Last post by Armorbeast - Yesterday at 02:53:44 am
New Jersey Wrecking Crew
The New Jersey Wrecking Crew has its origins with a team called the New Jersey Turnpikes created by the United New Jersey and Canal Company Railroad (UNJ) in 1878. The Turnpikes rarely played more than two or three games a year and then, generally only for gambling purposes to claim a potential bonus. Competition for the Turnpikes generally came by traveling out of state to Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Indiana which were the hotbeds of competition. The formation of the Orange Athletic Club in 1887 gave the Turnpikes a strong rival to play against even if their games were more for pride and prestige because neither team was earning money.
The team found sponsorship where they could until a man named Allan James Rikter who offered to sponsor them for twelve games in 1893. A.J. Rikter was from the front office of the UNJ and wanted bragging rights against rival railroads in the state. In 1896, they were challenged to a game by the Newark Athletic Club in front of a paying crowd where they made more money than playing against other railroad teams. The Turnpikes won the game and began challenging semi-pro and even college teams if there was a potential for a good fan turnout. Many of the teams used college athletes with promising futures and who came from prominent families who often looked down upon lowly railroad workers for various reasons. The Turnpikes players tended to be older, stronger and more accustomed to violence often leading to arrests after their games when their players hurt, or even killed, athletes of an opposing team.
The team would be renamed the Trenton Mercers after the automobile company and turned over to Washington Augustus Roebling II who was also the team's captain. Unfortunately, Roebling perished on April 15th, 2012 following a tour of Europe aboard the ill-fated White Star Lines luxury passenger liner RMS Titanic. The United States Automobile Company had founded a USA-AFL franchise called the Newark Grays in early 1912; one year before they collapsed in 1913. It had been founded by Benjamin Briscoe of Maxwell-Briscoe Company which owned the New York Emperors of the USA-AFL. They then became the Trenton Tornadoes the following season reverting to their previous team name to regain fan support.
Mercer Automobile Company had been purchased by a Wall Street Syndicate headed up by former Packard exec Emlen Hare in 1919. It would be merged Crane-Simplex Automotive Company and the Locomobile Company of America into Hare's Motors by 1920. During his tenure, a scheme was hatched to take over the Newark Grays by Hare's Motors President Andrew L. Riker who had been an early pioneer in electric automobiles. At this time, the Newark Grays were bleeding resources and deep in debt competing against the nearby Orange A.C. Golden Tornadoes. These plans fell through when Hare's Motors collapsed in 1922 and ownership of Mercer Motor Company reverted back to its previous owners. Mercer would then be approached by Mayor Edward L. Bader of Atlantic City with an offer. Bader had once played for a pro football team called the Philadelphia Athletics of the original 1902 National Football League.
As Mayor, he would prove one of the most capable leaders in the city's history founding several businesses, the Miss America Pageant and he wanted to make Atlantic City a sports mecca. With the backing of the Mercer Motor Company, Bader created a successful pro football team called the Atlantic City Blue Tornadoes in 1925 that won eleven out of thirteen games against some of the best teams of that era. The goal was to merge the Mercers with the Blue Tornadoes to pressure the Melrose Athletic Club (aka Atlantic City Roses) into buying both franchises. This purchase was completed at the end of the 1925 season to create the short-lived Atlantic City Tornadoes which would be merged with the Newark Grays and the Trenton Tornadoes to recreate the Blue Tornadoes for the 1926 season. They would also purchase the Newark Bears in 1926 after the first American Football League folded.
The USA-AFL would force a merger between the Blue Tornadoes and the Millville Big Blue in 1928. They maintained a rivalry with their old nemesis the Orange Athletic Club which was now owned by Edwin "Piggy" Simandl and called the Golden Tornadoes. Simandl purchased contracts of many players from the now defunct Duluth Eskimos to create an NFL franchise using the identity of his Golden Tornadoes. The Eskimos franchise itself would be purchased by the USA-AFL and Simandl preserved his original team as an independent team fearing his NFL franchise would fail... which it did. The Orange / Newark Tornadoes collapsed in 1930 forcing Simandl to sell his NFL franchise rights back to the NFL. But, he only sold the franchise rights while keeping the teams identity and heritage allowing him to relocate to rebuild his team as the Kansas City Tornadoes of the USA-AFL. However, their nickname as the Wrecking Crew quickly shifted to the Blue Tornadoes as did much of their administration because the team that took the field in Kansas City was essentially a new franchise.
