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Great Moments in Yale Sports

Every athlete—and every fan—who has sweated or cheered for Yale has a memory of a great moment. Some of them have become the stuff of legend.

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24 May 1843

The arrival in New Haven of the Whitehall, the boat that marks the formation of the first collegiate crew in the U.S.

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3 August 1852

Yale and Harvard meet on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire in the nation’s first intercollegiate sporting event. Harvard’s Oneida prevails over Yale’s Shawmut by about two lengths over the two-mile course. Yale’s Undine finishes third.

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23 July 1858

The first regatta of American colleges, which was to include crews from Yale, Harvard, Trinity, and Brown, is canceled as George E. Dunham, Class of 1858, falls overboard in a training accident and drowns.

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30 September 1865

Yale and Wesleyan play what many believe to be the first intercollegiate baseball game. Yale wins 39–13.

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16 November 1872

Yale plays its first intercollegiate football game, taking on Columbia at Hamilton Park in New Haven. A last minute substitute, T. T. Sherman, Class of 1874, scores the first point in Yale football history, as the Elis win, three goals to none.

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19 October 1873

P .H. Porter, Class of 1874, presides over a meeting with Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers at which the first intercollegiate football rules were adopted.

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25 October 1873

For the first time in Yale history, an admission fee is charged for a football game. More than one thousand people pay 35 cents each to watch Yale beat Rutgers three goals to one.

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15 November 1873

Yale meets Princeton for the first time on the gridiron. Princeton wins, three goals to none.

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14 July 1874

Yale defeats Harvard for the first time in baseball, 4–0.

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13 November 1875

Yale and Harvard play The Game for the first time. Harvard prevails four goals to one. Seven Harvard students are arrested at post-game parties for “hooting and singing in the public streets” and fined $5.29 each.

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20 July 1876

W.J. Wakeman, Class of 1876, wins the 120-yard hurdle event with a time of 18.5 seconds in the first intercollegiate track meet.

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20 November 1880

Frederic Remington arrives at the Yale-Harvard game having dipped his Yale team jersey in blood from a slaughterhouse to appear “more businesslike” for the contest.

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9 October 1884

In the Intercollegiate Tennis Championship’s second year of existence, Yale’s W.P. Knapp, Class of 1886, beats his Trinity opponent to capture the singles title. Later, Knapp and a teammate win the doubles title as Harvard forfeits.

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30 October 1886

Yale beats Wesleyan 136–0 in football and sets an all-time record for scoring.

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29 September 1888

Walter Camp begins his tenure as the first official football coach in Yale history. Team captain “Pa” Corbin names Mrs. Walter Camp as co-coach.

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24 November 1888

Yale beats Princeton 10–0 to cap a 13–0 season in which the Elis outscored their opponents 698–0.

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1889

Handsome Dan, a bulldog owned by Andrew B. Graves, Sheff Class of 1892, becomes Yale’s mascot, the first animal to hold such a position in American sports.

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9 October 1889

Yale’s defeat of Wesleyan 63–5 marks the first time in 16 games that the Elis have allowed a point to be scored against them. Coach Camp orders extra practice for the defensive squad.

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27 November 1890

Yale defeats Princeton 32–0 to start a winning streak of 37 consecutive games over the next three years. Thirty six of the victories are shut-outs, including 35 in a row. Overall, the Elis outscore their opponents 1,268 to 6.

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13 December 1890

A Yale team squares off against hoopsters from the Springfield YMCA led by Amos Alonzo Stagg in an exhibition of a new sport called basketball. The center of the Springfield squad was James Naismith, the game’s inventor.

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19 November 1892

At The Game, Yale students belt out “Hold the Fort,” the first fight song in football history. The team responds, beating Harvard 6–0.

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7 December 1895

Yale plays its first formal basketball game, beating the Waterbury YMCA 9–4.

