American Football Database
Winchester Osgood
File:Winchester Osgood from 1889 Cornell football team photo.jpg
Osgood in 1889
Biographical details
Born(1870-04-12)April 12, 1870
Fort Barrancas, Florida, U.S.
DiedOctober 18, 1896(1896-10-18) (aged 26)
Playing career
Head coaching record
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1970 (profile)

Winchester Dana Osgood (April 12, 1870 – October 18, 1896) was a prominent American college athlete in the late 19th century at both Cornell University and University of Pennsylvania. He played halfback on the football teams at both schools and served as the head football coach at Indiana University for one season in 1895, compiling a record of 4–3–1. Osgood volunteered for the Cuban forces during Cuba’s fight for Independence from Spain. He was commissioned a major in artillery in the Cuban Army and was killed in combat. Osgood was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1970.

Early life

Born in Fort Barrancas, Florida, Osgood was one of five children of an American army officer Henry Brown Osgood Jr. and his wife, Harriet Mary (Hubbard) Osgood. Henry Osgood eventfully rose to the rank of brigadier general.[1]

College athlete

Osgood, nicknamed "Win", was one of the greatest college athletes of the 19th century. He was talented in many sports but is best known for his exploits as an All-American football player. Osgood stood 5–9, weighed 173, and was an elusive runner. Pudge Heffelfinger, the legendary All-American from Yale University, gave this description of Osgood: "It was downright uncanny to watch him run, opponents missed him by inches. His body undulated like a snake's. He was the Red Grange of the pioneer era."[2]

1892 Cornell varsity football team: Osgood is the 2nd from the left in the front row.


At Cornell, Osgood received a medal as the school's best all-around athlete. He ran the 440 and put the shot for the track team, was an accomplished gymnast, boxer, wrestler, tennis player, and set a collegiate record of 5:28 for the 2-mile bicycle race. Osgood played halfback for four years for the Cornell football team, 1888–1889 and 1891–1992, during which time Cornell went 28–8.[3] Osgood was a considered one of the top players in the early years of Big Red football. In an article on January 29, 1927, The Sun named him to the first team of the all-time Cornell football team.[4] Osgood also rowed on the varsity in 1890. In 1892, he was the single scull championship of the Cornell.[2] He left Cornell in the fall of 1892 to attend the University of Pennsylvania.


At Pennsylvania, Osgood continued his exploits as a three-sport athlete, excelling at football, track and field, and wrestling. He lettered two seasons at halfback for the Quakers under Hall of Fame coach George Washington Woodruff.[5] In his first year, he helped the 1893 Quakers to a 12–3 record. The team had a strong start, winning its first 11 games. During that stretch, the defense only gave up 18 points while the offense scored 305 points. But Penn lost three out of the last four games to perennial powers Harvard, Yale and Princeton.[6] At the time Penn rarely beat the "Big Three", as they were known. Osgood received widespread press in the 14–6 loss to Yale, as he scored Penn’s only touchdown in the game.[3] Yale had not been scored upon on for 35 straight games dating back to 1890, having amassed 1,355 unanswered points.[7] In 1894, Osgood helped Penn to its first undefeated season. The 1894 squad featured one of the greatest backfields of all time, consisting of Carl Sheldon Williams at quarterback, George Brooke at fullback, and Osgood and Alden Knipe at halfback.[8] Osgood, Knipe and Brooke were all named to Walter Camp's All-American first team that year.[9] The team was widely recognized as 1894's football national champion. The highlight of the season was a 12–0 victory over Princeton, only Penn's second win in 30 meetings with the Tigers, and an 18–4 victory over Harvard.[10]

First college wrestling national champion

Osgood also excelled at wrestling. He became the first collegiate athlete to win a national championship when he won the 1895 National AAU title in the "heavyweight" class (for competitors over 158 pounds). At the time the sport was dominated by club teams.[11]

Cuba’s fight for independence

When Cuba began its fight for independence from Spain, Osgood volunteered for the Cuban forces. He was commissioned a major in the artillery under General Calixto Garcia. Early in October 1896, the Cuban General Garcia and General Maximo Gomez joined forces and moved upon Guimaro, which was strongly fortified and defended by the Spaniards. After much hard fighting and a brilliant charge led by Colonel Mario García Menocal, the largest fortification was taken.[2] During the battle, Major Osgood was in charge of shelling several blockhouses with a Hotchkiss rifle using 12-pound shells. Osgood's artillery unit was under steady fire from small arms. When Osgood stooped over the gun to adjust the sight to account for the wind, he made the remark, “think that will do.” At that moment, he was hit by a bullet fired by a sharp-shooter stationed in the church tower eleven hundred yards away. Osgood was carried from the location by his comrades and hurried down the hill to the aid station. Without re-sighting the artillery piece, Osgood’s second in command Major Frederick Funston gave the order to fire the gun and the shell hit one of the blockhouses. The bullet that hit Osgood had gone through his brain and he did not recover from his wounds.[12]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Indiana Hoosiers (Indiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1895)
1895 Indiana 4–3–1
Indiana: 4–3–1
Total: 4–3–1
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. Fort MacArthur Museum
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Cornell Alumni News VOL. XIX., No. 23 March 15, 1917". Cornell University. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Winchester Osgood". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  4. Cornell Alumni News VOL. XXIX, No. 18 FEBRUARY 3, 1927
  5. 2006 University of Pennsylvania Football Media Guide, p. 145, accessed July 2, 2007
  6. 2006 University of Pennsylvania Football Media Guide, p. 123,
  7. Scott A. McQuilkin and Ronald A. Smith, “The Rise and Fall of the Flying Wedge: Football’s Most Controversial Play” Journal of Sport History, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring 1993), accessed April 2, 2007
  8. Allison Danzig, "Oh, How They Played the Game," (The Macmillan Company, 1971), p. 114, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-163227
  9. 2006 University of Pennsylvania Football Media Guide, p. 135,
  10. 2006 University of Pennsylvania Football Media Guide, p. 137
  11. "Wrestling Hall of Fame History". Archived from the original on May 19, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  12. "Cornell Alumni News Vol. XHL 'No. 6, November 2, 1910". Cornell University. Retrieved February 7, 2007.

External links