Home > Back to Search Results > William "Pudge" Heffelfinger....
Click image to enlarge 586320
Show image list »

William "Pudge" Heffelfinger....

Item # 586320

April 03, 1954

FITCHBURG SENTINEL, Massachusetts, April 3, 1954

* William "Pudge" Heffelfinger death
* Yale University football star

This 12 page newspaper has a one column headline on page 8: "'Pudge' Heffelfinger, All-Time Grid Great, Dies In Texas At 88" with photo. See photo for 1st report coverage on the death of William "Pudge" Heffelfinger.

Other news, sports, and advertisements of the day included. This issue has a little spine wear, but is otherwise in nice condition.

wikipedia notes: William "Pudge" Walter Heffelfinger (December 20, 1867, Minneapolis, Minnesota - April 2, 1954, Blessing, Texas) was an American football player and considered the first to play professionally.

In the 1960s a man known only as "Nelson Ross", walked into the office of Art Rooney, the president of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. After a brief discussion, the man gave Rooney a typed, 49-page manuscript about the early history of pro football. Ross' examination of Pittsburgh newspapers indicated that the first pro football player actually was Pudge Heffelfinger, an all-American guard from Yale, who was hired to play for Allegheny on November 12, 1892 for $500. Up until then John Brallier, of the Latrobe Athletic Association, was considered the first professional football player. The Pro Football Hall of Fame soon discovered a page torn from an 1892 account ledger prepared by Allegheny manager, O. D. Thompson, that included the line item: "Game performance bonus to W. Heffelfinger for playing (cash) $500." Though the payment was not verified until the acquisition of an Allegheny Athletic Association expense ledger from the day by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this fee has established Heffelfinger as being the first professional football player on record. The Pittsburgh Athletic Club had previously offered him $250 to play for them in the game, but he felt it wasn't enough to jeopardize his amateur status.

On November 12, 1892, Heffelfinger was paid $25 for his expenses and a bonus of $500 (far above and beyond even double his expenses) by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play in a game against the rival Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The game was played at Recreation Park, which was located on Pittsburgh's north shore. The spot is marked by a historic marker. Although the payment for Heffelfinger's play was not published or admitted, his presence set off quite a controversy as Pittsburgh A.C. protested the presence of Heffelfinger and several other Chicago Athletic Association players in their line-up. Allegheny retaliated with the fact that Pittsburgh had imported players as well. The game ended in a 4-0 Allgheny win. Heffelfinger scored the game's only touchdown on a recovered fumble.

Category: The 20th Century