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Mr. Amos Alonzo Stagg At: Phillips Exeter Academy

Amos Alonzo Stagg, following his graduation for Orange High School, Orange, New Jersey in 1863, attended Phillips Exeter Academy located in Exeter, New Hampshire, during the 1883-84 school year. He did so to prepare for the entrance examinations at Yale University. Phillips Exeter Academy is a high regarded college prep school.

Yale University

Academics 1884 Enrolled in the fall at the age of twenty two as a divinity student.

1888 Graduated with a degree in divinity. 1888-1890

Spent one year doing postgraduate work and one year as a divinity student.


Between 1884 and 1890 pitched Yale University to five successive collegiate baseball championships.

Played third base as a freshman.

As a pitcher, assembled a 9 and 2 record, beating Harvard twice and Princeton twice all during his freshman year.

May 26, 1888 Stagg’s most memorable game, pitching for Yale against Princeton at Princeton (with the wife of President Cleveland in attendance wearing Princeton colors and apparently rooting for Princeton) pitched a two hitter and struck out twenty Princeton batters. Stagg’s career record as a Yale pitcher was 34-8-1 (going 15 and 4 against Harvard and 14 and 3 against Princeton.)


1887 Went out for football only because he and a friend went past the football practice field on their way to rowing tryouts.

1887 Played guard and end on the Yale team.

1889 Played on the Yale Football championship team whose record was 15 and 1.

In 1889 Stagg was selected by Caspar Whitney and Walter Camp as Right End on the first All American team.

Williston Seminary (Academy)

Amos Alonzo Stagg, in 1890 and 1891, simultaneously coached at the International YMCA College at Springfield, Massachusetts, and Williston Seminary (formerly Williston Academy), then located in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Williston Seminary, a boys academy, gave Mr. Stagg his first coaching for pay opportunity. He coached both football and baseball “an afternoon once a week.” Traveling to Williston Seminary from Springfield, Massachusetts, one afternoon each week, required a tiring train trip with a transfer to a short line railway. The Academy’s enrollment increased from 96 students during his first year of coaching, 1890, to 131 students the following school year.

Springfield International YMCA College

Amos Alonzo Stagg, in 1890, after concluding that he “…could influence others to Christian ideals more effectively on the field than in the pulpit,” withdrew from Yale divinity school. He entered the newly formed International YMCA College at Springfield, Massachusetts, to prepare for a future in physical education and coaching. While at the college in 1890 and 1891, Mr. Stagg introduced, organized and coached the football and baseball teams. His teams complied commendable records playing other New England colleges. He and his teams were recognized for their quality of hard play, fairness, and fine sportsmanship. It was here, first, that his ability to be an innovator became known. There is evidence that Dr. James Naismith, father of the game of basketball, in 1891, sought and received counsel from Mr. Stagg about the game he was about to introduce to the world. Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr., said his father was unable to participate in the very first game of basketball because of a scheduled speaking engagement. In 1892 Amos Alonzo Stagg went to the newly formed University of Chicago where he stayed for the next 41 years. 

University of Chicago

Amos Alonzo Stagg was hired September 1892 as Director of Athletics and Physical Culture and Associate Professor. Stagg was the first football coach to hold faculty status. Played on the first football and baseball teams because there were not enough men. He built the football field and the stands.

Stagg married Stella Roberson on September 10, 1894. She was a U of Chicago campus coed 12 years younger. He refereed a U of Illinois vs Chicago football game because of his honesty. Stagg was the first to use a direct snap to ball carrier, thus eliminating the quarterback involvement. He originated tackles, back and standing quarterback…today’s shotgun. Devised the first flanker plays and used wing backs. Originated shifting backs and ends. Invented the onside kick, padded uniforms, slip proof jersey, numbered jerseys, the place kick, the “T” formation, the Statue of Liberty play, the forward pass and the tackling dummy. Founded the first letterman’s Club in the nation. Originated school cheer, song, and maroon and white colors. Introduced the “mouse trap” cross block. First to use “a man in motion” and unbalanced line. His football record: 225 wins and 113 losses, 27 ties. Invented overflow trough for the swimming pool. He constructed first indoor batting cage. First to use electric lighting for football practice. First eastern coach to take a football team to play on west coast. Development of first bowl game, the Rose Bowl, Won seven Western Conference Championships (Big 10), Had five undefeated seasons.

Stagg coached football for 41 years, track for 32 years, baseball for 19 years and was one of the founders of the NCAA. He was the founder of the Western Conference, later Big 10 Conference. Member of original Football Rules Committee, 1904 member of American Olympic Committee, 1908. 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932. Coached American Olympic Team, 1924, Chairman of NCAA track and field meet. Founder of American Football Coaches Association. Founder and first president of Olympic Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields, Illinois. Designed and organized Bartlett Gymnasium, first major college athletic fitness center on a college campus in 1900. Known at University of Chicago as the Grand Old Man of the Midway.

College of the Pacific

Coach Stagg remarked about his leaving, “At 70 men are not supposed to have ambition, But at age 70 I have the body of a middle aged man, I have ambition, enthusiasm, will power, experience, fertility of invention, and the vitality to start on a new career and carry it on for twenty years.” The decision to coach football at the College of the Pacific required personal sacrifice. He has many more lucrative offers, but to Stagg, this was not a factor to consider. In his words, “If I had been influenced by a salary, I would not have stayed at the University of Chicago as long as I did. I would have accepted better financial opportunities.” Hs real reason for choosing California was his “missionary spirit.” 

Stagg coached at the college of the Pacific for 14 years, a small college, competing with the giants of west coast football; his teams were usually the underdog. Even though more games were lost than won, his tigers provided football fans with many thrills, Stagg coached teams won three Far Western Conference titles. The 1943 campaign was the most successful with the team compiling a 7 and 2 record. As a result Coach Stagg was named the Football Coaches Association “Coach of the Year”. He was 81 years old. At the end of the 1946 season he left the College of the Pacific to join his son as co-coach at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. 

Susquehanna University

Amos Alonzo Stagg, retired at age 84 by the College of the Pacific, went to Susquehanna University at Selingsgrove, Pennsylvania, as co-coach to his son, Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr. He remained at Susquehanna University for six years until the 1953 football season. While at Susquehanna University, he and Coach Stagg Jr. coached the University to some of its most successful football seasons. Coach Stagg, because of his wife Stella’s ill health in 1953, was forced to resign from the 10 year contract he had signed in 1946. He was, at the time, 90 years of age.