This Day in College Football History – April 17th

Walter Camp (April 7, 1859 – March 14, 1925) was an American football player, coach, and sports writer known as the “Father of American Football“. He invented the sport’s line of scrimmage and the system of downs. With John Heisman, Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Fielding H. Yost, and George Halas, Camp was one of the most accomplished persons in the early history of American football. He played college football at Yale College from 1876 to 1882, after which he briefly studied at Yale School of Medicine. Camp served as the head football coach at Yale from 1888 to 1892 before moving to Stanford University, where he coached in December 1892 and in 1894 and 1895. Camp’s Yale teams of 1888, 1891, and 1892 have been recognized as national champions. Camp was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951. Camp was born in the city of New Britain, Connecticut, the son of Everett Lee and Ellen Sophia (Cornwell) Camp. He attended Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, entered Yale College in 1875, and graduated in 1882. At Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the Linonian Society, and Skull and Bones. He attended Yale Medical School from 1880 to 1883, where his studies were interrupted first by an outbreak of typhoid fever and then by work for the Manhattan Watch Company. He worked for the New Haven Clock Company beginning in 1883, working his way up to chairman of the board of directors. In 1873, he attended a meeting where representatives from Columbia, Rutgers, Princeton, and Yale universities created the intercollegiate football association (IFA). They created the rule that each team is only allowed 15 plays per drive. On June 30, 1888, Camp married Alice Graham Sumner, sister of William Graham Sumner. They had two children: Walter Camp, Jr. (born 1891), who attended Yale as well and was elected as a member of Scroll and Key in 1912, and Janet Camp Troxell (born 1897).

Camp was on the various collegiate football rules committees that developed the American game from his time as a player at Yale until his death. English Rugby rules at the time required a tackled player, when the ball was “fairly held”, to put the ball down immediately for scrummage. Camp proposed at the U.S. College Football 1880 rules convention that the contested scrummage be replaced with a “line of scrimmage” where the team with the ball started with uncontested possession. This change effectively created the evolution of the modern game of American football from its rugby football origins. He is credited with innovations such as the snap-back from center, the system of downs, and the points system, as well as the introduction of the now-standard offensive arrangement of players—a seven-man offensive line and a four-man backfield consisting of a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback. Camp was also responsible for introducing the “safety”, the awarding of two points to the defensive side for tackling a ball carrier in his own end zone followed by a free kick by the offense from its own 20-yard line to restart play. This is significant, as rugby union has no point value award for this action, but instead awards a scrum to the attacking side five meters from the goal line.

In 2011, reviewing Camp’s role in the founding of the sport and of the NCAA, Taylor Branch also credited Camp with cutting the number of players on a football team from 15 to 11 and adding measuring lines to the field. However, Branch noted that the revelation in a contemporaneous McClure’s magazine story of “Camp’s $100,000 slush fund”, along with concern about the violence of the growing sport, helped lead to President Theodore Roosevelt’s intervention in the sport. The NCAA emerged from the national talks but worked to Yale’s disadvantage relative to rival (and Roosevelt’s alma mater) Harvard, according to Branch. Despite having a full-time job at the New Haven Clock Company, a Camp family business, and being an unpaid yet very involved adviser to the Yale football team, Camp wrote articles and books on the gridiron and sports in general. By the time of his death, he had written nearly 30 books and more than 250 magazine articles. His articles appeared in national periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly, Collier’s, Outing, Outlook, and The Independent, and in juvenile magazines such as St. Nicholas, Youth’s Companion, and Boys’ Magazine. His stories also appeared in major daily newspapers throughout the United States. He also selected an annual “All-American” team. According to his biographer Richard P. Borkowski, “Camp was instrumental through writing and lecturing in attaching an almost mythical atmosphere of manliness and heroism to the game not previously known in American team sports”. By the age of 33, twelve years after graduating from Yale, Walter Camp had already become known as the “Father of Football”. In a column in the popular magazine Harper’s Weekly, sports columnist Caspar Whitney had applied the nickname; the sobriquet was appropriate because, by 1892, Camp had almost single-handedly fashioned the game of modern American football.

Camp was a proponent of exercise, and not just for the athletes he coached. While working as an adviser to the United States military during World War I, he devised a program to help servicemen become more physically fit. Walter Camp has just developed for the Naval Commission on Training Camp Activities a “short hand” system of setting up exercises that seems to fill the bill; a system designed to give a man a running jump start for the serious work of the day. It is called the “daily dozen set-up”, meaning thereby twelve very simple exercises. Both the Army and the Navy used Camp’s methods. The names of the exercises in the original Daily Dozen, as the whole set became known, were hands, grind, crawl, wave, hips, grate, curl, weave, head, grasp, crouch, and wing. As the name indicates, there were twelve exercises, and they could be completed in about eight minutes. A prolific writer, Camp wrote a book explaining the exercises and extolling their benefits. During the 1920s, a number of newspapers and magazines used the term “Daily Dozen” to refer to exercise in general. Starting in 1921 with the Musical Health Builder record sets, Camp began offering morning setting-up exercises to a wider market. In 1922, the initiative reached the new medium of radio


