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When the Packers played Stambaugh

August 6, 2014 - Jim Anderson
The Green Bay Packers were a semipro club in the 1919 season, which is generally recognized as the team’s first.

Heavy emphasis on “semi.”

In his book, “The Packers Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle of the Green Bay Packers,” Lew Freedman says the season’s profits were divided among the players, with each receiving $16.75.

About $230 today.

Curly Lambeau’s Packers finished 10-1 in 1919, including a 17-0 victory at Stambaugh against the Miners.

That Upper Peninsula game is mentioned in a new blog by Packers historian Cliff Christl — “Cliff’s Notes” at

According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it was the first time the Miners had lost a home game in six years, Christl says. The newspaper, meanwhile, commended Stambaugh police for keeping fans in check with horsewhips.

(Mace wouldn’t be invented until 1965.)

The Press-Gazette said Packers fans went home some $3,000 richer after collecting on wagers. About $41,000 today. Which helps explain the horsewhips.

In 1920, according to, the Packers would defeat Stambaugh clubs twice at Green Bay’s Hagemeister Park. A field goal by Lambeau gave the Packers a 3-0 win over the Miners/Wolverines on a muddy turf in October.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, the Packers prevailed 14-0 over the Upper Peninsula champion Miners.

Christl, honored recently by the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) with the Ralph Hay Award for lifetime achievement, says the early Packers sometimes played against teams organized on short notice. Beloit and Stambaugh offered Green Bay its toughest opposition in 1919-20.

If you have a question about Packers history, the "Cliff's Notes" address is



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