As collectors and dealers in old football programs we love the thrill of a new discovery. So it was recently when we stumbled upon a program for sale on eBay for a Rutgers v. Yale Football Program from a game play in 1873 at Hamilton Park in New Haven, CT.
Hamilton Park was the site of many early Yale games (and thus many early football games in the U.S.). Remember that the Harvard v. Yale 1881 program was played at Hamilton Park as was the Columbia v. Yale Program of 1872. This latter program is the oldest program we have ever seen come up for sale, making this Rutgers v. Yale Program the second oldest we’ve seen.
As students of early football history know, Rutgers was involved in the first football game played, which occurred against Princeton in 1869, although no program is believe to have existed for this game.
The program is a simple four page affair and list the players on both teams inside and is 5 3/4 x 4 inches in size.
As far as definitively declaring this the second oldest, we remain wary as collecting is a constant process of discovery and “never say never”. This program does predate another known early program which was Eton v. Yale of 1873. This game occurred in October, beating the Eton game by two months as it was played in December.
The program was listed at a very high price and thus did not sell, so we have no way to determine its true value at this time.