1920 Canton Bulldogs season
1920 canton bulldogs team.png
Canton Bulldogs team.
Head coachJim Thorpe
Home fieldLeague Field[1]
Results
Record7–4–2 Overall
6–2 APFA
League place8th

The 1920 Canton Bulldogs season was the franchise's sixteenth and its first in the American Professional Football Association (APFA), which became the National Football League two years later. Jim Thorpe, the APFA's president, was Canton's coach and a back who played on the team. The Bulldogs entered the season coming off a 9–0–1 performance as Ohio League champions in 1919. The team opened the season with a 48–0 victory over the Pitcairn Quakers, and finished with a 7–4–2 record, taking eighth place in the 14-team APFA. A then-record crowd of 17,000 fans watched Canton's week 12 game against Union AA of Phoenixville.

The 1920 season was Thorpe's last with the Bulldogs. Thorpe, who was of mixed American Indian ancestry, left after the season to organize and play for an all-Native American team in LaRue, Ohio. Cap Edwards replaced Thorpe as the team's coach, and Wilbur Henry, Cub Buck, Harrie Dadmun, Joe Guyon, and Pete Calac were named to the All-Pro list. Three 1920 Bulldogs players—Thorpe, Guyon and Pete Henry—were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Offseason

Representatives of four Ohio League teams—the Bulldogs, the Cleveland Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, and the Akron Pros—called a meeting on August 20, 1920, to discuss the formation of a new league. At the meeting, they tentatively agreed on a salary cap and pledged not to sign college players or players already under contract with other teams. They also agreed on a name for the circuit: the American Professional Football Conference.[2][3] They then invited other professional teams to a second meeting on September 17. At that meeting, held at Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom in Canton, representatives of the Rock Island Independents, the Muncie Flyers, the Decatur Staleys, the Racine Cardinals, the Massillon Tigers, the Chicago Cardinals, and the Hammond Pros agreed to join the league. Representatives of the Buffalo All-Americans and Rochester Jeffersons could not attend the meeting, but sent letters to Hay asking to be included in the league.[4] Team representatives changed the league's name slightly to the American Professional Football Association and elected officers, installing Jim Thorpe as president.[4][5][6] Under the new league structure, teams created their schedules dynamically as the season progressed,[7][8] and representatives of each team voted to determine the winner of the APFA trophy.[9]

Schedule

Jim Thorpe, player-coach of the Canton Bulldogs
Jim Thorpe, player-coach of the Canton Bulldogs
Week Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance Record
1 No game scheduled
2 October 3, 1920 vs. Pitcairn Quakersdagger 48–0 W Lakeside Park N/A 1–0
3 October 10, 1920 vs. Toledo Maroonsdagger 42–0 W Lakeside Park N/A 2–0
4 October 17, 1920 vs. Cleveland Tigers 7–0 W Lakeside Park 7,000 3–0
5 October 24, 1920 at Dayton Triangles 20–20 T Triangle Park 5,000 3–0–1
6 October 31, 1920 vs. Akron Pros 10–0 L Lakeside Park 6,000–10,000 3–1–1
7 November 7, 1920 at Cleveland Tigers 18–0 W Dunn Field 8,000 4–1–1
8 November 14, 1920 vs. Chicago Tigers 21–0 W Lakeside Park 8,000 5–1–1
9 November 21, 1920 at Buffalo All-Americans 3–0 W Buffalo Baseball Park 9,000 6–1–1
10 November 25, 1920 at Akron Pros 7–0 L League Field 6,500 6–2–1
11 December 4, 1920 at Buffalo All-Americans 7–3 L Polo Grounds 10,000–12,000 6–3–1
December 5, 1920 at Washington Glee Clubdagger 0–0 T New Haven, Connecticut 3,000 6–3–2
12 December 11, 1920 at Union AA of Phoenixvilledagger 13–7 L Phillies Park 17,000 6–4–2
13 December 18, 1920 at Richmond ACdagger 39–0 W Boulevard Field N/A 7–4–2
A dagger (dagger) indicates teams not affiliated with the APFA.[10]

Game summaries

Week 2: vs. Pitcairn Quakers

1 2 3 4 Total
Quakers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldogs 34 0 0 14 48

