New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: College football

Ralph Hewitt


Ralph Hewitt (College football.  Born, Lawrence, MA, Nov. 10, 1907; died, Portsmouth, RI, Oct. 23, 1987.)  When Lou Little succeeded Charles Crowley as Columbia football coach in 1930, he inherited one major asset and that was tailback Ralph Augustine Hewitt.  Hewitt did not disappoint.  In Little’s first season, Hewitt kicked a fourth-quarter field goal to beat previously-unbeaten Williams, 3-0.  The following week (Nov. 1, 1930), Hewitt returned a kickoff 95 yards and then drop-kicked a 53-yard field goal in a 10-7 upset of Cornell.  The field goal remains the longest in Columbia history.  As a senior in 1931, Hewitt scored 60 points in the first six games before being shut out in a 13-0 loss at Cornell on Oct. 31.  In his three varsity seasons, he scored 194 points (including 23 in one game in 1931), setting a school record that stood until 1948, when Lou Kusserow – who played four varsity seasons – finished with 270 career points.  Hewitt was a true “triple threat” back who could kick, run, and pass (he was the top passer out of the single wing on the team).  He was also a baseball player for the Lions and played minor league pro ball until an injury ended his career.  Hewitt turned to coaching and, in 1944, became the football coach at Priory (now Abbey) School in Portsmouth, R.I., where he remained for 29 years.  Even more impressive than his athletic record is the high esteem in which he was held by teammates, opponents, and students.

John Heisman


John Heisman (College football.  Born, Cleveland, OH, Oct. 23, 1869; died, New York, NY, Oct. 3, 1936.)  Having played for Brown and Penn and having been a successful college coach for 36 years, John W. Heisman became athletic director at the Downtown A.C. in 1930.  The award, first presented in 1935, to the year’s best college football player was originally known as the D.A.C. Trophy but was renamed for Heisman after his death.

Pudge Heffelfinger


Pudge Heffelfinger (College football.  Born, St. Anthony, MN, Dec. 20, 1867; died, Blessing, TX, Apr. 2, 1954.)  William W. Heffelfinger was a Yale guard and three-time all-American who assumed almost legendary stature, in part because of his team’s performance from 1889-91.  Yale was not only 41-2-0 during those seasons but also outscored its opponents by a staggering 1,635 points to 49 (488-0 in 1891).  Heffelfinger became a tireless evangelist for the game, writing columns, giving interviews, and drawing companies into promotions involving college football.  He also did some radio commentary and was considered an authority on the game.  Heffelfinger may have been the first pro player as well, reportedly being paid $500 for a game in Pittsburgh in 1892.  St. Anthony, his birthplace, is now known as Minneapolis.

Homer Hazel


Homer Hazel (College football.  Born, Pifford, NY, June 2, 1895; died, Marshall, MI, Feb. 3, 1968.)  Having lettered in 1916, Homer Howard Hazel left Rutgers due to financial problems, but returned to become one of the school’s most storied football heroes.  Hazel was an all-American as an end in 1923, was shifted to fullback the next season, and was again a First Team All-American.  During those two seasons, Rutgers was 14-2-2 (losing only to West Virginia in 1923 and Bucknell in 1924).  Hazel also played basketball and baseball, and threw the shot for the track team.  He was a thick-set 5’11”, weighing about 225 pounds.  Hazel was later athletic director at the University of Mississippi.

Percy Haughton


Percy Haughton (College football.  Born, Staten Island, NY, July 11, 1876; died, New York, NY, Oct. 27, 1924.)  Though not active as a college coach for nearly seven years, Percy D. Haughton agreed in 1923 to be Columbia’s head coach.  Haughton brought an outstanding record, winning national championships at Harvard, where he was 71-7-5 in nine seasons (1908-16).  His first Columbia team was 4-4-1 but he held out higher hopes for the 1924 team.  The Lions opened 4-1, but following a 27-3 victory over Williams, Haughton suffered an attack of angina pectoris and died suddenly.  His final words were, reportedly, “Tell the squad I’m proud of them.”  Assistant Paul Withington finished the season (1-2-1).  Haughton had earlier coached Cornell (1899-1900), where he was 17-5-0, and his overall record was 96-17-6

Larry McElreavy


Larry McElreavy (College football. Born, Claremont, NH, Sept. 25, 1946.) In December 1985, Larry McElreavy became the 15th head coach of Columbia football and inherited a team that had not won in 24 games under two coaches. The losing streak was 21 games after a couple of ties with another loss in between. McElreavy, who came from Div. III New Haven, started with two 0-10 teams and the losing streak reached 44 games, then the longest ever in Div. I, before a 16-13 victory over Princeton Oct. 8, 1988, ended the streak. McElreavy also won the final game of that season (against Brown) but was dismissed following the season. He was 2-28.

George Furey


George Furey (College football.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, Mar. 8, 1914; died, Nyack, NY, Jan. 20, 1986.)  Co-captain of the 1936 Columbia football team, George Francis Furey returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown Nov. 28 to give the Lions another 7-0 victory over Stanford, this time at the Polo Grounds.  (Columbia had also beaten Stanford, 7-0, in the 1934 Rose Bowl.)  Following a brief employment with Macy’s (1937-40), Furey returned to Columbia as an assistant football coach for most of the next 39 years, with time out for military service in World War II

Clint Frank


Clint Frank (College football.  Born, St. Louis, MO, Sept. 13, 1915; died, Chicago, IL, July 7, 1992.)  As captain of the 1937 Yale football team, Clinton E. Frank led the Bulldogs to within a touchdown of an unbeaten season.  After a 4-0 start, Frank threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Al Hessberg in the closing seconds to salvage a 9-9 tie with Dartmouth, but, three weeks later, Yale lost, 13-6, to Harvard to finish 6-1-1.  The 5’10” halfback scored 11 touchdowns in eight games, including a 79-yard run against Princeton.  For the second straight year, Frank was an all-America pick and won both the Heisman and Maxwell trophies as the nation’s outstanding player.  He gave Yale its second successive Heisman winner, following Larry Kelley, the 1936 choice.

Ed Franco


Ed Franco (College football.  Born, New York, NY, Apr. 24, 1915; died, Bayonne, NJ, Nov. 18, 1992.)  A stocky 5’8”, Edmund J. Franco was the left tackle on Fordham’s second version of the “Seven Blocks of Granite” line.  Franco was a consensus all-America choice in 1936 and 1937 as the Rams were 12-1-3 over the two seasons.

Bob Federspiel


Bob Federspiel (College football.  Born, Philadelphia, Penna., May 26, 1939.)  An end for Columbia, Robert William Federspiel had 55 receptions for 765 yards in three seasons (1958-60) and held the Ivy League record for most catches in a game with eight for 153 yards against Cornell, Oct. 29, 1960 (since broken).

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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