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31 January 1896

Yale plays its first hockey game, losing 3–2 to the Baltimore Athletic Club.

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1 February 1896

Yale and Johns Hopkins play the first intercollegiate hockey game in history as they skate to a 2–2 tie in Baltimore.

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7 November 1896

Yale plays the first ever intercollegiate golf match, beating Columbia 35–0.

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15 November 1902

For the first time in history, a movie camera records a football game. Yale defeats Princeton 12–5, as cameraman Thomas Alva Edison films the action.

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1906

A rules committee led by Walter Camp legalizes the forward pass.

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17 October 1914

Yale defeats Notre Dame 28–0. The shutout ends a 27-game winning streak by the Fighting Irish, and the loss, then-assistant coach Knute Rockne would note in his autobiography, was “the most valuable lesson Notre Dame ever had in football. It taught us never to be cocksure.”

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21 November 1914

The Yale Bowl opens with 70,000 fans arriving for The Game. The Eli faithful leave disappointed, as Harvard wins, 36–0. According to the press, “Yale had the Bowl, but Harvard had the punch.”

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12 February 1921

Yale and Dartmouth play to a 0–0 tie when their hockey game is called three minutes into the second period because of soft ice.

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24 June 1921

Crew coach Guy Nickalls, disgusted with his team’s performance against Cornell, accuses the men of rowing a “gutless race.” The crew finds intestinal fortitude and with the coxswain chanting “Guts, guts, guts” beats a heavily favored Harvard boat on the Thames in New London.

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3 November 1923

Eighty thousand fans—the largest crowd to ever attend a game in the Yale Bowl—watch the Elis beat Army 31–10.

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17 July 1924

 

rowers

The crew, coached by Edward Leader, caps off an undefeated season with an invitation to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in France. In the finals, the Yale boat, with future baby doctor Benjamin Spock ’25 at Number-Two, rows past Canada, Great Britain, and Italy to take the gold.

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5 October 1929

Yale wallops Vermont 89–0, a Yale Bowl scoring record that still stands. Other records established that day that remain on the books are those for points after touchdowns (10), total offense (734 yards), and rushing (641 yards).

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12 October 1929

In the Battle of the Bulldogs, the Elis square off against the University of Georgia, whose first president was a Yale man. UGA prevails over Handsome Dan, 15–0.

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1 October 1932

Yale and Bates play to a 0–0 tie at the Yale Bowl, marking the first time in the Elis’ 60-year football history that Yale has not won its opening game.

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17 November 1934

Playing before a highly partisan crowd in Princeton, the Elis take on the undefeated Tigers. The starting 11, including football legend Larry Kelley ’37, play the entire game; and win 7–0.

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17 April 1939

Ted Williams goes 0 for 4, Jimmy Foxx goes 0 for 1, Joe Cronin goes 1 for 2, as the Boston Red Sox barely defeat the Elis at Yale Field 6–5.

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12 October 1940

The Yale–University of Pennsylvania game is televised. It is a first for Yale, and it marks only the third time that TV cameras have captured a football game.

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4 October 1941

The National Anthem is sung at a Yale football game for the first time, as the Elis take to the field against the University of Virginia.

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6 January 1945

Yale loses to Dartmouth 13–8, the Elis’s highest scoring hockey game of all time.

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20 January 1945

Coached by the legendary Bob Kiphuth, Yale records the first of 201 consecutive dual swimming meet victories, a streak that won’t end until 4 Feb 1961.

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17 March 1948

The Yale-Harvard hockey game ends in a brawl, and the Crimson leave the ice at 18:45 in the third period with Yale leading 10–3.

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5 June 1948

Captain George Bush ’48 accepts the manuscript of The Babe Ruth Story from the Babe himself during pregame ceremonies at Yale Field. The team will later battle the University of Southern California in the College World Series, losing to USC two games to one.

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26 February 1949

Tony Lavelli, Class of 1949, sets a men’s basketball one-game scoring record with 52 points in a 100–64 win over Williams.

