Wellesley High Football Team – November History Mystery

November 17, 2014 – Question

November brings Thanksgiving and a reprise of the nation’s oldest high school football rivalry.  The annual Wellesley-Needham football game began in 1882 at Hunnewell Park, now known as Morton Field, with Wellesley emerging as the winner with a score of 4-0.

Football uniforms and equipment were scarce or nonexistent in the early days and the image above depicts the Wellesley High School team of 1901-1902 with an unusual piece of equipment hanging from the necks of several players (circled).  Any ideas on what this piece of football equipment was called and what part of the body it protected?  Check back on November 28th for the answer!

November 27, 2014

The football equipment used by the Wellesley football players is called a nose guard.  The strap seen around the player’s neck in the photo was actually tied around the top of the head, the hard shield was placed over the nose and the player further secured the nose guard by placing a molded bite plate (found on the back) between their teeth.  Three small holes are also visible at the bottom of the nose guard to help players to breathe while wearing this equipment!  While the nose guard may have spared some players injury, it did not give the Wellesley players an advantage on the field; these Wellesley players tied with Needham in 1901, with a score of 0 – 0.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator