Dayton Triangles and Hammond Clabbys: 1918
|By Mark Fenner
The Dayton Triangles are, arguably, considered the best pro team of 1918. Granted there are a couple of factors that need to be noted. First of all, World War I depleted many teams of their star players. The need for Dehavilands and detonators kept many of our boys working in the Delco factories.
Secondly, the Spanish influenza ran through the veins of our nation early in the season. Dayton managed to field a strong team in spite of these elements.
The Triangles squared up with the Hammond Clabbys* twice during the season. Dayton won both games, played at Triangle Park. The first contest, played on November 3, proved to be one of their toughest games of the season. Dayton won by a score of 13-6. Hammond's touchdown in the third period was the first points allowed by Dayton in four games.
Over two thousand fans caught their first glimpse of Francis Bacon; a Wabash graduate who was playing left halfback for Hammond. Mr. Bacon attracted the attention of Triangle management and the following year he would be working for Delco and playing football for them on Sunday afternoons. Dayton fans loved him and came to know him as "Bake." He worked for Delco until 1925 serving as employment manager and educational director. In August of that year, he left Delco and became the recreational director for the City of Dayton.
Chuck Helvie was one of the Dayton stars. Having graduated from Notre Dame, and playing a couple of years within the Hoosier circuit, Mr. Helvie was able to provide some of the dope to his new team. His primary piece of advice was not to underestimate these Indiana lads. Chuck had played the previous year with Pine Village and knew many of the players that were coming to town. It may have been because of his knowledge that the Dayton fans grew suspicious of their Hammond opponents. In those days many players assumed false identities to protect various interests. It was suspected that the Hammond eleven practiced this behavior.
The second contest between Dayton and Hammond was on November 24, 1918. Lieutenant Norbert Sacksteder was home on furlough from Camp Lee. "Saxy," a Dayton native, was perhaps one of the best traveled pro players of the time. Norb dug his cleats into Dayton soil in 1910, playing with the Dayton Gym Cadets.
By this time he had gained experience with the Massillon Tigers and the Detroit Heralds. Detroit fans referred to him as the "Ty Cobb" of football. The homecoming of Saxy turned out to be good timing for Dayton. Hammond had sent correspondence to Carl Storck in reference to the upcoming game. Hammond management assured Mr. Storck that the outcome of this game would be different, and that his Triangles had better be ready. Dayton's giant tackle, Otto Bessmeyer, was unable to play because of a shoulder injury and Lou Partlow left the game early with broken ribs. Norb didn't disappoint. He made several sensational runs, helping his team to a 23-0 victory.
Researcher & writer: Mark Fenner
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