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24 September 1949

The football team beats Connecticut 26–0 led by Levi Jackson ’50, the first African American to captain a Yale team in any sport.

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7 April 1950

The Yale men’s lacrosse team sets a record for most goals in a game with a 25–0 win over MIT.

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27 November 1956

Yale’s heavyweight varsity eight, representing the United States in the Olympic Games in Australia, defeats Canada, Sweden, and Australia to capture the gold medal.

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25 September 1965

In the first game of what would be a 32-year reign as head coach, Carm Cozza watches Connecticut beat Yale 13–6.

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27 January 1968

Cornell beats Yale in hockey 19–1, giving the Elis their worst-ever drubbing.

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23 November 1968

An undefeated Yale team, led by Brian Dowling and Calvin Hill, travel to Cambridge for The Game. Harvard, also undefeated but trailing 29–13 with only 200 seconds left in the fourth quarter, stages an unlikely rally to tie the game. The Harvard Crimson headline: “Harvard Beats Yale 29–29.”

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1972

Lawrie Mifflin ’73, who helped to establish the field hockey team, and Sandy Morse, become the first co-captains of any varsity sport—and the first women to sit for portraits on the Yale fence.

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4 December 1974

The Yale women’s basketball team notches its first Ivy League victory, beating Radcliffe 42–27.

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3 March 1976

Nineteen members of the Yale women’s crew team stage a “Strip In” at Payne Whitney Gymnasium in the office of women’s athletics director Joni Barnett. The women have painted “Title IX” on their chests and backs to protest the lack of adequate shower facilities at the Yale boathouse.

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5 December 1978

Yale and Harvard meet for the first time in women’s hockey, with Yale winning 2–1.

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6 January 1980

Yale defeats Middlebury 114–74 to set a team single-game scoring record in men’s basketball.

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27 April 1980

Joanne van Woert hurls a pair of no-hitters (16–0 over Princeton, and 8–0 over Brown) as the Bulldogs win the first Ivy League softball championship.

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21 May 1981

Yale’s Ron Darling pitches 11 innings of no-hit ball but loses the game in the twelfth to Frank Viola and St. John’s 1–0 in the NCAA Regionals at Yale Field.

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Winter 1982

Yale women fencers win the national championship.

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19 November 1983

The Game turns 100, but Harvard spoils the party with a 16–7 victory.

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3 October 1987

Yale takes its longest football road trip in history, but after the alohas are exchanged, the Elis suffer their worst defeat ever, losing 62–10 to the University of Hawaii.

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20 February 1988

Randi Meberg nets 33 points, a Yale women’s basketball team scoring record, versus the University of Pennsylvania in an 83–58 victory.

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1990

The men’s lacrosse team, ranked second in the country for most of the season and coached by Mike Waldvogel, compiles a record of 16–2, ties for first place in the Ivy League, and reaches the Final Four in the National NCAA Championship.

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Winter 1993

The women’s gymnastics team is named National Academic Champion by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for having the highest combined grade point average, 3.53, for the 1992–93 season.

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22 February 1996

Yale’s women fencers defeat Princeton 24–8 and finish 11–0 to win the Ivy League title.

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Winter 1998

The men’s hockey team captures the ECAC regular season championship.

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20 November 1999

With just 29 seconds remaining in The Game and Yale trailing 21–17, Bulldog quarterback Joe Walland’s pass is grabbed by Yale’s Eric Johnson in the Harvard end zone just before the ball hits the ground. The Catch is the highlight of a 24–21 Yale victory.

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1 June 2000

The Varsity Lightweight Crew wins the national championship, and goes to England to capture the Royal Henley Regatta “Temple Challenge Cup.”

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16 September 2000

Yale marks the opening day of its 128th football season by beating the University of Dayton, 42–6, and becoming the first college team in gridiron history to garner 800 wins.

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