William Herbert Corbin

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Pa Corbin
Yale Bulldogs
Position Center
Career history
  • Yale (1886–1888)
Personal information
Born: July 20, 1864
Union, Connecticut
Died: April 14, 1945
Hartford, Connecticut
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg)
College Football Hall of Fame (1969)

William Herbert 'Pa' Corbin (July 20, 1864 – April 14, 1945)[1][2] was an American college football player for the Yale Bulldogs football team for Yale University from 1886 to 1888, during which time the team posted a 31–0–1 record. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

Early years[edit]

Corbin was born in Union, Connecticut, the son of William Melvin Corbin, a manufacturer and merchant who served in the Connecticut General Assembly, for one session as a representative and then as a state senator, and his wife, née Josephine Walker. He attended Hartford Public High School.[1]


Corbin matriculated at Yale College, where he was on the freshman, sophomore, and university crews, and was captain of the freshman football team, and was on the university football team three years, and in his senior year as captain. Other activities included college hour, and financial manager of the Yale Daily News. He was a member of Psi Upsilon and Skull and Bones.[1]

Corbin (holding ball) on Yale's 1888 team.

The 1888 Yale Football team, of which he was captain, was undefeated, winning thirteen games and tallying 698 points while holding their opponents scoreless.[3] His interest in Yale football continued after graduation at practice session and games at the Yale Bowl; he became known to undergraduates as "Pa" Corbin.[2] Former teammate Pudge Heffelfinger explained "Pa Corbin's long face and handlebar mustache gave him a majestic air, and made him look much older than his 24 years."[4]

Corbin described how a center used to snap the ball with his foot: "By standing the ball on end and exercising a certain pressure on the same, it was possible to have it bound into the quarterback's hands."[5]

Teaching career[edit]

He taught at Westminster School at Dobbs Ferry for three years following graduation, and then became headmaster of the Pingry School from 1892 to 1897.[2][6]

Tax commissioner[edit]

He served as Connecticut State Tax Commissioner from 1907 until his retirement in 1920.[2][7]


Corbin died in 1945 a month after he was struck by an automobile in Hartford, Connecticut.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "William Herbert Corbin, B.A. 1889", Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University Deceased During the Year 1944-1945, 41, New Haven, Connecticut (published 1 January 1946) (1): 31–2., 1946 
  2. ^ a b c d "W. H. Corbin Dead; Star Yale Center. Captain of Undefeated Eleven of 1888, Tax Commissioner of Connecticut, 1907-20.", The New York Times, New York City, 16 April 1945 
  3. ^ Pierson, George W. (1979), Yale: A Short History (2nd ed.), New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press 
  4. ^ Rubin, Sam (2006), Yale Football, Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, p. 18, ISBN 0-7385-4532-5 
  5. ^ Herbert Reed (November 29, 1913). "Current Athletics". Harper's Weekly. 58: 26. 
  6. ^ https://www.pingry.org/uploaded/Development/beinecke-speech-may2011.pdf
  7. ^ "'Pa' Corbin's Team Dines". The Cornell Daily Sun. 34 (47). November 14, 1913. 
  8. ^ "Pa Corbin of Yale Dies At Age of 81". The Milwaukee Journal. April 16, 1945.