Princeton’s Greatest Players, 1906-31

  • August 31, 2019

Princeton’s Greatest Players, 1906-31, as selected by Staś Maliszewski ’66 and Eric Dreiband ’86.   Profiles compiled by Dreiband.

BACKS

Wallace “Butch” DeWitt ’15

Bounced the ball through the goal posts for only points in a 3-0 win over Dartmouth in 1911. According to 1965 Sports Illustrated story, “The kick was hurried and low, glanced off a Dartmouth player near the line of scrimmage and after several bounces – three by the count of teammate (Talbot) Pendleton – it took one last erratic hop over the crossbar. Dartmouth Quarterback Fred Llewellyn, back to catch the kick, may have tipped the ball as it bounced over his head.”  The rule quickly thereafter was changed to require field goals on the fly.

According to the Daily Princetonian in 1911, DeWitt was a “masterful punter deserving the lion’s share for (20-0) win that season over Holy Cross” in which he placed his punts “well and high enough to give the ends a chance to cover them. At no time was the [Princeton] goal line threatened.”

  • All–America 1912.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Donald Grant Herring of the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • Captain, basketball team, 1912-13.   

Ed Dillon ’07

 “Could do everything that quarterbacks of that day were supposed to do; fast, elusive, and for a little man, able to stand an amazing amount of punishment,” wrote Herring, who chose Dillon to the All-Time Princeton Eleven for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.  “He had, too, that curious quality possessed by some little men (there can be no logical explanation for it) of frequently injuring big husky linemen who tackled him.”

  • All-America, 1906-7, led Princeton to the 1906 national championshp.

Team captain, 1908, when he was injured for much of the season but returned to star against Yale. “He showed excellent judgment, was sure in his tackling, and twice took the ball on an onside kick and forward pass,” wrote the Daily Princetonian  “His defensive work could not have been better.”

As Spalding’s How to Play Football noted in 1908: “Dillon of Princeton is one of the cleverest quarters that ever handled the ball. Not only does he drive his team well, but uses his plays with judgment and is a wonder at catching kicks and running them back.

”Named by venerable sports writer George Trevor to his all-time Princeton team in 1927.

  • Head coach at Sewannee, 1909, hired to coach Missouri but and was unable to continue. 
  • Second baseman on Princeton’s team.
  • Pilot, U.S. Navy’s Naval Aviation Corp during The Great War.

Edmund Hope “Eddie” Driggs ’17

  • All-America and All-East 1915.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • Team was 17-6-1 in his three years as a starter.

“The longest punter in the United States, 76 yards, and one of the two backs achieving the highest punting average for an entire game, 55 yards.” wrote Parke H. Davis in Expert Football for the Spectator in 1916.

“One spectacular dash of 58 yards, when Eddie Driggs nipped a rampant Dartmouth forward pass from the air and galloped down the field for a touchdown, brought victory to Princeton this afternoon in Palmer Stadium.”

  • The New York Times said Driggs was possessed of “superhuman strength and speed.”
  • Captain, baseball team.

Edwin “Jigger” Harlan ’08

  • Consensus All-America, 1907.
  • Member of national champions, 1906.
  • Played baseball at Princeton and served as head coach as well as of Johns Hopkins and Texas A&M.  
Donold Lourie ’22

Donold B. Lourie ’22

  • Consensus All-America in 1920, when he played on national championship team
  • Third-team All-America, 1921 and All-East, 1920.
  • Called by the Daily Princetonian the “best field general in the East.”
  • Selected by Trevor to second-team of his all-time Princeton football team in 1927.
  • Annual award for best Princeton freshman offensive player is in Lourie’s name.  
James McCormick ’08

James McCormick ’08

  • Consensus All-America, 1905 and 1907.
  • All-America, 1906, when he was a member of the national champion team.
  • All-East, 1905

Selected by Herring to second-team of his all-time Princeton squad by Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920. “When Jim McCormick was given a hole to go through, it normally took about three of the secondary defense to bring him down.” wrote Herring in Forty Years.

  • Also named by Trevor to his second-team, all-time Princeton team in 1927.

“He plays the hardest game of any man on the team and his line plunging could hardly be excelled.” wrote the Daily Princetonian in 1907.