October 3, 1920, at Lakeside Park

The Bulldogs opened the 1920 season against the Pitcairn Quakers. The team got out to a quick lead and was never in danger, scoring 34 points in the first quarter as back Joe Guyon rushed for three touchdowns, tackle Pete Henry caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from back Tex Grigg, and back Johnny Hendren returned an interception for a touchdown.[11] The Bulldogs were only forced to punt once in the game, and did not attempt to score in the second and third quarters because of the large lead.[11] In the fourth quarter, however, end Bunny Corcoran caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Guyon, and back Ike Martin ran for a one-yard touchdown.[citation needed] The final score was 48–0, and Guyon was the offensive star.[11]

Week 3: vs. Toledo Maroons

1 2 3 4 Total
Maroon 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldogs 7 14 14 7 42

October 10, 1920, at Lakeside Park

The Bulldogs were scheduled to play their second game against the Rochester Jeffersons, but faced the Toledo Maroons after that match was cancelled.[10] For the second game in a row the Bulldogs scored over 40 points in a shutout as Martin and Guyon dominated on offense.[12] Martin scored the first touchdown of the game with a run in the first quarter.[citation needed] In the second quarter, Hendren scored a rushing touchdown, and end Tom Whelan caught a touchdown pass from Grigg.[citation needed] In the third quarter, Martin caught a touchdown pass from Grigg, and Grigg rushed for another.[citation needed] The Bulldogs' final score was a rushing touchdown from back Pete Calac in the fourth quarter.[citation needed] The final score was 48–0.[12] The Maroons never got close to scoring and did not make a single a first down.[12]

Week 4: vs. Cleveland Tigers

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldogs 7 0 0 0 7

October 17, 1920, at Lakeside Park

The Bulldogs next faced the Cleveland Tigers, their first APFA opponent, and won 7–0 before a crowd of 7,000 people.[citation needed] Despite the Bulldogs' 15 first downs, the only score of the game came on Martin's 7-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.[13] Thorpe made his season debut in the game, coming in as a substitute in the fourth quarter.[13]

Week 5: at Dayton Triangles

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 7 7 3 3 20
Triangles 0 14 6 0 20

October 24, 1920, at Triangle Park

Bulldogs battled the Dayton Triangles in week five. The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the first quarter on a two-yard rushing touchdown by Pete Calac.[citation needed] But the Triangles came back in the second quarter,[14] scoring twice: back Frank Bacon had a four-yard rushing touchdown, and end Dave Reese had a 50-yard receiving touchdown.[citation needed] Guyon scored a 22-yard rushing touchdown during the corner, but the extra point sailed wide.[citation needed] In the third quarter, the Triangles responded with a 3-yard rushing touchdown by back Lou Partlow, but Dayton missed the extra point to make the score 20–14.[citation needed] Thorpe then came into the game,[14] and kicked a 45-yard field goal to bring his team within three points.[14] In the final minutes, Thorpe kicked another 35-yard field goal to tie it.[citation needed] The Triangles were the first team to score on the Bulldogs since the opening game of the previous year.[14]

Week 6: vs. Akron Pros

1 2 3 4 Total
Pros 3 7 0 0 10
Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0

October 31, 1920, at Lakeside Park

The Bulldogs' next opponent was the Akron Pros, who were undefeated at the time and were gaining attention around the league.[15] The game was the first of a two-game series between the Bulldogs and Pros, considered to be two of the best teams in the country.[16] In the first quarter, after an exchange of punts, Pros tackle Charlie Copley kicked a 38-yard field goal.[citation needed] On a Bulldog possession at midfield, a Gilroy pass was tipped by the Pros' Copley and Bob Nash.[16] Pros tackle Pike Johnson caught the ball before it landed and ran 55 yards for a touchdown.[citation needed] In the third quarter, Jim Thorpe came into the game but could not get the Bulldogs back into the game.[16]

Week 7: at Cleveland Tigers

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 14 2 2 18
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0

November 7, 1920, at Dunn Field

Coming off their first loss, the Bulldogs faced the Cleveland Tigers in week seven. Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs ran for two touchdowns in the second. Calac and Grigg had 6- and 15-yard rushing touchdowns.[citation needed] The Bulldogs' defense forced two safeties—one in the third and one in the fourth quarter—to win the game 18–0.[citation needed]

Week 8: vs. Chicago Tigers

1 2 3 4 Total
Tigers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulldogs 0 14 7 0 21

November 14, 1920, at Lakeside Park

The Bulldogs' next matchup was against the Chicago Tigers. The first scoring came in the second quarter, when Higgins recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.[citation needed] In the same quarter, Henry caught an interception and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown.[citation needed] Calac then ran for a one-yard touchdown in the third quarter to seal the 21–0 win.[citation needed]

Week 9: at Buffalo All-Americans

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 0 0 3 3
All-Americans 0 0 0 0 0

November 21, 1920, at Buffalo Baseball Park

In week nine, the Bulldogs played the Buffalo All-Americans, who were undefeated at the time. Thorpe started the game but came out at halftime because he believed it would end in a tie.[17] Both teams were slowed by a muddy field, and the football became soggy after three quarters.[17] The lone score of the game came with under four minutes to play: a field goal from the Bulldogs' Feeney.[17] The game was the only loss of the season for the All-Americans.

