What Happened at St. Louis
by W. H. Harmon (Team Manager for 1904 team)
To write the story of the Olympic Championship is a welcome task, albeit, a difficult one. The memory of that victory is still fresh in my mind, but a proper narration demands more space than the "Spider Web" can afford. So there will be little of ornateness or polish, simply the bare facts briefly expressed.
Of a successful season and the winning of the Ohio championship,
there is nothing to say,--all of you are familiar with that. The
strenuous pace set for the team by Coach Brown is also a familiar
story to you. So the best I can do is to pass on to the few days
which included the games themselves and the events immediately
Since some arrangements were required before the team arrived in St. Louis, I went on ahead and completed them Monday, July 11th. Mr. H.G. Reynolds,--coach of the Chicago Central Y.M.C.A. team, who had been recommended by Mr. Brown,--was found and engaged to take charge of the squad during the games. All arrangements with the National Committee were left in his hands and he proved worthy of the trust.
During the day I came across the Clark brothers, who had also preceded the rest of the team, and directed them to headquarters,--the Epworth Hotel,--to which place I followed them about seven o'clock in the evening.
The remainder of the squad, in charge of G.A. Vincent, arrived about eleven P.M., and were met at the station by Messrs. Spencer, Avery, and myself. Owing to the uncertainties of traffic on St. Louis street car lines, we came somewhat indirectly to the Hotel and retired at once.
The next morning we were up early and after breakfast went out to the Stadium for a light practice. Through Reynolds, a practice game was secured with the Chicago Centrals. The result of this game,--8 to 6 in favor of Chicago,--went far toward restoring whatever confidence in themselves the boys may have previously lost.
After luncheon a short ride was taken about the Grounds and then we assembled at the Physical Culture Building to witness the deciding game of the A.A.U. Championship series, played between Buffalo German Y.M.C.A. and the Chicago Centrals. Owing to the condition of the Stadium, the game was played in the Gymnasium, and this made it possible to get a good idea of the styles of play used by the respective teams. The game was won by Buffalo by a small margin, and was a remarkably fine exhibition throughout.
In the morning came the games, and loss of sleep could not be thought of. That evening before the morning of the game we sat on the stone porch in front of the Hotel, with the blazing city spread out before us, and discussed the coming contest with becoming modesty. Although the prowess of our opponents was thoroughly appreciated, little fear as to the final outcome was felt by the Hiram contingent. We felt that Wheaton College was most to be feared. They had held the National Championship in 1903 and we knew them to be very dangerous. L.D.S.U. team was as good as anything in the West, but somehow we gave them little thought, as they were practically an unknown quantity.
In the morning we were out at seven and after a light breakfast went out again to the Stadium. The much discussed question as to whether the games should be played indoors or out, had already been decided and the drawing for places was about to take place. The games were to be played on the field as advertised. This was at first a disappointment as it was thought that the use of cleated shoes by the Wheaton boys would give them a decided advantage on the slippery field. Later events disproved this.
In drawing for places it was found that the games were to be played as follows:
Wheaton vs. Hiram
L.D.S.U. vs. Wheaton
Hiram vs. L.D.S.U.
The first game was to be played in the morning at ten-thirty, the second at one-thirty, and the third at three-thirty.
The first game was called about 10:45 a.m. The rains of the night before had left the clay field in a very slippery condition. Puddles all about the side lines promised to make it unpleasant if the ball went out of bounds, but the sun blazing down from an almost cloudless sky foretold quick removal of this handicap.
Wheaton had the heavier team but when we on the side lines saw the contrast between the brown clean cut limbs of the Hiram team and the beefy ones from Illinois, we did not feel greatly depressed. The weeks of hard training on the Hiram field had put the boys in fine condition and they looked fit to play the game of their lives, and they did.
Line and Wilson played forwards; Hurd and Carl Clark, guards; and Earl Clark, center. The playing from the start was fast and furious. Wheaton took a short lead and for the first five minutes it looked as though we were going to have a hard time of it. Not for an instant, however, did Hiram think of getting discouraged. Every man played as cooly and methodically as in a practice game on the Hiram floor. The pace Wheaton had set could not be long maintained, so her lead was cut down point by point. Their cleated shoes were a hindrance and they began making wild throws. To make matters worse they noted each others [sic] mistakes and did not hesitate to blame whoever was at fault.
Here it was that the real superiority of the Hiram training asserted itself. Though Hiram made as many misplays as her opponent, though the boys were frequently called down for fouling, not a word of blame or censure from the captain or any member of the team was heard. Instead, were words of encouragement and soulful exhortations to "play the game." Mistakes that cost points were accepted with a cheerful resignation that gladdened the hearts of us who saw. And when the first half ended with the score 15 to 15 we felt serenely confident that we would take the honors in the second.
