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THE instance FOR LEO VS. AUSTINEven through today’s standards – when 107,000 plus world turn out to watch Michigan beat Ohio State top top a regime Saturday or 80,000 civilization attend the super Bowl, a group of 120,000 for a football game is impressive. Add to the the truth it to be a high school video game — Leo matches Austin in 1937 – that attracted such a crowd and also it makes it even an ext remarkable.

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The 1937 video game was the then Chicago Mayor’s Charity Game, well-known as the Kelly Bowl, an event in it’s soon year which pitted the champion that the Chicago Catholic League versus the champion that the Chicago publicly League. The attendance at the game, follow to the USA this day ranking and also other sources, stands together the largest crowd ever before for one American Football video game – prep or otherwise. The attendance even exceed the attendance at the largest American expert Football game ever before held, the American Bowl in between the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Oilers organized on Aug. 15, 1994, in Mexico City wherein attendance stood at 112,336.

Beside the reality that this was the gridiron identical of a polite war, a series of determinants came together to create the massive interest in, and attendance at, the 1937 Chicago City High institution Championship game. This factors merged to create an event at the right time, in the best place, v the ideal teams – and star football player — and also with the appropriate drama come create an event of historical proportions.

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Click come EnlargeIn 1937 Chicago, high institution football was big. Chicago newspapers regularly spanned prep football as a large front web page story. College football was burgeoning in popularity and it was sustained by a boom in the structure of of big capacity stadiums, and even better coverage in the press. However, the many well-attended games in the country remained high college championship games in between Public and Catholic colleges in Chicago and also Philadelphia, in addition to prep charity events. The Leo-Austin matchup was both.

Attendance at the NFL Championship video game did not reach 50,000 until 1946 and also didn’t consistently optimal that mark until ~ 1951. Just 15,870 fans witnessed the Washington Redskins to win the Chicago bears 28-21 in the 1937 NFL Championship game played in Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Leo and also Austin had more going because that it 보다 the Wrigley field Stadium the Chicago Bears used at the time, through its 47,000 chair capacity with the enhancement of momentary stands.The prepare champs had Soldier Field, the lakefront stadion that opened in 1924 together the grant Park Municipal Stadium, an architectural wonder modeled after the Parthenon the occupied much more than 7 acres the landfill. The was built in neoclassical layout with huge Doric colonnades along each side. The structure had exterior dimensions of 1,184 feet by 678 feet and also an infield the measured 887 by 300 feet. A true amphitheater, the stadion was built to organize all way of public events geared toward huge crowds.

Soldier Field’s an initial event to be an strong competition amongst police officers, which was reported to have drawn 90,000 spectators. From climate on, crowds in overabundance of 100,000 were common, with attendance the 150,000 feasible when the infield might be used as well as the stands. Renovations since 1954 have diminished the irreversible seating capacity at Soldier ar to 61,500 in the surname of greater intimacy because that the fans.

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Click come EnlargeA crowd of 120,000 was no out of the concern in 1937, once South next Leo and also West next Austin squared off for at least bragging civil liberties in a city that prided chin on that neighborhoods developed on ethnicity and religion and also the ability to advanced funds because that needy children. A report in the Chicago Tribune Nov, 27, 1987, the 50th anniversary of the game, stated the game raised part $100,000 because that the City’s “Christmas Fund,” supplied to clothe needy kids.

The video game was promoted, in part, through “flooding” the city through tickets. Follow to the Tribune, tickets cost 50 cents to $1, not just a bargain contrasted to the $2.50 to watch the bear but almost a public duty considering lock were obtainable at all fire stations v firefighters actively selling them. The game, it should be noted, also was transfer on WBBM radio.

Another attract for the game, to be the opportunity to check out Austin star running ago Bill DeCorrevont and his Leo equivalent Johnny Galvin, which helped spread interest all the means to brand-new York, through the Times extending the game.

“The size of the group amazed even the many enthusiastic sponsors the the game. The ballyhooing of DeCorrevont attracted hundreds of football fans. The rivalry the public and also Catholic high institutions lured hundreds of others.” The time report on Nov. 28, 1937, added that DeCorrevont didn’t disappoint, accountancy for 4 touchdowns “despite a video game leg” in Austin’s 26-0 win.

Mayor Edward J. Kelly, for whom the game was named, was a strong brand-new Deal Democrat and also a Catholic, yet a product of the Chicago windy Schools, which he attended until 5th grade once he walk to job-related to assist support his family, according to a story in the Chicago reader Jan. 6, 2015. That presided over the city throughout the an excellent Depression. And also though his tenure was scarred by organized crime, gambling and scandal, it finished in 1947 largely over his integrationist views, in a city experiencing the push of a an excellent Migration of African-Americans from the South, who numbers ultimately grew come 1 million by 1970.

