1920 Columbus Panhandles season
|1920 Columbus Panhandles season|
|Head coach||Ted Nesser|
|General manager||Joseph Carr|
|Home field||Neil Park|
|Division place||13th APFA|
|Playoff finish||No playoffs until 1932|
The 1920 Columbus Panhandles season was the franchise's inaugural season in the American Professional Football Association (APFA)—later named the National Football League. The season concluded with the team going 2–7–2 and finishing 13th place in the APFA standings. The Panhandles entered the season after a 3–6–1 record in 1919. The team opened the 1920 season with a loss to the Dayton Triangles, and the Panhandles lost five straight until a victory over the Zanesville Mark Greys. Not a single player was on the All-Pro list.
- 1 Offseason
- 2 Regular season
- 3 Game summaries
- 3.1 Week 2: at Dayton Triangles
- 3.2 Week 3: at Akron Pros
- 3.3 Week 4: at Fort Wayne Friars
- 3.4 Week 5: at Detroit Heralds
- 3.5 Week 6: at Cleveland Tigers
- 3.6 Week 7: at Zanesville Mark Greys
- 3.7 Week 8: at Buffalo All-Americans
- 3.8 Week 9: at Zanesville Mark Greys
- 3.9 Week 10: at Elyria Athletics
- 3.10 Week 10: at Youngstown Patricians
- 3.11 Week 11: vs Columbus Wagner Pirates
- 4 Standings
- 5 Roster
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Columbus Panhandles finished their 1919 season with a 3–6–1 record in the Ohio League. On August 20, 1920, a meeting was held at Ralph Hay's automobile attended by representatives of four Ohio League teams: the Canton Bulldogs, the Cleveland Tigers, the Dayton Triangles, and the Akron Pros. At the meeting, they tentatively agreed to introduce a salary cap for the teams, not to sign college players nor players under contract with another team, and became united as the American Professional Football Conference. They then contacted other major professional teams and invited them to a meeting for September 17.
At the meeting in September, representatives of the Rock Island Independents, the Muncie Flyers, the Decatur Staleys, the Racine Cardinals, the Massillon Tigers, the Chicago Cardinals, the Rochester Jeffersons, and the Hammond Pros. The following was achieved during the September 17 meeting: the name of American Professional Football Association was chosen; officers of the league were elected with Jim Thorpe as president; a membership fee of $100 was set; a committee to draft a constitution was named; the secretary of the league was to receive a list of all players used during the season by January 1, 1921; and the trophy that would be awarded to the league champions. Even though the Panhandles were not at the meetings, they were still a charter member of the APFA.
The Panhandles played their only home game at Neil Park. Joseph Carr made the team play mostly away games because they were able to travel on the railroads for free. This cut down on stadium cost and saved the team money. The regular season schedule was not a fixed schedule but was created dynamically by each team as the season progressed. Over the course of the 1920 season, the Panhandles played a total of 11 games. Of those 11 games, five were against APFA teams, and the others were against non-APFA teams. Every game played against league teams resulted in a loss.
The records kept for the 1920 season included games played against APFA and non-APFA teams. The Panhandles opened the season with a 14–0 loss to the Dayton Triangles in the first football game with two APFA teams. The previous week, considered week one, the Rock Island Independents played against the St. Paul Ideals in the first APFA game. The Panhandles lost their next five games without scoring a point, until a 10–0 win over the Zanesville Mark Greys. The Panhandles ended the season with a 24–0 victory and finished with a 2–7–2 record.
Table gathered from The Columbus Panhandles and NFL History which uses various newspapers. For the results column, the winning team's score is posted first followed by the result for the Flyers. For the attendance, if a cell is greyed out and has "N/A", then that means there is an unknown figure for that game. The green-colored cells indicates a win; and the red-colored cells indicate a loss. The games against the local teams are listed, but are not counted in the standings. This is why the record column does not change following the result of those games.
|1||No game scheduled|
|2||October 3, 1920||at Dayton Triangles||14–0 L||Triangle Park||—||0–1|
|3||October 10, 1920||at Akron Pros||37–0 L||League Park||—||0–2|
|4||October 17, 1920||at Fort Wayne Friars||14–0 L||League Park||5,000||0–3|
|5||October 24, 1920||at Detroit Heralds||6–0 L||Mack Park||—||0–4|
|6||October 31, 1920||at Cleveland Tigers||7–0 L||League Park||5,000||0–5|
|7||November 7, 1920||at Zanesville Mark Greys||10–0 W||Mark Athletic Field||—||1–5|
|8||November 14, 1920||at Buffalo All-Americans||43–7 L||Canisius Field||9,000||1–6|
|9||November 21, 1920||at Zanesville Mark Greys||0–0 T||Mark Athletic Field||—||1–6–1|
|10||November 25, 1920||at Elyria Athletics||0–0 T||Lorain Athletic Field||—||1–6–2|
|November 28, 1920||at Youngstown Patricians||2–0 L||Idora Park||—||1–7–2|
|11||December 5, 1920||vs Columbus Wagner Pirates||24–0 W||Neil Park||2,000||2–7–2|
|12||No game scheduled|
|13||No game scheduled|
Week 2: at Dayton Triangles
October 3, 1920 at Triangle Park
The Panhandles' opening game against the Dayton Triangles is considered to be the first football game between two APFA teams. The Panhandles lost 14–0 to the Triangles. Despite the first two quarters resulting in ties, the crowd was excited. In the second quarter, the Triangles made a goal line stand while the Panhandles had the ball on the 3-yard line. Before halftime, the Triangles' Al Mahrt completed a 30-yard pass to Dutch Thiele, which resulted in the Triangles to having the ball on the 5-yard line. The Triangles' did not score on that possession due to the clock running out.
