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On the road again and again...
Ralph J. Hickok
September 09, 1987
In 117 days during 1926-27, Duluth played 29 games—27 away
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September 09, 1987

On The Road Again And Again...

In 117 days during 1926-27, Duluth played 29 games—27 away

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As the team's manager on the four-month road trip, Haugsrud had to collect money from the home teams, arrange transportation and keep track of the players. He wasn't sure which job was the toughest.

"You couldn't collect the money in advance, because the gate receipts weren't all in," he said. "I tried to collect at halftime, because then I could threaten to pull my team off the field if I didn't get it."

One time the payment was about $70 short. "I lit out after the owner, and he ran into a ladies' room," Haugsrud recalled. "I guess he thought I wouldn't chase him in there. But I did, and I got the rest of our money."

Traveling was hectic. Nevers recalled that the Eskimos usually took two showers after a game, the first with their uniforms on. "Then we'd beat them like rugs to get some of the water out, throw them into our bags, get dressed and catch a train," he said. "Hell, most of the time we were only half-dressed when we boarded."

Then there were the antics of the players, led by the irrepressible Blood, the Vagabond Halfback, whose real name was John V. McNally Jr. He was in the second season of a 15-year NFL career that would include four championship seasons with Green Bay. Throughout his career, he was as celebrated for off-field exploits as for on-field heroics.

After two weeks of practice in Two Harbors, the Eskimos played their first home game, against Superior. They were booked into the West Duluth YMCA, but the stay was interrupted. "I got a call that night," Haugsrud recalled, "inviting me to move my players out of there. It was an innocent mistake. The boys had somehow got the impression that there was a fire, and they went out and got the fire hose and sprayed the halls and stairs. I had to move them all to the Superior YMCA."

They won that game and their next, and final, home game; then began their long journey. After a scoreless tie in Green Bay, they beat the Milwaukee Badgers and went on to Racine, Wis., where they met a speakeasy owner who was very proud of his German shepherd's sprinting ability. He boasted that the dog could run twice as fast as any football player, and he was willing to put money on it. The Eskimos scraped together $75 and nominated Blood to run.

Blood won handily. The Eskimos collected their winnings and sportingly offered the speakeasy owner a chance to get his money back on the football game. He accepted. Blood caught three touchdown passes from Nevers, Duluth beat Racine 21-0 and the Eskimos collected again.

In Chicago they suffered their first defeat, 24-6 to the Bears. After a victory over the Hammond ( Ind.) Pros, they went to Cleveland, where they stayed at the Allerton Hotel, for games against Cleveland, Akron and Canton.

"It was a kind of show-business hotel," Haugsrud said. " The Marx Brothers and Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties were there at the same time we were. The owner had a very strict rule to prevent hanky-panky: women only on even-numbered floors and men only on odd-numbered floors."

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