Herb Juliano

Herb's Archive features an article from a South Bend paper about the reunion of the 1888 team during the Notre Dame homecoming in 1924.


Members of the 1888 team on campus for a reunion.

Members of the 1888 team on campus for a reunion.


Notre Dame Team Of 1888 Will Have Reunion; Luhn Was Captian.

The first football team that ever represented Notre Dame university in an intercollegiate contest, the team of 1888, captioned by Dr. H. B. Luhn of Spokane, will return to South Bend, Ind., for home-coming day, November 1.

Ten of the 11 players who were in the first intercollegiate football game ever played by a Notre Dame eleven have already notified Dr. Luhn of their intention to be on hand. It is possible that the eleventh member of the team will also be there to give the full personnel of the lineup to the homecoming at South Bend where Coach Rockne's 1924 eleven will meet the Georgia Tech lineup.

Dr. Luhn started 18 months ago to get in touch with all the members of the team which inaugurated intecollegiate football at Notre Dame with two games against the University of Michigan team in the spring of 1888. Dr. Luhn established communication with with nine of the players who were on his team and has not given up hope of reaching the tenth member  to make the team complete for the big reunion, 36 years after it played the first football game for Notre Dame.


Had No Substitutes.

Notre Dame's first football team was mad up of 11 players and no substitutes. The active participants in the Notre Dame-University of Michigan contests, two of them, in the spring of 1888, and their present addresses, follow:

Joseph E. Cusack, quarterback, colonel United States cavalry, El Paso, Texas. George A. Houck, tackle, Portland; Joseph L. Hepburn, end, insurance business, Detroit; Edward Sawkins, guard, santitary officer, Detroit; Frank Fehr, center, capitalist, Louisville; F.H. Springer, end, Columbus, Ga.; Ed Prudomme, fullback, member Louisiana legislature, Bermuda, La.; Patrick J. Nelson, guard, judge district court, Dubuque, Iowa; Eugend P. Melady, tackle, meat packing business, Omaha; H.M. Jewett, halfback, president Paige Motor Company, Detroit; H.B. Luhn, captain and halfback, physician and surgeon, Spokane.

Notre Dame university had plenty of athletes in it's student body in 1888, but no football players. Two former Notre Dame students who were attending the University of Michigan at that time sent a request to the student body at the South Bend institution for football games.


Luhn Was Sprinter.

Dr. Luhn, then one of the greatest sprinters at Notre Dame and an athletic leader, was made spokesman for the Notre Dame team athletes in carrying the request to Father Paul, faculty head of the athletic committee.

There was no athletic fund to take care of athletics in 1888; so naturally Father Paul, who looked at the proposition from a practical side, was not as enthusiatic as the boys. Uniforms had to be secured, the Michigan team had to be brought to South Bend from Ann Arbor, and a football had to be purchased.

Plans without number were placed before Father Paul in an effort to clear the way for the football meeting with Michigan and finally after [Editor's note: Here a paragraph or two is missing from the original article so we will continue were the article picks up again. I believe the various problems with arranging a game were discussed in the missing lines...] were not allowed to leave campus without permission, the four-mile trip to South Bend park offered another problem.


Equipment purchased.

But Notre Dame had to get on the football map, so permission was finally given for the trip. Eleven  canvas suits, not padded were finally purchased for the Notre Dame players and a scrub team outfitted in its regular civilian clothes lined up to furnish the opposition to prepare the varsity to meet Michigan.There was no coach for the team, only a few rule books for the enthusisastic players to read. Finally, everthing was ready and Michigan's team arrived in South Bend for the game. Notre Dame had learned the game out of the rule book and five minutes after the contest opened they found it was no way to learn how to play football.

Michigan ran up a score of 24 points in the first half of 45 minutes. Then came the intermission. Notre Dame's team gathered and decided to play the game the way Michigan had been playing it and not according to the rules. The result was a touch-down by "Hal" Jewett for Notre Dame in the second half and no score for Michigan. The final count was 26-6.

The next day the same teams met on the Notre Dame campus. Some idea of how much football Michigan taught their rivals in a day can be seen from the 4-0 score that resulted in Michigan's favor in the second clash.


All Different Then.

"Football in 1888 and now are different games," said Dr. Luhn today. "We didn't play the close formation style then as they do now and there were no forward passes. Our half-back played far to each side of the quarterback and long laterals or back passes were the things.


Quarter Couldn't Carry Ball.

"Ends played wide to 'cover' the halfback and prevent runs. In those days the quarterback could not run with the ball, but had to pass it and let some one else do the running. Our first Notre Dame backfield was made up of four players who were better than 11 seconds each [in the 100 dash] in their suits so we had speed aplenty and that was the pricipal factor in football at that time.

"We had one football, three rule books and no coach, but we did the best we could and after all it was the start from which the great Notre Dame teams of later years are the results.

"Ten of our old team will be at South Bend for the Notre Dame- Georgia Tech game and we still have hope of having all eleven of the 1888 players on hand. We will see the modern football game and attend a big banquet the night of the game. I am looking forward to meeting the old boys with about the same enthusiasm that I felt for the first Michigan-Notre Dame game."


1888 team members pose with the famous team of the Four Horsemen.

1888 team members pose with the famous team of the Four Horsemen.


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