Early in the third quarter, the Triangles started a possession on their own 35-yard line. Four consecutive run plays carried them to midfield. Then, Lou Partlow had a long run to the 10-yard line. The possession ended with a rushing touchdown from Partlow. The other Triangle score came in the middle of the fourth quarter. Frank Bacon returned a punt return for a 60-yard touchdown. After both touchdowns, George Kinderdine was responsible for the extra points.
Week 3: at Akron Pros
October 10, 1920 at League Park
Following the loss, the Panhandles played against the Akron Pros. Running back Frank McCormick of the Pros rushed for two touchdowns to give Akron a 14–0 lead in the second quarter. Bob Nash later recovered a fumble in the end zone for the first score from a fumble recovery. Harry Harris and fullback Fred Sweetland also contributed for the Pros, each scoring one rushing touchdown. The defense added another safety in the fourth quarter—which was the first safety in APFA history—to give to Panhandles their second loss of the season, 37–0.
Week 4: at Fort Wayne Friars
October 17, 1920 at League Park
In their third game of the season, the Panhandles played against the non-APFA Fort Wayne Friars. In the first ten minutes of the game, Lee Snoots was injured and had to miss the rest of the game. In front of 5,000 fans, the Panhandles lost 14–0. Huffine for the Friars scored two rushing touchdowns, one in the first and one in the third. This was the Panhandles' fourth straight loss to the Friars.
Week 5: at Detroit Heralds
October 24, 1920 at Mack Park
Following the loss, the Panhandles traveled to play the Detroit Heralds, an APFA team. The Panhandles' passing attack helped them outgain the Heralds, but, according to the Ohio State Journal, it was a close game and "one play decided the outcome." The Heralds' left end, Fitzgerald, intercepted a pass from Frank Nesser and ran it back for an 85-yard touchdown.
Week 6: at Cleveland Tigers
October 31, 1920 at League Park
In week 6, the Panhandles played against the Cleveland Tigers. In front of 5,000 fans, the Tigers won 7–0. The lone score came from a rushing touchdown in the second quarter from Charlie Brickley. This was the eighth straight loss for the Panhandles, dating back to 1919, and the seventh straight without scoring. According to football historian Chris Willis, this loss for the Panhandles crushed the city of Columbus and made the Panhandles challenge lesser teams for the rest of the season.
Week 7: at Zanesville Mark Greys
November 7, 1920 at Mark Athletic Field
The Panhandles recorded their first victory of the season with a 10–0 win against the non-APFA Zanesville Mark Greys. On the day before the game, the Zanesville Signal ran an advertisement to help promote the game, and the city of Zanesville was "excited" to host the Panhandles. In the first quarter, Jim Flower caught a touchdown pass from Frank Nesser. In the same quarter, Nesser kicked a 35-yard field goal. The points scored in the first quarter ended a streak of 28 straight scoreless quarters.
Week 8: at Buffalo All-Americans
November 14, 1920 at Canisius Field
In front of 9,000 fans, the Panhandles played their last against an APFA opponent, the Buffalo All-Americans, in week 8. Coming into the game, the All-Americans had a 6–0 undefeated record. At the end of the first quarter, the game near-even; the score was 7–6, Panhandles. After that, the game "proved disastrous" for the Panhandles. The final score was 43–7; the only score was a receiving touchdown from Homer Ruh. The Panhandles' defense allowed six rushing touchdowns, four of which came from the All-Americans' Smith. The other two came from Anderson and Hughitt. From these six rushing touchdowns, five of the extra points were converted, and the Panhandles' offense allowed a safety.
Week 9: at Zanesville Mark Greys
November 21, 1920 at Mark Athletic Field
In the Panhandles' rematch against the Mark Greys, the final score was a 0–0 tie. Chris Willis stated the game was a "nightmare" for the Panhandles, and the game felt like a loss for them. The Zanesville Signal claimed the Mark Greys outplayed the Panhandles in every aspect and called the game "one of the best ... of the season." According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, this game was the seventh game in NFL history to result in a 0–0 tie.
