Football points-getter & a baseball boxer: Chicago Tribune headlines from 1929

This week’s headlines from sports history come from the Chicago Tribune, as published the week of November 25-December 1, 1929.

Location: Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune is an American newspaper that formerly dubbed itself the “World’s Greatest Newspaper”. It began printing in 1847 and is still published today.

1929 is perhaps best known for the crash of the stock market, which occurred on October 28 of that year. It also saw the Philadelphia Athletics claim their first World Series since 1913 and the Green Bay Packers win the first of three straight NFL titles.

Here is a sampling of sports headlines the Tribune published this week in 1929:


Publication Date: November 25

This AP wire report detailed the surgery that Victor Harding, a Chicago native, underwent after suffering a ruptured spleen while playing end for the Harvard football team in a 10-6 season-finale win over rival Yale.

According to the wire report, “Harding received a bad blow” during the run of play and didn’t return to the game. Later reports indicated that the injury wasn’t assumed to be serious by the rest of the team, but Dr. Thomas Richards, Harvard’s team doctor, monitored Harding into the evening and ultimately decided to put the junior end under the knife. Dr. Richards believed that the injury was caused by a kick, although it was unclear when exactly Harding sustained the injury.

After the operation, Harding’s spleen was discovered to be split in two. By the next day, Harding was resting comfortably and officials at the Stillman Infirmary stated that he was “out of danger.” However, his future in football looked bleak.

“He would be a very foolish boy if he ever attempted to try football ever again,” the doctor told The Boston Globe. Dr. Richards would later be heralded for saving the player’s life.

Harding, whose 12½ size feet required custom shoes, ultimately made a full recovery. Despite Dr. Richards’ initial belief that Harding wouldn’t see the gridiron again, he returned for his senior season in 1930, which saw the Crimson go 4-4-1.

After spending some time abroad, Harding returned to coach the ends at Harvard until he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1935. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 86 after a successful career as an attorney.


Publication Date: November 29
This image of Nevers running the ball ran on the second sports page.

In an all-Chicago NFL battle, fullback Ernie Nevers scored all 40 points for the Cardinals in their 40-6 triumph over the Bears.

Nevers’ record tally came from six rushing touchdowns and four made point after attempts. The future Hall of Famer split his scoring evenly; he rang up 20 in the first half and then the same number in the second.

Unfortunately, because NFL recaps of the day are so sparse and official box scores are lacking too, it is unknown how far Nevers ran for each of his scores.

The 40 points Nevers scored remains an NFL single-game record. Two have come close with 36 points: Dub Jones of the Cleveland Browns in 1951 and Gale Sayers of the Bears in 1965. Both Jones and Sayers equaled Nevers’ six rushing touchdowns, but didn’t add any points elsewhere.

Wilfrid Smith, the Tribune’s reporter covering the game, remarked that while Nevers collected all the points against the Bears, he wasn’t the only one on show for the Cardinals. Smith highlighted the rushing efforts of Mickey McDonald while noting that “the Cardinal line was the foundation” of the winning ground game.

Nevers’ 40-point output against the Bears meant that he had scored a whopping 59 consecutive points for the Cardinals; three days prior he had registered all 19 points in Chicago’s shutout win over the Dayton Triangles. His scoring streak would end the next game when the Cardinals got their first points against the New York Giants via a safety.

In the Chicago series, the game ended the three-game winless skid the Cardinals had versus the Bears. However, it would also be the final time the Cardinals beat their cross-city rivals until 1936—the south siders would lose 11 games and only tie two during that span.

The Cardinals finished the 1929 season 6-6-1, good for fourth in the NFL based on winning percentage. The Bears wound up 4-9-2.


Publication Date: November 29

The Chicago Blackhawks faltered 3-2 on home ice to the New York Rangers in this NHL American Division clash.

Things had been all square after one period as Murray Murdock scored twice for the Rangers and both Cy Wentworth and Ty Arbour found the net for the Blackhawks.

In the second came the decider. According to the Tribune’s Harland Rohm, Chicago outplayed New York during the long change, but Frank Boucher took “a perfect pass” from Bill Cook and scored right in front of goal in the period’s final minute.

New York’s victory vaulted the squad into a temporary division lead over the Boston Bruins, although the club would ultimately drop to third by season’s end.

Heaping onto the Blackhawks’s defeat was their loss of Taffy Abel, the team’s best defender. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Abel had been hospitalized in the afternoon due to blood poising in his right arm. According to the article, a hangnail had become infected, possibly because of dye in his hockey gloves. The poison then spread up through Abel’s arm and to his shoulder. He would be out for nearly two weeks.

Despite Abel’s poisoning and the loss to the Rangers, the Blackhawks reeled off five straight wins in December. The streak would put Chicago squarely in the American Division’s second place, where the team would stay behind Boston until the end of the season. In the playoffs, both Chicago and New York succumbed to the Montreal Canadiens prior to the Stanley Cup Finals.

“Shires Is Back! Writing Poetry and Fighting–for Coin”

Publication Date: November 30
This photo of Shires ran alongside the article.

This article covered the announcement that Art Shires, a first baseman who had just completed his first full season with the Chicago White Sox, intended to enter the professional boxing ring later in December.

Depending how you count things, this wouldn’t be Shires’ first time boxing: He had come to blows twice with the White Sox manager Lena Blackburne during the 1929 season. Shires also claimed he had won 20 fights the the Texas boxing circle, although that claim was unsubstantiated.

In preparation for his first big fight, Shires penned a poem for the press—and while wearing a boxing glove. Per the Tribune, that quick bit of poetry read:

Great Arthur’s been a chump

And he’s lived to rue it.

Fought fights gratis,

It cost him bucks to do it.


Hence forth when Arthur blacks a eye,

Folks’ll pay to see it happen.

The kid’s a pugilist now

And soon he’ll be a scrappin’.

Shires wound up facing the “mysterious” Dan Daly on December 9 at Chicago’s White City amusement park. The fight, if you could call it that, lasted 21 seconds, with Shires winning via knockout.

Over the next month, Shires fought four more times, winning three by knockout and two of those within the first round. During that month, Shires came under fire for allegedly fixing his matches.

While Shires escaped clear of any wrong-doing, his first victim revealed that “Dan Daly” was merely an alias. Actually named Jim Gary, Shire’s first foe maintained that he faked the knockout—out of fear of being “taken for a ride”—and was handed a life suspension by the Illinois boxing commission.

Shortly after Shires won his fourth fight—and perhaps because the supposed match-fixing possibly involved Al Capone’s criminal ring—baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis decreed that baseball and boxing didn’t mix and banned all pro ball players from engaging in prize fights. This decision ultimately caused Shires to step away from the ring.

Shire’s exile from boxing wouldn’t last long. Despite his initially promising baseball prospects, Shires would only play two more partial seasons in the majors, and in 1935 fought twice, splitting the pair. After a tumultuous post-sporting career that involved him getting charged with murder, Shires died in 1967 at the age of 60.

Headlines for this article were sourced from