Recently, I was forwarded a photo of the 1905 Wheatshocker football team. It was from an article in the Wichita Eagle about implementing two innovations of the football game: the “first and ten” and the forward pass.
Love this photo. These are the mighty Wheatshockers, now known as the Shockers. While our football team at Wichita State University is currently known as the team “undefeated since 1986,” the year our program was axed, as well as the incredible tragedy befallen the 1970 Gold and Black, there is so much history behind the “angry bundles of wheat”(as Mr. Scott Ochs refers to his former brethren).
That history includes the first night game ever held, with the field lit by 32 gas lanterns, courtesy of the Coleman Company. 28 lanterns were stationed along the sidelines and two at each end zone. The year was 1905.
The same year the first forward pass was implemented during a Wheatshocker game, thrown by Bill Davis (’07) to right end Art Solter (’07). In 2009, the Shocker alumni magazine ran a great story on that game.
This photo was sent courtesy of an alum whose grandfather is in the picture, first row and fourth guy from the left , next to the “mean-looking guy holding the football,” who just happens to be Bill Davis. Grandpa Glenn was just the first of many Shocker graduates in this particular family. You gotta love a legacy of Shockers.
And you have to appreciate the WSU football program and teams for the richness of their history and their pioneering attitude. While we no longer have a program, trust me our campus rings with the richness of that history. When the wind is just right, you can hear those gas lanterns swinging in the Kansas night air, the roar of the crowd, the brass of the band. Long live Shocker football.