play each game. Of course offensive production would increase simply by that fact alone. The batters could now actually see a hard white orb, whereas before 1921 and especially before 1919, by the 4th inning or so, the batter would have to try to hit a soft, discolored and beaten-up mess of a ball. Which game-ball do you think would be easier to hit, and easier to hit hard…the soft and discolored circa-1908 ball or the rock hard and bright white circa-1922 ball? Ty Cobb insisted that the livelier ball was the reason, in his autobiography. Ty Cobb would be the last person you would want to consult with on ethical behavior (Cobb was a virulent racist who once assaulted a heckling quadrapeligic; here is a nice example of how Cobb liked to treat the opposition. But when it comes to baseball, and specifically hitting a baseball, well, Ty Cobb’s views must be taken very seriously (he is , after all, the all-time leader in batting average).

Thanks to The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” baseball uniforms database, featuring uniforms templates drawn by Marc Okkonen, {here}.

Thanks to the brilliant baseball ballpark historian and illustrator Jeff Suntala, who made those mesmerizing watercolors of the old ballparks I used in some of the images sequences on this post. I felt guilty using someone else’s artwork, but because I could not find any better images of these remarkable but now gone-and-sadly-forgotten ballparks, I felt I had to feature some of Mr. Suntala’s work. So please go to his site and ponder some commercial transaction (his old ballparks posters are very reasonably priced).

Thanks to the excellent Clem’s Baseball Blog, subtitled Our National Pastime & It’s Green Cathedrals. The asymmetrical ballparks chart utilized some of the ballparks schematics from this site.

Thanks to the comprehensive Ballparks Of Baseball site, for info and ballpark dimensions,

Thanks to the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, at
Thanks to contributor “oldballparks” at, oldballparks’ photostream @

Thanks to the Sports E-Cyclopdeia site, for info and some of the photos, Sports E-Cyclopedia/MLB.

Thanks to the University of Texas Library’s online map collection, for the 1900 Railways map that I used as a base map on the map page, Perry-Castenada Map Colection/ Historical Maps of the United States.
[Note: this map was made in England, by the Cambridge University Press,

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at, ’1908 Major League Baseball season”.

Thanks to The Diamond, for the write-up on the October 8, 1908 replay that decided the season…1908 NL.

Thanks to, Boston ballparks poster.
Thanks to Corbis Images.
Thanks to Gordon H. Fleming, for his book on the 1908 National League pennant race, ‘The Unforgettable Season’, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1981; at Amazon, here. New York Times book review by C. Lehmann-Haupt, March 23, 1981, here.

October 17, 2010

Major League Baseball – 1908, American League, with season highlights, 1908 uniforms and 1908 MLB attendances.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1908 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 3:04 pm

MLB: 1908 American League map

Please note
: a similar map was also posted for the 1908 National League, Major League Baseball: 1908 National League season, with map and NL uniforms; the post-season replay of Chicago Cubs v. New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on October 8, 1908; and an illustrated article on the Dead-ball Era in Major League Baseball (1900-1920).

