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Relocated NFL Teams: The Pottsville Maroons

The Pottsville Maroons were an American Football club that played in the NFL from 1925 to 1927. The Maroons’ home Stadium was the Minersville Park in Pottsville Pennsylvania. The Maroons’ history can be traced back to 1920 in the form of a team known as the Pottsville Eleven whose roster was mainly made up of firemen from the Yorkville Hose Company. The Elevens were not affiliated to any league and mainly played against other amateur and professional teams in the Pottsville region. They started playing in the Anthracite League in 1924 after they were purchased by a surgeon named John Striegel. The entered the NFL in 1925 following the demise of the Anthracite League.

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The Maroons opened their competitive chapter with an 18-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons on September 27, 1925. They lost their next game 6-0 to the Providence Steam Roller and then recovered to win the next four games. In their next game they were beaten 20-0 by the Frankford Yellow Jackets but they exacted revenge two weeks later when the blanked the Yellow Jackets 49-0. They eventually finished the season with a 10-2 record which would have been enough to win the league were they not suspended for infringing on the territory of the Yellow Jackets when they played the Notre Dame All Stars in Philadelphia. The league title was eventually handed to the Chicago Cardinals who added two games, against the Hammond Pros and the Milwaukee Badgers to overtake the Maroons in the standings.

They continued their great form the following season by winning the first four games. They lost their next game 14-0 to the Providence Steam Roller but they followed this with a run of six straight victories. They were in contention for the league championship until they had a loss and a draw against the Buffalo Rangers and the Chicago Bears respectively which saw the Frankford Yellow Jackets take command of the championship. The Maroons still had to play the league leaders, a game which ended in a scoreless tie to hand the championship to the Yellow Jackets. In 1927, with the team in financial turmoil, the Maroons sold some of their key players and finished the season with a poor 5-8 record. They sunk lower the following season as they posted a dismal 2-8 record.

Perhaps the most memorable detail about the Maroons was the 1925 championship controversy which saw the Maroons lose out on the title despite finishing with the best record. The debacle arose over an exhibition game the Maroons scheduled with the Notre Dame All Stars. At the time, each team was free to make their own schedule and it was common practice for teams to add extra games to their fixture list in order to maximize revenue and improve their season record. The game against the Yellow Jackets would have been played at the Minnersville Park but it was deemed too small and the team management elected to look for a bigger venue. The team settled on Shibe Park in Philadelphia, in the backyard of the Frankford Yellow Jackets. The Yellow Jackets complained to the league that this amounted to a territorial infringement but the Maroons went ahead with the fixture, which they won 9-7. The league determined that the Yellow Jackets’ complaint was valid and the Maroons were suspended. The Maroons were as a result unable to finish their schedule and the Chicago Cardinals took advantage, scheduling two additional games that saw them overtake the Maroons. Despite their game against the Hammond Pros being ridden with controversy, the Cardinals were crowned champions. To date that incident continues to attract intense debate with many people believing that the Maroons were unfairly suspended.

Why the Pottsville Maroons were Relocated

The Maroons were very popular in Pottsville but their revenue streams were constricted by the small size of the Minersville Park. At the time many teams from smaller cities were struggling and the Maroons were no different. The team was initially able to weather the difficulties but the team retrogressed starting 1927 with the sale of many of their key players. In 1928, Stiegel loaned out the team to three players and then sold it to a group of businessmen from Boston. The new owners moved the team to Boston and renamed it the Boston Bulldogs but it only survived one year before folding.

Pottsville Maroons Notable Players

Stan Cofall WB 1922-1924
Dick Rauch OL 1924-1926
Bob Millman HB 1925-1927
Barney Wentz FB 1925-1928
George Kenneally OL 1926-1928
Jack Ernst RB 1925-1928
Johnny Budd OL 1927-1928
Tony Latone RB 1925-1928
Herb Stein C 1925-1928

Russ Hathaway T 1925-1926

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