MMA – Van Surdam, Henderson E. cadet in Wesleyan College football uniform

Object ID: 2003-003-006

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MMA – Van Surdam, Henderson E. cadet in Wesleyan College football uniform. He was born in Hoosick Falls, New York, on September 28, 1881, the same year the railroads came to El Paso. A talented clarinetist, he won a music scholarship to Michigan Military Academy. His parents would not allow him to play football in high school, fearing he might break his musical fingers. Upon entering Wesleyan, he was made captain of the freshman football team and played varsity the next three years. He returned after graduation in 1905 to play another year – while studying chemistry – in order to fulfill his father’s wish that Wesleyan might beat its long-time rival, Williams. Excerpt from The Founder in NOVA, The University of Texas at El Paso Magazine, March 1978. Upon graduation Harry became coach of the football team at Marietta College in Ohio. In the first game he had his team throw a forward pass for which the team had a penalty called by the officials. In the big game against Ohio University the team threw a 49-yard pass to the surprise of the officials. Harry “devised one of the first legal forward pass plays ever used by a college team,” according to the Oklahoma Daily, in a 1966 article. Among his many honors was the Helms award for completing 70 years of activity in football. He helped organize the Touchdown Clubs of New York and Washington. In 1972, he was placed in the National Football Hall of Fame. On May 4, 1976, at age 95, he presented the award to the Hoosick Falls Central school in front of a cheering student body. It hangs in the foyer of the school.