A key acquisition in 1932 were the Clifton Heights Orange & Blacks from Pennsylvania as they had gained the nickname of being the Wrecking Crew; a name which the New Jersey Blue Tornadoes would eventually adopt as their franchise identity. Joe Rosentover became a minority owner of the team in 1936 following the merging of his Passaic Red Devils with the Clifton Wessingtons to form the Wessington Red Devils. The Clifton Wessingtons had reformed in 1937 after buying out the White Plains Bears of New York after they had been named co-champions of the American Association first season along with the East Orange Tornadoes (a team put together by players for the original Orange Tornadoes who refused to relocate). Rosentover had become President of the American Association when it was founded and purchased the Wessingtons outright when they folded after the 1938 season.
The USA-AFL purchased this incarnation of the Orange Tornadoes to recreate their rivalry with the Blue Tornadoes pitting the city of Newark against Atlantic City. Joe Rosentover would rename his team the New Jersey Devils after legendary creature of New Jersey folklore. The Blue Tornadoes would also undergo another name change in 1956 when they officially adopted the name New Jersey Wrecking Crew. In 1963, Rosentov sold his percentage of ownership to the state of New Jersey and became President of the Atlantic Coast Football League until removed in 1967. By 1970, the New Jersey Devils had collapsed and the USA-AFL had decided to eliminate them by merging them with the Mississippi Gamblers.
The New Jersey Wrecking Crew had grown strong by absorbing teams like the Bayonne Vikings, Union City Rams, Jersey City Giants, Paterson Panthers and other strong New Jersey franchises. Without the Devils to compete with, the Wrecking Crew came into their own and won the 1974 Ultra Bowl Championship. The Wrecking Crew became an exceptional road team even during bad seasons and their record against New England teams has always been a better win / loss ratio. Even in the 1983 season when they lost every game outside of New England, they still had more wins than losses to their New England rivals.
Last post by Armorbeast - November 11, 2019, 01:56:55 am
Las Vegas Mavericks
The Mavericks are a team named for a certain breed of people who refuse to follow cultural norms and rules that others are expected to obey. In this case, it is better applied to the gamblers and risk takers who strike out on their own to get rich or make a name for themselves. The teams origin actually begins in Toledo, Ohio as the Toledo Athletic Association in 1902. Four years later, they formed a junior team for teenagers called the Toledo Maroons in 1906 and dissolved in 1908 leaving the Maroons to carry on without them. The Toledo Maroons were members of the Ohio League until 1919 when that league reformed as the American Professional Football Association. The Maroons would remain an independent team until 1922 when the APFA became the National Football League and again invited them to join. The team continued for two mediocre seasons in the NFL before relocating to become the Kenosha Maroons for their final season.
A man named George Wingfield from Nevada expressed interest in buying the franchise and relocated it to Reno where he owned an investment in the semi pro Southwestern Football League. Wingfield had moved to Reno in 1908 after making his fortune with the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company becoming the wealthiest man in Nevada and, at one point, he owned every bank in the state. In 1918, he had formed the Reno Gold Miners* as part of the SWFL and the purpose of buying the Toledo Maroons was to gain the experience the franchise had to offer. New players would be recruited from the Ohio region to replace the ones who wouldn't relocate and the following season, they began play in the USA-AFL as the Reno Maroon and White. The new franchise would include players moved up from the Reno Gold Miners and play two seasons with a losing record.
In 1926, the Cincinnati Potters and Racine Tornadoes folded placing them both on the market where they were purchased by Agents on behalf of George Wingfield. In 1932, the Great Depression finally caught up to Wingfield and destroyed most of his fortune. Forced to sell the team when he declared bankruptcy, the new owner became Frederic J. DeLongchamps who preserved the team until 1944 when famed gangster Bugsy Siegel arranged the purchase of the PCPFLHollywood Wolves (1944) and reintroduced them as the Las Vegas Wolves for the SWFL 1945 season. When Siegel was murdered in 1947, another gangster named David Berman took over the team and created a strong rivalry with the Reno Gold Miners during the USA-AFL off-season.
