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November 22, 2010

Case vs. Reserve Thanksgiving Day football game - continued

There were objections by various clergy to holding a football game on Thanksgiving. In 1909 a letter was sent by Frank Du Moulin of Trinity Cathedral objecting to the game, “... this Clericus believes it to be entirely contrary to the purpose and spirit of Thanksgiving Day to occupy the morning hours of that day with any form of organized recreation which however healthful and legitimate in character, makes it difficult for the young people of the city to fulfill the main purpose of the day by ‘attendance at their respective places of worship.’”

In 1910 the Ministerial Associations sent a letter to President Howe of Case requesting that the game be moved to another day. The game subordinated patriotism and religion to a pastime, declared the ministers, “...in this city of ours the football game dominates the whole situation, overshadowing entirely the religious and patriotic aspects of the occasion; and we have the unseemly spectacle of the churches, which the President and Governor ask to carry out the intent of their proclamations, very largely subordinated to the frenzy of a pastime, holding their services, many of them, at all sorts of unnatural and inconvenient hours, with the minds of the people dominated by an alien and relatively trivial interest...”

In fact, the athletic program at both schools stayed afloat because of the gate receipts from the Thanksgiving Day game. It was not financially possible for either school to change the date of the big game.

President Howe responded in 1909, “If we could be sure of six or eight thousand people at every game throughout the season, I presume the receipts would be sufficient to meet all of the necessary expenses for the season; but the attendance is frequently not over a thousand and when our team goes to other colleges which are located in small towns, the receipts are so small that sometimes they do not more than pay the traveling expenses of the men who are obliged to go. For this reason our Athletic Association has always depended upon the receipts of the Thanksgiving Day game...”

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November 15, 2010

Case vs. WRU Thanksgiving Day football game

Thanksgiving Day and football: a tradition. No, not the Detroit Lions. Not the Dallas Cowboys. Forget the NFL! For many years in Cleveland the big game was the annual Case vs. Reserve game.

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The Case/Reserve Thanksgiving Day game was a long-standing tradition between Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, with few gaps, stretching from 1894-1953. The game was held in the morning so that people could attend and still get home to enjoy their dinner. The big game was well-attended and was often held at League Park (early home of the Cleveland Indians) and sometimes at Cleveland Municipal Stadium (later home of the Indians and Browns). Other venues included Shaw Stadium as well as the home turf of Van Horn (Case) and Clarke Fields (WRU). Being neighboring schools, Case and Reserve were big rivals. And since they were primarily local schools before World War II, many Clevelanders had attended or had family members who attended Case or Reserve, generating additional interest in the game.

Reserve had the upper hand in the rivalry, winning 49, while Case won 20, and there were 5 ties. Though Case won early, winning 9 of the first 13 games, they went on a winless streak after their victory in 1927 -- not winning again until 1948!

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Player gains 5 yards for Case, 11/25/1948.

The last Thanksgiving Day game was held 11/26/1953 with Reserve winning 35-19 at Clarke Field. The Ohio governor attended the game with 7500 other fans, including the Case and Reserve presidents.


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Case President T. Keith Glennan and WRU President John S. Millis at the last Thanksgiving Day game in 1953.

The next year Case abolished football and did not have a team again until 1955. Case and Reserve resumed play but the game was no longer held on Thanksgiving Day. The 2 institutions merged in 1967 but continued separate football teams through the 1969 season.

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