According to traditional accounts, Curly Lambeau, a standout high school football player, made Knute Rockne's varsity Notre Dame team in his freshman year, only to resign after a severe case of tonsillitis. Still wanting to play football, a casual conversation with George Calhoun, editor of the Press-Gazette, in the Summer of 1919 convinced him to organize his own team. In the succeeding weeks, Calhoun ran advertisements in the Press-Gazette inviting prospective players to join the team. On August 11, local athletes came together in the editorial room at the Press-Gazette building and formed the team that would become the Green Bay Packers.
While the Packer organization recognizes 1919 as the year this town team was founded, a number of sources show that the 1919 team succeeded teams organized on an annual basis since 1896. Lambeau organized the team in 1919 and brought it to the NFL in 1921 but the tradition of football in Green Bay goes back to 1896, earlier than any other NFL team, including the 1898 Racine St. Cardinals in Chicago.
Since the team needed funds for uniforms and equipment, Lambeau entered an agreement with his employer, the Indian Packing Company. The company provided $500 and Lambeau agreed to name the team after it. At first the team was denoted the "Green Bay Indians" but by the end of the year the press was referring to the team as the Packers. The company also allowed the team to use an open lot on company property for practices three times a week.
The Packers played their home games in Hagemeister Park, a vacant lot next to East High. There were no bleachers and fans could watch the game for free, walking along the sideline next to the line of scrimmage. The field was sectioned off by ropes although the fans sometimes entered the field of play during particularly exciting parts of the game. At halftime, the players would gather in the endzone to discuss strategy and the fans would often join the discussion. To pay player salaries, a hat was passed around the crowd for donations. The Packers played 8 games at Hagemeister Park in their first season.
The Packers finished the season with a record of 10–1, losing their final game to the Beloit Fairies 0–6. Apart from the Beloit loss, they only allowed one other team to score, Racine Iroquois. For the 1919 season, they placed second among all professional teams in Wisconsin. Their first ever road game occurred on Oct 19, 1919 at Ishpeming, MI.