Rough Times for the
On June 24, 1922, the American Professional
Football Association (APFA) changed its name to the National Football League (NFL). While
other teams in the NFL were recruiting and signing top college players from around the
country, the Dayton team continued to play with local talent.
During the 1922 season, the Triangles slid
from being one of the top teams in the league to one of the weakest, and would not have
another winning season in the decade. The Triangles could hold their own through three
quarters but were not able to put enough points on the scoreboard to hold off the stronger
teams in the league during the fourth quarter.
Though Triangle Park could seat 5000, the
Triangles rarely drew that many fans. The city even offered free bus service from the
south side of the North Main Street Bridge in downtown Dayton to the Park on game day. A
general admission ticket for a game at the park was one dollar.
Because of their poor showing on the field,
the Triangles were not able to draw crowds for home games. Thus, in the mid 1920s, the
Triangles became a "traveling team". They would play only a couple of home games
a season at Triangle Park and the rest of their schedule on the road. The Triangles would
play the Bears at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals at Comiskey Park, or the Giants at the Polo
Grounds before crowds of over 10,000, and be assured of $2500 for playing the game at the
opponent's home field. This extensive traveling, joined with the lack of recruiting, did
not help build a winning football team in Dayton.
In 1925, the NFL set the limit of active
players on a team's roster at sixteen. The Triangles were lucky to carry that many players
on the road. Occasionally, the team would play what was known as a "double
header"; a Saturday afternoon game in Philadelphia or New York and a Sunday afternoon
game in Chicago. On one three-day road trip, the Triangles traveled with a roster of
thirteen players. They played a Saturday game at Philadelphia with the Frankford
Yellowjackets, a Sunday game in New York City with the Giants, and a Monday game in
Cleveland with the Bulldogs.
The next year, 1926, the active player
limit was upped to eighteen. This is the number of players that the Triangles were able to
travel with in the late 1920s. Players played both offense and defense. According to
league rules, if a player was taken out of the game for any reason, he could not return
until the next quarter.
Carl Storck, still manager of the
Triangles, rented a Pullman railroad car for the Triangles' road trips. This car was used
to eat and sleep in. It also served as a locker room when needed. The electronically
engineered railroad car was parked at the nearest railroad siding during the game,
and, depending on the distance, the players would walk, or take a trolley car or taxi to
the playing field.
On the day of the game, Dayton's players
would be expected to have eaten breakfast by the time they arrived at Union Station
downtown. They would be given one dollar in cash for each meal on the trip. Though the
Triangles rented railroad car was hitched to a passenger train, the players were not
permitted to go to the passengers' dining car. All meals were served to the team in their
rested private car.
Road games were always an adventure. During
the 1927 and 1928 seasons, the Triangles had a Chinese/Hawaiian running back named
"Sneeze" Achiu on their roster. In one game in the New York area, a local sports
promoter advertised the Triangles as a "Team of Immigrants". Since the team's
players carried their equipment and uniforms in burlap feed sacks slung over their
shoulders, they probably looked the part.
A game with the Providence Steam Roller (no
"s" at the end of it), was played in a bicycle-racing stadium, the Cyclodrome.
One of the Steam Roller co-owners, sports promoter Pete Laudati, built the 10,000-seat
Cyclodrome in 1925, the same year his team came into the NFL, squeezing a football field
inside of the wooden bicycle track. One end zone was limited to five yards in depth
because the banked wooden track cut across it. The 1928 Steam Roller was the last team not
currently in the NFL to win the league championship.
Luxury for traveling teams of the
era was a visitors' locker room with a shower. If there was no shower available after the
game, the players would, if they had time, use the sink in the restroom at the train
station. Otherwise, according to "Mack" Hummon, the players would take what was
known as a "spit bath" on the train trip home.
Even with player recruiting, most
professional football players at this time used their NFL earnings as a source of extra
income. Most teams held regular Monday-to-Friday jobs that allowed them to practice with
the team in the evenings and have weekends free for games. That could be a challenge for a
traveling player who was not scheduled to get back from a long road trip until early
Some team managers would sign players on an
incentive contract. Players would get $100 for winning a game, $75 for a tie (not that
unusual an outcome for a game of the day), and $50 for a loss. Probably, all the Triangle
players were paid a flat rate of $75 to $100 per game in the 1920s. Out of this pay, the
player would receive only 60 percent, the rest being taken out for equipment rental for
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