Sports Extra with Dave Ross: 1901: A minister and his 2 football teams


Two weeks ago I referenced Episcopal minister Thomas Hazzard who coached both Sidney High School and Miami University during the 1901 football season. Sidney went 6-0-0 while Miami finished 1-3-1. The Miami Student newspaper gave the Reverend a solid review at season’s end. They liked his coaching but couldn’t spell his last name.

“After an almost vain search, the Board of Control succeeded in securing Mr. Hassard, an Episcopal rector of Sidney, Ohio to coach the Miami football team this season. Mr. Hassard received his football training at Kenyon, having played left tackle on the Kenyon team for several years. Although Kenyon is not a large school, nevertheless the football teams which annually represent this institution are classed with the teams of large universities.”

“Under Mr. Hassard’s supervision our team has shown marked improvement, especially in fast playing, a requisite for a winning team. He has inspired the team with enthusiasm and confidence, and the new formations arranged by him have proven beneficial and effective. Mr. Hassard deserves much praise for the success that has attended his hard work and perseverance, and it is with much regret that we cannot retain him throughout the season.”

In 1901 Miami lost to Denison, Wittenberg, and the Dayton Athletic Club while defeating Antioch and tying Earlham. In 1902 the Reverend was transferred to Bellefontaine to administer one church and one high school football team, with no train trips to Oxford to mentor a second squad.

The final mention of Reverend Thomas R. Hazzard that I found among the four Sidney newspapers of that era came in 1904 when he caught a 3 1/2 pound largemouth bass off Orchard Island at Lewistown Reservoir (Indian Lake).

1901 Sidney sidelight

You might assume that a preacher would impose a strict code of conduct when he took his teams on the road. To conclude the 1901 season, Sidney made not one but a pair of visits to play football at nearby DeGraff, both resulting in lopsided Sidney wins in a festive atmosphere. Each was a major event including a parade from the train to the ball field and a postgame three course banquet. The “orange and black” loved the hospitality so they went twice.

After the first visit to DeGraff, Sidney’s starting center did not accompany his team back home, and his absence was duly noted in the Sidney Daily News. He made it to the banquet, then took a detour.

“Herzstam captured the heart of one of the table girls and decided to stay over till the morning train.” Word for word, that’s how it was reported in this publication. Could this have happened because Hazzard had duties elsewhere with his Miami squad? Definitely not. Hazzard officiated the game in DeGraff, a duty of coaching in those days.

Team photo of the 1901 Sidney football team, including coach Thomas Hazzard. photo of the 1901 Sidney football team, including coach Thomas Hazzard.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. The Rare Collections Section of King Library at Miami University was vital to researching this piece back in 1995. The 1901 season along with the entire first century of SHS football are covered in a Dave Ross book available at the downtown Ross Historical Center. All proceeds benefit the Shelby County Historical Society.

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