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Gene Vidal


 

Who is Mr Vidal?

The identity of several of the first 61 USA rugby players, those that played between 1912 and 1924, has never been fully resolved in modern times. This has been largely due to the fact that international rugby in the USA did not recommence until 1976 and the interest wasn’t there. The website scrum.com lists some players with surnames with initials and no further details apart from the games they played. There is one name, for me, that stands out in that list and that is a man who played on the wing for the USA against France in Colombes on 10th October 1920. He is just called Mr Vidal. I believe he can only be one person and that is Eugene “Gene” Victor Vidal. Not a name that you may instantly recognise and he is perhaps more famous because of his son, the author Gore Vidal, but he has a remarkable history himself.

His Wikipedia page says

He was born on April 13, 1895 in Madison, South Dakota.

Vidal was a versatile athlete. At the University of South Dakota (USD) from 1913 to 1916, Vidal was a football, basketball, baseball and track letterman, and was captain of the 1915 football team and 1916 basketball team, leading the basketball team in scoring in 1915 and 1916 and helping the University to the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference title this year. Vidal transferred to West Point in 1918, where became the captain of the football team.

Vidal participated in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic Games, he finished seventh in the decathlon at Antwerp in 1920. He was the first graduate of USD to be on an Olympic team.

He played for the American Professional Football Association's Washington Senators in 1921.

In 1922 Vidal married Nina Gore, daughter of Thomas Gore, Democratic senator from Oklahoma.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Luther_Vidal - cite_note-3 They were divorced in 1935, after she ran off to marry the wealthy stockbroker Hugh D. Auchincloss. A few years later, in 1939, Vidal married Katherine Roberts.

Vidal taught aeronautics at West Point and was one of the first Army Air Corps pilots. He went on to become one of the pioneers in the commercial aviation industry. From 1933 to 1937, Vidal was Director of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Air Commerce and helped found three American airlines during the 1920s and '30s; Eastern Airlines, TWA and Northeast Airlines, along with aviatrix Amelia Earhart (with whom he had a romantic relationship, according to biographers Susan Butler and Paul Collins). Vidal also formed the New York, Philadelphia and Washington Airway Corporation, an airline that offered hourly round-trip service between the cities, in 1930. He was also an investor in the Boston and Maine Railroad.

Later in life he served as a director of Northeast Airlines and was an aviation adviser to the Army Chief of Staff.

He died on February 20, 1969 in Los Angeles, California

Above Gene Vidal at South Dakota University

 

Above Vidal playing American Football in 1916

The South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame claim that Gene Vidal played rugby in the Inter-Allied Games in Paris in 1919, which was captained by Herbert Rowell Stotz who previously played rugby for the USA against the All Blacks in 1913. Gene was there and came second in the Pentathlon. The USA rugby side came runners up to France.

Above poster for the 1919 Inter-Allied Games

Above some of the US Rugby at the Inter-Allied Games in Paris in 1919

Above action from the Inter-Allied Games in Paris in 1919.

 

There were three games played at the Inter-Allied Games. They were

23rd June 1919 France 48 – Romania 5

26th June 1919 USA 23 – Romania 0

29th June 1919 France 8 – USA 3

The players that were included in US side that took part in the Inter-Allied Games in Paris in 1919 included California College players and two at English Universities. Those known from the book published by the Games Committee are

Name

Notes (with possible identity from various sources)

Captain Herbert Rowell Stoltz

Played for USA v New Zealand 1913

W.F.Hopkins

 

Lt. Sherman

 

2nd Lt. W.O.Fletcher

 

Lt. Herbert Clock

Born 25 Oct 1890 New York

2nd Lt. John W. Coulter

John Wesley Coulter, University of California

Captain Kenneth L. Dole

Kenneth Llewellyn Dole. Ex. Stanford University

Lt. Arthur L. Erb

Arthur Leslie Erb. Born 22.1.1893. Stanford University. 91st Division US Army.

