The role of Captain in amateur and professional sports has evolved over the years...

Initially, there were no professional “coachers”. 

And, in college games and Olympic sports, it was considered illegal or unethical to have a paid person “coach” the amateurs.  Later on, it became acceptable to have paid coaches, but only during the pre-season period.

In the early days of professional baseball, the “Captain” was what we would today call a Playing Manager.  Some of them got nicknamed “Cap” because of that role.  It took many decades before there were no playing managers in Major League Baseball.

When college football became more popular, the Big Ten put forth a rule that the Head Coach had to be a faculty member.  Michigan objected and dropped out of the conference for a number of years, because Fielding Yost was not part of their faculty.  There was also a penalty in those days for “coaching from the sidelines”.

When Captains had the important role back in those days, there was NEVER more than one team captain, since everyone played both ways and only this one man was in charge.

So, who were Notre Dame’s first Captains:

1887       Henry Luhn                         RH-The founder of our first team.  Later a prominent physician in Washington.  Helped found the football team at Gonzaga

1888       Edward Prudhomme      RH-A key position in those days

1889       Prudhomme

1890       No team

1891       No team

1892       Pat Coady                            QB-in those days, the QB was the field general, but would not pass or run, a blocker and often a kicker

1893       Frank Keough                    RH

1894       Keough                                This was the first year we had a “Head Coach”, but he also played some games

1895       Dan Casey                           RG-in later years, a lineman would be a much more likely choice than a back—our Head Coach also played some games

1896       Frank Hering                      QB-Trained by Amos Alonzo Stagg, at Univ. of Chicago—Hering called “The Father of Notre Dame Football”, also a playing coach for ND

1897       Jack Mullen                        RE

1898       Mullen

1899       Mullen                                  James McWeeney, the Head Coach later became the SB Chief of Police

1900       John Farley                         FB-nicknamed Tiger Lilly.  One of our great early three-sport athletes.  Later a CSC Priest.  The only Rector with a dorm named after him.

1901       Al Fortin                               RT

1902       Red Salmon                        FB-ND’s first national “star”, being named to Walter Camp’s third team

1903       Salmon

1904       Frank Shaughnessy         RE-two sport star.  Future Major League Baseball Player.  Minor League all-star.  Long-time President of the International League

1905       Pat Beacom                        LG-Big scorer for ND, from the time that everyone could carry the ball

1906       Bob Bracken                       QB

1907       Dom Callicrate                   RH

1908       Red Miller                           LH

1909       Cap Edwards                      LT

1910       Ralph Dimmick                  RT

1911       Luke Kelly                            RT

1912       Gus Dorais                          QB-Incredible leader; also gave a Commencement Address.  Our first great field goal kicker, also

1913       Knute Rockne                    LE-pretty good leader himself………..roommate of Dorais

1914       Keith Jones                         LT

1915       Freeman Fitzgerald         RG

1916       Stan Cofall                           LH-one of ND’s All-Time greats

1917       Jim Phelan                          QB

1918       Pete Bahan                         RH-This was Rockne‘s first year as Head Coach

1926, 1933, and 1936, were the only years with two Captains, until 1957.  It became more common after that.  Leahy used “game captains” during the 1946 National Championship season.

It is noteworthy that some outstanding future Head Football Coaches never became a Team Captain at Notre Dame.  Among those were Charley Bachman; Curly Lambeau; Frank Thomas; Buck Shaw; Harry Baujan; Slip Madigan; Harry Stuhldreyer; Maurice “Clipper” Smith; Elmer Layden; and Frank Leahy.

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