Berman would be forced to sell the team to hotel owner and developer Milton Prell in 1952 as the league did not want it's development league, or itself, associated with the Las Vegas mob any longer. The USA-AFL then ordered a merging between the Gold Miners and the Wolves after it was decided to move their pro franchise from Reno to Las Vegas. The franchise would retain it's maroon on white color scheme (adopted when they absorbed the Racine Maroons) and retain the Gold Miners franchise identity for two additional seasons. The Reno Wolves would be dropped to SWFL status with their original colors. before being redeveloped, and relocated, to become the La Paz Lobos in Mexico.
The team became the Las Vegas Mavericks in 1959 earning a reputation as bad guys and purposely sought out players with disciplinary issues to live up to the reputation. Often enough, opposing teams would score more points because of penalties than the Mavericks allowed by talent or ability. They lost the USA-AFL Ultra Bowl championship that year by a single penalty point and began changes to reduce their penalties when fans expressed their anger. Their focus became talent on their offense which is where they spent most of their money. However, spending less for defense meant teaching how to make "smart" penalties interfering with an offensive player trying to catch the ball rather than knocking them unconscious.
The following season, the Mavericks won the Ultra Bowl convincingly and became one of the most dominant teams of the decade. The Las Vegas Mavericks then entered a period of decline winning only two division championships in over thirty years of play. At the end of the 1994 season, they purchased the remains of the CFL's failed Las Vegas Posse and built a new team from the ground up based on having a strong offense where their entire history had been one based on a strong defense. Beginning in 1996, they began a new streak of winning seasons culminating in six division championships and an Ultra Bowl championship appearance. When the Las Vegas Locomotives came to town with the UFL in 2009, they proved much more effective winning that leagues first two championship games. When the Locomotives folded in 2012, the Mavericks purchased their assets making that team part of their own past history.
Efforts to establish pro football in Atlanta had resulted in the 1933 Atlanta Bears and the 1937 Atlanta Crackers (cracker meaning redneck or someone poor who works with coal). These teams had been merged to create a single team called the Rebels. When Candler brought the Blades and Treslers to Atlanta, they were merged with the Rebels but renamed the team, yet again, as the Sabres. Another team in Cincinnati at the time were the Cincinnati Bengals of the 1936 AFL, 1939 APFA and 1940 AFL were founded by Hal Pennington who also served as their Head Coach.
Candler became aware of this team after they defeated the Crackers 36-7 in 1937 and when they came up for sale in 1941, he purchased them to be merged with the Sabres into the Sabre-Cats. They would join the USA-AFL's Southeastern Development League in 1942 to further develop the franchise after America became involved in World War II to gain a regular schedule of games and support from the USA-AFL. The Saber-Cats would go on to develop a strong rivalry with the North Carolina Gunners who were, at this time, owned by Charles Guth who owned CocaCola rival PepsiCo.
The Sabre-Cats would be elevated to pro status in the USA-AFL after the end of the war but did poorly until purchasing the Atlanta Spartans of the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1964. The team was then sold to a new ownership group headed up by Joe Rosentover in 1967 and then to an ownership group headed up by Atlanta businessman named J. Mack Robinson after Rosentovers death. Robinson had been part of an ownership group headed up by a man named Rommie Loudd which had lost out to NFL expansion rights that instead went to Tampa Bay. The team is now majority owned by the city of Atlanta following Robinsons death in 2014.
Last post by Armorbeast - November 09, 2019, 09:43:22 pm
St Louis Arsenal
The origins of the St. Louis Arsenal begins with a team called the the Irontonians in 1893 playing in Ironton, Ohio. This team would continue to evolve into the Ironton Tanks in 1919 and became known as the Big Red Machine because of their deep red jerseys. The Tanks went undefeated in 1922, won a state championship in 1926 and played against top caliber NFL teams winning victories against them. The Ironton Panthers relocated to St. Louis in 1926 followed by the Tanks four years later from which the team colors of Scarlet Red, Gold, White survived.