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Click to EnlargeStill billing itself together a city that neighborhoods, Chicago was much much more so in the 1930s. With entertainment options limited to neighborhood pursuits thanks to cumbersome transportation choices including street car, the “L” or walking, human being focused on the events in their neighborhood. In that is 50th anniversary story on the huge Game, the Tribune spicy out residents near Leo could see “Broadway Melody the 1938” and “Something to song About” in ~ the Southtown Theatre. And those near Austin might see a twin bill the “100 Men and a Girl” and also “Dead End” in ~ State Theater.

Austin High, in the Austin neighborhood, was about 15 miles from Leo in Auburn-Gresham, a an extensive physical and also philosophical distance in 1937. Austin remained in an area that had actually a substantial ethnic mix, a white country mix, however a mix. The ar was populated in big part by people of German, Scandinavian, Irish, Italian and Greek heritage. Whether brand-new arrivals or an ext established in the U.S., they worshiped at the myriad good news Churches: Baptist, Christian, Congregational, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and Catholic. This made the Austin High college student body varied in heritage and religious affiliations.The prominence of religious beliefs in Chicago was substantial in 1937. Ten years earlier, market William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson had actually made an problem of the Catholicism the his opponent, william Dever, asserting Dever would reason city federal government to be dominated by the Pope. The problem was one that still had to be seriously addressed as late together 23 years later, in 1960, as soon as John F. Kennedy ran because that president.

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Click to EnlargeThe area immediately surrounding Leo was primarily Irish and Catholic, showing the settlement path of a huge group the immigrants who began arriving in the city in the 1860s. The neighborhood even organized its very own St. Patrick’s day Parade along 79th Street till 1959, according to SouthSideIrishParade.org. Leo to be not topic to community boudaries, but it attracted it’s students primarily from within a five-mile radius the the school, bringing in students indigenous German, Italian and also Polish backgrounds.

For 1937 Leo fans, parish life would certainly have overcame their society lives. This increased the divide in between Catholics and “Publics” and the comb of the game. This divide further sustained interest in the game with the Leo football player representing the Catholic population of Chicago, together did the other Catholic league teams the played in the city championship. The Austin players, also the Catholics among them, would have symbolically brought the standard for the city’s Protestants and also other religions.

THE GAMEAgainst this backdrop, there to be a game. The excitement of see a top-notch athletic competition in between the two groups is what ultimately brought the pan to the game. The challenge itself was rather one-sided, yet not so much so regarding cause Leo pan to shed hope before the final quarter. Austin gotten in the Kelly Bowl with an undefeated record in Public organization play. Leo had only one loss.

Each to be powered by their all-star running back who had actually thrilled crowds and also whose heroics boded because that a shining future in college or professional play. Invoice DeCorrevont was the star because that Austin and came right into the video game having scored 33 touchdowns. Man Galvin, the Leo star, had led his team through a wire of victories after ~ an initial loss in its very first regular season game.

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Galvin was not playing at complete capacity, a evaluation in the 1938 Leo High school yearbook (available for viewing on our website) discusses his well play despite being “severely handicapped with a dislocated shoulder.” that was evidenced by his obituary in the Tribune Dec. 27, 1998, which stated he had actually a broken collarbone. Whether this injury impacted the result of the game is conjecture, as newspaper accounts describe DeCorrevont together playing through an hurt leg.

But the presence of Galvin and also DeCorrevont do the video game overwhelmingly a running contest.The new York times account the the video game Nov. 28, 1937, bubbled that “DeCorrevont, the many widely publicized schoolboy star in history, scored three touchdowns and also passed into the endzone for a 4th one.”In a scoreless very first quarter the looked together if Leo would manage the game. Austin, however, scored two touchdowns in the 2nd quarter. Austin failed to transform for the extra point after the second touchdown and also ended the very first half with a 13-0 lead. In ~ the opened of the 2nd half, Leo presented renewed capability to move the ball; however Leo’s violation bogged down and also Austin included two more touchdowns, one in each of the 3rd and soon quarters, with a point after added in the forth quarter for an excellent measure, because that a 26-0 finish.Austin’s win sent the team to Jackson, Tennessee, to challenge the southerly United says High school Champions. Austin winner that game 13-0 and was in order to able to insurance claim the (then) location of U.S. Nationwide High school Football Champions(see the football ar of the Austin High institution 1938 yearbook obtainable for viewing on our website). It additionally gave the Public league its third victory in four Kelly Bowls.