Lt. George Winthrop Fish

Won gold medal 1920 Olympics USA side v France

2nd Lt R.T.Fisher

 

Corp. James P. Fitzpatrick

James Paul Fitzpatrick went on to play for the USA the following year in both  games against France

Sgt. Henry P. Hauser

Stanford University

Corp. Frank D. Keeler

Frank Drew Keeler

Lt. Seth Millington

Seth Millington Jnr. from California born 1894, became lawyer

Pvt. Frederic H. Moore

 

Lt. Robert R. Norris

 

Pvt. J.T.O’Neil

John Thomas O’Neil went on to play 4 times for the USA including 2 Olympic finals

Lt. L.H.Slocum

 

2nd Lt. Gordon Snavely

Gordon Palmer Snavely born 3rd Feb 1896 Woodland, California, died 27th May 1950 Monterey Co., California

Lt. James H. Thorburn

 

2nd Lt. Irving F. Twombey

 

Corp. Charles A. Schrader

 

Captain Eugene Victor Vidal

 

 

At the Olympic Games Antwerp in 1920, Vidal finished seventh in the decathlon. He had sprained his right wrist in a car accident just before the Olympics, and any event that required throwing, like the javelin, he had to do left-handed. One month later the USA, the Olympic Rugby Champions, played a French side looking for revenge after the final they had lost.

Above the USA side that played a French XV on 10th October 1920. The correct players are Back Row (L-R): Templeton, Muldoon, Wrenn, Winston, Kirksey, Scholz, Davis, Carroll, Righter, Fish, Patrick, Tilden (captain), Hazeltine, C.Slater, Fitzpatrick, Wallace. Front Row: Doe, Hunter, Von Schmidt, Mehan, O’Neil. (players names in bold played in match)

Note in the above photo the player’s name who is missing (is between the ‘’ does resemble Winston’s passport photo and not Vidal, who is missing from the photo.

Above left Winston’s Passport photo from 1920. Above right the 1924 photo is clearer although older

As Gene Vidal was a well-known sportsman, had a unique name and was at the Olympics only a month previous. It is highly likely he is the missing man. However in what is believed to be a photo of the side from that match, above, a Vidal is not present and no confirmation has yet been found.

Above Gene Vidal in 1924 when he went to Paris to help the USA Olympic squad and participate in the Decathlon.

Above Gene Vidal on the front cover of Time Magazine in 1933

Above Gene Vidal (extreme right).  Eight of the twelve members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics attending the 9th Annual Aircraft Engineering Research Conference posed for this photograph at Langley Field, Virginia, on May 23, 1934. Those pictured are (left to right): Brig. Gen. Charles A. Lindbergh, USAFR Vice Admiral Arthur B. Cook, USN Charles G. Abbot, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Dr. Joseph S. Ames, Committee Chairman Orville Wright Edward P. Warner Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN Eugene L. Vidal, Director, Bureau of Air Commerce. Image copyright NASA.

Above Gene Vidal and Amelia Earhart

Gene Vidal was played by the actor Ewan McGregor in the 2009 film Amelia, which alludes to his romance with Amelia Earhart.


 

Players

I have tried to complete the list of the first 61 USA Internationals, on scrum.com, via several internet sources but mostly via http://www.ancestry .com and connection with relatives of former players, several US Newspapers, Stanford and the University of California Yearbooks, the US Censuses and Spalding’s Rugby Annuals. There are still many gaps, see below

Name

 

Born

Died

Buried

Club

Position

Internationals Played

Profession

RHS Article

AllenChester Arthur Allen[1]

6th December 1886 Chelmsford, Massachusetts, USA

July[2] 1974 Santa Paula, Venture, California, USA

Allenwood Cememtery, Allenwood, New Jersey, USA

University of California

centre

1912 vA

Mining

 

ArrellJames Lee Arrell

7th November 1888 Wyandotta, Kansas, USA

26th March 1955 Abeline, Texas

Elmwood Memorial Park, Abilene, Taylor County, Texas, USA

Stanford University/Olympic RFC

prop

1912 vA

Oil Worker

Yes

AustinCharles Allphin Austin

3rd June 1892 Bellingham, Washington, USA

15th March 1980 Marin, California, USA

 

Olympic RFC

centre

1912 vA, 1913 vNZ

Civil Engineer

 

ErbBenjamin Edward Erb

3rd December 1892 Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

8th June 1988 Novato, Marin, California, USA

 

Stanford University

fullback

1912 vA

Sawmill/Lumber jack

Yes

GardFrank “Deke” Jacob Gard

27th March 1892 in Tremont City, Ohio

killed on 27th September 1918 Gesnes

Plot B Row 33 Grave 24, Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Romagne, France

Stanford University

flanker

1912 vA, 1913 vNZ[3]

 

Yes

PHarriganhilip  Frederick Harrigan

16th September 1891 Sacramento, California, USA

1918[4]

 

Stanford University

fly-half

1912 vA

Investment Bonds

 

