Championship City | Frankford Yellow Jackets

If you are a regular follower of Edge of Philly, you probably have seen the articles on my point of Philadelphia being known as Championship City. Quite the boast. Green Bay is Known as Title Town due to its lofty 13 Championships. In researching this series, I have found a few connections between Philadelphia and Green Bay. The latest count is still far from overwhelming with Title Town holding a 13-4 edge. We keep chipping away and turn our attention to football and the little-known but historic, Frankford Yellow Jackets.

The Yellow Jackets were the precursor to a team you know as the Philadelphia Eagles. Going 14-1-1 The Jackets were crowned NFL Champions in 1925 behind Hall of Famer, Guy Chamberlin who, not only Coached the team but played End and Halfback. So, that brings the count to 13-5 the Green Bay way.

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Yellow Jackets a Groundbreaking Team

In the Way Back Machine, the Yellow Jackets made their debut two centuries ago in 1899 as an Independent team with their home field in the area that is now Frankford and Hellerman in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia. The team was under the ownership of the Frankford Athletic Association. They slowly built a loyal following, so much so that the Frankford Elevated Train rail was constructed, in part to make access to Yellow Jacket Stadium much easier.

The Jackets were comprised mostly of neighborhood locals. The upstart Jackets embarked on games against proven National Football League teams and beat them! Eyes of the NFL suddenly went to Philadelphia and an offer was made to Frankford to come on board.

The team only survived from 1924 to 1931. Amassing a 70-45-13 record with the 14-1-1 being the high-water mark. As the Overall league leader, the Yellow Jackets were crowned NFL Champions. Sadly, it was downhill from there. Theodore “Thee” Holman (President) and Chamberlin (Player Coach) resigned their positions with The Frankford Athletic Association.

1927 saw an array of Head Coaches started with Charley Moran followed by Swede Youngstrom, Charlie Rogers, Russ Daugherty, Ed Weir, and Charley Moran. Moran, during his tenure, stepped away to officiate the Yankees-Pirates World Series with his son Tom, taking the reins.

More History

Some oddities now but not then. Sunday games were blocked in Philadelphia due to the old “Blue Laws”. For those unaware, the Blue Laws had a religious connotation as no sports could be played and watering holes, aka, bars could not open. So, the Yellow Jackets played back-to-back games with Frankford playing host on Saturday and both squads busing for the Sunday rematch.

The 1926 season kicked off with an “exhibition” loss, 45-0 to the Atlantic City Roses (yes, they had an NFL team). The regular season kicked off with a 6-6 tie with the Akron Pros. Next up was the Hartford Blues with Frankford winning each. Buffalo Rangers got whitewashed, 30-0. After the bus ride, Buffalo canceled due to “a wet field.” The New York Giants were shut out by the same 6-0 score in each game. The shutouts reached four games with a 10-0 win over the Canton Bulldogs. Another re-match was scrapped due to rain.

At the end of October, the pale blue and yellow held a 6-0-1 record. In November, the NFL went to a single game per week and instituted a Thanksgiving game. Guess who the Thanksgiving match-up would be? The Yellow Jackets and …the Green Bay Packers. Frankford prevailed, 20-16 with the highlight being a forward pass from Hust Stockton to one of the best names in sports history, “Two Bits” Homan. The teams met the next four Thanksgiving’s.

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Sadly, the End

The Great Depression and fire were too much to overcome. A huge fire at Frankford Stadium forced the team to play a pair of games at Municipal Stadium (JFK) and a pair at Baker Bowl. These are short trips today. Not the case in 1930. A literal fire sale was on and the club was ultimately handed to the league where it lay dormant until July 9, 1933. Lud Wray and Bert Bell were awarded a team they named the Eagles, after FDR’s New Deal. The rest they say is history.

Schtuff You Never Knew

The 20-16 victory over Green Bay was the first win over Green Bay in their city by a Philly team. This would stay for 51 years until 1979. The victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field was never repeated until October 17, 1999, with an Eagles win a Soldier Field. The Jackets were trailblazers with half-time shows. This was highlighted by a 1926 game that featured women’s football for the first time in history. The 14 win season was the NFL record until the San Francisco 49ers went 15-1-0 in 1984.

Kevin Neibauer
Kevin Neibauer

Kevin has followed and promoted the game of lacrosse since May 19, 1974.
The same day the Philadelphia Flyers won the Cup, the Philadelphia Wings were introduced to Neibauer and Philadelphia.

Kevin has covered many sports, including baseball, football, basketball, and.. lacrosse. A former licensed football referee and baseball umpire, Kevin brings a unique insight to his game coverage.

A published writer in JustHockey Magazine, Kevin covered the American Hockey League as well as a monthly story on a pugilist where Kevin used the pen name, The Rink Rat. Neibauer turned his attentions to lacrosse for a few years and does his part, whether podcasting or writing to grow the game. Kevin branched out to his roots and currently provides insight for all Philadelphia teams for Edge of Philly as well as his full-time duties with LaxPhilly.

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