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Game Faces

Five Early American Champions and the Sports They Changed

Thomas H. Pauly

Publication Year: 2012

This compelling blend of biography and cultural history depicts five important yet nearly forgotten athletes from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who had a transformative effect on their sports and on the evolution of sports in general. Tom Stevens was the first man to ride a bicycle, “a high wheeler,” around the world (1884-87). Fanny Bullock Workman completed seven expeditions into the Himalayas between 1898 and 1912. Bill Reid, a Harvard football coach and one of the game’s first professionals, played a key role in saving the sport from a national movement to abolish it in 1905. May Sutton became the National Champion of women’s tennis at the age of sixteen and was the first American woman to triumph at Wimbledon (1905). Barney Oldfield was an early champion of motor car racing (1902) whose aggressive pursuit of crowd appeal and “outlaw” style rankled his competitors but won him many races.

Although they participated in different sports, these five athletes were central to the evolution of sports from casual leisure recreations into serious, commercialized competitions and recognizable approximations of our sports today. Game Faces tracks the powerful influence of money, rules, and mediating organizations on this transformation and examines pitched battles between these champions and their archrivals. The outcomes determined not only the winners but also the future of their sports.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xix

People today think of the early days of American sport in terms of the 1920s. This is not to say that they believe sports originated during this period, but rather they remember its champions: Babe Ruth...

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1. Tom Stevens: Bicycling and the Obstacle of Amateurism

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pp. 1-28

On August 4, 1884, 104 days after his departure from San Francisco, Thomas Stevens reached Boston and completed the first bicycle trip across the United States. Eight months later he departed for England to extend his journey...

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2. Fanny Bullock Workman: Mountaineering as Science and News

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pp. 29-68

At a December 1907 meeting of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London, Dr. William Hunter Workman presented a talk on a climb he had taken with his wife into the Nun Kun area of the Himalayas...

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3. Bill Reid: The Play That Changed Football

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pp. 69-107

The alumni association had raised a fortune to help the football team beat its rivals. The university president perceived the team as a threat to the school’s academic mission. The coach desperately wanted to win and was frantically...

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4. May Sutton: California’s Intrusion on Women’s Tennis

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pp. 109-143

The late August 1911 tournament at Niagara-on-the-Lake was an unlikely occasion for a momentous reckoning in women’s tennis. This resort area on the Canadian side of the falls was not a major tennis venue...

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5. Barney Oldfield: People’s Champion and Threat to Early Automobile Racing

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pp. 145-184

The contest featured classic ingredients — an aging celebrity champion against a younger star in his prime with a backdrop of bad blood between them. In this case the sport was insistently modern...

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pp. 185-187

In a poem titled “Alumnus Football,” first published in 1908, Grantland Rice memorably wrote, “For when the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks — not that you won...

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pp. 189-191

Each day I am amazed how much my research is facilitated by the ever-expanding universe of today’s Internet. More and more newspapers, journals, books, and photographs are becoming available online...


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pp. 193-221


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pp. 223-234


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pp. 235-243

E-ISBN-13: 9780803240513
E-ISBN-10: 0803240511
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803238176

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2012