KingWilliam Norris King

3rd December 1890 Beresford, San Mateo, Califronia, USA

1937[5]

 

University of California

flanker

1912 vA, 1913 vNZ

Rancher

Yes

McKimJoseph “Chalk” Louis McKim

25th August 1891 Los Refugios, Sonora, Mexico

25th July 1965 San Diego, California, USA

 

University of California

prop

1912 vA, 1913 vNZ

Farmer

Yes

MomsonChris Martin Momson[6]

26th May 1891 California, USA

29th January 1959 Fresno, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University[7]

no. 8

1912 vA

Farmer

 

MorrisLaird Monterey Morris

9th October 1889 California, USA

19th August 1954, San Francisco, USA

 

University of California

scrum-half

1912 vA[8]

Medicine

Yes

NobleRalph Matthews Noble

28th March 1889 Harlan, Iowa, USA

Shot down and later died in a German Hospital 10th May 1918

Plot A Row 29 Grave 13
Somme American Cemetery
Bony, France

Stanford University

wing

1912 vA

Farmer

Yes

PeartStirling Benjamin Peart

24th December 1890 California, USA

26th November 1963 Yolo, California, USA

 

University of California

wing

1912 vA, 1913 vNZ

Farmer

Yes

SanbornAugustus Mudge Sanborn

9th March 1888 Redlands, California, USA

25th August 1940 Hood River County, Oregon, USA

Block B, Hillside Memorial Park, Redlands, California, USA

Stanford University

hooker

1912 vA

Farmer

 

SchauppKarl Ludwig Schaupp

3rd January 1893 Santa Clara, California, USA

2nD March 1975 Marin, California, USA

 

Stanford University

lock

1912 vA

Medicine

 

SmithWarren Locke  Smith

8th November 1886 Ferndale, Humbolt, California, USA

22nd July 1962 Miranda, Humbolt, California, USA

 

Barbarians/University of California

lock

1912 vA

Farmer

 

BlaseRoland “Jumbo” Roy Blase

3rd May 1887 St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, USA

16th March 1979 St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, USA

 

Stanford University

lock

1913 vNZ

Engineer

Yes

CarrollDaniel Brendon Carroll

17th February 1892[9] Flemington, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

5th August 1956 New Orleans, USA

 

Stanford University

centre

1913 vNZ, 1920 vF

Oil

Yes

CassLouis Cass

16th November 1889 Los Angeles, USA

9th August 1971 Los Angeles, California, USA

Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California

Stanford University

scrum-half

1913 vNZ

Insurance Broker

Yes

DarsieWilliam Petigrew Darsie

6th January 1891 Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

30th January 1954 Santa Clara, USA

 

Stanford University

flanker

1913 v NZ

Farmer

Yes

GlasscockG. Glasscock[10]

 

 

 

Barbarians/Olympic RFC

prop

1913 vNZ

 

 

HallElwin Benoni Hall

24th March 1891 Ventura, California, USA

20th January 1949, Los Angeles, California, USA

Inglewood Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, USA

Stanford University

hooker

1913 vNZ

Geologist/Oil

Yes

MitchellMowatt Merrill Mitchell

18th September 1886 San Francisco, California, USA

18th February 1980 Santa Clara, California, USA

 

Los Angeles Athletic Club

fly-half

1913 vNZ

Civil Servant

Yes

RamageJames Addison Ramage[11]

28th March 1894 Haywards, California, USA

5th April 1961 Almeda, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

fullback

1913 vNZ

 

 

UrbanJoseph “Josef” Charles Urban

19th March 1891 Elkhorn, Webster, Iowa, USA

20th December 1957 Santa Clara, California, USA

 

Stanford University

wing

1913 vNZ

Geologist

 

Henry Joseph “VoightGuy” Voight

30th September 1889 Council Bluffs,  Iowa, USA

12th August 1937 Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

 

Santa Clara University

lock

1913 vNZ

Florist

Yes

KnowlesAlfred Barton Knowles[12]

15th May 1895 Fruitvale, Oakland, California, USA

16th March 1972 Sonoma, California, USA

 

Olympic RFC

(replacement)

1913 vNZ

 

 

StolzHerbert Rowell Stolz

20th August 1886 Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii

16th January 1971 Santa Clara, California, USA

 

Stanford University

(replacement)

1913 vNZ

Medicine

 

Charles Webster Doe Jnr.