Calling their new team the St. Louis Tanks (fic), the franchise was purchased in 1932 by William H. Danforth and merged with the St. Louis Veterans. The franchise purchased an Independent team called the Chicago Gunners in 1938 because they were rivals of the cross-town St. Louis Gunners. They would rename their team the St. Louis Arsenal in 1940 as Europe entered its first anniversary in WWII and President Roosevelt was trying to drum up support for America's entry into the war. The St. Louis Gunners relocated to become the USA-AFLs North Carolina Gunners in 1941 and the citys military shifted their full support to the Arsenal.
Anheuser-Busch purchased the team in 1953 and rebuilt it from the ground up. Several teams in the USA-AFL have a military theme but the Arsenal would focus on all branches of the military and, in particular, honoring war veterans. Where possible, they drafted players from military academies and fielded semi-pro farm franchises that specifically gave military veterans a chance to make a living in football. In 1993, an ownership group attempted to put a team they called the St. Louis Stallions in the NFL but failed. This ownership group then purchased the Arsenal instead and 51% of the teams assets were donated to the state of Missouri.
The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League folded with their league in 2012 and their assets were bought out by the USA-AFL Omaha Bulls. Having no desire to retain the Nighthawks identity, the Omaha Bulls sold the team logo to the St. Louis Arsenal who were looking for a more modern look.
Last post by Armorbeast - November 09, 2019, 09:20:07 pm
The San Francisco Athletic Club would field the first professional football team in this region around 1890. They called this team the San Francisco Saloons (fic) and they would play against another team calling itself the San Francisco Drakes (fic, named after Sir Francis Drake) which formed specifically to challenge the Saloons. In 1905, the two teams merged to create the San Francisco Gold Rush (fic) as an independent and joined the California League in 1918. In 1926, the San Francisco Tigers of the Pacific Coast League began play for a single season.
When the USA-AFL began cutting down to one team per state, the writing was on the wall for the Gamblers as they had consistently lost to the Los Angeles Gladiators. The team had suffered a decade of strong competition that had cost them financially and team owners decided it was time to move on. They chose Houston, Texas hoping it was a wide open market but not understanding that the San Antonio Undertakers had secured a strong fanbase there at the pro level. It was clear this move would not be permanent but it would provide the Understakers with competition closer to home making their raod trips less necessary.
They would, however, survive in Houston until 1947 when the decision was made to relocate to Jackson, Mississippi. The decision was made by the USA-AFL which took over majority ownership of the team to absorb potential losses and making the move feasible. The remaining owners were looking at Mississippi to establish gambling operations. Mississippi had always been a haven for gambling even before the arrival of Europeans. Native Americans had many forms of gambling that included one game in particular called ishtaboli (stickball) in which they might gamble away all their possessions, their freedom or even their lives.
While profitable enough that the owners were able to buy back majority ownership, the 1950's saw a reversal in their fortunes. Religious efforts to shut down gambling in Mississippi gained ground as the general population looked at the damage gambling was doing in the lives of many of their citizens. While not gambling away their lives like the Natives before them, it was destroying families leading people to gamble away everything including their lives if one examines the increase in resulting suicides. By the 1960's, legalized gambling was all but dead in Mississippi and the team was now again majority owned by the league.
Even efforts to turn majority ownership of the team over to the state failed because of the teams name. This resulted in the team becoming known as the Mississippi River Raiders and representatives of Gulf Oil purchased majority ownership of the team. Gulf Oil had major investments in the state that included the Heidelberg Oil Boom that began in 1944 and had investments in gambling along the Gulf Coast. At the end of the 1975 season, the USA-AFL had purchased the assets of the World Football League and merged the Memphis Southmen with the River Raiders.
With the dissolution of the USFL, Logan Young would relocate his Memphis Showboats to Mississippi where he merged them with the Gamblers. Restoring their name as the Gamblers, the team always had a reputation for high-risk and trick plays that were now beginning to pay off. By 2011, majority ownership was owned by the state with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians having purchased a controlling interest in what remained. While gambling is legal again in the state of Mississippi, that's only along the Mississippi River (and Native tribal lands) and the Gamblers identity is based on riverboat gambling lore as a result.