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Not every school has 200 man-eaters out for lacrosse and a refugee from the old ladies' home for a coach. A more normal cross section of lacrosse powers can be had in Baltimore, the home of the organized game. The Baltimore Athletic Club fielded a team in 1880 and the town has loved lacrosse ever since. Though now the public schools field teams, the game was long the exclusive property of fine old private schools like Gilman, Boy's Latin, Friends, McDonogh and St. Paul's. When these teams play, usually on Friday afternoon, gangs of mothers from the exclusive Guilford and Roland Park sections descend upon the field and range the sidelines shouting "Cream him, Donald!" and "Lay the wood on, Roger!" At cocktail parties later all you can hear are indignant remarks like, "Why, they were running through the crease all afternoon/"
Spring Saturdays in Maryland are busy days indeed. Several of the natives managed to see four games April 2. Dartmouth and Maryland played at College Park in the morning, Washington and Lee and Loyola played in Baltimore in early afternoon, Mount Washington Lacrosse Club and Princeton played in the late afternoon at Baltimore, and the Maryland Lacrosse Club and Duke played in Annapolis that night.
The club teams make up another phenomenon of lacrosse. The Mount Washington squad contains 15 former first-string All-Americas. They not only play for nothing, they get out three times a week and run wind sprints for nothing. Take Redmond Finney, who was All-American in both lacrosse and football at Princeton a few years ago. From a prominent Baltimore family, he has never really seriously considered the pro football offers. But he knocks himself out every Saturday for dear old Mount Washington, gratis.
SWEET AND PURE
So do nearly all college stars in the game today. Although you can find any rumor you want to hear about proselyting around Baltimore, the truth of the matter is that even the best college teams are largely unsubsidized. Maryland offers aboveboard grants-in-aid and jobs to some of its players, and Johns Hopkins has recently made available five tuition scholarships. Most other recruiting is done in the private schools whose students intend to go on through college anyway. Members of the Virginia team even paid their own way to eight games they played last year—in England. Playing against all-star teams, the Cavaliers won six, lost one and tied one. There have probably been more alibis for this one lost lacrosse game than any conflict in history. Some of them are listed in the 1955 Lacrosse Guide. They include:
The games were played according to English (i.e., original American) rules, with 12 men on a side, no substitutions and 40-minute halves. "You try running full speed up and down a field 80 minutes sometime," one young man said grimly.
During the morning and afternoon the team would be taken on a tour of whatever town they happened to be playing in, always by foot. Just before the game every member was plied with tea. "We had to drink a cup to the Queen, a cup to the President, a cup to the Prime Minister, and a cup to the Secretary of State. You try running up and down a field for 80 minutes with four cups of tea in you."
SAFETY IN CROWDS
The games were played with "natural boundaries" which frequently meant the crowd. Just close your eyes now and picture a young man clad in shoulder pads, arm pads, blue jersey and shorts, wearing huge elbow-length gloves and carrying a club, peering out from under a helmet with a wire cage attached, poking around through a late-afternoon crowd of English gentlemen and ladies after a little white ball, and you will have some idea of the difficulties encountered. "You try running up and down a field for 80 minutes with a sweet old lady's umbrella wrapped around your neck."
Generally, however, the play was quite sporting, with the English apologizing profusely and the Americans reflecting the gentlemanly upbringing of the Baltimore private school boys who play it best.