Wurtenburg as a member of the 1888 Yale football team
December 24, 1863|
Clarksburg, New York
|Died||March 26, 1957
New Haven, Connecticut
|Position(s)||Fullback, halfback, quarterback|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|4 Triangular Football League (1895–1898)|
William Charles "Bill" Wurtenburg (December 24, 1863 – March 26, 1957) was an American college football player and coach. Born and raised in Western New York to German parents, Wurtenburg attended the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, where he played football. He enrolled in classes at Yale University in 1886 and soon earned a spot on the school's football team. He played for Yale from 1886 through 1889, and again in 1891; two of those teams were later recognized as national champions. His 35-yard run in a close game in 1887 against rival Harvard earned him some fame. Wurtenburg received his medical degree from Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1893.
The following year, the United States Naval Academy hired him to coach their football team. He led the squad to a 4–1–2 record for the season, including a 1–1–1 record against rival schools. He then accepted a coaching job at Dartmouth College, where for the next four years he led them to perfect records against both of their Triangular Football League opponents. They had a winning record the first year and a 5–2–1 record the second year. In 1899, his fifth season as coach, his team went 2–7 and lost both of its conference games.
After ending his coaching career, Wurtenburg spent several years acting as a referee for Yale's football team. His final contribution to football was publishing a book about Yale football in the early 20th century. Around 1904, Wurtenburg began pursuing a career as a physician. He set up a medical office near his house in New Haven, Connecticut, and became an ear, nose and throat specialist. Wurtenburg maintained his medical office until at least 1920. He died in 1957 at the age of 93, in New Haven.
Early life and college
William Wurtenburg was born on December 24, 1863, in Clarksburg, a hamlet in Erie County, New York. He was the son of George M. Wurtenburg and Elizabeth Hochschild, who immigrated from Germany in 1848. William attended primary school in the Clarksville public school system. For secondary schooling he attended the Griffith Institute in Springville, New York and then Forestville Academy before gaining admittance to Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. At Phillips Exeter, Wurtenburg competed in field events at the school's spring athletic events. In 1884, he was a well-recognized member of the school's competitive football team. He served as quarterback and team captain in 1885, leading the team to a 29–11 victory over rival Phillips Academy. In his senior year, 1886, he placed first in standing broad jump with weights and running broad jump, with jumps of about 12 and 18 feet (3.7 and 5.5 m), respectively. Upon graduation from Phillips Exeter, Wurtenburg entered Yale University.
Wurtenburg began taking medical classes on his arrival at Yale, and joined the football team partway through his freshman year. By the following season, he was playing backup halfback to freshman Harmon S. Graves, although he occasionally filled in as a fullback. The 1887 squad, later recognized as the national champion, went 9–0 and outscored their opponents 515–12; this included a 106–0 shutout of Wesleyan. During this season Wurtenburg made his most famous play: with Yale leading rival Harvard by a score of 11–8 late in the season's final contest, Wurtenburg made "a brilliant run" of 35 yards and scored a touchdown, which secured the game for Yale. He was credited as one of the people who made the game "undoubtedly the finest ever played in America", according to writer Richard Melancthon Hurd.
The following year Wurtenburg shifted into his former position at quarterback. He took the starting spot and became a leader of the team. Wurtenburg developed his own unique style at quarterback, regularly attempting "long, low, underhand passes" to his teammates to help set up scoring plays. That year, the Yale team shut out every single one of its opponents and was later recognized as a national champion. At the same time, Wurtenburg played on the school's baseball team, where he would regularly score three or four runs a game. In September of his graduating year, 1889, Wurtenburg announced that he would be entering the Sheffield Scientific School. At the Exeter Club's first annual banquet, held that year, Wurtenburg was asked to present a toast to represent the club's athletics. In 1890, he served as the co-editor of The Yale Banner, one of the school's yearbooks. Wurtenburg played his final season of football at the university in 1891, after apparently giving up his spot on the team following the 1889 season. However, he was thrown out of the final game of the season, against Princeton, and Frank Barbour was given a guaranteed starting-quarterback slot for the rest of the time Wurtenburg was at Yale. Wurtenburg graduated in 1893, when he received his Doctorate in Medicine (M.D.).