4th September 1898  San Francisco, California, USA

19th November 1995 Contra Costa Co, California, USA

 

Stanford University/Olympic RFC

flanker

1920 VF XV, vF 1924 vR[13], vF

Family lumber business

 

George Winthrop “Dixie” Fish

4th April 1895 Los Angeles, California, USA

22nd February 1977 East Hampton, New York, USA

 

University of California

no. 8

1920 vF

Medicine

Yes

James Paul “Jim” Fitzpatrick[14]

2 June 1892 Los Angeles, California, USA

9th October 1973 San Marino, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University/Olympic RFC

prop

1920 vF XV, vF

 

 

Joseph “Lou” Garvin Hunter

4th October 1899 Louisville, Kentucky, USA

10th September 1984 Santa Barbara, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

lock

1920 vF

 

 

Morris Marshall Kirksey

13th September 1895 Waxahachie, Texas, USA

25th November 1981 Stanford, California, USA

 

Stanford University

lock

1920 vF

staff psychiatrist for the state Department of Corrections, assigned to San Quentin and Folsom prisons.

 

Charles Thomas Mehan

15th May 1896 Nogeles, Arizona, USA

11th August 1972 Boulder Creek, Santa Cruz, California, USA

 

University of California

scrum-half

1920 vF XV, vF,

 

 

William “John” Scully Muldoon

2nd March 1896 Ione, California, USA

2nd January 1944 Napa, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

prop

1920 vF XV, vF,

 

 

John Thomas O'Neil

4th October 1898 Faulkton, South Dakota, USA

25th March 1950 Los Angeles, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

hooker

1920 vF XV, vF 1924 vR, vF

Oil

 

John “Jack” Clarence Patrick

25th November 1898 Palo Alto, California, USA

31st March 1959 San Francisco, California, USA

 

Stanford University

centre

1920 vF XV 1924 vR, vF

Insurance

 

Cornelius Erwin  “Swede” Righter

7th March 1897 Campbell, California, USA

6th September 1985 Dayton, Ohio, USA

 

Stanford University

wing

1920 vF

Sports Coach

 

Rudolph ”Rudy” John Scholz

17th June 1896 Kewanee, Illinois, USA

9th December 1981 Palo Alto, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

fly-half

1920 vF XV, vF 1924 vR, vF

Law

Yes

Robert “Dink” Lyman Templeton

27th May 1897 Helena, Montana, USA

7th August 1962 Palo Alto, Califtonia, USA

 

Stanford University

fullback

1920 vF

Track Coach/Broadcaster/Journalist

 

Charles Lee Tilden Jnr

4th June 1894 Alameda, California, USA

1st November 1968 Fairfield, California, USA

 

University of California

wing

1920 vF XV[15], vF[16]

 

 

Heaton Luse Wrenn

18th January 1900 San Francisco, California, USA

16th January 1978 Honolulu, Hawaii

 

Stanford University

centre

1920 vF XV, vF

Law

 

DavisGeorge Erwin William Davis

19th January 1897 San Francisco, California, USA

November 1977 Pacific Grove, Monterey, California, USA

 

University of California

fullback

1920 vF

 

 

Colby “Babe” Edward Slater

30th April 1896 Berkeley, California, USA

30th January 1965 Clarksburg, California, USA

 

University of California

lock

1920 vF, 1924 vF[17]

Farmer

Yes

Eugene “Gene” Luther  Vidal

13th April 1895 Madison, South Dakota, USA

20th February 1969 Los Angeles, USA

 

University of South Dakota

wing

1920 vF

Aviation

Yes

Harold von Schmidt

19th May 1893 Almeda, California, USA

3rd June 1982 Westport, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA

 

 

five-eighth

1920 vF

Magazine Illustrator

Yes

Davis McQuat Wallace

20th Feb 1900 Saltillo, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Mexico

14th July 1986 Houston, Texas USA

 

Stanford University

flanker

1920 vF

Refrigeration Manager

 

 

James Wallace
Winston Jnr[18]

16th November 1896 Los Angeles, California, USA

19th September 1981 San Francisco, California, USA

 

University of California

wing-forward

1920 vF XV

 

 

Phillip Corriston Clark

18th September 1898 San Francisco, California, USA

16th December 1985 Riverside, California, USA

 

Stanford University

flanker

1924 vR

Geologist and petroleum engineer

 

Norman Cleaveland

4th April 1901, California, USA

June 8th  1997, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

 

Stanford University

centre

1924 vR, vF

Dredging/Mining

Yes

Robert Humphrey Coleman Devereaux

24th August 1897 Cheshire, Ohio, USA

28th April 1974 San Francisco, California, USA

 

Stanford University

wing

1924 vR, vF

Insurance

 

George Martin Dixon

10th April 1901 Vallejo, California, USA

23rd August 1991 San Francisco, California, USA

 

University of California

five-eighth

1924 vR, vF

Oil. Later became a pilot.