Week 10: at Akron Pros

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0
Pros 7 0 0 0 7

November 25, 1920, at League Park

In week ten, the Bulldogs played the Pros for the second time in the season.[15] In the first quarter, a fumbled punt by the Bulldogs gave the Pros the ball at their 32-yard line.[15][18] On the ensuing drive, the Pros passed for the game's lone score, a touchdown from King to Nash.[18] The Bulldogs lost 7–0 in the first professional game played on Thanksgiving Day, which launched a yearly tradition.[18][19]

Week 11: at Buffalo All-Americans

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 0 3 0 3
All-Americans 0 0 0 7 7

December 4, 1920, at Polo Grounds

The following week, the Bulldogs played their second game against the All-Americans, losing 7–3.[20] The Bulldogs did not get a first down or complete a pass during the game,[21] but Thorpe kicked a field goal in the third quarter after a fumble recovery for the team's only score.[20] In the fourth quarter, All-Americans tackle Youngstrom blocked a Thorpe punt and returned it for a touchdown.[21] The Sunday Chronicle named Thorpe, Henry and Lowe as the Bulldogs' stars, while Anderson, Youngstrom, and Miller were the standouts for the All-Americans.[20]

Week 11: at Washington Glee Club

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 0 0 0 0
Glee Club 0 0 0 0 0

December 5, 1920, in Weiss Park

The following day, the Bulldogs played the non-APFA Washington Glee Club.[22] Coming into the game, the Glee Club allowed just seven points all season.[22] The teams tied 0–0 before a crowd of 3,000 people.[citation needed]

Week 12: at Union AA of Phoenixville

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 0 7 0 0 7
AA of Phoenixville 0 7 6 0 13

December 11, 1920, at Phillies Park

In their third game in seven days, the Bulldogs played Union AA of Phoenixville, who came into the game undefeated.[23][24] Before the largest recorded crowd of the season, the Bulldogs lost to Union AA 13–7.[citation needed] Neither team scored in the first quarter, but each scored a touchdown in the second.[citation needed] The Bulldogs' Calac had a six-yard rushing touchdown, and Union AA's, Hayes caught a six-yard pass from Scott for a touchdown.[citation needed] In the third quarter, Union AA's Hayes blocked a punt and ran it back for a touchdown, sealing the win.[citation needed] Despite not being part of the APFA, AA of Phoenixville after the season called themselves the "US Professional Champions".[25][26]

Week 13: at Richmond AC

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulldogs 13 0 13 13 39
Richmond AC 0 0 0 0 0

December 18, 1920, at Boulevard Field

The Bulldogs beat Richmond AC 39–0 in the final game of the season.[citation needed] Richmond AC was not part of the APFA, and this was the team's only game in 1920.[27] The Bulldogs scored 13 points in the first, third, and fourth quarter to win in the shutout.[citation needed] Guyon scored two rushing touchdowns, while Jim Thorpe threw touchdown passes to Corcoran and Lowe. The other two touchdowns came on runs by Whelen and Grigg.[citation needed] Guyon made two field goals, and Thorpe added a third.[citation needed]

Standings

1920 APFA standings[28]
W L T PCT DIV DPCT PF PA STK
Akron Prosdagger 8 0 3 1.000 6–0–3 1.000 151 7 T2
Decatur Staleys 10 1 2 .909 5–1–2 .833 164 21 T1
Buffalo All-Americans 9 1 1 .900 4–1–1 .800 258 32 T1
Chicago Cardinals 6 2 2 .750 3–2–2 .600 101 29 T1
Rock Island Independents 6 2 2 .750 4–2–1 .667 201 49 W1
Dayton Triangles 5 2 2 .714 4–2–2 .667 150 54 L1
Rochester Jeffersons 6 3 2 .667 0–1–0 .000 156 57 T1
Canton Bulldogs 7 4 2 .636 4–3–1 .571 208 57 W1
Detroit Heralds 2 3 3 .400 1–3–0 .250 53 82 T2
Cleveland Tigers 2 4 2 .333 1–4–2 .200 28 46 L1
Chicago Tigers 2 5 1 .286 1–5–1 .167 49 63 W1
Hammond Pros 2 5 0 .286 0–3–0 .000 41 154 L3
Columbus Panhandles 2 6 2 .250 0–4–0 .000 41 121 W1
Muncie Flyers 0 1 0 .000 0–1–0 .000 0 45 L1

