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CardChron


I: Sept. 17, 1920
II: Nov. 7, 1920
III: Nov. 28, 1920
IV: Oct. 7, 1923
V: Nov. 26, 1925
VI: Dec. 6, 1925
VII: Nov. 6, 1929
VIII: Nov. 28, 1929
IX: Oct. 24, 1933
X: Nov. 28, 1935
XI: Oct. 14, 1945
XII: Apr. 19, 1947
XIII: Dec. 28, 1947
XIV: Dec. 19, 1948
XV: Mar. 23, 1959
XVI: Mar. 13, 1960
XVII: Dec. 6, 1964
XVIII: Nov. 7, 1965
XIX: Nov. 16, 1970
XX: Dec. 27, 1975
XXI: Jan. 8, 1983
XXII: Dec. 16, 1984
XXIII: Nov. 8, 1987
XXIV: Mar. 15, 1988
XXV: Dec. 23, 1990
XXVI: Dec. 24, 1994

CARDINAL CHRONICLE VII
November 6, 1929: The Night the Lights Went On in Providence

- - - - - Throughout the 1920s, most NFL games were played on Sunday afternoons, much like they are today. However, some teams, such as Philadelphia's Frankford Yellow Jackets, scheduled their home games on Saturday in order to get around the state-wide "Blue-Laws" that prohibited sports activities on Sundays. Also, there were no broadcasting restrictions that prevented the rescheduling of games for Tuesdays or Wednesdays; television was not yet available to the public and radio stations did not begin carrying NFL games until the following decade. Thus, when rain fell in the Rhode Island Cyclodrome on Sunday, November 3, 1929, there was nothing unusual with the fact that the game between the Chicago Cardinals and the Providence Steam Roller was postponed until Wednesday. The strange part of the decision was that the contest was rescheduled so that it would take place after the sun has set, in the dark.
- - - - - To accommodate these night conditions, the game was moved to nearby Kinsley Park. This minor-league baseball field had floodlights set up that loomed twenty feet above the grass, casting an eerie glow on the field. Meanwhile, the football was painted white so that it would be visible in the night sky. This gave the pigskin a decidedly odd look, and several reporters were inclined to describe it in the following way: the ball took on an egg-like appearance, causing the players to handle it gently, fearful that it would crack open and splatter them with yolk.
- - - - - The Cardinals would go on to win this historic contest, flattening the Steam Roller by a score of 16-0. The star of the game, however, would not be Paddy Driscoll who had thrilled the redbird fans throughout the team's initial years. The Cardinals were never on solid financial ground and even the championship season of 1925 failed to help. In 1926, owner Chris O'Brien was forced to sell the rights to Driscoll to the rival Chicago Bears for $3,500. Meanwhile, another professional football team emerged in Chicago (for the American Football League) which leased Comiskey Park, pushing the Cards back into tiny Normal Field. Without Driscoll, attendance declined even further and O'Brien's franchise was in danger of going bankrupt.
- - - - - The Cards struggled through several seasons until Chris O'Brien finally had to sell the team. In the summer of 1929, O'Brien sold the Cardinals to Dr. David J. Jones, a Chicago city physician. The price for the NFL franchise was reportedly $25,000 (though later discovered to be only half that amount, at $12,500). Immediately, Dr. Jones began to turn things around for the Big-Red. First, he returned them to Comiskey Park. Next, he brought 26-year-old NFL-great Ernie Nevers out of retirement to be both player and coach. Nevers had already established himself with the Duluth Eskimos, and it was he who lit up the scoreboard that Wednesday night in Providence. He single-handedly dismantled the Steam Roller, running for a TD, passing for another, and kicking a field goal. However, his greatest day was still to come. . .
- - - - - As for Providence, there would be no divine intervention to save the franchise. One week before they met the Cardinals, the stock market crashed, plunging the nation and the rest of the world into a financial recession, the likes of which had never been seen before: the Great Depression. Although its full effects would not be felt immediately, the Steam Roller was already going downhill. The 1928 Championship banner still waved over their Cyclodrome, and this would be all that remained of the team in less than five years. Providence would not be alone in their decline, as the depression cleaned out all but the most financially secure NFL teams. By 1933, the proud franchises of Canton and Akron were gone; Pottsville, the near-champions of the 1925 season, would also be gone; so would the Steam Roller.

NEXT : November 28, 1929 - The Cardinals have a lot for which to be thankful in this Thanksgiving Day battle with the cross-town Bears. Ernie Nevers humiliates the rival Chicagoans while setting an NFL record that has yet to be equaled.

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