Career and later life
In 1894, Wurtenburg was hired to replace former Yale teammate John A. Hartwell as the head coach of the US Naval Academy football team. Hartwell's 1893 team had amassed a record of 5–3, including a win over rival Army and a loss to rival Penn. Wurtenburg began his coaching career on October 6, leading his team to a 6–6 tie with the Elizabeth Athletic Club of New Jersey at Worden Field on the Naval Academy campus in Annapolis. His first win as a coach came over two weeks later, on October 21, in a 12–0 shutout of rival Georgetown; it was followed by a defeat of the Carlisle Indian School. His first and only loss of the season came on October 27, at the hands of rival Penn in a 12–0 shutout. At about that time, Wurtenburg left the country and traveled to Germany to complete his medical studies. The team recovered and defeated Lehigh on November 3, then tied rival Penn State. The season ended two weeks after that match with a 30–6 defeat of Baltimore City College. The team did not compete against their major rival Army that year, after violent fights between fans the previous year; President Grover Cleveland banned the game, which would not be played again until it was reinstated in 1899 by Theodore Roosevelt. Sometime during November, Wurtenburg returned from Germany along with fellow Yale medical graduate A.S. Cheney, and announced his intention to practice medicine in New Haven. That year he received certification, and he expressed interest in eye, throat, and ear treatment.
Wurtenburg did not remain at the Naval Academy the following year and was replaced as head coach by Matthew McClung. He instead accepted a position as the head coach of the Dartmouth team, starting in the fall of 1895. The season began with a 50–0 shutout of his former school, Phillips Exeter. This was followed by a loss and a tie, which were succeeded by back-to-back wins. His team dropped two games to Yale and one to Army, but managed to defeat former Triangular Football League opponent MIT. After that, Wurtenburg led his team to three straight victories, including wins over both Triangular Football League opponents. Although the season ended with a loss to Brown, Dartmouth was awarded the Triangular Football League championship. On November 20 of that year, Wurtenburg married Anna Phillips, daughter of Jason W. Phillips, whom he met while at Chautauqua in 1893. The wedding took place at Springfield, in Phillips' home state of Ohio; it was called "a brilliant event" by the Boston Daily Globe and was attended by Ohio's governor-elect Asa S. Bushnell and his wife. After the wedding, they moved to a permanent residence in New Haven.
He returned to coach Dartmouth the following year. He began by leading his team to a 30–0 shutout of the Worcester Athletic Club on October 3. His team dropped the next two games, both scoreless losses to Penn and Yale, but finished the month with a win. The second half of the season went much better, with Wurtenburg leading his squad to a 3–1 record, including a 42–0 total score against conference opponents. The team ended the season with a 5–2–1 record and a second consecutive conference championship. Wurtenburg retained his coaching position the next season, beginning the year with a blowout of Phillips Exeter, which was followed by three consecutive shutout losses. The team turned the season around in November, defeating Amherst and Williams by a combined score of 106–0 for a third consecutive championship. He ended the season with a 4–3 record and a secure position as the coach for the next year.
In 1898, Wurtenburg's Dartmouth squad went 5–6, but outscored their opponents 205–137. Beginning the season with a win over Phillips Exeter, the team went 4–1 in October. Wurtenburg's team began the month with a shutout loss to Harvard, but recovered to win four straight games, defeating their conference opponents by a combined score of 74–12. In November and December, however, his team lost all five matches, managing only 28 points. In his final year as a coach, Wurtenburg suffered the worst record of his career. After winning the first two games of the season, his team dropped the remaining seven, only able to put up 12 points. He also suffered his first conference losses, falling to opponents Williams and Wesleyan by a combined score of 23–10. Wurtenburg was replaced as coach the following year by one of his former players, Frederick E. Jennings. After the conclusion of his coaching career, Wurtenburg opened up his first medical office, operating a short distance from his New Haven home.