 dagger  Awarded the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup and named APFA Champions.
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Post-season

Hurt by losses to the Akron Pros and Buffalo All-Americans, the Bulldogs did not contend for the APFA trophy in 1920. Following the season, Thorpe left to start a new club composed of Native Americans in LaRue, Ohio[25] and Cap Edwards took over as head coach. Sportswriter Bruce Copeland compiled the All-Pro list for the 1920 season, naming the Bulldogs' Wilbur Henry to the first team. Cub Buck, Harry Dadmun, and Joe Guyon were on the second team, and Pete Calac was on the third team.[29] Three men who played for the 1920 Canton Bulldogs were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Thorpe and Pete Henry in 1963 and Guyon in 1966.[30][31][32]

Roster

Canton Bulldogs 1920 roster[33]

Notes

  1. ^ "Canton Bulldogs". HickokSports.com. February 18, 2009. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  2. ^ PFRA Research (1980), pp. 3–4
  3. ^ Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini (2010), pp. 352–353
  4. ^ a b PFRA Research (1980), p. 4
  5. ^ "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920.
  6. ^ "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal. September 19, 1920. p. 24.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Peterson (1997), p. 74
  8. ^ Davis (2005), p. 59
  9. ^ Price, Mark (April 25, 2011). "Searching for Lost Trophy". Akron Beacon-Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "1920 Canton Bulldogs". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c "Canton Trims Pitcairn Team". Youngstown Vindicator. October 4, 1920. p. 19.
  12. ^ a b c "Canton Stops Toledo Eleven". Youngstown Vindicator. October 11, 1920. p. 11.
  13. ^ a b "Canton Beats Cleveland". The Toledo News-Bee. October 18, 1920. p. 14.
  14. ^ a b c d "Thorpe Saves Canton Eleven with Two Goals". Youngstown Vindicator. October 25, 1920. p. 10.
  15. ^ a b c Carroll (1982), p. 2
  16. ^ a b c "Akron Takes Canton in Great Game". Youngstown Vindicator. November 1, 1920. p. 20.
  17. ^ a b c "Canton Downs Buffalo Team". Youngstown Vindicator. November 22, 1920. p. 11.
  18. ^ a b c "Akron Defeats Canton Eleven: Wins Professional Championship for the World from Thorpe's Bulldogs". Youngstown Vindicator. November 26, 1920. p. 13.
  19. ^ "Thanksgiving Serves up Classic Games". National Football League. Archived from the original on April 10, 2010. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  20. ^ a b c "Tigers Tame Jim Thorpe's Bulldogs". The Sunday Chronicle. December 5, 1920. p. 12.
  21. ^ a b "All-Americans Win Pro Gridiron Game" (PDF). The New York Times. December 5, 1920.
  22. ^ a b "1920 New Haven Washington Glees". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  23. ^ "1920 Union AA". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  24. ^ PFRA Research. "Forward into Invisibility: 1920" (PDF). Professional Football Researchers Association. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 18, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  25. ^ a b PFRA Research. "Once More, With Feeling: 1921" (PDF). Professional Football Researchers Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  26. ^ Lewis, Perry (December 12, 1920). "Albert Union Eleven Defeats Canton, 13-7". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. p. 20. Retrieved July 23, 2021 – via Newspapers.com open access.
  27. ^ "1920 Richmond AC". The Pro Football Archives. Maher Sports Media. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  28. ^ "NFL – 1920 Regular Season". National Football League. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  29. ^ Hogrogian (1984), pp. 1–2
  30. ^ "Joe Guyon". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  31. ^ "Wilbur (Pete) Henry". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  32. ^ "Jim Thorpe". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  33. ^ Ruehle, Bernie (July 18, 2007). "Canton Bulldogs (1920–23, 1925–26)". Rutgers University. Retrieved March 29, 2012.

References