  • Princeton was 32-6-1 during his four seasons, outscoring opponents 716-77.
  • Captain, 1907
  • Kicked field goals and punted.
  • Shot putter on track team.
  • Led Princeton to a 6-2-1 record as head coach in 1909.     
Frank Murrey ’22

Frank Murrey ’22

  • Consensus All-America, 1918.

Member of national champions in 1920, when his 77-yard touchdown run against Navy was described by the New York Times as “dazzling serpentine …  as pretty a play as the gridiron has produced in many a season. The old gray-haired Princeton grads, who yelled themselves hoarse, proclaimed that Snake Ames ’90 never made a more beautiful gallop in his palmiest day.”

  • Middle distance runner for the track team.
Talbot Pendleton ’13

Talbot Pendleton ’13

“The fastest runner I ever saw on a football field, surely one of the two or three fastest of all football history,” wrote Donald Grant Herring ‘07, in Forty Years of Football.  “The boy didn’t run. He flew.”

Parke H. Davis said in the Daily Princeton in 1912 that Pendleton’s speed was “the greatest of any player upon the American gridiron.”

  • Played quarterback, halfback, end and kicker.
  • Consensus All-America, 1910, All-America, 1912.
  • Third-team All-America, 1911, on national championship team.
  • Selected by Herring to All-Time All Princeton Eleven for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • Captain, 1912.
  • Scored 167 points, 23 touchdowns (worth five points until 1912), 33 PATs, two field goals during his career for teams that were 22-2-1.
  • Baseball player good enough to have received numerous offers from major league baseball clubs, according to Herring.
  • Competed in 100-yard dash for the track team.
  • Elected president for life by his senior class.
  • Saw service in the Argonne Forest, France, in The Great War.

Jacob Slagle ’27

Came out of the hospital to score a touchdown, kick the point after touchdown and drop-kick a field goal in victory over Harvard in November 1926. “Slagle played the most remarkable game today, in many ways, ever seen on a football field,” Princeton Coach Bill Roper told The New York Times.  “When you consider that previously he had played only forty minutes of football during the present season and came out of the hospital only a week ago, I think the brilliance of his performance was unbeatable.”

  • All-America, 1925 and second team All-America, 1924.
  • Missed most of 1926 season due to illness, yet still named second-team All-America.
  • Selected by Trevor to all-time Princeton team in 1927.
  • John P. Poe Cup, 1927.

 “Slagle’s Run”, a 92-yarder for a touchdown against Yale in 1925, was then the longest run from scrimmage in the Yale-Princeton series.

Compared to legendary Red Grange of Illinois by Grantland Rice, who called Slagle the “best all-around player Princeton has had in years,” adding “Slagle can fight his way through a line, run an end, handle himself in a broken field, kick, pass and tackle.”

Roper burst into tears after having to remove injured Slagle from the lineup for the Yale game in 1926 and called him “the greatest player I ever coached “

  • Served as assistant coach at Princeton and Gilman School in Baltimore.

Frederick Tibbott ’09

  • Consensus All-America, 1908.

Had 100-yard touchdown run against Bucknell plus touchdown runs of 85 (vs. Dartmouth) and 55 yards (vs. Carlisle). “I think we gave him a little blocking at the start, but he did most of it himself,” wrote Herring, a team member, about the Dartmouth run in Forty Years.

As freshman coach in 1915 described players to the Daily Princetonian as lazy: “A general lack of interest and of conscientious work is responsible for the poor showing so far,” he said. “About half a dozen men have taken the trouble to work out plays for themselves while the rest have been either so lazy or so indifferent that they become confused on the simplest plays.”

  • On track team at Princeton.

R. Maurice “Murray” Trimble, Jr. ’20

  • All America, 1919, All East, 1919 and Poe Cup, 1919.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven, by Herring for Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920, and by Trevor to all-time Princeton football team in 1927.

Elusive runner, accurate passer, and excellent punter starred in 10-10 tie against unbeaten national champion Harvard in 1919. “His work in the backfield was little short of miraculous at times,” wrote the Daily Princetonian.  “Receiving consistently poor passes from center, his kicks were never blocked and his passes never inaccurate. Three men were always charging down upon him, and for coolness his rival has yet to be seen in Princeton.”