1900s and death
Even after the turn of the century, Wurtenburg remained involved with the Yale football program. In 1900, he participated in the annual football team's spring scrimmage, playing on the school's "varsity" team. He was repeatedly selected by the university to act as an official in their home games; he was the school's referee in 1900 and 1901, and returned to the position two years later, in 1903. He expanded his officiating role in 1904, when he served in three games. For one of those matches, Wurtenburg moved to the position of umpire. Sometime between 1915 and 1925, Wurtenburg collected a series of newspaper articles and self-published them in a book titled Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings about Yale Football. At some point around 1904, Wurtenburg began to dedicate himself to a career as a physician. He received official membership in the American Medical Association and the New Haven Medical Society as a physician specializing in otorhinolaryngology, specifically in ear and nose treatment. By 1909, he had shifted his focus to the treatment of ear ailments, and occasionally served well-known locals. He retained his membership with the Connecticut State Medical Society until at least 1920, maintaining his Elm Street office the entire time. Wurtenburg died on March 26, 1957, in New Haven, at the age of 93. A year after his death, Yale established the William G. Wurtenberg Scholarship from his bequest.[A 1] The scholarship "is to be awarded to a member of the senior class who demonstrates character, leadership qualities, and promise of future usefulness". Although rarely acknowledged for his influence on Dartmouth football, Wurtenburg is considered by his Dartmouth peers as having brought the program to prominence. Fred Crolius, captain of Wurtenburg's 1898 team, would later state that:
- One man, whose influence more than any other one thing, succeeded in laying a foundation for Dartmouth's wonderful results, but whose name is seldom mentioned in that connection is Doctor Wurtenberg, who was brought up in the early Yale football school. He had the keenest sense of fundamental football and the greatest intensity of spirit in transmitting his hard earned knowledge. Four critical years he worked with us filling every one with his enthusiasm and those four years Dartmouth football gained such headway that nothing could stop its growth.
Head coaching record
|Navy Midshipmen (Independent) (1894)|
|Dartmouth (Triangular Football League) (1895–1899)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
- Yale titled the scholarship erroneously, replacing his middle initial, C, with a G.
- White (1967), p. 105
- Harrison (1983), "Andover and Exeter: Growth of a Rivalry"
- The Phillipian (1885), p. 1
- The Outing (1886), p. 487
- Welch and Camp (1899), p. 584
- The Harvard Crimson (October 1887)
- Sports-reference 1887 Yale
- Hurd (1888), p. 75
- Nicholas (1901), p. 111
- Davis (1913), p. 145
- The New York Times (1913)
- The Harvard Crimson (May 1887), p. 1
- The Harvard Crimson (June 1887), p. 2
- Yale Daily News (September 1889), p. 1
- The Yale Literary Magazine (1889), p. 284
- The Yale Pot-Pourri (1907), p. 231
- Whitney (1891), p. 879
- The New York Times (1891)
- Pettigrew (1904), p. 56
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1894
- Kiland & Howren (2007), p. 191
- Yale Sheffield Monthly (October 1894), p. 53
- Yale Sheffield Monthly (November 1894), p. 92
- Yale Daily News (October 1894), p. 2
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1895
- Triangular Football League champions
- Boston Daily Globe (1895), p. 7
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1896
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1897
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1898
- William Wurtenburg coaching record 1899
- Dartmouth Results, 1900-09
- Price and Lee (1899), p. 749
- The New York Times (September 1900), p. 9
- The New York Times (October 1900), p. 9
- The New York Times (1901)
- The New York Times (1903), p. 14
- The New York Times (October 2, 1904), p. 10
- The New York Times (October 13, 1904), p. 8
- The Washington Post (1904), p. 10
- Wurtenburg (c.1902-15)
- The Day (1909), p. 6
- Connecticut State Medical Society (1920), p. 63
- Yale Scholarships and Special Funds
- Edwards (1916), p. 376
- Abbott, Gordon W.; Joseph G. Crane, eds. (1907). "The Yale Publications". The Yale Pot-Pourri: Being A Record For The College Years 1906 And 1907 (XLII ed.). New Haven, CT: The University Press. OCLC 24283461.
