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Relocated NFL Teams: The Dayton Triangles

The Dayton Triangles were an NFL franchise that existed between 1920 and 1929. Some people consider the Triangles to be a predecessor to the Indianapolis Colts of today’s NFL, though this is not officially recognized to be the case by the league. The franchise was formed as a splinter franchise of a basketball team known as the St. Mary’s Cadets. The Cadets were made up of alumni of the University of Dayton, which was then known as St. Mary’s College. The Triangles were reconstituted into a semi-professional team and its roster was mainly filled with workers from the Dayton Electric and Light Company (DELCO). The team’s home ground was the Triangle Park and it was there that the Triangles got their moniker. The field got its name due to the fact that it was located at the confluence of the Miami and Stillwater rivers. In 1920, the team turned fully pro and were one of the charter franchises of the NFL which was formed that year.

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The Triangle Field was the venue of the first ever NFL game, played on October 3, 1920 between the Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles. Although the Triangle Field does not exist anymore, a memorial plaque commemorating the game stands at the site where the stadium used to be. Beginning 1925, the Dayton Triangles became a strict road team, playing all their games away from home. For this reason, they became known among the press and fans as the “Team of Immigrants”. The team travelled using a hired railroad car which would be attached to passenger trains and also served as their changing, sleeping and dining quarters when they were on the travel. The conditions in the railroad car were pretty bad but most players claimed to like the adventure of being on the road all the time.

The Triangles were one of the most hapless teams in the league. Their very first competitive, played on October 3, 1920 game was a 14-0 win over the Columbus Panhandles. This was also the first ever NFL game. They then played out a scoreless draw with the Cleveland Tigers, followed by a 44-0 thrashing of the Hammond Pros. They eventually finished the 1920 season with a 5-2-2 record. The team opened the 1921 season in promising fashion again beating the Panhandles, this time by a 42-13 score. They however failed to build any positive momentum and ended up finishing the season 4-4-1 record. In 1922 following the formation of the NFL, the Triangles went into decline and they finished the season with a 4-3-1 record. In 1923 they sunk even lower, posting a 1-6-1 record followed by a 2-6 record. In 1924, they won their frist two games but they lost all of the remaining six.

In 1925, the Triangles failed to win a single game and posted a 0-7-2 record as they extended their winless streak to fourteen games. They began the 1926 season positively by beating the Buffalo Rangers 3-0 but their season unraveled and they went on to finish the season with a 1-6-1 record. Their inept play continued in 1928 as they lost all seven games that season and managed to score in just one game. The trend carried over into 1929 again losing all games and only managing a single touchdown the whole season.

Why the Dayton Triangles were Relocated

The Triangles were one of the worst teams the league has ever seen. Such a dubious status does not earn teams lots of admirers or fans for that matter. Due to the small size of the Triangle Park, the team was not able to collect much revenue and the team started struggling financially from the outset. It was decided that playing away from home would actually bring in more revenue than playing at home so the team became a road team in 1925. The problem with this arrangement is that players were constantly worn out from the perpetual travelling and could not perform during games. The teams results sunk even further and financial difficulties gripped them harder. In July 1930, the team was purchased by a group of investors from Brooklyn who were led by Bob Dwyer. The new owners, convinced that a stay in Dayton was ill advised, moved the team to Brooklyn and renamed it the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Dayton Triangles Notable Players

Harold Fenner CB 1920-1929
Hobby Kinderdine C 1920-1929
Faye Abbott FB 1921-1929 FB
Lou Partlow RB 1920-1922, 1923-1929
Johnny Becker OL 1925-1929
Russ Hathaway T 1920-1922, 1923-1924
Glenn Tidd C 1920-1924
Al Graham LG 1925-1929

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