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The Luckiest Day in the History of 19th century Auburn Athletics (John Heisman gets Glom’ed)

John Heisman—what a BUST, badum.

Inching further down the Heisman branch of Auburn football’s family tree, we come across a glowing report on our famous forefather from the 1897 Glomerata (which also happens to the first). It’s accompanied by the portrait (cut) of Papa H that seems unique to Auburn among Google image search results, the same used for his Coca-Cola collectors card dontcha know, and amid all the biographical breadcrumbs of his career up to that point you really get a sense for the living-legend-ish reverence Auburn folk had for him even then, after only two years on the Plains and still 20 years away from retirement and several decades away from being namesake’d as college footballs most prestigious award. I quote it in its entirety.

“This cut is an excellent likeness of our efficient coach. Mr J.W. Heisman, who was born at Cleveland, Ohio, on October 23, 1869. In his early boyhood his constitution was none too strong, and his present robust healthy and vigor he attributes entirely to a judicious indulgence in athletic exercises. His athletic career began at the Titusville High School, from which school he graduated with honors in 1887.

During the two years that he spent at Brown University, pursuing a special course, Lincoln Field knew no more enthusiastic retainer than the slender young aspirant for athletic honors. While at Brown he was a member of the baseball, football, track and gymnasium teams.

After leaving Brown University, Mr. Heisman went to the University of Pennsylvania, where he played three different position on the ‘Varsity football team, and was also a member of the baseball team. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s as a Bachelor of Law in the spring of ’92 , and the following fall he was engaged to coach the Oberlin  Football Team. This team was not defeated. Buchtel College then engaged Mr. Heisman to coach to the baseball team and train the track team for the spring of ’93, and take charge of the gymnasium. He was engaged the next year as Physical Director of that college.

The fall of ’94 found Mr. Heisman at Oberlin again, coaching the football team. He came to us in the fall of ’95 and the day on which he arrived at Auburn can well be marked as the luckiest in the history of athletics at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. He has successfully coached our football team for two years, his teams scoring 300 points, against opponents 33. The Athletic Association has show its appreciation of his work by engaging him to coach the football team of ’97. This alone assures a winning team next season.

Mr. Heisman is not only the best coach that the South has ever seen, but he is a perfect gentleman, and we all love him for his worth.”

Read his tear jerking farewell letter to Auburn students here, and learn about him calling refs out for cheating us from victory over mighty Sewanee in 1899 here. Love ya, Papa H.

Keep Reading:

* Auburn’s banned 1979 student recruitment poster
* Only undefeated Triple Crown winner owned by Auburn grads
* Elvis says “War Eagle”
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* That OTHER time they burned the Glom

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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