Week 10: at Elyria Athletics
November 25, 1920 at Lorain Athletic Field
Following the tie to the Mark Greys, the Panhandles traveled to Lorain, Ohio to play against the Elyria Athletics on Thanksgiving Day. The result of the game was another 0–0 tie, making it the seventh time in nine games the Panhandles were held scoreless. Chris Willis stated this tie was not as bad as the previous weeks because the Athletics had old players from the Akron Indians, a winning team in the Ohio League.
Week 10: at Youngstown Patricians
November 28, 1920 at Idora Park
In their second game in three days, the Panhandles played against the Youngstown Patricians. It was a low-scoring, 2–0 loss. The lone score came from a safety in the second quarter. The Panhandles were about to punt, but it was blocked. The ball landed in the end zone, and a Panhandle player landed on the ball. According to the Youngstown Vindicator, the football's condition was damaged due to the water on the field and several fumbles occurred throughout the game.
Even though the Nesser brothers "starred on several occasions", the Patricians' defense was more dominant. It was called a "stone wall" and stopped the Panhandles several times on short-yardage plays. According to the Vindicator, the number of first downs the Panhandles got were less than five.
Week 11: vs Columbus Wagner Pirates
December 5, 1920 at Neil Park
In week 11, the Panhandles played their only home game of the season against the Columbus Wagner Pirates. In front of a crowd of 2,000, the Panhandles won their second game of the season 24–0. In the first quarter, Frank Nesser scored the first points of the game with a 42-yard field goal. Even though the first half score was 3–0, the Panhandles heavily outplayed the Wanger Pirates. In the third quarter, Snoots ran for two rushing touchdowns. In the last quarter, Frank Nesser also contributed with a rushing touchdown. Despite Nesser kicking a field goal early in the game, Jim Flowers was the person who kicked the extra points in the game. This victory over the Wagner Pirates allowed the Panhandles to win their "city's championship".
|1920 APFA standings|
|Rock Island Independents||6||2||2||.750||4–2–1||201||49||W1|
Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup and named APFA Champions.
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
- Willis (2007), p. 165
- Siwoff, Zimmber & Marini (2010), pp. 352–353
- P.F.R.A. Research (1980), p. 5
- P.F.R.A. Research (1980), p. 6
- "Thorpe Made President" (PDF). The New York Times. September 19, 1920.
- "Organize Pro Gridders; Choose Thorpe, Prexy". The Milwaukee Journal. September 19, 1920. p. 24.
- Willis (2007), p. 167
- Braunwart & Carroll (1979), p. 4
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- Willis (2007), pp. 176–177
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- "Panhandlers Lose to Akron". Youngstown Vindicator. October 11, 1920. p. 10.
- "Maroons Can't Stand Gaff and Canton Wins, 42 to 0". The Toledo News-Bee. October 11, 1920. p. 14.
- Willis (2007), p. 172
- Willis (2007), p. 177
- "Brickley Boy Wins for Cleveland". The Toledo News-Bee. November 1, 1920. p. 12.
- Willis (2007), p. 173
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- "All Games in Pro Football History with a 0 to 0 score". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- "'Pats' Defeat Panhandles, in Last Game". Youngstown Vindicator. November 29, 1920. p. 5.
- Willis (2007), p. 176
- PFRA Research (n.d.), p. 4
- "NFL – 1920 Regular Season". National Football League. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- Steffenhagen, Bernie; Ruehle, John (July 18, 2007). "Columbus Panhandles (1920–22)/Columbus Tigers (1923–26)". Rutgers University. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
- Willis (2007), pp.177–178
- "1920 Columbus Panhandles Starters, Rosters, & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
- Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1981). "The First NFL Game(s)" (PDF). The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 3 (2).
- Braunwart, Bob; Carroll, Bob (1979). "The Columbus Panhandles: Last of the Sandlotters" (PDF). The Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 1 (8).
- Davis, Jeff (2005). Papa Bear, The Life and Legacy of George Halas. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-146054-3.
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- Peterson, Robert W (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-507607-9.
- Siwoff, Seymour; Zimmber, Jon; Marini, Matt (2010). The Official NFL Record and Fact Book 2010. National Football League. ISBN 978-1-60320-833-8.
- Willis, Chris (2007). The Columbus Panhandles: A Complete History of Pro Football's Toughest Team, 1900–1922. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5893-0.
|Akron Pros||Buffalo All-Americans||Canton Bulldogs||Racine Cardinals|
|Chicago Tigers||Cleveland Tigers||Columbus Panhandles||Dayton Triangles|
|Decatur Staleys||Detroit Heralds||Hammond Pros||Muncie Flyers|
|Rochester Jeffersons||Rock Island Independents|