In the thirties, baseball was king in America and college football was the prince. Pittsburgh was no different in its love of both games. The sports pages would be full of Pirates baseball in the spring and summer before coverage switched to college football in the autumn.

Fans were spoilt with football in Pittsburgh and the local press was full of the exploits of the Pitt Panthers, Carnegie Tech and the Duquesne Dukes. While the 75,000 who turned out to watch the Panthers beat Notre Dame was not the normal number of fans who filled Pitt Stadium, collegiate football was still extremely popular.

In 1936, Pittsburgh would be enjoying its fourth year of pro football with the Pirates of the National Professional Football League (today's NFL). Owner Art Rooney admitted the team did not make money, especially after three years of losing football. With five wins and thirteen losses at home during that period, it was Mr. Rooney’s love for football that kept the franchise going.

In November 1935, Dr. Harry A March announced plans for a new eight club professional football circuit to be known as the American Professional Football League. Dr. March had been heavily involved in football since the early 1900s and is often called the father of professional football. He had been associated with the Canton Bulldogs and went on to hold several positions with the New York Giants before deciding to start the new professional league.

It was suggested March fell out with George Marshall who owned the NFL's Boston franchise and decided to form a new league to spite the NFL even though Dr. March had emphasised there would be no territorial war with the established league.

Dr. March announced the new league would be confined to cities in the north eastern area of the United States, bounded by New England and Ohio. The following cities were listed as applying for membership:

Providence, Hartford, Albany, New York, Rochester, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Baltimore, Washington, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson, N.J.

The final makeup of the league of eight teams was to be decided at a December meeting to be held in New York.

Pittsburgh was assured of a franchise in the proposed league with Richard Guy Jr., heading a consortium of local businessmen. Guy was a former sports editor in the city. In addition, he had experience in pro football as the business manager with the Pirates football team.

Guy had been instrumental in establishing both the Mid-Atlantic league and the Pennsylvania State Association of baseball clubs. The new football team would be playing their games in Forbes Field, so their schedule needed to be worked out with Art Rooney to avoid a clash with the Pirates games.

The infant American League was projected to be as strong as or stronger than the NFL. The existing contracts of players in the NFL would be respected with no poaching of players. If there were teams from both leagues in one city, the intention was to dovetail schedules.

At a meeting on April 11th, 1936 the new league was formally organised with franchises granted to Boston, New York, Jersey City, Syracuse, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Providence. To encourage the fulfilment of their obligations, each club was required to post a $10,000 bond as surety for completing the season. Guy was voted onto the executive board. The league agreed that player numbers would be limited to 25 for the first three games and then 22 after that.


The new Pittsburgh franchise began to look for a coach while seeking a name for the team. A tentative agreement had been in place for John J Molenda, a former Michigan University fullback with seven years pro experience to take charge. But Molenda decided to go to New York when a coaching vacancy became available there.

At the end of April, veteran football player and former coach of the Oklahoma State College team Rudy Comstock was chosen as the coach for the Pittsburgh Americans as the name for the team also emerged.

Comstock played on the national championship Bulldogs team in 1923. He also played with the Cleveland pro team for a year but returned to Canton in 1925. From Canton he went to the Philadelphia pro gridders, playing from 1926 to 1929 when he moved to the New York Giants. In 1930 he joined the Green Bay Packers before leaving three years later to accept the Oklahoma State coaching berth.

Guy travelled to Oklahoma and Kansas in May to complete his first signings.

Jim Turner. Oklahoma; Ralph Churchill, Kansas State; Ed Bender, George Gruver, Frank Dreisling all from Fort Hays (Kansas) State and Robert Snyder, Ohio University were all signed. The signature of end Churchill was sought by several teams, but his college coach, who knew Comstock, probably influenced him to sign with Pittsburgh.

During July the Americans signed Joe Keeble, who played halfback and fullback at the University of California. He also played for Los Angeles in 1935 while working in the moving pictures business. After declining initial offers to go east, he eventually could not refuse the salary on offer from the Americans.