The map page’s main feature is a railways and population map of the United States, from 1900. To this map I have added the jersey or cap crests of the 8 American League ball clubs. The large crests shown at the top of the map are arranged to reflect the western-to-eastern distribution of the 8 American League ballclubs, while the very small club crests serve to locate the ball clubs’ home cities on the map. On the far right of the map page I have shown the 1908 uniforms of the 8 AL ball clubs, as well as the 2010 home ball caps of the modern version of each of these 8 AL franchises, 5 of which still play in the same city, and 3 of which still have the same names. Those 3 ball clubs are the Chicago White Sox, the Detroit Tigers, and the Boston Red Sox. These three were charter members of the American League, which was established in 1901 as the second major league in baseball [the National League, established in 1876, was the first major league in baseball]. The fourth and fifth American league ball clubs from this era that have remained in the same city but later changed their names are the Cleveland and the New York franchises. The Cleveland franchise began as the Cleveland Blues, a charter member of the American League in 1901. The Naps name was the winning result of a newspaper contest for fans to vote on the new name of the Cleveland ball club iin 1905, and was in honor of batting hero and second baseman Napolean Lajoie (who the year later became player/manager of the Naps). The Naps moniker lasted until Napoleon Lajoie retired in 1914, and in 1915, the ball club changed its name to the Cleveland Indians. The New York Highlanders began as the second incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles (II), who were an American League charter member in 1901, but after two seasons the Baltimore ball club moved to the northern tip of Manhattan in New York City, and were called the New York Highlanders for a decade before changing their name to the New York Yankees in 1913. The other 3 American League franchises from 1908 are as follows…The St. Louis Browns (II) started out as the Milwaukee Brewers (I), a charter member of the American League in 1901, but moved to St. Louis after just one year. The St. Louis Browns American League team existed from 1902 to 1953, then moved its franchise east to Baltimore, to become the present-day Baltimore Orioles (III). The Philadelphia Athletics were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played 54 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City, Missouri in 1955. The Kansas City Athletics lasted 13 seasons before moving west to the Bay Area in California, in 1968, as the Oakland Athletics. The original Washington Senators were a charter member of the American League in 1901, and played in the nation’s capital for 60 years, before moving to the upper Midwest in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1961, changing their name to the Minnesota Twins. The confusing thing is that another Washington Senators (II) replaced the Senators-into-Twins franchise, also in 1961…so major league baseball didn’t leave Washington, DC in 1961 (it left in 1971, with the Senators {II) moving to Texas in 1972, becoming the present-day Texas Rangers). [Then in 2005, Washington, DC finally got another chance to have an MLB franchise, when the Montreal Expos of the National League moved to DC and became the present-day Washington Nationals.]

At the bottom, center of the map page are average attendance figures from both the 1908 American League and the 1908 National League. It might surprise some how small these figures are compared to modern-day turnstile numbers, but MLB attendance figures basically did not get into the 20,000 per game numbers until the 1920s, spurred on by the rise of the slugger in major league baseball as personified by baseball’s first superstar, George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Another factor was that, in the early 1900s, attending pro sporting events was not as ingrained in the culture as it is today. Also the population of the country in 1908 was a fraction of what it is today. And finally, the fact of the matter was that around two-thirds of the games were being played during regular work-day hours, because there was no such thing as night games back then.

At the upper left of the map page is a synopsis of the 1908 American league season {which is reprinted in a slightly expanded form a few paragraphs below, for easier reading}, and next to that are the final standings for the AL in 1908. Below that are two sets of images and captions. The upper set pertains to the perfect game thrown by Cleveland Naps pitcher Addie Joss. The lower set of images and captions pertains to the 1908 AL pennant-winners, the Detroit Tigers.
1908 in the American League…
The 1908 American League pennant race involved four teams, and will always be known as the closest-ever pennant race in Major League Baseball history. As late as September 1st, 1908, the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Naps, the Chicago White Sox, and the St. Louis Browns were separated by just 2 and a half games. The Browns soon fell back, but the other 3 teams remained deadlocked all the way to the end of the season.

1908 attendance leaders…
The St. Louis Browns saw a 43 percent attendance increase in 1908, to 7,935 per game, a respectable figure for its day. The White Sox had the highest turnstile count, drawing 8,155 per game. The Tigers saw the largest average attendance increase in 1908…a 48 percent increase (from 3,760 per game in 1907, to 5,592 per game in 1908).
Past seasons MLB Attendance figures, by ball club, at site, here.

1908 AL Stats leaders…
{1908 MLB stats leaders (}
The Detroit Tigers had the dominant offense of the day, with a league-high .263 Batting Average (which was 18 points higher than the second-best hitting teams – the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox, who both hit .245 as a team). These low numbers for offense are emblematic of the Dead-ball Era (circa 1900-1920), but were low even by those standards. [The many reasons for low offensive numbers in the first 2 decades of the 20th century in major league baseball will be explored in my next post, the 1908 National League season and the Dead-ball Era.]