The second half was a repetition of the first with the exception that Hiram had no lead to overcome. At no time was the game one-sided. Though Hiram was all the time in the lead it was not beyond the danger point and it was only whirlwind playing that kept Wheaton from scoring. When the time-keeper blew his whistle at the end of the second half, Hiram was five points to the good, and the first game was won. The team and its supporters took it quietly for undue excitement or hilarity tires one and is not conducive to good playing. And even in this moment of intoxication we remembered that there was one more game to follow.
We walked up into the grounds for luncheon, ate it in the shade of a big cool pavilion and discussed the coming game with L.D.S.U. dispassionately. There was nothing of over-confidence, simply the intention to play ball all the time, no matter what came about.
Luncheon over, we strolled back to the Stadium and watched the game between L.D.S.U. and Wheaton with interest. There was of course a doubtful element as to the outcome of this game and much depended on it, for if Wheaton lost it meant possibly that the whole series would have to be played over again. But the expected happened and our fears were allayed when Wheaton came out victorious by the close score of 40 to 35.
Now followed an hour's intermission. During this interval the team dressed for the next game and the whole squad was photographed by the official photgrapher. After L.D.S.U. had a sufficient time to recuperate from the strenuous labors of the first game the second was called.
This game was marked by the same consistent playing on the part of Hiram that had been so noticeable in the first game. While not so exciting as the first--owing to Hiram's getting a lead and maintaining it--it was marked by many brilliant plays and more effective team work than the first had shown. The playing throughout was exceptionally clean, but few fouls being called during the entire game. No noise was permitted from the side lines so Hiram sympathizers were perforce content with holding the water bottle and saying encouraging things in an undertone. Through our enforced silence we were wild with inward excitement and only the fear of threatened banishment from the side lines prevented our giving expression to our feelings in appropriate yells.
Several girl basketball players from the Government Indian school were present and applauded every good play made by the teams. They made admiring remarks about the graceful appearance of the Hiram boys--especially "Let" and "String," whom they thought were from their own tribe. The Clark boys were "too sweet for anything," they said, and they could only be prevented from carrying off "Pete," "Bennie" and Willie" by the assurance that these were "otherwise provided for."
When the game was finished and Hiram was declared the winner, our enthusiasm naturally ran a trifle high. We let out a few playful whoops and then ran pell-mell into the dressing rooms where we pummeled each other in perspiring breathlessness. It was a great meeting. The first spasm over we settled down, made our toilets and took our ways up into the grounds.
First came supper, then "The Pike," and the allurements of that place held us until late that night. And when we left there was more than one weary "Spieler," more than one suffering concessionaire, who was glad that college crowds didn't strike him very often. We yelled "Brek-ke-ke-kex," and "Hootin', rootin'" until we were blue as to the face and hoarse as to the throat, and then we turned our weary feet bedward, tired, worn out, but happy.
Thus ends the chronicle, if chronicle it may be called. If it be rough and lacking in polish, please excuse for an office is a poor place to cultivate flowerly language and well turned phrases. If it lacks enthusiasm, remember that the gloss of present achievement having been removed, there remains only the pure worth of real attainment and that the historian is permitted to record only bare facts and may not enthuse for fear that partiality may distort the truth.
Just a word in conclusion. That the trip was of undoubted benefit to Hiram itself no one can deny. But the real benefit is to be derived from the lessons taught us by this victory. The self-sacrifice and perseverance shown by the team are seldom found in any school or team. Throughout the course of hard training and the strenuous season that preceded the games themselves, the spirit exhibited by the boys cannot be too highly commended. It proved to me, possibly more than any other one thing in my college career, what the Hiram training and the Hiram spirit is capable of and makes me proud of the privilege of having been the manager of "the best team Hiram ever had."
I take this occasion to publicly extend the thanks of the team and its manager to those who contributed so much to the success of the trip, to the students and the alumni who gave moral as well as financial encouragement, to Coach Brown whose services were invaluable to us, and to Mr. Vincent who did more work than any one else in raising funds.
An Olympic championship is not won every year and so the value of it is all the more enhanced. Let us not belittle the honors the boys brought home to us, but on the contrary let us not be puffed up with unseemly pride. Vanity is not conducive to a good team and Hiram cannot afford to let the standard be lowered. Cherish always the memory of this triumph but in the futurue strive to attain companion honors so that our enemies cannot say, "They won one championship, and it swelled them all up."