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Sports Then and Now

77 Years Ago Today: Chicago College All-Star Game Begins 40 Year Run

Posted on August 31, 2011 by Dean Hybl

The first Chicago College All-Star Game was played on August 31, 1934.

It was 77 years ago today that nearly 80,000 people packed Soldier Field for the first game of what would become a popular forty year series of football games pitting the best of the recent college graduates against the defending NFL Champions.

The brainchild of Chicago Tribune Sports Editor Arch Ward, the first game was played on August 31, 1934 and though the game ended in a 0-0 tie, it set the stage for an annual exhibition that eventually drew more than 100,000 fans.

Many of the greatest players in college and NFL history were part of the series over the years and the game wasn’t always a walk-in-the-park for the NFL Champions against the young NFL rookies. In fact, two of the first three games in the series ended in a tie and in 1937 Sammy Baugh led the College All-Stars to their first victory in the series.

The game was played annually through 1976 when declining crowds and the reluctance of coaches to lose their star rookies for the beginning of training camp led to the end of the series.

However, what still remains is a legacy of classic games and memories of a time when NFL exhibition games did have value and meaning and newcomers could make an immediate impression against the best stars in the league.

For more memories from the Chicago College All-Star Games, check out this in depth article that was originally written for Sports Then and Now in 2009.

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