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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
An examination of selected "Crimson yesterdays" at the Yale game would lead one to dismal expectations for this Saturday's outcome at New Haven.
Checking the Records
The record books show that Harvard's gridders fell to the Elis in games played 10, 25, 50, and 75 years ago.
75 YEARS AGO: New Haven, Nov. 24 1902. A crowd of 30,000 spectators, the second largest in football history up to that time, came to witness a titanic struggle between the two undefeated clubs.
Unfortunately, the struggle never happened, as Yale smothered the Crimson attack and posted a 23-0 whitewash.
50 YEARS AGO: Cambridge, Nov. 19 1927. The Elis came through in Coach Tad Jones's last game to blitz Harvard, 14-0.
The Crimson's sports extra that day ran the headline, "Mighty blue juggernaut tears through Crimson defense for smashing victory--Eli machine reaches acme of strength--visitors stage triumphant snake dance."
Both Yale touchdowns came on long, spectacular runs, one of 52 yards by Garvey and another of 42 yards by Hammersley.
The starting quarterback for Harvard, incidentally, was named Gordon Brown. The halfback was not named Polillio.
25 YEARS AGO: Cambridge, Nov. 22, 1952. Harvard suffered its worst defeat at the hands of Yale since 1884, losing by a 41-14 margin.
The defeat was particularly humiliating for the Crimson in that Yale's final touchdown pass was caught by Charlie Yeager, the 51st of 51 Elis to enter the game, and the only Yale team manager ever to score against anybody.
10 YEARS AGO: New Haven, Nov. 25 1967. Despite strong showings by both its offense and defense, Harvard once more fell by the wayside before a record crowd of 68,135 in the Yale Bowl.
The Elis pulled out a 24-20 victory on a 66-yard scoring pass from Brian Dowling to Del Marting with 2:16 remaining in the game.
Harvard quarterback Ric Zimmerman was outstanding in defeat, completing 13 of 29 passes for a record 289 yards.
In the light of the aforementioned results, perhaps it is fortunate that there was no Harvard-Yale game a century ago, in 1877.
In that year, Harvard insisted the game be played under the existing full rugby rules, which called for 15-man teams and scoring by both goals and touchdowns. Yale, however, demanded changes in the rules for scoring and the number of men on the field.
As certain Yale employees would find 100 years later, collective bargaining with the Elis failed to produce a settlement. Thus, because there were no rules, there could be no game that year.
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