Also a hero of the 13-6 victory over Yale that year. “[Trimble play[ed] during the entire time, running, punting, passing, and in short playing a most remarkable game” wrote the Daily Princetonian.  “Among the stars of the day he was far and away the brightest. The more remarkable was his work when it is considered that he was an invalid almost all of last week from an attack of tonsilitis. And on defense he was impassible, divining the Yale attack and heading it off before fairly started.”

  • Catcher on baseball team and also starred in basketball at Princeton.
  • Naval Aviator, Great War, 1917-18.
  • Assistant coach, Princeton, 1920-23

Linemen

Harland “Pink” Baker ’22

Harland “Pink” Baker ’22

Leader of the Team of Destiny, national champions in 1922, that upset Chicago in one of Princeton’s all-time greatest victories. Made goalline tackle to preserve that victory and also that season recovered fumbles against Harvard and Swarthmore.

  • Also played on the national title team of 1920.
  • Third-team All-America, 1921.
  • Second-team All-East, 1921.
  • Described as “among the best guards” in college football by the New York Herald.

“Baker will stand like a pillar of stone easily crushing attacks of the Blue,” wrote the Daily Princetonian.  “Consenus All-America [Herb] Treat and Baker played an excellent game at the two tackle positions, both on the defense and attack. Few plays have gained much ground through them.”

  • Recovered fumbles against Harvard and Swarthmore in 1922.
  • Best Princeton freshmen defensive player honor is presented annually in Baker’s name. .
  • Awarded Princeton blazer for competing in Oxford-Cambridge track meet.

Bob Beattie ’25

  • All-America, 1924.
  • Backfield star who scored touchdown against Georgetown in 1923 then developed into an excellent lineman.
  • Member, national champions of 1922.
  • Did the shot put, hammer throw, javelin and discuss.
Harold Ballin ’15

Harold Ballin ’15

  • Consensus All-America, 1913-14.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring in Princeton Alumni Weekly, 1920.
  • Captain 1914, when he played every minute of every game.
  • Considered helmets a distraction and did not wear one.
  • Played in the first game ever at Princeton’s Palmer Stadium.
  • Princeton assistant line coach in 1916 and 1919.
  • Head coach, Duquesne University.

Arthur “Bluie” Bluethenthal ’13

  • All-America 1911, was a member of national championship team.
  • Second-team All-America, 1912.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring in 1920 for the Princeton Alumni Weekly and all-time Princeton team picked by Trevor in 1927.
  • Called one of the “best centers Princeton ever had” by both the Daily Princetonian and trainer Keene Fitzpatrick.
  • Assistant line coach at Princeton.

While in service as an aviator in the Great War, Bluie wrote to a friend: “My life does not belong to me now. It belongs to France and to the Allies, to the cause to which I have pledged it.”  He died in combat on June 5, 1918. France awarded him the Croix de Guerre “for conspicuous bravery around Verdun.” When news of his death, the first of a North Carolinian in the war, reached his hometown of Wilmington, businesses closed, all flags were flown at half mast, and a memorial service was held by the citizens in the town’s opera house.

Joe Duff ’12

  • Consensus All-America 1911 as member of that season’s national championship team.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring in the Princeton Athletic Weekly in 1920 and all-time Princeton team picked by Trevor in 1927.

“Suffice it to say that Duff played [against Yale] in the same fighting spirit and with the same strength despite a weak knee that he did in the Harvard game,” recalled the Daily Princetonian in 1921.

  • Two-year starter.
  • Assistant coach, Princeton, 1912.
  • 14-3-1 as head coach at University of Pittsburgh.
  • Machine gunner in the American Expeditionary Force. He was killed in France 18 days after promotion to lieutenant in 1918.
Ed Hart ’12

Ed Hart ’12

“One of the great tackles of all time and as fine a field captain as I ever saw,” wrote Herring in Forty Years.  “Physically, he was a freak, combining incredible strength with amazing speed.”

  • Consensus All-America as a tackle on 1911 national champions and second-team All-America as a fullback, 1910. Those two teams were 15-1-2 with 14 shutouts.

Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven, by Herring for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920, by Trevor to all-time Princeton football team in 1927 and to all-time greatest Princeton Centennial Eleven by Daily Princetonian in 1969.

Grantland Rice also wrote that Hart was “one of the greatest tackles of all time.” Due to neck injury suffered in high school, wore a neck brace prior to senior year.

