Chicago Athletic Association

The Chicago Athletic Association was an American football team, based in Chicago, Illinois. The club itself had been organized in 1890, and in 1892 it formed a football team. The team was built around veterans of Chicago's University Club football team.


The University Club football team was the initial first-rate team produced by the city, because Illinois and Northwestern were still years away from being competitive, and Amos Alonzo Stagg would not form the University of Chicago's program until 1892.[1]

Chicago society therefore needed a team to represent the city in annual Thanksgiving Day games, and from 1888 to 1891 they created the University Club team and had it compete against either Michigan or Cornell each year. The University Club team was made up of recent college graduates, whose families were from Chicago but who were products of east coast football programs.

In 1892 the Chicago A. A. football team not only took over the primer football role of the University Club team. It built a program of playing a season-long schedule of university and club teams. That team included at least eight names from the 1891 University Club team, and added Yale halfback star Pudge Heffelfinger to the line-up. The 1893 team featured Heffelfinger, Yale, Laurie Bliss, and five players from the University Club.[1]

In 1893 at the Chicago's World Fair, the Chicago A. A. played one of the very first night football games against West Point (the earliest being on September 28, 1892 between Mansfield State Normal and Wyoming Seminary). Chicago won the game 14-0. The game lasted only 40 minutes, compared to the normal 90 minutes.[1]

Notable players

In 1894, Jesse Van Doozer dropped out of Northwestern to play with the Chicago Athletic Association. Alvin Culver, who graduated that same year did the same.[2] Knowlton Ames, a former All-American from Princeton, also played on the team in 1892.[3] Sport Donnelly also played with the Chicago Athletic Association in 1892. In a game against the New York Cresants, the Cresants refused to take field unless Donnelly was barred from the Chicago lineup because of some alleged rough tactics he used the year before. Chicago benched Donnelly, and his absence resulted in a tie. Donnelly then became enraged and refused to rejoin the team in Chicago. Pudge Heffelfinger, who was also playing for Chicago, joined Donnelly in the walk-out. After this game he was once again recruited by the Allegheny Athletic Association, to play for them. A few weeks later, Donnelly and Heffelfinger were professional players with that team.[4] However, by 1896, Donnelly was once again with Chicago as a coach.[5]



  1. Pruter, Robert (2005). "Chicago Lights Up Football World" (PDF). LA 4 Foundation. XVIII (II): 7–10.
  2. A History of Football at Northwestern: The First Twenty Years: 1882-1902
  3. PFRA Research. "A is for Amateur" (PDF). The Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2009-12-10. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. PFRA Research. "Five Hundred Reasons" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-09-29.
  5. PFRA Research. "Last Hurrah in Allegheny" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-11-26.


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