High School Football Exhibit

1949 practice session

Come on up to the fourth floor to see the new exhibit Gridiron’s Golden Era: Early Days of High School Football in Grand Rapids. This exhibit tells the story of Grand Rapids high school football beginning in 1892 and up through the season of 1959 which ended with a play that came to be known as “The Run”.  Over the years, autumn weekends were defined by the battles fought at Houseman Field, South Field, and Island Park between teams such as the Union Red Hawks, Catholic Central Cougars, South Trojans, Central Rams, Creston Polar Bears, and the Ottawa Hills Bengals.

So come learn about the fierce rivalry between South and Union, and their annual quest for the Little Red Jug.  In addition, learn about Catholic Central’s dominance in the 1940’s and 50’s under coach Ted Sowle.  Also see photos of Gerald Ford as the captain of the Trojans and as a Herald All-City Player.  The exhibit is drawn from the library’s vast archival collections including yearbooks, programs, newspaper articles, photos from the Robinson collection, and even some extremely rare footage of a 1948 Thanksgiving Day game.

1939 game between Ottawa Hills and Catholic Central

4 Responses to “High School Football Exhibit”

  1. September 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    Tim Gleisner & Ben Boss did a great job gathering the material for this exhibit! And Amanda Bridle put it all together in a stunning display!

  2. September 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    This looks great – better than an actual football game. I'm puzzled, though – a high school football game on Thanksgiving?! Can you imagine the parental outcry today?

  3. September 16, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    A patron was in Sunday afternoon, looking at the exhibit, and found a photograph of his grandfather in the 1940s panel. He's looking forward to returning to the library to look at the high school yearbooks for his grandfather.

  4. September 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I really got a kick out of working on it and I am not really a sports fan. We have got some really interesting stuff in our archives. I do think the exhibit also tells the story of how football became popular in America, surpassing baseball.