Pirates baseball team’s third baseman Bill Brubeck, who was at college with Keeble, noted, “Keeble was without doubt the best backfield man on the coast in 1933 and 1934 when he was picked for fullback on the All-California eleven and the mythical All-American teams. We called him ‘Jolting Joe’ because when he went into a line he jolted the opposition and it was a common occurrence to see him lay out the ball carrier with a hard tackle.”

Two players from pro team the Reading Keystones were signed in July. Homer Gilbert of Albright College went by the nickname of “Knuckles Boyle.” He earned the “knuckles” tag because he was apparently a mean player when riled. A day later, newspapers reported Eddie Tyson of the Keys also signed with the Pirates.

August was a busy month as Coach Comstock prepared the team for its first training camp. He added Bill Potts kicking fullback from Villa Nova college, guard Dave Packard of Southern California, tackles Robert Dobyns of Marquette and quarterback Pete Dranginis from Catholic University.

Former Pirates captain Ben Smith was a good addition to the roster. Although he had been handicapped by injury in 1935, he would bring essential experience to the team.

Cy Casper, who suffered a bad eye injury during an altercation at the end of a Pirates and Cardinals game the previous year contemplated giving up pro football. He returned to the Pirates in 1936 but was released, signed by the Philadelphia Eagles before finding himself back in Pittsburgh on the roster of the Americans.

Fullback Rollie Halfman of Marquette University was signed to enter camp after he finished playing baseball in the Northern league, but it appears he was too successful at the other sport and never joined the team.

The Americans acquired University of Pittsburgh tackle Jess Quatse. After he played for the New York Giants in 1935, they sold his contract to Philadelphia, but he refused to play for them and arrived in Pittsburgh.

One player who got away was guard Dick Sklar who had shone at Kansas University. When Guy attempted to locate the player’s whereabouts in August, he was told by the local newspaper the Daily Republican, that Sklar had returned to Kansas with the security of a good job in a steel mill.

Before he left, Sklar had made it clear he wanted no part of professional football as too many athletic tramps manufactured by professional sports. “That’s true,” agreed Guy. “Pro football is a tough racket and I can understand his attitude.”

The Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph reported that Coach Comstock was going to attempt a different philosophy in putting his team together. Instead of inviting a horde of players to camp, he intended to begin with 25 selected stars and let them all know they had jobs and it would be up to them to work to keep them.

Believing that teamwork is the surest road to success, Comstock considered that could best be attained by making a minimum of changes in personnel.

September for the Americans

At the beginning of September, owner Guy continued to boost his squad and signed halfback Dixie Long of University of Alabama, end Jeff Davis of Howard College and fullback Victor Jordan from the Oshkosh Teachers College. Former Washington Jefferson guard Mike Skulos and Pete Mergo of Western Maryland also joined the team as they were preparing for training camp.

The withdraw of the Cleveland Rams from the league on September 5 just as the Americans were opening their training camp wasn’t the news the teams wanted to hear. Cleveland's general manager confirmed his team’s collapse citing the request from Dr. March of $500 from each team to fund the transfer of the Rochester team to Brooklyn as the reason.

Despite rumours of the league’s demise, Dr. March was emphatic the season would go ahead. He responded quickly to the departure of Cleveland by organising an owners meeting in New York to discuss the situation with one of the options being to move the franchise to another city.

At the meeting the owners drew up two schedules, one for a five team league and one for six teams on the basis the Cleveland challenge could be resolved. The Americans opening game due to be played in Cleveland was postponed. The league also voted to transfer the Rochester franchise to Brooklyn.

In a bid to promote the new league and increase their profile they hired Frank Albertanti, former press agent to world champion boxer Max Schmeling.

