90 years ago today, everyone at the University of Maryland was busy gearing up for the weekend’s big football game against Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field. While Duke has been our biggest rival for decades, in the early 20th century it was Maryland and Hopkins’ athletic battles that defined the term “bitter rivalry.” The epitome of the rivalry was the football matchup, which was played on Thanksgiving Day nearly every year from 1915 to 1934.
In 1922, the issue of The Diamondback before the big game (held on Saturday, November 18th; 1922 was one of the only years that the game was not played on Thanksgiving itself) was stuffed to the brim with pre-game coverage, including the front page, alumni column, staff editorial, and other articles.
In the early days, when the school was Maryland Agricultural College and had a student body of less than 200, it was rare for the team to get on the Hopkins schedule, and when they did, they usually lost badly. The first eight times the teams met (over a period of 17 years, from 1892 to 1909), Hopkins routed Maryland. And yet, as the staff editorial proclaimed,
The tide finally began to turn in 1910, with an 11-11 tie. The next year, Maryland lost again, but scored a field goal while holding Hopkins to just one touchdown. This was followed by the “era of success,” including six shutout wins by Maryland and just one loss. 1922’s game, however, didn’t look to be so easy, with The Diamondback predicting that it would be the “closest and hardest football battle” since 1915, and warning that “it is not going to be easy, and it is not going to be a walkover for us; it will require the same old fighting spirit, but then we certainly have our private stock of that around College Park.”
The paper exhorted everyone at the University to attend the game and cheer loudly, proclaiming that “Maryland can’t beat such an opponent as Hopkins unless she has the wholehearted, unreserved support of every man on the Hill.” Students were reminded that “these are the events which will be remembered long after the knowledge so painfully absorbed has been forgotten” and alumni, too, were urged to “Get your “yellin’ togs on”!
Even the New Mercer Literary Society got in on the act. Their weekly meeting began with a “strong and urgent appeal to the members of the society for their whole-hearted and unreserved support in the coming Hopkins’ game,” which met with an “instantaneous and very demonstrative response. The Diamondback approved, noting that the New Mercerites could be “counted on individually and collectively for some real College spirit.”
Indeed, a campus-wide surge in school spirit was already on display, with 700 out of 750 students participating in a Monday-night rally where students of all years “yell[ed] their fool heads off, and then grieve[d] because they can yell no more.” The rambunctious energy would continue on Saturday before the game, when students planned to march through Baltimore to Homewood Field, waving pennants, banners, and signs alongside the University band, “showing Baltimore what’s what and preparing themselves for the fray, in which Maryland is going out to do Hopkins on her home field.” Students were also encouraged to shout a variety of dark but clever slogans during the parade, such as:
For Maryland, this game wasn’t just about winning in football, but about the growing status of the school as a whole: “Every fellow who can make a noise should be in the Homewood stands on the day of the game not only to show the team that we are giving them our fullest support, but also to show the Hopkinites and the people of Baltimore that the University of Maryland is anything but the insignificant little school it used to be.”
So, did “Curley’s boys” reign victorious over their rival? Come back next Friday to find out!
(Additional information in this post from the Wikipedia article on “Johns Hopkins-Maryland rivalry.”)