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November 14, 1926: Pottsville Maroons use a dirty trick to defeat the Duluth Eskimos

On this day in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1926, the NFL’s Pottsville Maroons defeated the Duluth Eskimos on a sloppy muddy field—and it wasn’t because of rain. The Eskimos were in the middle of their legendary 28-game, four-month, 17,000-mile road trip, the longest in professional sports. By the time the Eskimos made it to Pottsville, their record was 4–3–2 and their roster was down to just 16 players. On top of that they had lost to the Frankford Yellow Jackets just the night before, and the New York Giants just two days before that. They were shorthanded, beat up, and exhausted. When they arrived in Pottsville, the Eskimos’ Blood McNally, Walt Keisling, and Cobb Rooney found a speakeasy in a local fire house. They must have done their share of trash-talking, and the fire department didn’t like it. Arriving at Minersville Park prior to the game, the Eskimos couldn’t believe their eyes. “The whole damn [Pottsville] fire department was soaking the field with water,” Duluth star Ernie Nevers later recalled. “I guess they figured the only way they could beat us was to slow us down.” The strategy appeared effective through a scoreless first half that was made more bleak for Duluth when Nevers was knocked unconscious for the second time in three games. Yet again, however, he returned to play after halftime.The Eskimos were down 7–0 early in the second half, and Nevers, at one point, completed seventeen straight passes. In the fourth, Nevers dropped back into his own end zone for a punt when the ball, made slippery by the still-wet field, squirted through his outstretched hands. Pottsville tackle Frankie Racis fell on the oval in the end zone for a 13–0 lead—and the win. Learn more about the Eskimos here.

The 1926 Duluth Eskimos (a.k.a. “Ernie Nevers’ Eskimos”) posing in their custom-made mackinaw jackets at training camp in Two Harbors, Minnesota (even though the photo identifies the location as “Duluth”; both locations are in doubt as neither town was known to have a facility like the one the team is standing before). From left: Ole Haugsrud (owner), Walt “Chet” Gayer, Dewey Scanlon, Walt Kiesling, Russ Method, “Jock” Murray, “Porky” Rundquist, Joe Rooney, Ernie Nevers, Art Johnson, Jack Underwood, “Cobb” Rooney, Bill Stein, Johnny “Blood” McNally, James Manion, “Oke” Carlson, and Paul Fitzgibbon (not shown: Charles “Doc” Kelly, “Red” Sullivan, “Doc” Williams, “Red” Quam, Jimmy Manion, and Wally Gilbert). Photo courtesy the Two Harbors Public Library via the Lake County Historical Society.



Duluth: An Urban Biography coming April 2020

Zenith City Press publisher Tony Dierckins has a new book coming out in April 2020—and it won’t be published by Zenith City Press. The good folks at Minnesota Historical Society Press are publishing a series of “urban biographies” of Minnesota’s four largest cities—Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth—and Dierckins is writing the Duluth book. It…


Ashtabula Flats

218–228 North 5th Avenue East | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1893 | Lost: 1987 Ashtabula Flats was built on the southeast corner of East Third Street and Fifth Avenue East in 1892 by Ray T. Lewis and Charles R. Haines. A native of Maine, Lewis had been a ship captain and sailed the world on clipper ships.…

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