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Frankford Times, Philadelphia
July 19, 1943

One of Holmesburg's Great Football Teams

Holmesburg Athletic Club Football Team, 1915

The historical sketch this week is not about a landmark, but while the Holmesburg section is rich in historical sites nothing has ever held the attention of its citizens like the great game of football. Some sections find kids tossing baseballs, other [sic] basketballs but in Holmesburg the kids cut their teeth on footballs.

The Burg had famous teams before the turn of the century when the old residents of today can remembering [sic] watching their favorites vie for glory on the field down by the prison.

Here's one team taken at random from a large collection of teams over the years and the 1915 club was typical of many that preceded and followed -- just a great football eleven.

This combination had the satisfaction of beating its old rival, Frankford, 16 to 3, but in another big game, away with Conshohocken on Conshy's field, the Burg went down to defeat. At the half the boys from the hometown were ahead, 2 to 0, but something snapped in the second half and Conshy won, 25 - 2. It was a sad trip home.

But the following year Holmesburg gained sweet revenge, beating the ironworkers by 13 to 0. In that year Holmesburg had a great Lafayette backfield, composed of Johnny Scott, Dick Diamond, Dick Lake, and Wilhelm Knauer. And, by the way, the latter was one of the smallest backfield men, weighing only a trifle over a trifle over [sic] 150 pounds. And in those days 150 pounds had to take a good beating.

If you ever watched the 1915 team in action a few remarks about the players may prove interesting.

In the first row, reading from the left, we have Gunboat Norton, then Gussie Shisler a local lad who was mascot, and Bill Cripps.

In the second row starting off is Carl Thomas, who had starred at Penn the previous year. Carl lives at 8055 Cresco ave., and is an active worker in the Holmesburg Improvement Association. The next fellow was a noted collegian and is none other than an ex-captain at Bucknell, William H. Morrison, a prominent physician with offices at 8019 Frankford ave.

Then comes another well known local lad, Johnny Eavie [sic, Eavis], custodian of Pennypack Park. Following is Charley Woehr, an agent for prudential Life Insurance Company. He is next to Harold Lentz and you will recall that Lentz was a star at Central Manual and each summer you read in the papers where he retained his casting championship; Beecher comes next and on the end of the row is Otto Knauer, a brother of Wilhelm, but who is now deceased.

The back row, J. Pickard is on the end. Then comes Vreeland, a Penn star, who was a big help in giving Holmesburg many independent football championships. He is followed by Jack Potts, a local lad who was a star at Cornell; Issac Moyer, was the field manager and next is Pard Larkins.

Bill Douthart, a home town product, is followed by Hen Eavis, the coach who is now better known as a successful florist in Frankford. In the middle, holding the football, is Wilhelm F. Knauer, who at the time was going to Northeast Manual. Knauer has been prominent in civic matters, having held important posts under city and state government and has offices at 8045 Frankford ave. Ralph Raven is the civilian figure and he was the team manager; then comes Reds Lally, a friend of Jack Kelly from the East Falls section; Russell Kurtz, now a resident of Tacony, follows and Woodring.

We will take time out to say a few words about the fellow who always played with his nose covered ith [sic] tape. He played here in 1915 under the name Lou Small, but he was then in his first year at Penn and ineligible for college football. He is none other than the famous Lou Little, one of the greatest college coaches of all time and for years at Columbia University. Next to Little is Dewey Castor, who is engaged in the insurance business with offices at 8047 Frankford ave., and on the end is G. Bonawitz, a player who was injured and in civilian clothes the day the picture was taken.

Just in passing it might be well to recall several players who made history at the Burg and who were noted in some of the photos. One, the great "Toads" Greenwood, for whom the Greenwood Post of the American Legion was named. It was the fate of Toads to be killed in World War I, after the Armistice had been signed. Then there was Kidder Caskey, of Muhlenberg, and one of the finest, the great Herman "Bull" Baetzel, whose sisters Irma and Mildred have long lived at 3329 St. Vincent, staying there even after the death of their beloved brother.

Baetzel, after he played at Holmesburg, became a famous basketball, baseball and football officias [sic] and he refereed the games at the Burg, along with such other prominent officials as Bob "Tiny" Maxwell, for years the boss of the writer; Dr. Matthew C. O'Brien, of Central High School and Herman Meyer, of A.A.U. fame.