Archive For July 30, 2014
It was not a shock, at the Green Pond country club halfway between Bethlehem and Easton, that Fordham was picked to finish first in their first season back as a full card-carrying member of the Patriot League.
The first organized cheering during the Rivalry games appeared to come up organically from Lafayette’s and Lehigh’s students.
By the 1890s and the advent of professional coaches, though, faculty and coaches got more involved in cultivating spirit in the teams.
Lafayette’s legendary coach Parke H. Davis, contributing to Athletics at Lafayette College, makes no bones about his contributions, making the “creation of an intense football spirit” at Lafayette one of his priorities when he was hired.
“We instituted college mass-meetings,” he said. “We composed songs. At that time there were none. We invented new cheers. We bragged and blustered, orated and printed glowingly about our prospects. We worked the college and the town systematically up to a football frenzy.”
“Smokers” were athletic pep rallies which took place on the campus to celebrate a wide variety of events, as was the custom on college campuses at the time. During these extravaganzas, the students got souvenir pipes from the smoker as well as complimentary tobacco products.
Smokers took colleges by storm in the 1910s, but for Lehigh and Lafayette, the history of these types of meetings goes back further.
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(Photo Credit: Lehigh Athletics)
When the Dukes come to Murray Goodman Stadium this September 6th, it won’t quite be a full decade since James Madison last came to Bethlehem.
But the occasion of that almost-decade-old meeting – the first round of the FCS playoffs in 2004 – is not easily forgotten by either side.
For fans of the Purple and Gold, it was the first step towards a memorable FCS National Championship run – all four wins coming on the road.
For fans of the Brown and White, however, the memory always goes back to those seven downs.
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Going into the 1912 season, the Rivalry was at a point when Lafayette was a dominant force over the Brown and White.
In an era where Princeton, Yale, and the Carlisle Indian School all competed for the top, Lafayette was right there alongside the top teams in the nation.
And soon, Lehigh would be in the conversation once again as well.
In 1911, Lehigh announced their seriousness to vault back into contention by signing four key transfers, including a future Brown and White hall-of-fame quarterback, QB Pat Pazzetti, from Wesleyan.
“The Pennsylvania college is pulling strongly for a record-breaking football team this year – hoping to put one on their old rival, Lafayette – and is doing all in its power to get the athletes in the institution,” The Lafayette reported.
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It was common knowledge in 1893 that Lehigh was a rich institution.
“[Our] forced economy in itself is a great hindrance to our success in athletic competitions,” a 1890s letter sent out by Lafayette’s alumni committee said. “Our nearest antagonists – Lehigh, Princeton, Pennsylvania – are now so wealthy, that we, with our comparatively untrained teams, are at great disadvantage. Our alumni all desire our success but few realize how much this success depends on them.”
Thanks in no small part to Asa Packer’s bequest to Lehigh of a huge sum of money and stock after his death in 1879, the University was the richest institution of higher learning at that time, surpassing, according to the New York Times, even Harvard and Yale.
The vastness of Lehigh’s endowment was actually controversial.
“In one view, the gift is the noblest one of the kind ever made,” the New York Times said of the bequest, “for it establishes the only institution – so far as we know – which gives absolutely free tuition to all comers, rich or poor. It is merely in an economic sense that the opinion is expressed that any addition to the more than 300 colleges now dwarfing and starving one another in this country is wicked waste of resources.”
For more than a decade Asa’s success in building the railway and navigating the business dealings of the railroad barons kept his family, and Lehigh University, rich, even a decade after his death.
But in 1893 that would begin to change.
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