 

Edward Graff

20th August 1897 San Francisco, California, USA

19th March 1954 Sonoma, California, USA

 

University of California

prop

1924 vR, vF

Sports Coach

 

Richard “Tricky Dicky” Francis Hyland

26th July 1900 San Francisco, California, USA

16th July 1981 Wawona, California,, USA

 

Stanford University

wing

1924 vR, vF

Journalist

Yes

Caesar J. Mannelli

8th July 1897 Forni di Sopra, Udine, Italy

3rd May 1936 Mayberry Slough, Antioch, California, USA

 

Santa Clara University

prop

1924 vR, vF

Engineer

Yes

Norman Bernard Slater

23rd January 1894 San Francisco, California, USA

1st March 1979 Clarksburg, California, USA

 

Olympic RFC

flanker

1924 vR

Farmer

 

Edward Laurence  Turkington

10th January 1899 San Francisco, USA

3rd September 1996 Atherton, California, USA

 

University of California

five-eighth

1924 vR

Grain Broker. Later police commissioner for San Francisco

 

Alan Chester Valentine

23rd February 1901 Glen Cove, New York, USA

14th July 1980 Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Rockland, Maine, USA

 

Oxford University

lock

1924 vR, vF

Teacher

Yes

Alan Frank Williams

7th October 1893 West Orange, New Jersey, USA

3rd December 1984 Los Angeles, California, USA

 

University of California/Cornell/Olympic RFC

no. 8

1924 vR

Engineer

 

Dudley Sargent DeGroot

20th November 1899 Chicago, Illinois[19]

 

5th May 1970 El Cajon, California, USA

 

 

Stanford University

flanker

1924 vF

American Football Coach

Yes

Linn Markley Farrish

3rd October 1901 Rumsey, Yolo Co., California, USA

Killed in aircraft crash Balkan Mountains11th September 1944

Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia Section 2 Site 3435-F.

Stanford University

lock

1924 vF

Geologist and petroleum consultant

Yes

John Patrick William “Lefty” Rogers

6th February 1902 Ventura, California, USA

13th November 1987 Pebble Beach, California, USA

 

Stanford University

wing

1924 vF

Medicine

 

 

Legend

A:Australia, F:France, NZ:New Zealand, R:Romania

Dates and places in grey are uncertain and await confirmation.

 

Matches

The matches played by the USA prior to 1976 are

USA v Australia 16th November 1912 California Field, Berkeley

USA v New Zealand 15th November 1913 California Field, Berkeley

USA v France XV 5th September 1920 Antwerp

USA v France 10th October 1920 Colombes, Paris

USA v Romania 5th May 1924 Colombes, Paris

USA v France 18th May 1924 Colombes, Paris

 

The demise and rebirth of rugby in the USA

Beginning with the season of 1906, rugby union became the game of choice at Stanford University, Berkeley and several other colleges in California but the sport had died out by the outbreak of World War I.

Rugby remerged at the US Colleges in the 1960s. The number of clubs grew from about 80 to over 1,000 between 1964 and 1980. The United States of American Rugby Football Union (USARFU) was formed in 1975 and internationals returned the following year.

 

This article is a work in progress

 

Patrick Casey

http://www.cliftonrfchistory.co.uk

https://sites.google.com/site/caseybooks/



[1] A.E.Allen is incorrect

[2] Exact day unknown. Month and year taken from Social Security Records

[3] He was captain v New Zealand in 1913

[4] Details at present unknown

[5] Exact date unknown. Year obtained from record of 1947 legal dispute over the King will.

[6] E.Momson is incorrect

[7] Later transferred to the University of California

[8] He was captain v Australia in 1912

[9] There is still uncertainty over his year of birth 1887 or 1892

[10] Identity unknown

[11] The name and dates are a best fit at the moment

[12] The name and dates are a best fit at the moment

[13] Captain

[14] The middle initial C is incorrect

[15] Captain

[16] Captain

[17] Captain

[18] James Duarte Winston is incorrect

[19] 10th November 1899 is incorrect. This date of birth is taken from his passport. Also his surname is DeGroot and not De Groot

 

 

© Patrick Casey, 2011
For Permission to reproduce this article please CLICK HERE