As training camp approached, the Pittsburgh Press put the spotlight on Coach Comstock describing him as a short chunky fellow who punched over plenty of touchdowns in his own professional football career. In camp the coach had 25 players of various sizes and shapes from which he needed to form into two elevens to take the Americans though their season.

With a daily two-hour workout, Comstock hoped to have his men prepared for their first exhibition game at Charleroi. Comstock believed that with his team’s mixture of tried veterans and promising rookies the Americans would be able to compete on even terms with the other teams in the league.

Some of the players had already made an impression on the coach. Halfbacks Snyder, Beltz and Potts along with quarterback Dranginis were highlighted by the coach to the Press. His compliments also stretched to Charley Spisak, quarterback and star punter from Carnegie Tech.

The team held its first practice on September 7 at Turner Field in Wilkinsburg with camp scheduled to last two weeks. Their first exhibition game took place on September 13 at the Charleroi baseball park and saw a College All-Stars team made up of former local high school and college players take on the pros. The game was a benefit for the Penn State League baseball team and enjoyed a crowd of 1,500.

Coach Comstock would be the most interested spectator as the performance of each athlete would determine which players he would retain for the regular season.

The Pittsburgh Press reported Dick Beltz, a former Ohio State star, scoring a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Bob Snyder, another Buckeye star, intercepted a pass in the third period and returned it 25 yards to tie the game 6-6.

The lineup as noted by the Press:

Blues                          Reds
LE Tyson                   Grover
LT Quatse                 Bender
LG Hughes               Skulos
C   Turner                  Dreiling
RG Packard              Dobyns
RT Karcis                  Gilbert
RE Smith                   Fife
QB Dranginis            Keeble
LH Snyder                 Beltz
RH Jordan                 Long
FB Potts                     Platukis

September 16 saw the league released a new schedule.

The Americans played their second exhibition game on September 20 against the Hyvis Oilers in Warren.

The Americans went ahead in the first quarter when Ben Smith scored on a 20-yard touchdown run. Snyder missed the extra point and later a field goal. Pittsburgh held the advantage until late in the third quarter when a fumble gave the locals the ball on Pittsburgh’s four-line yard. That resulting touchdown and conversion saw the Hyvis team edge a 7-6 win.

The lineup for the Americans as noted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette    

LE Gruver
LT Jilbert
LG Kyson
C Turner
RG Dreilling
RT Quatse
RE Smith
Q Dranginas
LH Snyder
RH Bentz
FB Potts

Before the Americans kicked off the regular season, Dick Guy was still adding to his roster. He signed former West Virginia player Joe Poilek, stating he would be used as a blocking quarterback. The team prepared for the first game against Syracuse with an inter-team game played under lights in Moran Field, McKeesport.

When the Boston Shamrocks played their home opener against the New York Yankees on September 30, they made history by playing the first football game under floodlights in Boston. The Shamrocks won 7-0 after Earl Bartlett recovered a fumble and ran 36 yards for the touchdown.

October for the Americans

Having seen the original season opener cancelled because of the question mark hanging over the Cleveland team, the revised game in Syracuse was postponed because of rain.

The delay saw the team’s stay in Syracuse overlap New York’s Democratic state convention. The team’s hotel also hosted the political chieftains and one decided to take on the Americans’ tackle Jess Quatse. “Hey you! You look like a wrestler. I can throw you,” challenged the politician. “Okay,” replied Quatse, “I’ll wrestle you right here. If I throw you, I want a ticket to hear President Roosevelt speak tonight.”

The politician agreed to surrender his ticket if he lost. The crowded lobby parted, and Jess and his challenger went into a clinch. In no time, Quatse had the politician on the floor, unharmed. Jess had a seat close to Mr. Roosevelt when the President delivered his speech.

The (0-0) Pittsburgh Americans at the (0-2) Syracuse Braves; October 4 1,500

Syracuse were managed by Morris (Red) Badgro, who played left end for the New York Giants and now for the Braves. Badgro had welcomed the postponement as it allowed his players more time to recover from their bruising battle with the New York Yankees which they lost 13-6. The Braves gave up two touchdowns in the final period and Badgro felt fatigue played a part in the defeat.