  • Served as an Army Captain in the Great War and a Marine in World War II.

A 195-pound pal once impulsively yelled out of the window of a Paris hotel to Hart below: “Catch me Eddie!”  He did.   

Frank Trevor “Kootch” Hogg ’17

  • Consensus All-America and Captain 1916.
  • All America, 1915.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring for Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • All-East, 1915-16.

The Daily Princetonian said, “his work has been consistently of high caliber for three years and last year many critics considered him among the most aggressive linemen in the country in offensive play.” The New York Times also called his defensive work “excellent.  “Hogg’s playing this year has been consistently good,” wrote The Times.  “He has not only earned his position as the best guard on the squad but has been ranked as the best linesman on the eleven.”

  • Class president.

Charles H. Howe ’29

  • All-America, 1928.
  • Second-team All-America, 1927.

Named “best center in the East” by Coach Roper and also a defensive standout, according to the Daily Princetonian, which selected him to the greatest Princeton Centennial Eleven in 1969.

“Tribute must be paid Captain Howe, whose name has been written down as one of the greatest of Princeton captains,” said the Daily Princetonian in 1928.

  • Captain of 1928 team that finished 5-1-2 after defeating Yale and tying Ohio State and Virginia.
  • Invited to play in East-West All Star game, but university did not approve his participation.
  • Coached Princeton freshmen in 1929.

Three-year starter at center, 1926-28. Team was 16-3-3 with two victories over Yale, a win over Harvard in 1926 (no game against Harvard in 1927-28), and a 20-0 defeat of Ohio State in 1927.

James Stanton “Stan” Keck ’22

James Stanton “Stan” Keck ’22

“Keck is the greatest tackle that ever played on a Princeton team; probably one of the greatest the game has ever produced,” said Roper. The Daily Princetonian added in 1920: “Never before has a player been so generally acclaimed as this Princeton star.”

  • Yale’s Walter Camp, father of football, proclaimed Keck ‘the most valuable man to his team that has played this fall.”
  • Consensus All-America, 1920-21.
  • All-East, 1920-21.
  • Member, national champions of 1920.
  • Captain, 1921.
  • Named to the all-time greatest Princeton Centennial Eleven, by Daily Princetonian in 1969, and to all-time Princeton team selected by Trevor.
  • Blocked future Princeton coach Fritz Crisler during 1921 Chicago game.
  • Kicked field goals and extra points.
  • Served as an assistant coach at Princeton.

William John Logan ’13

  • Consensus All-America, 1912.

“John Logan, a Brooklyn boy at the right guard, pierced the experienced Lehigh line often during the first half and played more like a veteran than a recruit,” wrote the New York Times.

  • Assistant coach, Princeton, 1913.
  • Member, wrestling team.

Ed McMillan ’26

  • All-America and captain 1925, the year Princeton won the Big Three championship by a combined score of 61-12.
  • Center and guard was member of all-time Princeton team selected by Trevor in 1927.
  • Poe Cup, 1925.

“[McMillan] has no weakness, is always smiling, and doesn’t know what it is to let down.” said Columbia Coach Charles Crowley in 1925. ”He is a genuine leader, possesses all the characteristics and qualities necessary.”

Following that season’s victory over Yale, the Daily Princetonian reported that “underneath it all was the smashing play of Princeton’s line, which more than held its own with Captain McMillan at center playing one of the greatest games of his career. Without a doubt McMillan will go down in Princeton football history as one of our greatest captains. His personality and qualifications as a leader have been matched only by his superb personal playing.”

  • Knute Rockne described McMillan as “a good heavy man at center.”
  • Served as an assistant coach at Princeton.
  • Head coach at Brown, 1926.

Wilder Penfield ’13

  • Fifth-string quarterback as a junior committed himself to wrestling, moved to tackle, and became All-America as a senior in 1912.
  • Head coach, Princeton, 1914.
  • Studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.
  • Served in The Great War.
  • Graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and became a renowned neurosurgeon in Canada.   

Wilbur “Rip” Shenk ’14

  • Halfback on 1911 national champions, then converted to lineman and was elected All-America at that position in 1912.
  • All-America 1914, when he also was All-East.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring for Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • Member of all all-time Princeton team selected by Trevor in 1927.

