November 15th, 1914 – A Deadly Game of Football


Harry Turner was a professional football player. He was one of the most popular players on the Canton Professionals, the pre-National Football League version of the Canton Bulldogs who played in the Ohio League. The team’s center, Turner played with the Pros from around 1911 until his death on November 15th 1914.


Harry Turner, second from the bottom left corner.

By 1911 Turner became the captain of the Professionals. At this time a rivalry existed between the team and Peggy Parratt, the captain of Shelby Blues. Parratt, prior to joining Shelby Blues, was the captain of the hated Massillon Tigers, the top rival for Canton. During a game in 1911, Turner pulled his entire team from the field to protest a referees call in favor of the Akron Indians. In a post-game statement, Turner told the Canton Repository, “Right or wrong, no more football for me after this; these old football duds, mud and dirt, go up to the attic to rot … I’m done!” He made his vow to quit pro football on November 26th, 1911.

Canton BulldogsHowever Turner returned to the gridiron for the next three seasons. He continued to play for the Pros and kept up the rivalry with Parratt. However tragedy struck near the end the 1914 season when Turner was severely injured during a game against Parratt and the Akron Indians. While making a tackle on Akron’s Joe Collins, Turner’s back was fractured and his spinal cord was completely severed. According to Canton manager Jack Cusack, who was at Turner’s bedside when he died, his last words were “I know I must go,” he said, “but I’m satisfied, for we beat Peggy Parratt.” Canton won the game 6-0.

Harry Turner became the first player to die from game-related injuries in the “Ohio League“, the direct predecessor to the National Football League.

The death of Turner was taken hard by the team. It was the first fatal accident involving a major professional football team in Ohio. The Professionals easily lost a rematch to the Indians a few days later.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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