An early 30-yard field goal followed by a Syracuse interception that set up the first touchdown of the game gave the Braves a 9-0 lead. Bob Snyder provided the spark the Americans were looking for in the second quarter with a 40-yard run on a fake pass. Snyder’s completed passes to Gruver and Smith put Pittsburgh close to their opponents’ goal line. On fourth down, Long lunged over for the touchdown.

A Joe Keeble fumble in the third quarter set the Braves up for a score that increased their advantage to 16-7. The Americans took that deficit into the final period before the defense gave the offense the chance to win the game.

After Ben Smith recovered a muffed Syracuse kick-catch, Snyder scored and the fightback began. Two interceptions resulting in touchdown runs of 30 and 55 yards by Ed Bender and Snyder saw the Americans take a 27-16 victory.

The Americans lineup as listed in the Pittsburgh Press:

LE Smith
LT Gilbert
LG Tyson
C Ribble
RG Dreiling
RT Quatse
RE Fife
Q Keeble
LH Potts
RH Beltz although he was injured
F Snyder

The (1-0) Pittsburgh Americans at the (2-0) Boston Shamrocks; October 7 3,500

The Shamrocks scored with a 30-yard field goal on their opening drive and increased their lead with a touchdown from Earl Bartlett. The Americans replied in the second period after recovering a Boston fumble. Dick Bentz carried the ball three times before Dixie Long went left for the 7-yard touchdown. Snyder was hit on the jaw during an altercation. Bartlett hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass in the final quarter to give the Shamrocks a 16-7 win.

For the Shamrocks, it was the former Providence college ace Hank Soar who was the star. He kicked the field goal and threw the two touchdown passes.

The Americans prepared for their home opener against the New York Yankees who had one of early pro football greats in seven-year veteran Ken Strong. A large crowd was expected at Forbes Field for the Sunday afternoon kickoff. Both teams had lost and won against the same opponents which would suggest they were evenly balanced and a good battle would ensure.

After the build up to the game, another wet day saw the game postponed. While Pittsburgh fans were disappointed, football fans in Cleveland were ecstatic as the Rams made their debut in the new league against Syracuse and triumphed 26-0. The enthusiasm around the signing of Harry “The Horse” Mattos was justified when he scored a touchdown.

The Amerks next opponents were the Brooklyn Tigers with head coach Mike Palm, who previously coached West Virginia and Harvard. The Tigers were captained by former New York Giants star Harry Newman.

Pittsburgh coach Comstock believed the Americans had to contain Newman to have a chance of winning. On offense, the Americans had focused on their passing skills with Joe Keeble during practice. Keeble was a left-handed passer as he was in baseball and was very adapt at concealing the ball and his attempt to throw it. Keeble was supported at quarterback by Beltz, Potts and Snyder.

The (1-1) Pittsburgh Americans vs the (0-2) Brooklyn Tigers; October 18 2000

Before a small crowd huddled inside the vast expanse of Forbes Field on a raw October afternoon, the Americans made their winning debut in Pittsburgh. The Tigers began slowly while Pittsburgh played aggressive ball with Tyson picking a muffed pass out of the air and returning it 24 yards for a touchdown. Snyder kicked the successful point after.

For the Tigers, Harry Newman led from the front and smashed over from one yard for a score. His point after conversion tied the game 7-7.

Defenses dominated the second quarter which remained scoreless.

The Americans edged ahead in the third quarter with Snyder’s 37-yard field goal, but Newman’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Hugh Rhea saw the Tigers take their first lead. The resulting kickoff saw Pittsburgh put together the game winning series. A 4-yard touchdown run from Beltz finished the drive and Snyder added the extra point to give the Americans a 17-13 victory.