Leo fans could find consolation in future years when, after second loss in the Kelly bowl in 1940, Leo went on to victory the video game in 1941 and also 1942 together the leagues became more evenly matched into the 1950s. (The Catholic League started to conquer in the 1960s v the early on 1980s, for a selection of reasons which reflected in the comparative top quality of the 2 league’s sports programs at the time. In current years, the finest Catholic and Public league teams opt out of the Prep bowl to go after state playoff opportunities, because both leagues join Illinois State High college Association in the late 1970s.)

For your parts, Galvin go on to break the large 10 punting mean while at Purdue University and also was a punter v the Baltimore Colts in 1947 after ~ spending time together a shortstop in the new York Yankees farm yard system. DeCorrevont led Northwestern university in offense in 1939 and also 1940 and was a running ago for the Washington Redskins and quarterback because that the Detroit Lions and Chicago Cardinals and Bears after serving in the marine in human being War II.

SOLDIER field FEATSBy the moment of the Leo-Austin game, Soldier field had already hosted a considerable number of well attended soccer games, consisting of the 1926 Army-Navy game prior to an approximated 110,000 and almost 120,000 for the 1927 Notre Dame-University of southerly California game. One similarly big crowd reportedly proved up because that the 1928 game between Notre Dame and Navy in Soldier Field.Even at the time, the Leo-Austin game was thought about the most well attended football game. In 2001, USA Today shown that it indeed remained to most well attended football video game in the U.S.As for how Soldier ar accommodated an ext than 120,000 fans because that a video game in 1937, the stadium had actually 76,000 long-term bleacher seats and had room because that and added 30,000 momentary bleacher seats. These were no in use for the Leo-Austin game; instead, adults and also children were packed right into the stands, aisles and also in lines roughly seven world deep approximately the stadium’s upper perimeter, follow to the Chicago Tribune Nov. 28, 1937.

The story speak of ushers, top top the bespeak of chef Andy Frain, opening gateways leading come the playing field, and thousands the spectators milling on the track that organized midget automobile races. “I assumed they to be eight come 10 rows deep every ar I looked,” DeCorrevont claimed at the time.

The best place to clock on the sideline was a knoll wherein the north stands when stood. It was estimated that part of the crowd was “ten thousand,” follow to the Tribune report. And also DeCorrevont recalls human being telling him there were thousands of nonpaying pan watching native the Park District administration building on 14th Street. “I don`t recognize what they can see indigenous there,” DeCorrevont said the Tribune. “They must have been two blocks native the game.”It must be listed that the biggest crowd ever before recorded to have used the Soldier field was 260,000 because that the 1954 Marian Year Tribute organized by the Catholic Church, a spiritual event to honor and venerate the Virgin Mary during a year specialized for that purpose by the Church. Of the 260,000, however, roughly 100,000 civilization gathered exterior the stadion to listen the company through loudspeakers.

About Leo AlumniStarting from the individuals, predominantly Irish Catholics, who attended Leo at the moment of the huge Game, the Leo Alumni have end up being a an ext diverse group, showing the readjust in the student populace as the neighborhood approximately the college has come to be predominantly African-American.For every Leo Alumni, joining in the game with the largest fan attendance in history is part of the proud and storied history of Leo High School, Austin High School and also the Chicago Catholic and Public Leagues. This background is made everyday at Leo and also greatly aided by alumni assistance of the school. Us hope you have delighted in our huge Game history. Your comments, feedback, suggestions, modifying and/or other help is hereby solicited. You can call us through our e-mail or our blog. If we usage your editing and enhancing in a remarkable way, we will write-up your name as a contributor for a duration of not much less than one year.

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BIBLIOGRAPHYThe main Website that the FedEx Orange BowlNFL web Network “Superbowl Recaps”Official Website of the nationwide Football LeagueThe Chicago Tribune, November 28, 1937The Southtown Economist, November 28, 1937Encyclopedia of Chicago, view the Kelly-Nash Machine; device Politics; Soldier ar entry; and also Football entriesKing Football, Sport and Spectacle in the golden age of Radio and also Newsreels, Movies and Magazines, The Weekly & The everyday Press by Michael Orradi, 2001 The college of north Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and LondonNFL Championship gamings Results 1933 to 1969Stadiums of agree Football PastTime Magazine, Sept. 20, 1954Wikipedia, The free Encyclopedia, Soldier FieldThe college of Illinois at Chicago, “Political history of BridgeportRoosevelt college On-Line, www.roosevelt.edu/chicagohistory/mod3-chap1.htmThe Leo High college Yearbook, 1938The Austin High college Yearbook, sports Section, Football, 1938The Chicago Tribune, ”Schools of difficult Knocks,” by Barry TemkinAnd other sources