DEAD: John Heisman

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

John Heisman (aged 66)
Namesake of the Heisman trophy

John William Heisman (October 23, 1869 – October 3, 1936) was a player and coach of American football, baseball, and basketball, as well as a sportswriter and actor. He served as the head football coach at Oberlin College, Buchtel College (now known as the University of Akron), Auburn University, Clemson University, Georgia Tech, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington & Jefferson College, and Rice University, compiling a career college football record of 186–70–18. In 1917, Heisman’s Georgia Tech Golden Tornado were recognized as the national champion.

Heisman was also the head basketball coach at Georgia Tech, tallying a mark of 9–14, and the head baseball coach at Buchtel, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, amassing a career college baseball record of 199–108–7. He served as the athletic director at Georgia Tech and Rice. While at Georgia Tech, he was also the president of the Atlanta Crackers baseball team.

Sportswriter Fuzzy Woodruff dubbed Heisman the “pioneer of Southern football”. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1954. His entry there notes that Heisman “stands only behind Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, and Walter Camp as a master innovator of the brand of football of his day”. He was instrumental in several changes to the game, including legalizing the forward pass. The Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to the season’s most outstanding college football player, is named after him.

DEATH: Heisman died of pneumonia on October 3, 1936, in New York City. Three days later, his body was taken by train to his wife’s hometown of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where he was buried in Grave D, Lot 11, Block 3 of the city-owned Forest Home Cemetery. When Heisman died, he was preparing to write a history of football.

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