- Connecticut State Medical Society (1920). "Members of the Society". Proceedings of the Connecticut State Medical Society: 128th Annual Convention. New Haven, CT: Connecticut State Medical Society. OCLC 11393368.
- Edwards, William Hanford (1916). "XIX: Men Who Coached". Football Days: Memories of the Game and of the Men Behind the Ball. New York City: Moffat, Yard and Company. OCLC 2047234.
- Harrison, Fred H. (1983). Athletics For All: Physical Education and Athletics at Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778–1978. Andover, MA: Phillips Academy. OCLC 12036733.
- Hurd, Richard Melancthon (1888). "Foot Ball–1840–1888". A History of Yale Athletics, 1840–1888: Giving Every Contest with Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Columbia, Wesleyan, and others in Foot Ball, Base Ball, Track Athletics, Tennis. New Haven, CT: R.M. Hurd. OCLC 4614598.
- Kiland, Taylor Baldwin; Howren, Jamie (2007). A Walk in the Yard: A Self-Guided Tour of the U.S. Naval Academy. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 1-59114-436-1. OCLC 72799100.
- Pettigrew, Richard Richardson (1904). "State of Connecticut: Members of the Connecticut State Medical Society". Pettigrew's New England Professional Directory 1904: Containing a Directory of Physicians, and Information Regarding the Hospitals, Societies, Dispensaries, and Training Schools of New England. Boston: The Garden Press. OCLC 11984216.
- Price and Lee (1899). "Physicians". New Haven Directory (including West Haven), containing A General Directory of the Citizens, Classified Business Directory, Map, A Record of the City Government, Its Institutes, Etc. 60. New Haven, CT: The Price and Lee Company. OCLC 16101564.
- Welch, Lewis Sheldon; Camp, Walter (1899). "Athletics at Yale–Football". Yale: Her Campus, Class-Rooms, and Athletics. Boston: L.C. Page & Company. OCLC 2191518.
- White, James Terry, ed. (1967). "Wurtenburg, William Charles". The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. 48. New York City: James Terry White. p. 105. OCLC 1759175.
- Wurtenburg, William Charles (1902–15). Scrapbook of Newspaper Clippings about Yale Football. William Charles Wurtenburg. OCLC 702590288. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- Davis, Parke H. (December 1913). "The Field-Goal Art". St. Nicholas Magazine. XLI (2): 141–147. OCLC 1764817.
- Editorial staff (July 1886). "Our Monthly Record–Athletics". Outing, an Illustrated Monthly Magazine of Recreation. Sampson Low, Marston & Company. VIII (4): 487. OCLC 228719114. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Editorial staff (March 1889). "Memorabilia Yalensia–Exeter Club Banquet". The Yale Literary Magazine. Yale University. LIV (6): 284. ISSN 0196-965X.
- Nicholas, Ridgely (October 1901). "The History of Sheff. In Connection with Yale Football". Yale Sheffield Monthly. Sheffield Scientific School. VIII (1): 109–113. OCLC 3698975.
- Watson, F.E.L., ed. (November 21, 1885). "Exeter, 29 ; Andover, 11" (PDF). The Phillipian. Phillips Academy. VIII (10): 1–2. OCLC 48940321. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 17, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Whitney, Caspar W. (November 7, 1891). "Amateur Sports". Harper's Magazine. XXXV (1820): 879. ISSN 1045-7143. OCLC 1751778.
- Wurtenburg, William Charles; Editorial staff (October 1894). "Alumni Notes–'89". Yale Sheffield Monthly. Sheffield Scientific School. I (1): 51–54. OCLC 3698975.