“The work of Shenk at guard was the feature of the afternoon’s play,” wrote the Daily Princetonian after Tigers’ 41-6 victory over Rutgers in 1912.  “Although much lighter than his opponent, he succeeded in breaking up several plays behind the visitors line and had little trouble in getting his man out of the way.”

Rudolf Siegling ’10

  • All-America 1908-9
  • Captain – 1909

“Cool and steady player,” wrote the Daily Princetonian in 1908; “He is valuable both for making openings and blocking plays. His open field work is also good.”

  • Three-year starter.
  • 1910 class vice president.

Charles Herbert “Herb” Treat ’23

  • Consensus All-America in 1922, when he played on national championship team.
  • Was chosen by Trevor for All-Time Princeton team in 1927. Transferred from Boston College to Princeton.
  • Player-coach for Boston Bulldogs of American Football League, 1921.

Ends

Howard “Howdy” Gray ’23

Howard “Howdy” Gray ’23

All-America in 1922, when he picked up a fumble and ran 42 yards for a touchdown in storied upset of Chicago that led to a national championship. As told by Jon Blackwell in The Trentonian, Gray’s father, the president of the Union Pacific Railroad, wildly waved his program during his son’s run and hit a woman in the shoulder. “Hey, that’s my wife,” said a man.  “Sorry but that was my boy who scored.” said Gray Sr. “Oh,” replied the husband. “Hit her again.”

  • Captain in the United States Naval Medical Corps during World War II.
  • Awarded Legion of Merit by United States Armed Forces.
  • Class president.
  • Poe Cup, 1922.
  • Surgeon at Mayo Clinic.

Armant “Ragin’ Cajun” Legendre ’21

  • All-America on 1920 national champions.
  • All- East, 1920

“Any man who plays end in the new football is playing a position of triple difficulty and Legendre, we imagine, played the end just the way his coach wanted him to,” wrote the Daily Princetonian.

  • Assistant coach, Princeton, 1921.
  • Played basketball at Princeton
L. Casper “Cap” Wister ’08

L. Casper “Cap” Wister ’08

  • Consensus All-America, 1906-7.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven, by Herring for Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920.
  • Member of national champions of 1906, who had eight shutouts in 10 games, outscored opponents 205-to-9, and posted 9-0-1 record.
  • Caught first forward pass in Princeton history from Ed Dillon against Villanova in 1906.
  • What would have been game-winning touchdown against Yale that season was nullified by controversial holding penalty.

Sanford Brownell “Sammy” “San” White ’12

  • Picked up fumbles and ran for game-winning touchdowns against Harvard (95 yards) and Yale (65 yards) to secure the 1911 national championship.

“White has never been equaled on the football field in one attribute – his wonderful ability to follow the ball,” wrote the Pittsburgh Press.  “This and his speed and agility make him the most dangerous player the game has produced when opponents make errors.” Thereafter known as “Long Run Sammy”

  • College Player of the Year and Consensus All-America, 1911.
  • Selected to All-Time All Princeton Eleven by Herring for the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1920 and all-time Princeton team picked by Trevor in 1927.
  • Four-sport star in football, basketball, baseball, and track.
  • 1912 class president also voted Best All-Around Man, Done Most for the Class and Best All-Around Athlete.

Princeton Club of Philadelphia presented White with gold cigarette case filled with sod taken from the spot where White planted the ball behind the Yale goal.

  • Assistant coach at University of Nebraska.

Kicker & Punt Returner

Hobey Baker ’14

Hobart A.H. “Hobey” Baker ’14

  • Only person ever inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • In football scored 172 points during career (1911-13), including 18 touchdowns, 45 PATs and eight field goals.
  • Member of 1911 national champions and third-team All-America in 1912.

“[Baker would] catch the ball at full speed and dodge,” said Harold Ballin in Jay Dunn’s The Tigers of Princeton (1976) “He was the best man on punt returns I’ve ever seen.”

  • Member, national champions of 1911.
  • Baker’s teams were 20-3-4.
  • Coached on kicking by Knowlton “Snake” Ames ’90.
  • Regarded for long after his career as the greatest amateur hockey player ever in the United States.
  • The annual award for college hockey’s best player is named after him.
  • Aviator in the Great War. Killed in a plane crash during a test run at Toul, France, six weeks following the Armistice.