The Story of the Dayton Triangles

The Result:  The Galloping Ghost Reduced to a
Gimpy Goul and the Triangles get no Respect

by Mark Fenner

At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Harold "Red" Grange is one of the most celebrated professional football players of all time. During his senior year at Illinois, Grange was on the cover of Time Magazine (Oct. 5, 1925) He was the first professional athlete to sign with an agent (C.C. Pyle)   Grange has been inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and Professional Football Hall of Fame. He was involved in lucrative endorsement and Hollywood movie deals. Red Grange is credited for putting the NFL on the map while earning over $100,000 during his barnstorming tour with the Chicago Bears in 1926.  The sports Channel, ESPN, considers him the 28th greatest athlete of the 20th century.

On October 2, 1927, Red Grange and his New York Yankees made a stop in Dayton Ohio to put on a spectacular display of football for the fans at Triangle Park. Grange, fielding a team of collegiate all-Americans and future Hall of Famers, expected to roll over our Dayton boys while showcasing his remarkable talent. The end of this day resulted in a loss for the Dayton Triangles; however, Dayton took the all mighty Yanks toe-to-toe and eliminated Red from becoming a factor. This unpronounced success has been a silent victory for Dayton that has gone unnoticed for nearly seventy-five years.

Carl Storck's office became flooded with ticket requests three weeks prior to the event. Fans from as far north as Sidney, and as far south as Middletown were trying desperately to reserve themselves a seat for the game. On Friday Sept. 30, 1927, a Dayton Daily News article reported,

"They will come here on the first leg of their country-wide travels, with their complete lineup of the cream of the country's greatest, and they will be here to knock this Triangle club all over the lot and thereby receive a lot of publicity."

Our boys in blue and white must have been proud of the high regard in which they were treated, especially by their hometown media.

The Yankees won the game, but not without serious conflict. Both defenses were stellar. Grange played all but five minutes and was stopped dead in his tracks. The Triangles went into half time with a 3-0 lead. The Yankees didn't score until late in the third period. A 77-yard punt return, by Roy Baker, put them on the Triangle 2-yard line. The next play was a handoff to Grange. A sea of blue stopped him, gaining barely a yard. On third down and goal, Wes Fry, of Iowa, scored the winning touchdown. Two missed field goals during the contest could have secured a Dayton victory. They (Triangles) scrambled late in the fourth quarter attempting to win the game, but an intercepted pass nullified their efforts.

The Dayton Daily News reported,

"Partlow and Britton looked good in the backfield for Dayton and Lee Fenner, Belanich and Graham did excellent work on the line…"

The headlines on the (Dayton Daily News) sports page the following morning read,

"6000 FANS WATCH GOOD PRO GRID GAME BUT GO HOME DISAPPOINTED: Grange's Spectacular Dashes Missing As He Is Stopped By Locals."

The article assumes that the fans were disappointed because Red Grange failed to dazzle them, but is it fair to accept that all of the spectators were let down? The impression, which is given after reading the article and its headlines, is that a grand circus came to town and forgot to bring the high wire act.

On October 12, 1927 (two weeks after the Dayton game) Red suffered a severe knee injury in a contest against the Buffalo Bisons. It is believed that he was never the same runner after that. His defensive work would be highlighted for his remaining years.

The 11 Dayton players who walked off the field that day (Oct. 2, 1927) are long gone, as well as the 6,000 spectators who attended the game. For our Dayton boys, we would like to acknowledge that we are proud of what they accomplished. They took a healthy Red Grange and his team of all-Americans down to the wire. For the 6000 disappointed fans, well, sorry about your luck.

 

By Mark Fenner

Newspaper ad promoting this game

Newspaper Photograph of Red Grange
& Chic Harley before this 1927

 

Dayton Triangles main page

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Copyright  2001