The low crowd may have been a result of the success of the Pirates team who were on top of the Eastern division and the talk of the town as they headed towards their first winning season

The Americans would travel to New York to face their next opponents the Yankees who were coming off a 13-0 shutout by the Syracuse Braves three days previously.

The (2-1) Pittsburgh Americans at the (3-1) New York Yankees; October 21 26,000

With both teams dominating on defense, the game remained scoreless until the final quarter although Pittsburgh missed the chance to break the deadlock with a 23-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter that failed.

In the fourth quarter, a sustained drive by the Americans began with a 12-yard catch by Keeble from Beltz. The chains continued to move with a run from Snyder, another completion by Keeble and a run by Beltz placed the ball on the Yankees’ 18-yard line. Keeble’s touchdown pass to Ben Smith completed the drive and put six points on the scoreboard. Snyder’s missed extra point was to prove costly.

On the ensuing New York drive, Stu Clancy found his touch. Under pressure, Clancy found Ken Strong for the touchdown before he kicked the extra point that edged the Yankees in front. The score also delayed the game as the ecstatic fans reacted to the turnaround by invading the field. Police took ten minutes to clear the field before the Yankees completed their fourth win of the season

An estimated 26,000 fans had turned out to watch the game and the Yankees had not prepared for such a large crowd with 5,000 going home without being admitted. The sizable turnout saw the Yankees vice-president and treasurer Harry King convinced they could attract even more fans to the game. He believed that with enough publicity and a ticket price ranging from 50 cents, the team could attract 50,000 in attendance.

“Fifty thousand people each Sunday would look much better to us than 10,000 at $2 top,” he suggested. Owner of the rival Giants of the NFL, Tim Mara, was more restrained. “I don’t know whether it would work or not. I doubt it. The overhead is too great.”

Two days later, the Baltimore Sun ran a story suggesting that 5,000 people turned up at the game waving false “press passes" and they were the fans turned away.

Looking ahead at his next opponents, Coach Comstock put the Americans to work on passing and pass defense after he heard the Rams had passed their way to a 27-0 shut out of New York. The Americans released Homer Gilbert who became the team’s first casualty of the regular season.

On Gilbert's release, the Post-Gazette highlighted the fact that the average pro team would start with a large roster and then prune and change it as the season progressed. Conversely, the Americans knew who they wanted, the organisation signed them and stuck with them. The philosophy ensured the players’ morale was high and that they were keen to confirm the confidence placed in them.

The Cleveland Rams would provide stiff opposition for the Americans as they had only conceded nine points in three games. Four of the Rams players were also coaching collegiate teams and brought that extensive experience to the team. Sid Gilman was at Denison, Frank Gaul was coaching John Carroll’s backs, Ray Novotny tutored Kent State’s backs and Stan Allman assisted Ray Ride at his alma mater Case College.

November for the Americans

The (2-2) Pittsburgh Americans at the (2-1-1) Cleveland Rams; November 1 8,852

The Rams controlled the opening exchanges but were unable to take advantage of their dominance. Cleveland missed a 40-yard field goal attempt and then fumbled on Pittsburgh’s 15 when looking likely to score .

In the second quarter, Rams Stan Pincura intercepted a Snyder pass although Cleveland immediately returned the favour with an interception from Pittsburgh’s Beltz. Cleveland missed another field goal attempt from 35 yards as the teams continued to misfire on offense.

The third quarter continued in the same manner until Quatse’s fumble recovery on the Rams’ 18 provided the opportunity for the Americans to break the deadlock. Presented with a short field, it was a 14-yard pass from Snyder to Fife that gave Pittsburgh a 7-point lead as Snyder added the conversion.

In the final period, Rams’ coach Buzz Wetzel joined the lineup and sparked his team on a drive that finished with Joe Cavosie’s 7-yard touchdown run on a Statue of Liberty play. Len Fertig converted to tie the game 7-7 to deny the Americans the victory.