John Ferraro (1924–2001) was the longest-serving Los Angeles City Council member in the history of the city—thirty-five years, from 1966 until his death in 2001—and the president of the council for fourteen of them. He had been an all-American football player at the University of Southern California. Ferraro was born May 24, 1924, in the working class suburb of Cudahy, California, just south of Los Angeles, “the youngest son of a family of eight children whose Italian immigrant parents ran a macaroni factory before going broke during the Depression.” He attended Bell High School in Bell, California, where he graduated in 1942, and he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Southern California after World War II. Ferraro enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was commissioned as an ensign in 1945. He served on a tanker with Warren Christopher, later the Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. “Christopher got Ferraro interested in politics during long, early morning discussions when they were stationed in the Bay Area.”

His excellence on the football field at Bell High—he was a unanimous choice for the All-City team—led to his receiving a scholarship at USC, where he earned All-American honors in 1944 and 1947 and played as a tackle in three Rose Bowls. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1974. As an adult he stood 6 feet, 4¼ inches tall and weighed 245 pounds, earning him the nickname “Big John.”

Ferraro was an insurance broker with the John Ferraro Company, beginning in 1951, and he invested shrewdly in stocks and real estate that made him a millionaire. He was married to Julie Marie Luckey, daughter of Democratic State Senator E. George Luckey, and they had a son, Luckeygian, or Lucky, born about 1956. The Ferraros were divorced in 1972. His second wife was Bridget Margaret Hart, widely known as exotic dancer and stripteaser Margie Hart in the 1940s—and then as a legitimate actress who even later made money through real-estate investments. They met at a reception in support of Democrat Pierre Salinger’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign in 1964, and they were married in 1982. She died in 2000.

Ferraro was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen in August 1999 and underwent chemotherapy. Mayor Richard Riordan was at his side, along with family members, when he died at the age of 76 in Santa Monica on April 17, 2001. A crowd of nearly a thousand filled St. Brendan Catholic Church, Ferraro’s parish, for a funeral mass conducted by Cardinal Roger Mahony. Family present included Ferraro’s brother, Steve, sisters Mary and Rose and his son, Gianni Luckey.

He entered government service in 1953, when Mayor Norris Poulson appointed him to the city Police Commission, where he served for thirteen years. During that period, he advocated more-stringent gun laws and backed African-American John Roseboro, former Los Angeles Dodgers star, to do community relations work for the Police Department after the 1965 Watts riots. Supported by Mayor Sam Yorty and seen as a “product of the old guard of conservative if nominally Democratic politicians who used to dominate local politics,” he was appointed in May 1966 from among thirteen applicants to represent Los Angeles City Council District 4 after the death of incumbent Harold A. Henry. Because of his height, when he took office carpenters had to remove a drawer from his desk so that his legs could fit under it.

During his term, which at thirty-five years was the longest in City Council history, the 4th District covered (in 1955) much of the Wilshire district and in general was bounded by Fountain Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Fairfax Avenue and Catalina Street[ and (in 1975) Central Los Angeles from Fairfax and Highland Avenues on the west, to Santa Monica Boulevard on the north, the Pasadena Freeway on the east and Olympic Boulevard on the south (1945). In 1986 it was considered a contorted district that included the old areas as well as Atwater, Griffith Park, Forest Lawn Drive and parts of the central San Fernando Valley to Colfax Avenue and Victory Boulevard. In 1989 the district stretched from Hancock Park to Studio City. In 1974, Ferraro ran unsuccessfully against fellow Councilman Edmund D. Edelman for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and in 1985, he made a futile run against Tom Bradley for mayor. In 1999, he was fined $3,300 by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for receiving campaign contributions in 1997 above a newly established limit. It and penalties levied against Councilmen Mike Hernandez and Mark Ridley-Thomas were the first to be made under a law effective in 1985.

Ferraro was elected to the board of the National League of Cities in 1995, and in March 1996 the Los Angeles Marathon named him Citizen of the Year, the University of Southern California gave him its Asa V. Call Achievement Award and the National Council of Young Israel gave him a community-service award. For his contribution to sports in Los Angeles, he was honored with a Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum “Court of Honor” plaque by the Coliseum commissioners. The John Ferraro Building in Downtown Los Angeles. On November 16, 2000, in honor of his more than five decades of public service, the City of Los Angeles renamed the landmark Department of Water and Power’s General Office Building to the John Ferraro Building. The building was designed by the architects AC Martin Partners, Inc. and opened in 1964. The Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government was established at the School of Policy, Planning and Development of the University of Southern California.

Follow me!

Leave a Reply