The Detroit Tigers outfield circa 1908, called the outfield of the decade by Bill James…
The Detroit Tigers were led by the outfield trio of Matthew “Matty” McIntyre in left field; all-time triples leader Sam “Wahoo Sam” Crawford in center field (309 triples, lifetime); and all-time Batting Average king Ty “the Georgia Peach” Cobb in right field (.366 BAvg., lifetime). {see photos and captions at the lower left of the map page}.

The 1908 AL pennant race…
The Cleveland Naps opened up a half game lead on September 26, 1908, with a come-from-behind rally over the hapless Washington Senators, which made it 10 wins in 12 games for Cleveland…and after the game at League Park in Cleveland, the team, fans and marching bands celebrated like they had already won the pennant. But on the same day, Detroit commenced a 10-game winning streak. Sunday, Sept. 27 saw the Tigers reach a tie for first place with the idle Cleveland, and the Tigers held a slim half-game lead going into October, with Cleveland half a game back, and Chicago 1.5 games back. On October 2nd, at League Park, Cleveland and Chicago squared off for what became one of the greatest, if not the greatest pitchers’ duels in baseball history. The Cleveland Naps’ ace corkscrew right-hander Addie Joss out-dueled the Chicago White Sox spitball artist Ed Walsh 1-0. Walsh struck out 15 batters in 8 innings, but Joss did even better by not allowing a single Chicago batter to reach first base by either a hit or a base-on-balls…a perfect game. And Addie Joss only needed 74 pitches to do it. {see photos and captions at the left-center on the map page}. But Detroit also won that day, and held their slim lead. {from, by Marc Bona of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, ‘Perfect flashback: On Oct. 2, 1908, ‘Joss’ gem triumphs in Cleveland’s greatest pitching duel’}.

It all came down to the final day of the season, with the Tigers in Chicago, and an arm-depleted White Sox team were forced to pitch Doc White on only 2 days rest (and coming off a complete game). The Pale Hose were demolished 7-0 by the potent Detroit bats, and Tiger righty “Wild Bill” Donovan (18-7. 2.08 ERA that year) recorded his 6th shutout of the season.

The Detroit Tigers thus won the 1908 American league Pennant by a half of a game. Because, by the rules of the day, the Tigers were not required to re-play a rained-out game from earlier in the season, so that 0.5 game lead over the Cleveland Naps stood. What is stunning about this was that a similar thing had occurred in both 1905 and 1907, but this was the last straw, and the rules on rain-outs were changed during the off-season. After 1908, any rained-out games that had a bearing on the final outcome of the season had to be re-played. The rule became known as “the 1908 rule”.
{‘Fantastic Finishes – American League 1908′ []}.
Thanks to, for attendance figures, at > Teams > Attendance, Team Age and Ballparks.

Thanks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Dressed to the Nines” uniform database, with baseball uniforms templates drawn by Marc Okkonen {1908, American League, click here. 1908, National League, click here}.

Thanks to Mitchell & Ness (Boston Red Sox 1908 home jersey). The Detroit Tigers crest I fashioned for the map page also came from a Mitchell & Ness jersey, here.

Thanks to Bill James, and his indispensable ‘The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract’, at, here.
Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for a few old logos, Logos.
Thanks to the Chicago Daily News negatives collection, here.
Thanks to the Boston Public Library’s McGreevey photographs collection at, here.

Thanks to the University of Texas Library’s online map collection, for the 1900s Railways and Populations map that I used as a base map on the map page, Perry-Castenada Map Collection/ Historical Maps of the United States

Thanks to the brilliant baseball ballpark historian and illustrator Jeff Suntala, who made the watercolor of Detroit’s Bennett Field that used on the map page (his old ballparks posters are very reasonably priced).

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