As the American prepared for their next game, Bill Potts who suffered a cracked rib against the Rams and Ben Smith who suffered a badly bruised foot were held out of early practice. With heavy rain at the beginning of the week, the Americans wore special uniforms as they practiced handling the ball on a heavy field.

After the weather improved during the week Coach Comstock had his players practice wide open plays using the team’s speed and devised a new play, they labelled the “Gormely Special,” although no record of what it involved is recorded. Joe Keeble made an impression with his accuracy when throwing the ball.

The Americans would next play host to the league leaders Boston Shamrocks. Hank Soar of Providence College had made a big impact with the Shamrocks along with former Notre Dame star Don Elser. The game was attracting fans outside of Pittsburgh with Elser holding quite a following in the tri-state area.

With the precarious nature of professional football in the thirties, the Braves transferred their franchise mid-season from Syracuse to Rochester with a record of five straight defeats. Facing the unbeaten Boston Shamrocks, the Braves shocked their opponents when scoring on the second play of the game.

A Braves fumble on their own 3-yard line allowed the Shamrocks to come back into the game. A 15-yard field goal and an interception returned 45 yards for the touchdown gave the Braves their first victory.

The (2-2-1) Pittsburgh American vs the (6-1) Boston Shamrocks; November 8 4,026

Financial challenges were an integral part of pro football in the thirties and caused a delay to the start of the game. Apparently when the Americans played in Syracuse, the home team’s guarantee was $500 short. Boston held the money back when they played Syracuse and were due to have the amount deducted from the $3,000 guarantee for the game in Pittsburgh.

Boston’s coach was not made aware of the arrangement and refused to play until the agreement was explained to him. 

The Americans began the game badly turning the ball over on their first possession. Pittsburgh’s defense held the Shamrocks to a field goal attempt which fell short. Still in the first quarter, Bender intercepted a Boston pass as Pittsburgh took command. Bender returned the interception to Boston’s 37 to provide the Americans with a short field. A pass interference penalty gave Pittsburgh a first down on Boston’s 15. After Snyder completed a pass to Keeble for five yards, runs from Snyder and Beltz moved the ball to the 4-yard line as the period expired.

The game moved into the second quarter when Beltz ran wide left around end for the score and Snyder kicked the conversion.

The teams exchanged possessions until the final play of the third quarter when Snyder smashed over from the 1-yard line. His touchdown and his successful point after increased the American advantage to 14-0.

In the final quarter, the Shamrocks showed why they were top of the league by driving 80 yards and finishing with a 2-yard touchdown catch from former Pirate Swede Ellstrom.

The Americans triumphed 14-6 to keep their interest in making the playoffs alive while their NFL neighbours Pirates were top of the Eastern division. Pittsburgh was finally enjoying professional football success.

The Pittsburgh Press noted the lineup:

LE Fife
LT Quatse
LG Ribble
C Turner
RG Dreiling
RT Bender
RE Smith
Q Keeble
LH Beltz
RH Snyder
FB Potts

After the league received complaints of high ticket prices, they announced rates would be cut. The Americans reduced their bleacher seats in the open from 60 cents to 50 cents and tickets for the first floor of the grandstand were cut from 85 cents and $1.15 to 75 cents although the boxes and upper tier seats remained the same.

The reduced ticket prices combined with the attraction of several locals playing for their next opponents, a large crowd was expected for the visit of the Rams. Mike Sebastian and Art Detzel from Pitt and Ben Ciccone from Duquesne would help fill the seats particularly as Sebastian and Ciccone had previously played in the NFL with the Pirates.

Having been undone by a touchdown pass in their previous game against the Rams, the Americans focussed on pass defense in practice. It was something they concentrated on before their game in Cleveland, but were undone by a late touchdown completion.

The (3-2-1) Pittsburgh Americans vs the (4-1-2) Cleveland Rams; November 15

The expected fan numbers did not transpire on a wintery Sunday afternoon and led to its postponement. When the Rams coach saw the empty seats, he demanded the guarantee money from Dick Guy who refused.

