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1894 Buffalo Football

by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries

Team photo

UB Football Begins

In 1894, the University of Buffalo embarked on its very first football season. The wonderful team photo (left) from 1894 is proof positive of the fact. The team was made up of U.B. students with such colorful names as A. B. Stein, Irving Johnson, Gray McCutcheon, J. B. Crofts and “Dinky” Johnson.

1894 Schedule

But who the team actually played that year is open to debate. Official University records have them playing collegiate teams from the University of Rochester and Hobart College. Unfortunately, newly digitized newspaper records do not support that claim. The first U.B. football team played a short schedule with games against the Buffalo High School and Lancaster Football Club. They almost certainly did NOT play the University of Rochester or Hobart College in 1894.

The confusion comes from the existence of a semi-professional club team called the “Buffalo Football Club” which was sometimes referred to as just “Buffalo” in newspaper articles.  The club team organized at almost the same time as U.B. did in 1894. This most likely caused the confusion over the years.  The Buffalo Football Club was considered an “All-Buffalo” team composed of the best area college graduates, members of local athletic clubs, and high school football players. It was the Buffalo Football Club that scheduled games with Rochester and Hobart College in 1894. (see “Football In BuffaloBuffalo Express, 9 November 1894) The Buffalo Football Club had no affiliation with the University and the two teams did not play each other that year. The University of Buffalo was so new to the game of football in 1894 that experienced teams as the Buffalo Football Club, the University of Rochester or Hobart College would never consider playing such an unskilled opponent as U.B.

First Games

The University of Buffalo played against the Buffalo High School on Saturday, November 24, 1894 and were clobbered either 40-0 or 42-0 depending on which newspaper you read. Either way, the lack of training of the University men was apparent from the start.  Several U.B. men had never played in an actual game before.  Although U.B. slowly improved as the game went on, the High school boys were clearly the better team. (see “High School WonBuffalo Evening News, 24 November 1894)

The University also lost a game to the Lancaster Football Club of Lancaster, NY the following Saturday. On a gridiron that was covered with snow, and which in some places was ankle deep, the Lancaster eleven beat the University of Buffalo team at Olympic Park by the score of 16 to 0. When time was called the players were a sight to behold, being covered with a beautiful layer of mud from head to foot. About 200 people braved the elements to witness the struggle. (see “Lancasters WonBuffalo Courier, 2 December 1894)

Buffalo finished its first season with no wins and two loses. For more information on football at the University at Buffalo.

1894 Buffalo Football Season

Date Home Team Score Visiting Team W-L-T Location
Sat, 11/24/18941 Buffalo 0 – 42 Buffalo High School L Buffalo, NY
Sat, 12/1/18942 Buffalo 0 – 16 Lancaster F.C. (Lancaster, NY) L Buffalo, NY


Home: Olympic Park, East Ferry & Michigan Avenue
Total Points: Visiting Clubs: 58
Total Points: University of Buffalo: 0

  1. High School WonBuffalo Evening News, Buffalo, NY, 24 November 1894.
  2. Lancasters WonBuffalo Courier, Buffalo, NY, 2 December 1894


Local Players Organizing for a Fall Campaign


“If the people of Buffalo want to see good football and will patronize us, we dare say that we will give them a pretty good version of the game” remarked one of the man interested in the Buffalo Football Club speaking of the professional organization of which will be holding a meeting at Brown’s riding school.

The friends of this athletic institution have not been inactive the past few days. A meeting was held at the Tift House the other evening and the following names were handed in as candidates for places on the eleven: J.F. Parker, Frank Purdy, T. Wright, H. Glenny, Henry French, J.Y. Sloan, T. Pilkie, Bert Brinkworth, Ross Purdy, A. Gingrass, W. Mooney, R. Gray, J. Graves, Stuart Smith, Andrew Purdy, William Colter, A. Howe, A. Brinkworth, R. Trumb, R. Romer, J.R. Purdy, Percy Lapey, A. Walsh, Fred Vokes, S.N. McWilliams, J.H. Clogston, W. Green, A. Chamberlain, Hammond, Simpson, Powers, J.F. Pennell, E. Downer.

The list includes the name of many college men, members of local athletic clubs, and members of the 74th Regiment, High-school and Elmwood football teams. The coaches are to be Dan Upton, who has been player of prominence, hailing from Cornell College, and George Baldwin, another man who is familiar with the fine points of the game. The members of the eleven will be selected by competition and the skills of the candidates will be ascertained by the practice games which will be played conscientiously at the Park and at Brown’s riding school. The idea is to get a team of good players in good condition and pull off some contests will college elevens. A game has been arranged with Hobart College for Thanksgiving to be played at Olympic Park and negotiations are under way with the eleven from Rochester University and Adelbert University of Cleveland.

At the meeting tonight a captain will be elected.

Buffalo Express, November 9, 1894


The Football Game Was All Their Way This Afternoon.


The Score Stood 28 to 0 in Favor of the High School Team, But it Was a Very Hotly Contested Game.

The High School boys took a great brace this morning and played football for all it was worth. They looked much lighter than their opponents and they were. But the superior build of the University of Buffalo team did not daunt the High School boys in the least.

