American Football Database

The 1889 College Football All-America team was the first College Football All-America Team. The team was selected by Casper Whitney and published in This Week's Sports.[1]

The team selected by Whitney in 1889 marked the origin of the "All-America" teams that have since appeared in every collegiate sport from men's ice hockey to women's gymnastics. All eleven members of the 1889 All-America team played for three teams—Harvard, Princeton or Yale, then known as the "Big Three" of college football. Some sources indicate that Walter Camp assisted Whitney with the selection of the 1889 All-American team, while others indicate that Camp did not become involved in the selection process until some time in the 1890s.

The first ever All-America team included the legendary football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg (then a player for Yale), Pudge Heffelfinger (the first professional football player), "Snake" Ames (who set a college scoring record with 730 points), Edgar Allan Poe (second cousin, twice removed of the writer of the same name), Arthur Cumnock (described as the greatest Harvard football player of all-time in 1913), and Roscoe Channing (who later served with Teddy Roosevelt in the Rough Riders).

Profiles of the 1889 All-America Eleven

Yale end Amos Alonzo Stagg went on to become one of the sport's most successful coaches.

Yale guard Pudge Heffelfinger became the first professional football player in 1892.

Princeton fullback "Snake" Ames set an unofficial collegiate scoring record with 730 points, including 62 touchdowns and 176 goals after touchdown.

  • Knowlton Ames (1868–1931): A native of Chicago, Princeton's All-America fullback "Snake" Ames set an unofficial collegiate scoring record in his time with 730 points, including 62 touchdowns and 176 points after touchdown. Ames is credited with being the first player to execute a fake punt and part of the first team to fully develop the "power sweep."[3] Ames moved west to coach Purdue University from 1891-1892.
  • Hector "Hec" Cowan (1863–1941): Princeton's tackle, "Hec" Cowan helped lead the 1889 Princeton team to a perfect 10-0 record. Pudge Heffelfinger later said of Cowan, "He had the strongest shoulders and arms I've ever been up against and his stubby legs drove like pistons when he carried the ball. Hector could carry a couple of tacklers on his back, yet he was plenty fast in the open."[4] He later served as the coach at the University of Kansas from 1894-1896.
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1871–1961): Princeton's quarterback, Poe was named after his relative and celebrated poet Edgar Allan Poe.[5][6] After Princeton beat Harvard 41-15, a Harvard man reportedly asked a Princeton alumnus whether Poe was related to the great Edgar Allan Poe. According to the story, "the alumnus looked at him in astonishment and replied, 'He is the great Edgar Allan Poe.'"[5] Poe graduated Phi Beta Kappa and later served as the Attorney General of the State of Maryland from 1911 to 1915.[7]
  • Arthur Cumnock (1868-1930): Harvard's Cumnock was known as a fierce tackler and has been ranked by one author as perhaps the greatest player in that school's long football tradition.[8] Cumnock later went into the cotton mill business and was the treasurer of one of the largest corporations in New England.[8]
  • Roscoe Channing (1868-1961): Princeton's halfback Channing later served with Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. For many years, he was the President of Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company, a copper mining company in Flin Flon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • Charles O. Gill (1868-1959): Yale's Gill later coached at the University of California in 1894.[9]

Team lineup by position


Gallery of 1889 All-Americans


  1. The All-America Team for 1889 selected by Casper Whitney is identified in the NCAA guide to football award winners
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Pudge Heffelfinger". College Football Hall of Fame.
  3. "Knowlton "Snake" Ames". College Football Hall of Fame.
  4. "Hector Cowan". College Football Hall of Fame.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Memories of the Poe brothers". Princeton Weekly Bulletin. 2003-10-13."Edgar Allan Poe 1891 was quarterback and captain in his junior and senior years. He was named All-American in 1889.")
  6. Floyd Conner (2000). Football's Most Wanted, p. 47. Brassey's.
  7. Clayton Colman Hall. "Baltimore, pp. 691-692". Lewis Historical Publishing Co..
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Harvard's Greatest". LA84 Foundation.
  9. "University of California Directory". Sports Network.