Ghosts of the Gridiron - Virtual Scrapbook Library

Vol. 8: Thorpe's Cardinals

Note: This virtual scrapbook has been added to the Ghosts of the Gridiron library because, although not a Philadelphia area club, Thorpe's Cardinals did play several games against a team whose line-up consisted primarily of players from two prominent clubs in the region - the Frankford Yellow Jackets and Millville (NJ) Big Blue.  In addition, there is surprisingly little information available regarding Thorpe's games in Florida during January of 1926.  Hopefully this scrapbook will help to fill that void.

In late December of 1925 Jim Thorpe arrived in Florida to participate in a much publicized New Year's Day football exhibition against the NFL’s Chicago Bears.  The Bears, featuring newly signed college sensation Red Grange, had recently embarked on a post-season barnstorming tour.  The contest against Thorpe’s team, dubbed the Tampa Cardinals and composed primarily of Big Jim’s teammates from the NFL’s Rock Island Independents, was the second of the tour.  The game itself was billed as a clash of old vs. new, with Grange, the rising star, taking on Thorpe, the aging legend.  Youth won out, as the Red lead Bears coasted to a 17-3 victory.  Undeterred by their defeat at Tampa, Thorpe and the core of his Cardinals team remained in Florida to play a few mercenary games under various banners.

In first of these contests, the Cards were hired to supplement the line-up of the Haven-Villas, a local club playing out of Winter Haven.  The Villas were set to square-off against the Millville Big Blue, a successful independent club from New Jersey.  Millville was headed by Thorpe's old friend and former Canton Bulldogs teammate, Guy Chamberlin.  Despite being scheduled to appear, Thorpe did not take the field during the game.  The exact reason for his absence is not clear.  His fellow Cardinals, however, did play, losing to the Jersey boys by a score of 28-7.

Thorpe & company next headed to St. Petersburg.  There, billed as the St. Petersburg Cardinals, they again faced Chamberlin’s club, which had now been hired to represent Haven-Villa.  Although held at the St. Petersburg Kennel Club in order to accommodate an anticipated large crowd, the game drew barely 300 paying fans.  On the up-side, the Cards fared a little better with Big Jim back in the line-up, holding the visitors to a scoreless draw.  A rematch was arranged for a few days later at Winter Haven.  Another disappointing crowd - this time just 500 - turned out at the local high school stadium to witness the Cardinals come out on the short end of a 38-0 drubbing.

The following afternoon the two teams met again, at Adair Park in Lakeland, in what appears to have been the Cards final game in Florida.  This time Thorpe’s team took to the field under the banner of the “Lena Vistas,” while Chamberlin’s squad was advertised as the “Eastern States All-Stars.”  It quickly became clear that little changed in the 24 hours or so since the previous contest.  At the final whistle the tally stood at Eastern States - 24, Lena Vistas - 0.

Below is a collection of digitized newspaper clippings reporting on Thorpe's Cardinals games in Florida during January of 1926.  Simply click on an individual image to view a full sized version of that article.


1926  (0-4-1)
1/1/1926 @ Tampa: Tampa Cardinals - 3 vs. Chicago Bears - 17
Chicago Bears
Pre-Game Photo
12/30/1925
Official Game Program
Cover
1/1/1926
Philadelphia Record
Philadelphia, PA
1/2/1926
Public Ledger
Philadelphia, PA
1/2/1926
1925-12-30_Chicago_Bears_at_Plant_Field.jpg (86102 bytes) 1926-01-01_program.jpg (111986 bytes) 1926-01-02_Phila_Record.jpg (84935 bytes) 1926_01_02_Public_Ledger.jpg (63270 bytes)

1/7/1926 @ Winter Haven: Haven Villas - 7 vs. Millville Big Blue - 28
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/5/1926
Millville Daily Republican
Millville, NJ
1/7/1926
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/7/1926
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/8/1926
1926_01_05_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (116579 bytes) 1926_01_07_Millville_Daily_Republican.jpg (88852 bytes) 1926_01_07_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (63910 bytes) 1926_01_08_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (199357 bytes)

1/14/1926 @ St. Petersburg: Thorpe's Cardinals - 0 vs. Haven Villas - 0
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/13/1926
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/14/1926
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/15/1926
1926_01_13_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (80995 bytes) 1926_01_14_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (62348 bytes) 1926_01_15_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (106021 bytes)

1/20/1926 @ Winter Haven: Thorpe's Cardinals - 0 @  Haven Villas - 38
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/19/1926
Winter Haven Daily Chief
Winter Haven, FL
1/21/1926
1926_01_19_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (65138 bytes) 1926_01_21_Winter_Haven_Daily_Chief.jpg (171043 bytes)

1/21/1926 @ Lakeland: Lena Vistas - 0 vs. Eastern States All-Stars - 24
Lakeland Evening Ledger
Lakeland, FL
1/20/1926
Lakeland Star-Telegram
Lakeland, FL
1/20/1926
Lakeland Star-Telegram
Lakeland, FL
1/21/1926
Lakeland Evening Ledger
Lakeland, FL
1/22/1926
Lakeland Star-Telegram
Lakeland, FL
1/22/1926
1926_01_20_Lakeland_Evening_Ledger.jpg (145996 bytes) 1926_01_20_Lakeland_Star_Telegram.jpg (101620 bytes) 1926_01_21_Lakeland_Star_Telegram.jpg (245669 bytes) 1926_01_22_Lakeland_Evening_Ledger.jpg (75181 bytes) 1926_01_22_Lakeland_Star_Telegram.jpg (112091 bytes)
Millville Daily Republican
Millville, NJ
1/22/1926
1926_01_22_Millville_Daily_Republican.jpg (99771 bytes)

© John J. Fenton, 2008, all rights reserved.