American Football Database
American Football Database
1898 Vanderbilt Commodores football
ConferenceSouthern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
1898 record1-5-0 (1-2-0 SIAA)
Head coachR. G. Acton (3rd year)
Home stadiumDudley Field
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1898 Vanderbilt Commodores football team was in its ninth season of playing football, Vanderbilt was coached by R. G. Acton in his third and last year at Vanderbilt. His 1897 squad was 6-0-1 and was not scored on. Vanderbilt’s 1898 record was 1-5. Its lone win came over the University of Nashville (Peabody), 5-0. Losses were to Cincinnati (0-10), Georgia (0-4), Virginia (0-15), Central University of Kentucky (0-10) and Sewanee (0-19) this was Vanderbilts first losing season.

Human Blood Stains Gridiron

During the 1897 season, in the second half of the Georgia game with Virginia in Atlanta, a Georgia fullback named Richard Gammon was fatally injured on a play. The Georgia, Georgia Tech and Mercer football teams soon disbanded. The Atlanta Journal ran a headline; “Death Knell of Football" and the Georgia legislature passed a bill to outlaw football in the state of Georgia. A letter from Gammon's mother to the state legislature asked that the bill not be passed because her son loved football so much. Georgia Governor William Atkinson vetoed that bill to ban football in Georgia.

The October 30, 1898 edition of the Nashville American gave a report on the debate to abolish the game. The headline for the story stated, “How Many Lives Are To Be Sacrificed During This Season?” More notices to the story read, “HUMAN BLOOD STAINS GRIDIRON” and “Horrors of the Foot Ball Field Have Given Rise to an Agitation in Favor of Abolishing the Game” and “BEEN FORBIDDON IN SOME COLLEGES.” This is a portion of the story: “Is foot ball becoming so brutally dangerous as to call for legislate restriction or abolishment? Just as the desire for the superseding, of war by arbitration to straightening out international complications had its birth in the grief and tears of the widow and the fatherless, so does the above question owe its origin to those who have been seen promising young men cut off in the prime or their youth, or maimed for life by the disparate struggle for foot ball honors. Year after year the list of victims grow, until the matter has at last attracted national attention and in the absence of laws, declaring that young men may not risk life and limb in the gridiron contests some college authorities are forbidding the students to play foot ball, and thus it comes about that institutions that have been prominent in this branch of sport will not be heard of during the present season.

“A study of the casualties of the foot ball fields proves that those who oppose the game on account of its brutality and danger are justified in their views. Here are a few of the causes of death on the foot ball field or injuries received that resulted in death later:

“Two opposing players running. A careless tackle by one caused the heads of the two to come violently together. Result one man serious hurt that concussion of the brain, ensued ending in death.

“A scrimmage man holding ball went down with as many men atop of him as could get near enough to add their weight to the heap. Lower man did not rise when the mass disentangled itself. Examination showed that his neck had been broken, killing him instantly.

“Four players fell in a heap. In the struggle one lashed out with his foot, catching another on the head with the heel of his heavy shoe. Kicked man died three days later.

“The list could have been extended half way down the column, and a perusal of the news pages of the daily journals will show that deaths or injuries, broken bones, dislocated shoulders, smashed noses and sprained ankles are of daily occurrence among foot ball players.

“Were it not for the fact that football men of the colleges are young giants who have hardened their muscles and rendered themselves proof against lighter injuries by reason of the fact that they are trained athletes, and have practiced falling and tackling so as to reduce the possibility of accident to a minimum, the list would be much larger. Nevertheless, pertinently query the opponents of football, what youth, however well trained, can be a football accident immune, which at stages of the game he is pretty sure to be the pivotal point of a squirming human pyramid weighing 2,000 pounds? If the game cannot be played without such dangerous features as this, they say, and then better strike it from the list of sports.

During the Theodore Roosevelt administration a meeting was held at the White House with various college athletic officials in attendance to discuss the violence in football. President Roosevelt was also concerned about the deaths and serious injuries football was recording. Over the decades injuries have been reduced with rule changes, better equipment and advancement in training habits. But it is a contact sport with serious injuries and occasional deaths still occurring.


Date Opponent Site Result
* Cincinnati Dudley FieldNashville, TN L 0-10  
at Georgia Herty Field Athens GA L 0-4  
* University of Nashville (Peabody) Dudley Field • Nashville, TN W 5-0  
at Virginia Lambeth FieldCharlottesville, VA L 0-18  
Central (KY) Dudley Field • Nashville, TN L 0-10  
Sewanee Dudley Field • Nashville, TN L 4-19  
*Non-Conference Game. Homecoming. All times are in Central Time.