November 27, 1921: Dayton Triangles vs. Buffalo All-Americans
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: December 29th, 2009
Now, you may be wondering why I am covering the Dayton Triangles the week that the Bills are playing the Indianapolis Colts. You can make a connection between today’s Colts and the Dayton Triangles of 1921. Seriously. What, you don’t believe me? Get ready to take a long journey, back to 1913 and the Dayton Cadets.
The 1913 Dayton Cadets were a semi-pro team out of Ohio and won the city championship by defeating the Dayton Oakwoods. In 1916, the Cadets changed their name to the Dayton Triangles and seemed to be fully professional by that time. The Triangles would go on to become one of the founding members of the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed the National Football League in 1922. After the 1929 season, the Triangles were sold to a group in Brooklyn, who renamed them the Dodgers. Now things are going to start to get hairy.
The Dodgers were renamed the Tigers in 1944. They merged with the Boston Yanks in 1945 and played under the Yanks name that year. Dan Topping, owner of the Dodgers since 1937, split with the Yanks and took his team to the upstart All-America Football Conference (AAFC). However, as far as the paperwork was concerned, since Topping was leaving the NFL, he needed to forfeit his franchise. The players from the Dodgers were awarded to the Boston Yanks, but most ignored this and went with Topping to the AAFC. Topping called his new team the New York Yankees. Keep in mind that the Brooklyn Dodgers of the AAFC was not the same franchise as the Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL. The New York Yankees were the Brooklyn Dodgers. Confused yet? It gets better.
In 1949, Ted Collins, the owner of the Boston Yanks of the NFL moved his team to New York. He canceled his Boston franchise and was awarded a New York franchise, which he named the New York Bulldogs. Also that year, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the AAFC merged with the New York Yankees. After the 1949 season, the AAFC folded and the NFL accepted the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Colts into their league. What is usually left behind in the merger talks, was the combining of the New York Yankees (which were the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers) and the New York Bulldogs (which were the Boston Yanks). In reality, it was Ted Collins that purchased the bulk of the contractual rights to the Yankees players. The Yanks were short-lived and folded after the 1951 season. However, a couple of owners from Texas purchased the old New York Yanks and relocated them to Dallas…and…Hershey, Pennsylvania. Let me explain. Midway through the 1952 season, the attendance at Dallas home games was so terrible that the team became a “road” franchise that operated out of Hershey. The Dallas Texans ceased to exist after the 1952 season. However, Carroll Rosenbloom and his partners purchased the franchise and called his team the Baltimore Colts. Rosenbloom and Robert Irsay (owner of the Los Angeles Rams) essentially swapped franchises in 1972 (each bought the majority share of the other’s franchise). Irsay moved his team to Indianapolis in 1984 and has remained there ever since. That is the link to this game. Officially, the NFL does not recognize this lineage. You make the call.
Now, on to the game of the week: Sunday, November 27, 1921, the Dayton Triangles played the Buffalo All-Americans at Canisius Field.
The field was a sea of mud for most of the game, hampering Dayton’s passing game, but Ockie Anderson turned in the game-winning play in the first five minutes of the game while the field was still in fair shape. He took the ball on a Dayton punt and started around the side, zig-zagging his way through the entire Dayton team, making a sensational 45-yard run for a touchdown.
From that point on the Dayton line proved nearly impenetrable, but each Triangle drive was foiled. For instance, the first half ended with Dayton on the Buffalo five-yard line. The second half was more of the same. Time and again, Dayton drove into Buffalo territory only to lose the ball on some trick of fate. Toward the end of the game, Tommy Hughitt punted from deep in his own territory, and Frank Bacon returned 15 yards to the Buffalo 30. On the next play Bacon hurdled the line, making a last-ditch try for a TD. Anderson, playing deep, dove and tripped up Bacon on the Buffalo 3-yard line, and the gun sounded before the Triangles could line up for another play. Buffalo took the 7-0 victory in front of 3,500 fans.
Dayton ended their season with a 4-4-1 record, while Buffalo finished the season with a 9-1-2 record, but lost the championship to the Chicago Staleys.