The less than 500 fans were refunded their money and it was in the hands of the league as to whether the game would be replayed and if the Rams would be paid their travelling expenses.

The Rams Buzz Wetzel made the following statement, “Dick Guy phones me early in the week to try and shift the game to Cleveland. But we have built a up a big following there and did not want to spoil things by overplaying our hand just because they are patronising us well.

I asked for our full guarantee before the game today because I realised they weren’t going to draw it at the gate. I paid Pittsburgh their full $3,000 guarantee when they played in Cleveland recently as well as $500 I held out of a Syracuse guarantee to take care of a shortage Guy incurred in his trip to New York city.

No, I do not know what action the league will take on the mix-up or whether we will get our travelling expenses for the trip here.”

The Americans’ Guy had a different take on what had taken place. “Cleveland did not want to play this game. They are in first place and are determined to win the championship and they were afraid we would beat them.

As soon as Wetzel stepped out of the taxicab on his arrival at the park, he suggested calling off the game. He demanded four Cleveland officials during the week and we finally had to replace referee Dan Daugherty to please him and substitute a Cleveland man.

When he demanded his guarantee before the game, I refused. The Pittsburgh club does not owe a single penny to anyone although several clubs owe us fair amounts. They would have been paid off after the game regardless of the gate receipt.”

The episode once again proved how fragile the finances were in professional football and how difficult it was to stick to a fixed schedule for any fledgling league. The Rams claimed a forfeit and asked for the Pittsburgh franchise to be discontinued, but neither request was granted.

The Americans called off their final American League game against New York scheduled for the morning of Thanksgiving Day. President Guy decided it would be doubtful fans would turn out to watch a game in the cold weather.

Despite the conclusion of the season, Coach Comstock kept his team in training. Most pro teams enjoyed the monetary benefit of playing exhibition games and taking professional football out to towns with fans that would not normally see the star players. 

The Americans had arranged to play Atlantic City and the Reading Keystones on back to back days in Memorial Stadium, Shenandoah, but confusion over the booking of the stadium saw the games cancelled.

The end of the regular season saw an exciting contest between the league leading Rams and Shamrocks go into the final week when the two teams were scheduled to face each other. The Rams had rolled over the Shamrocks 34-26 two weeks previously so a fascinating contest in Cleveland would put a seal on the championship.

With the winter weather producing falling temperatures, the Rams management announced two days before the game that it would start regardless of whether the field was covered by snow or not.

The season finished with Boston claiming the championship after being advised their scheduled game had been cancelled because of the prospect of more snow in the Ohio city. Cleveland’s secretary Frank Strock countered that Boston players had “refused to come to Cleveland until they were paid back salaries due to them for past games.” He also said it marked the demise of the American league in Cleveland.

The Akron Beacon Journal suggested “the Cleveland Rams were cheated out of an opportunity to win the American Pro league grid title by the refusal of Boston to come to Cleveland for the important game.”

With the Shamrocks now recognised as the league’s champions, the Rams probably regretted the missed opportunity of not playing their game in Pittsburgh that could have provided them with a higher win ratio.

1936 American League final standings 

Boston Shamrocks 8-3 .727
Cleveland Rams 5-2-2 .714
New York Yankees 5-3-2 .625
Pittsburgh Americans 3-2-1 .600
Rochester Braves 1-6 .143
Brooklyn Tigers 0-6-1 .000

Ed Long and Dick Beltz led the Americans in scoring with two touchdowns each while Fife, Bender, Newman and Ben Smith all crossed the goal line once.

The league was looking to play the following year. With the resignation of its president Dr. March there were suggestions that Jack Schafer would take over the reins. Schafer, who was the managing director of a Hotel business in New York, brought with him a lot of experience in track and field, collegiate football and baseball.

Pittsburgh Americans 1937>>>

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