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Throwback Thursday: The Columbus Day Tradition: 1922-1940

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Did you realize that the Eagles played on October 12 pretty much every year from 1922-40? Here's a look at the holiday game history.

The Columbus Day Holiday Tradition
The Columbus Day Holiday Tradition
CoachJF archives

Next Monday, the United States celebrates Columbus Day.  As most of you are aware,  the pseudo-holiday was changed in 1970 from a fixed date of October 12, to the second Monday in October, which just coincidentally happens to be on a Monday this year.

Starting in 1922 and continuing through 1940, with the exception of 1935, the Boston College football team played what became an annual home game on October 12, Columbus Day proper.  There doesn't seem to be an explanation of why the tradition started or why it ended, but for those 19 years, Boston College played games on every day of the week, with the exception of Sundays (the whole Jesuit University idea I am sure!).  In those years where Columbus Day fell on a Sunday, the game was moved to the next Monday, the 13th. The site for the games varied between Braves Field (Nickerson Field at BU today), Fenway Park and the new Boston College Alumni Field, which is where the old Dustbowl sat.

The opponent BC faced the most often for these games was Fordham.  The Eagles and Rams met seven times, while BC played against Temple three times, Centre College twice, Villanova, Haskell Indians, Geneva, Duke, Detroit and Florida, all once each.

Let's take a quick look at each of these Columbus Day classics, thanks mostly to the archives of The Heights.

Thursday, October 12, 1922 -Boston College 27 Fordham 0: The "Cavmen" (after Head Coach, "the Iron Major' Frank Cavanaugh) shut out the Rams.  There is no mention of BC as the Eagles, but the student newspaper, The Heights, is looking for cheers for the students to use in the games the likes of Eastern Rivals Yale ("Boola, Boola") and Georgetown ("Hoya").

Friday, October 12,1923 - Boston College 20 Fordham 0:  BC knocks off Fordham again at Braves Field behind two "forwards", those being touchdown passes.

Monday, October 13, 1924 - Boston College 28 Fordham 0.  The first of the Columbus Day games actually played on a Monday, rather than the actual Sunday holiday

Monday, October 12, 1925 - Boston College 7 Haskell Indians 6.  One of the largest crowds ever to see an event at the "Wigwam", Braves Field.  Haskell was considered one of the best college teams in the country.

Tuesday, October 12, 1926 - Boston College 27 Fordham 0. The last win for the Eagles in the Holiday series against the Rams and fourth shutout in a row.  Oddly, BC would not score a point in the next three losses to Fordham on Columbus Day.

Wednesday, October 12, 1927 - Geneva 13 Boston College 0. The first visiting team to win on Columbus Day and the first time the game is mentioned as the "annual Columbus Day game".  Eagles beaten by the veteran Pennsylvanians.

Friday, October 12, 1928 - Boston College 19 Duke 0.  Paddy Creedon of the Brockton Creedon family, still prominent today, leads the way for the Eagles.

Saturday, October 12, 1929 - Boston College 7 Villanova 7.  The first of the holiday games which falls on a Saturday.  Villanova outclasses the Eagles but Centlaus Antos saves the day, catching a 90 yard TD pass.  Nova coached by Harry Stuhldreher, one of the Notre Dame Four Horsemen.  BC band chided for playing For Boston too much..."beaten to death".

Monday, October 13, 1930 - Fordham 3 Boston College 0.  The Iron Major returns to Boston on the opposite sideline and beats BC for the second time in two seasons.  This is one of the Fordham teams which featured the legendary "Seven Blocks of Granite" offensive line.

Monday, October 12, 1931 - Fordham 20 Boston College 0.  Cavanaugh wins again, this time at Fenway Park.

Wednesday, October 12, 1932 - Boston College 6 Centre College 0.  Johnny Freitas scores the only touchdown on a 76 yard run at the new Alumni Field.  Centre, who was immortalized in a 1921 win over mighty Harvard, agrees to come back and play the Eagles again the next year, also on Columbus Day.

Thursday, October 12, 1933 - Boston College 6 Centre College 0.  Eagles do it again in what is called the Holiday Classic.  Third win in a row vs the Colonels.

Friday, October 12, 1934 - Fordham 6 Boston College 0.  Eagles lose again to Rams, but improve from their effort the previous year at New York's famed Polo Grounds.  All BC-Fordham games in the holiday series are shut outs.

Saturday, October 12, 1935 - No game is played and no explanation given.  The Heights asks students, "where is the spirit" when it comes to the football team.  Some things never change.

Monday, October 12, 1936 - Temple 14 Boston College 0. Pop Warner's team too big and powerful for scrappy Eagles at Fenway.

Tuesday, October 12, 1937 - Boston College 0 Temple 0.  Warner ruins BC's hopes for an undefeated and untied season..but wait, it was only the second game of the year. Eagles finish 1937, 6-1-2.

Wednesday, October 12, 1938 - Boston College 9 Detroit 6.  Fella Gintoff kicks game winning FG at Fenway with just 15 seconds left.  Called the biggest win since Villanova some five years earlier.

Thursday, October 12, 1939 - Florida 7 Boston College 0. Eagle legend "Flutter Foot" Lou Montgomery, who is black is not allowed to play in game vs Southerners, even though the contest is held at Fenway Park.

Saturday, October 12, 1940 - Boston College 33 Temple 20.  Eagles outgained 303 to 272 but still find a way to win enroute to undefeated season, Sugar Bowl win over Tennessee and claim to their only National Championship.

1941 was a Sunday and although tradition dictated the game then be played on Monday, it never was and there were never any further Holiday games played.  The Eagles played Clemson on October 11 that season, in the customary Saturday slot and the tradition became history.