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1889 College Football All-America Team

The 1889 College Football All-America team was the first College Football All-America Team. The team was selected by Caspar Whitney and published in This Week's Sports.[1]

The team selected by Whitney in 1889 marked the origin of the "All-America" teams that have since appeared in every collegiate sport from men's ice hockey to women's gymnastics. All eleven members of the 1889 All-America team played for three teams—Harvard, Princeton or Yale, then known as the "Big Three" of college football. Some sources indicate that Walter Camp assisted Whitney with the selection of the 1889 All-American team, while others indicate that Camp did not become involved in the selection process until some time in the 1890s.

The first ever All-America team included the legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg (then a player for Yale), Pudge Heffelfinger (the first professional football player), "Snake" Ames (who set a college scoring record with 730 points), Edgar Allan Poe (second cousin, twice removed of the writer of the same name), Arthur Cumnock (described as the greatest Harvard football player of all-time in 1913), and Roscoe Channing (who later served with Teddy Roosevelt in the Rough Riders).

Profiles of the 1889 All-America ElevenEdit

Yale end Amos Alonzo Stagg went on to become one of the sport's most successful coaches.
Yale guard Pudge Heffelfinger became the first professional football player in 1892.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862–1965): Yale's All-American end, Stagg became a legendary football coach at the University of Chicago from 1892 to 1932 and the University of the Pacific from 1933 to 1946. Stagg's teams won seven national championships and seven Big Ten Conference championships.
  • William Heffelfinger (1867–1954): Yale's guard, "Pudge" Heffelfinger was a native of Minnesota who was considered the greatest lineman of his time.[2] Heffelfinger was paid $500 in 1892 to play for the Allegheny Athletic Association, making him the first professional football player.[2] He was the head football coach at the University of California (1893), Lehigh University (1894), and the University of Minnesota (1895). He later published an annual booklet called "Heffelfinger's Football Facts" and was one of the charter inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame.[2]
  • Knowlton Ames (1868–1931): A native of Chicago, Princeton's All-America fullback "Snake" Ames set an unofficial collegiate scoring record in his time with 730 points, including 62 touchdowns and 176 points after touchdown. Ames is credited with being the first player to execute a fake punt and part of the first team to fully develop the "power sweep."[3] Ames moved west to coach Purdue University from 1891 to 1892.
  • Hector Cowan (1863–1941): Princeton's tackle, "Hec" Cowan helped lead the 1889 Princeton team to a perfect 10–0 record. Pudge Heffelfinger later said of Cowan, "He had the strongest shoulders and arms I've ever been up against and his stubby legs drove like pistons when he carried the ball. Hector could carry a couple of tacklers on his back, yet he was plenty fast in the open."[4] He later served as the coach at the University of Kansas from 1894 to 1896.
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1871–1961): Princeton's quarterback, Poe was named after his relative and celebrated poet Edgar Allan Poe.[5][6] After Princeton beat Harvard, 41–15, a Harvard man reportedly asked a Princeton alumnus whether Poe was related to the great Edgar Allan Poe. According to the story, "the alumnus looked at him in astonishment and replied, 'He is the great Edgar Allan Poe.'"[5] Poe graduated Phi Beta Kappa and later served as the Attorney General of the State of Maryland from 1911 to 1915.[7]
  • Arthur Cumnock (1868–1930): Harvard's Cumnock was known as a fierce tackler and has been ranked by one author as perhaps the greatest player in that school's long football tradition.[8] Cumnock later went into the cotton mill business and was the treasurer of one of the largest corporations in New England.[8]
  • Roscoe Channing (1868–1961): Princeton's halfback Channing later served with Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish–American War. For many years, he was the President of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, a copper mining company in Flin Flon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • Charles O. Gill (1868–1959): Yale's Gill later coached at the University of California in 1894.[9]

Team lineup by positionEdit

Princeton fullback "Snake" Ames set an unofficial collegiate scoring record with 730 points, including 62 touchdowns and 176 goals after touchdown.

Gallery of 1889 All-AmericansEdit


  1. ^ "Football Award Winners" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 2016. p. 6. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Pudge Heffelfinger at the College Football Hall of Fame
  3. ^ "Knowlton Ames". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  4. ^ Hector Cowan at the College Football Hall of Fame
  5. ^ a b "Memories of the Poe brothers". Princeton Weekly Bulletin. 2003-10-13.("Edgar Allan Poe 1891 was quarterback and captain in his junior and senior years. He was named All-American in 1889.")
  6. ^ Floyd Conner (2000). Football's Most Wanted, p. 47. Brassey's.
  7. ^ Clayton Colman Hall. "Baltimore, pp. 691–692". Lewis Historical Publishing Co.
  8. ^ a b "Harvard's Greatest" (PDF). LA84 Foundation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-12.
  9. ^ "University of California Directory". Sports Network. Archived from the original on 2011-05-26.