The Men against the Boys. The GUD presents the College All-Star Game (1934-1976)

Once upon a time, when the NFL was young and college football was the king of football, a man named Arch Ward, who was a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune, created the idea of an annual charity game that would be played under the lights of massive Soldiers' Field.  The game would pit the defending National Football League champions against the previous season's consensus College All-Americans, complimented with honorable mentions.  Ward's idea was to have the best of the professionals take on the best of the college players.  It was also intended to show many of the skeptics that the pros were just as good and maybe better than the college stars and put out as high a quality of play as the best of the collegiate players.

1935 All-Stars
The Chicago Charities All-Star Football Game was the formal title of the game, but it came to be commonly known as simply, the College All-Star Game.  Early on, the game was quite competitive, with the All-Stars and the NFL Champs playing on somewhat even terms.  But as the years went by, and the Pros became more sophisticated and two-platoon football became the accepted form of football, the Pros began to dominate.  By the 1970's, the game became a glorified scrimmage for the Super Bowl Champions.  Finally, after the 1976 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the All-Stars, which was called into the third quarter due to a cloudburst and unruly fans invading the field, the College All-Star Game was laid to rest.

At its peak, the College All-Star Game was arguably as big a football game there was on the calendar, rivaling both the Rose Bowl and the NFL Championship Game in terms of spectacle, importance and popularity.  Radio, and then later, TV ratings for the game were large.  Crowds of 90,000+ were not uncommon, with even a few games featuring over 100,000 fans in attendance!

The Gridiron Uniform Database is pleased to add the Uniform History of the CASG to the site.  Let's do a little synopsis of the uni history of first, the All-Stars, and then the pro champs through the years.

For the All-Stars' first few years, the uniforms were a yellow-gold shade, mainly to represent the "golden" image of the collegiate stars.  
1939 All-Stars
By 1937, the Stars had begun the switch from a "golden" persona to a more patriotic image.  The jerseys changed from yellow-gold to blue with shoulders that had white and red stripes, though the helmets and pants retained the gold.  In 1938, the All-Stars changed to a red jersey with blue shoulders that featured 10 white stars on each shoulder and the pants featured rear stripes with alternating red, white and blue stripes.

By 1939, the All-Stars changed to what would be their signature jersey, a style that would virtually be unchanged for the next 30 years.  The jerseys were royal blue, with white (later silver) shoulders with 10 red stars on either shoulder.  Large white numbers on the front and back, with a rather unique side panel striping that featured sets of red, white and blue horizontal stripes.  The side panel stripes would continue onto the sides of the silver pants from top to bottom, to form a continuous pattern from the armpit to the bottom of the pant leg.  Also in '39, the helmets changed from gold to silver.  

1950 All-Stars
A notable change with the helmet design occurred in 1950.  With the switch from leather lids to plastic, the helmet went from silver to blue, adorned with 4 white stars on either side of the helmet and 2 red stars on the crown of the shell, a rather snazzy look.  The Wilson brand was prominently stamped on the front of the helmet.  

For a couple of years in the late 50's, the All-Stars wore their college helmets from the previous season, before switching to a rather generic white helmet with blue stripes.  In 1969, the side panel/stripes were gone.  The pants went to a rather normal blue/red/blue side stripe.  The shoulders returned to white and were modified with smaller and less red stars.  In 1971, TV numbers were finally added to the sleeves.  In 1972, stars returned to the helmet, and by 1973, nameplates were at long last positioned on the jersey back:
1973 All-Stars

As for the pros, for the most part, they wore their standard jerseys in the early years, and by 1954, the pros would wear their white jerseys for the duration of the CASG.  But there are a few interesting uni items to highlight.  

1937 Green Bay Packers
In 1937, the Green Bay Packers debuted a new design for the CASG, a classic look that would define the Pack for the next 12 years.  The navy jerseys were trimmed in satin and the pants also featured the shiny, shimmery material.  

Only thing is that satin becomes heavy when wet, which can cause a lot of perspiration and on a warm, humid mid-summer night in Chicago, the Packers sweated a lot of collective pounds off.  Legend has it that Packer star back Clarke Hinkle claimed to have lost 30 pounds that night!  The following year (1938), the Redskins sported burgundy jerseys with enormous numbers, perhaps the largest ever seen on a football uniform, gold with white outlines with, of course, satin materials.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1954 Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions in 1954 wore a uni combo in CASG that they never may have worn before or since, a blue helmet, white jersey and silver pants.  In 1961, the Philadelphia Eagles sported white jerseys with green northwestern stripes and TV numbers on the shoulders and gray pants, which was certainly not their standard look in 1961. 

1969 New York Jets
And in 1969, the New York Jets took to the dimly lit Soldier Field (so bad was the lighting that the ABC telecast was in black & white rather than in color) not in their normal contrasting sleeve numbered jerseys, but instead in a lightweight generic white jersey with green numbers on the sleeves, without names on the backs (NOB's). 

It would be the following season when the Kansas City Chiefs took the field in their normal away combo that NOBs would make their debut in the CASG.

Credits to our graphic engineer Bill Schaefer to compile the visual history of the CASG, the Chicago Tribune archives, the New York Times for verification of the dates and scores of the CASG, and the excellent website which features a detailed history of the CASG.

While the College All-Star Game did not live happily ever after, it certainly served its purpose quite well in its day.  And because of its importance in establishing professional football as the dominant form of football and eventually, the dominant spectator sport in the United States, we welcome the College All-Star Game uniform history to the Gridiron Uniform Database.

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