They tackled the big men like fiends, crushed through the center and surprised even their greatest admirers when they went around the ends for big gains, interfering beautifully and using good judgment in nearly all their plays.

The University of Buffalo had their men together for the first time and played a good game. The men, some of them never had a football suit on before and of course they had no show whatever with the hard working, clever High School team.

The University boys it could be plainly seen put up a much better game as it progressed, but only once did they have a ghost of a chance of scoring, and then when one of the High School team fumbled the ball. The University team is going in to practice and by next Saturday when they play with Lancaster they will be able to put up a stiff game.

The High School boys fumbled the first kick off, but managed to keep the ball. The next play was a pretty one. Simpson got the pigskin, and with excellent interference by George Brothers, Hammond and Pilkey, ran nearly the entire length of the field and made a touch-down, Simpson kicked an easy goal. The ball was in play only a few moments again when Hammond with almost the same interference carried ball over the line again and Simpson kicked another goal.

The University team saw that they must change their tactics and began a kicking game. This was more of a failure than their other plays. Little Pilkey was through the line like a flash every time the ball was snapped and grappling with the man before he could make any gains. This sort of play was indulged in throughout the game the High School boys always making good gains through the center and around the ends.

When the first half of 25 minutes was called the score stood 28 to 0. The second half was a repetition of the first, only the University boys played stronger. But they could not gain through the little giants line, and consequently could not make a single score.

The result was, High School, 42; University of Buffalo, 0. There was a fair crowd present, including physicians, and they had many chances to practice their profession, for many were injured in the contest. Brothers had his nose split open but pluckily remained in the game and did some great work. Burns was also conspicuous throughout. He made some good end runs and tackled well.

Buffalo Evening News, November 24, 1894


They Outplayed the University of Buffalo.


The University Boys Were Heavier Individually and Collectively, But Lacked Team Practice

On a gridiron that was thickly covered with a slimy ooze, and which in some places was ankle deep, the Lancaster eleven and the University of Buffalo team lined up against each other at Olympic Park yesterday afternoon. Though, badly handicapped in the loss of several of its best players, Lancaster proved an easy winner by a score of 16 to 0. This result was due to good team play on the part of the winners. The Buffalos were much heavier, but there was no concentration or organization in their team work. Their line was easily broken, their interference was poor, and with but few exceptions their tackling was also of an inferior grade. On the other hand, the Lancasters were ever on the alert to stop any progress on the part of their opponents, and made steady gains from beginning to end. Runs around the ends were usually resultless, as the slippery condition of the field made the footing very insecure, and ofttimes the runner would slip of his own accord in a mud slough, without having been tackled at all. Lancaster’s gains were mainly through bucking the opposing line and by mass plays.

Lancaster won the toss and chose the west goal. Green kicked off well into Lancaster’s territory, but Lapey caught the ball, and ran 15 yards before he was downed by Ayers. By systematic rushing and bucking the line the Buffalos were forced back until the ball was on their two-yard line. Then by a revolving wedge and a mass play. Pickard was shoved across the line for a touchdown. The ball was brought out, and McIlwain kicked the goal.
Score—Lancaster 6, University of Buffalo 0.

Buffalo kicked off, and J. Burlingame catching the ball made a gain of 20 yards. Lapey followed with a dash around the Bison’s end, but owing to the slippery condition of the ground was unable to make an advance. It was Lancaster’s third down with three yards to spare. This was secured by a mass play. Lapey then went through the University’s center for three yards, and then the ball was steadily advanced to within three yards of the goal, where Pickard was again shoved between the goal posts. McIlwain kicked tbe goal.

Score – Lancaster 12, Buffalo 0.

No further scoring was done

Lancaster kicked off. and Lane punted the ball back 15 yards. The pigskin was near the center of the field, aud In Lancaster’s possession. McIlwain punted to Buffalo’s 20-yard line. The piece of pigskin was advanced to the three-yard line. Then the Bisons go possession on four downs. The ball was passed to Talcott for the punt out. The kick was blocked, however, and the Lancasters falling on the ball, scored a touchdown. McIlwain missed the goal.
Score—Lancaster 16, Buffalo 0.

No further scoring was done, but Ayres made a great run of 75 yards, and I. Johnson advanced the leather 50 yards in a similar manner. Had the Bisons interference been worth the name, both of these runs ought to have resulted In touchdowns. When time was called the players were a sight to behold, being covered with a beautiful layer of mud from head to foot. About 200 people braved the elements to witness the struggle. The line-up and summary follows:

Buffalo Lancaster
Stein left end Lehey
I. Johnson left tackle Frye
Lane left guard McIlwain, Capt.
St. John center L. Eaton
Donohue right guard Caufleld
Green right tackle Oehm
Soch right end J. Burlingame
E. Johnson. Capt. quarter back Underhill
Ayers. Croft left half back W. Burlingame
Bumberg right half back Lapey
Talcott full back Pickard

Score – Lancaster 16. University of Buffalo 0.

Touchdowns – Pickard and Lapey.
Goals – McIlwain 2.
Time – 20 minute halves.
Umpire – Mr Graves.
Referee – Mr. Fowler.
Linesman – Mr. Moore.

Buffalo Courier, December 2, 1894