- Wurtenburg, William Charles; Cheney, A. S.; Editorial staff (November 1894). "Alumni Notes–'89". Yale Sheffield Monthly. Sheffield Scientific School. I (2): 91–94. OCLC 3698975.
- Nesbit, Joanne (September 11, 2000). "Roosevelt May be 'Father of Annual Army-Navy Football Game'". The University Record. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.
- Staff writer (November 21, 1895). "Wurtenburg Wins Again". Boston Daily Globe. Boston. p. 7. OCLC 10829603. Retrieved April 17, 2014. (subscription required)
- Staff writer (October 7, 1895). "Notice to Subscribers". The Cornell Daily Sun. XVI (10). Ithaca, NY. p. 1. ISSN 1095-8169. OCLC 232117810. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
- Staff writer (April 21, 1909). "Ivoryton–Mid Week Happenings". The Day. New London, CT. p. 6. OCLC 8821819.
- Staff writer (May 19, 1887). "Base-Ball.". The Harvard Crimson. Cambridge, MA. ISSN 1932-4219. OCLC 6324327. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 24, 1887). "Base-Ball. Yale '90, 10; Harvard '90, 2". The Harvard Crimson. Cambridge, MA. ISSN 1932-4219. OCLC 6324327. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
- Staff writer (June 10, 1887). "Yale, 74; Williams, 0". The Harvard Crimson. Cambridge, MA. ISSN 1932-4219. OCLC 6324327. Archived from the original on April 19, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Staff writer (November 15, 1891). "Must Burn Midnight Oil–Yale Sophomores are in Exceedingly Hot Water" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
- Staff writer (September 25, 1900). "Yale Football Team at Work" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. p. 9. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 11, 1900). "Yale's Large Score" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. p. 9. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 10, 1901). "Yale, 24; Wesleyan, 0" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 18, 1903). "Yale, 27; Penn State, 0" (PDF). The New York Times. New York City. p. 14. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved April 17, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 2, 1904). "Yale, 42; Trinity, 0". The New York Times. New York City. p. 10. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved December 1, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- Staff writer (October 13, 1904). "Yale, 6; Springfield T.S., 0". The New York Times. New York City. p. 8. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved December 1, 2014 – via Newspapers.com.
- Staff writer (November 13, 1913). ""Pa" Corbin's Team Dines; Famous Yale Eleven of 1888 Celebrates Silver Anniversary". The New York Times. New York City. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
- Staff writer (October 9, 1904). "Yale Was Weak In State Game". The Washington Times. Washington, D.C. p. 10. ISSN 0732-8494. OCLC 8472624. Archived from the original on April 18, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
- Staff writer (September 20, 1889). "Changes in Football Rules". Yale Daily News. XIII (2). New Haven, CT. p. 1. OCLC 60624199. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
- Staff writer (October 27, 1894). "New Water Supply for the Gymnasium". Yale Daily News. XVIII (27). New Haven, CT. p. 2. OCLC 60624199. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
- Naval Academy Athletic Association (2005). "Navy: Football History" (PDF). 2005 Navy Midshipmen Football Media Guide. United States Naval Academy Athletics. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "John Hartwell coaching record–1893". John A. "Josh" Hartwell Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on April 21, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1894". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on April 21, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1895". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on October 5, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1896". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1897". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1898". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "William Wurtenburg coaching record–1899". William C. "Bill" Wurtenburg Records by Year. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "Navy Yearly Results–1890–1894". Navy History–Yearly Results. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on July 24, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
- Staff (2013). "Triangular Football League–Conference Championships". Conference Championships Index. College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
- Staff (2014). "Schedule & Results–9 Games". 1887 Yale Bulldogs Schedule and Results. College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 19, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
- Staff (2014). "Scholarships". Scholarships and Special Funds. Yale University. William G. Wurtenburg Scholarship. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2014.